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Summary: Although change is not always fun, it is something that Jesus wants his followers to embrace as we are being transformed in this likeness in character and behavior.

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Title: Embracing Change: A Life Transforming Walk with Jesus

Text: John 3:3; II Corinthians 5:17; and Philippians 1:6

Thesis: Although change is not always fun, it is something that Jesus wants his followers to embrace as we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ in character and behavior.

A year ago we met here in the sanctuary for a Veritas (Truth-Telling) Experience. Our facilitator drew a diagram on a white board representing four different kinds of churches. There are:

• Healthy Missional Churches

• Stable Churches

• Critical Moment Churches

• At Risk Churches.

The objective of the At Risk Church is not to become a Critical Moment Church. The objective of the Critical Moment Church is not to become a Stable Church. And the objective of the Stable Church is not to remain a Stable Church. The objective is to always be moving toward Congregational Vitality, i.e., becoming a Healthy Missional Church… a church that is pursuing Christ and Christ’s priorities in the world.

In order to understand what being a Healthy Missional Church looks like, we are unpacking a series called: The Marks of a Healthy Missional Church. Researchers have found that there are at least ten marks, characteristics, traits, qualities, etc., that are consistently found in Healthy Missional Churches.

Series: The Marks of a Healthy Missional Church (Pursuing Christ and Christ’s Priorities in the World)

• Compelling Christian Community

• The Centrality of the Word of God

• Life Transforming Walk with Jesus

The first mark is Compelling Christian Community. We looked at Acts 2:42-47 as a prototype Compelling Christian Community. Last week we unpacked II Timothy and found a second mark, The Centrality of the Word of God. The Bible is a primary way that God guides his Church and his people through life. Today we are looking at a third mark. In Healthy Missional Churches people are experiencing a Life Transforming Walk with Jesus. They are growing and becoming more and more like Christ.

So if we were to do a self evaluation as a Church and as people, are we experiencing Compelling Christian Community, is the Word of God Central in our lives and in the life of our Church and are we experiencing a Life Transforming Walk with Jesus?

Introduction

Whenever we use a word like transforming we immediately think “change.” If, for example, we are somewhere between being a Stable Church and a Critical Moment Church and we need to move toward becoming a Healthy Missional Church, we have to be willing to change in ways that will make that transformation possible.

There’s an old light bulb joke that seems particularly pertinent to our discussion on A Life Transforming Walk with Jesus… it has many variations depending on who you want to skewer. So to play it safe I’ll just go with the standard version:

Q. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change.

There is always a wise guy who cracks, “Why should I change? I’ve learned so much from my mistakes that I’m thinking of make a few more.” Then there is the uncomfortable reminder, “If you don’t change directions you may end up where you are headed.

Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin.

In order to survive a species, albeit a species of churches, must be responsive to change and the only way to respond to change is to adapt. It is imperative that we be willing to change in order that we be a Church marked by Compelling Christian Community, The Centrality of the Word of God and Life Transforming Walks with Jesus.

A Life Transforming Walk with Jesus begins with what Jesus called being “born again.” I think of that as the initial change.

I. Initial Change: New Birth

“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3-8

Birth is how we make our grand entrance into the physical world…

I read about a young Irish couple who were wanting to have an initial change in their lives. So they told their parish priest they were hoping to start their family soon. Their priest was pleased and promised to light a candle for them at the Altar of St. Peter while he was in Rome on sabbatical.

Nine months later, when the priest returned from Rome he heard the lady had given birth and was pleasantly surprised to discover that she had birthed quintuplets.

“Oh my, bless the Lord!” he said. Then he asked about her husband. “Where is your husband, I heard he has left the country?” To which the woman replied, “Yes, he’s flown to Rome to blow out your bloody candle.”

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