Summary: Helping the church to make up her mind to reach those who are not yet already convinced about the gospel.
A Culture of Acceptance 12-3-06
New Series: Creating a New Culture… in the Church 1 Cor. 3:6-7
I am indebted to John Burke’s book, “No Perfect People Allowed” for many of the basic ideas expressed in this series. It’s a great read!
Intro. Have you ever noticed how certain words seem to automatically produce a fearful response in us? When I was a kid and my mom would say, “Bobby, next week you’re going to see the…DENTIST”! Well – that would freak me out, I don’t know why, but it scared me to death. Or how about when you’re in middle school and you’ve finally gotten used to having pop quizzes and a few chapter tests…but then the teacher mentions that next week you’re going to have an EXAM. Now deep down inside you know that nothing good can come from an EXAM and so your stomach knots up and your palms get sweaty just thinking about it. Did you know that the same thing happens to business people? If you own a business and you get a letter from the government that says you’re going to be AUDITED, then guess what happens? That sick, gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach never leaves you until the audit is done.
Now believe it or not, there’s a word that causes the same kind of reaction in the church. Can you guess what it is? It’s the word CHANGE. For some reason or another, change seems to cause all kinds of negative reactions when it’s applied to the church. And yet when you read through the bible you find that God loves change. In Is.43 God says forget about the past because I’m going to do a new thing. I’m going to give you a new heart to love me, a new spirit to worship me, a new commandment to obey, a new name you’ll be known by, a new nature to enjoy, a new wine to drink and you’ll live in a new heavens and a new earth.
I’m convinced that God wants to do a NEW thing in this church. And I’m not talking about a new program, a new building or a new emphasis. NO! What God wants to change here at the Mount is our culture. He wants to change the way we think about those people who live outside of the faith. To change our culture God is going to have to change our minds, our attitudes, our styles and preferences and even our behavior inside and outside of the church.
Now let’s be truthful with each other – we need a change! Our church is not fulfilling her divine commission; we’re not reaching the community that surrounds us and that means we’ve settled for less. But you know what? I’m tired of settling for less! So I’ve decided to do everything in my power to see this church become all God created her to be. And in order to do that I’m going to have to take you on a journey with me. So for the next 3 weeks I’m going to challenge you to come alongside of me so that together we can change the culture of our church.
I realize that there are people who say - “Now wait just a minute, I don’t think the church should change…I think the culture around us needs to change.” There’s no debate that we’re surrounded by a culture in desperate need of God’s transforming power. So the question we need to ask is this – how does that change happen? Does it happen because the culture decides to come to the church or does it happen when the church finally ventures out and goes into the culture? Listen to what the apostle Paul says about that. 1 Cor. 9:22 “I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. The NASB says I become all things to all men that I may by all means save some.” Paul knew that his culture would never willingly come to him…so he made it his priority to go to them. WOW – can you imagine a church whose priority was no longer focused on themselves, but on those who did not yet know Jesus Christ? Do you think its time for a church like that in the Upstate? Listen to Barna’s warning, “Our goal cannot simply be a timid, powerless survival; it must be the role that Christ called for the Church to play, that of a loving, authoritative, healing and compelling influence upon the world…lacking such a turnabout, we might rightfully anticipate the virtual disappearance of the Christian Church in this nation”. And just in case you’re not yet convinced that our church needs to change, let me remind you that the latest statistics show that America is now considered the 3rd largest mission field in the English speaking world. Do you want me to translate that for you? That means the American church isn’t reaching our own people, much less the people of the world! So let’s face it, WE NEED TO CHANGE!