The traditional church model has served the Lord faithfully for over 1,000 years. Yet that model is a man-made construction (or tool) to organize and do the work of ministry that the Lord has given us to accomplish. As we continue into the future, we must be able to understand that our methods (and tools) for ministry will have the tendency to change and reform as we contextualize to technology and culture, while the Word of God (or gospel) is unchanging.
Change is always hard, yet many times it is necessary. Think about this… Over the past 100 years, the way of life has drastically changed for the human race. It truly is mind-boggling. Can you picture living in a time where your life fully revolved around 20 miles from your home? A time where fancy toys were rare. A time were there was no food to microwave and many homes lacked indoor plumbing. Can we really remember what it was like before smart phones, internet, and even television? Yet through all of these major lifestyle changes in the past 100 years, our traditional churches and denominations continue to function in the much of the same way.
Therefore, our primary tool for ministry (the church) has to be willing to take a step back and see what parts of our ministry tools need to be tweaked or even removed so that a new tools can better accomplish the work of making disciples. It is hard to think that our denominations are just tools we use to be the Church, but that is what they are. In the spiritual sense, we are all one in Christ, for He is the true head of the one Bride of Christ.
A time for reform is here and everything is on the table. Today the common churchgoer can see the problems that have made their way into the old denominational system we use for ministry. Doctrine that use to be sound seems now to be in flux. The biblical roles of ministry have been taken over by a democratic process that was never meant to be. The pastor has turned into a CEO and the sheep no longer have an intimate relationship with the shepherd. People in the church have replaced prayer with counseling and the worship service has turned into a performance rather than the worship of a holy God.
And what about money? One of the major reasons people no longer give to the church is that they want to love and support people (not the coldness of an organization). Instead of filling the needs of the community, the church continues to pour resources into buildings and assets that really only benefit those in the church. If we are honest, most local churches have a budget of less than 10 percent of every dollar that directly fills the needs of the community even when outreach events are included in those figures.
Bringing reform to the primary tool of ministry (church) is a complex discussion that needs to take place. Currently, there are many movements that are attempting to do just that. With that said, know that most of those seeking to develop these reforms are not doing so out of rebellion against the church. In reality, there are many pastors and laity who can see the writing on the wall. If we continue to do the same things in ministry the same way, our grandchildren will most likely not share our faith in Christ.
Our current denominational systems of church government are quickly becoming the horse and buggy method for effective ministry. For our children’s sake, I hope we can embrace the changes needed to truly contextualize ministry for a generation that has vastly changed over the past 100 years. Christina and I are willing to take that journey. We are looking for others who are willing to take a step of faith and walk with us as we follow our call to bring reform and reach the lost for Christ. May God bless us all in whatever tool we currently use to bring people to a saving relationship to Christ. For He is our hope and our future. Holiness unto the Lord…