Summary: To be a Missional Church means we must "understand the times" and "know what to do."
Meeting the Challenge
* Consider the word,”challenge” with me. What comes to your mind when you hear this word? Does it “challenge you” a little? Candidly, I had only to look in one dictionary and discovered this word had almost 2 dozen meanings and can be used as 3 or 4 parts of speech. Simply, it can be a noun, verb, or adjective (and quite likely an adverb).
* We recognized that to be challenged (in any form) carries a meaning some kind of test, some level of difficulty, or even a fight. Candidly, a challenge requires us to reach down a little deeper in ourselves to see if we have “what it takes” to respond to the level which is required.
* For the quarterback whose team is 2 points behind with one minute on the clock the question becomes, “Can he rise to the challenge of managing a drive to put his team in field goal range?” To the runner who finds himself a hundred yard behind in the mile run, “has he saved enough energy to give the kick and make up the difference?” To the family who has experience an untimely death, “Can they raise to the challenge of making the transition or will they stay locked up in grief?”
* The questions are many and the challenges are difficult for us. If you own a business and you see if faltering or failing, can you or will you raise your level of competence, effort, and energy to overcome the fall? I think you probably will. Do you remember the old Army slogan? “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is meeting the challenge.
* The word “Challenge” seems to leave us a little short when we consider the 21st century church and the 21st century culture (in America). For any discerning mind, it is evident that our culture is decaying before our very eyes. People (and not just ‘young people’) are exhibiting lifestyles which fly in the face of God’s behavioral design for us. We can list every action which God calls a sin and know that we are witnesses of those actions because we live in the midst of a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.
* It is into this culture that the gospel of Jesus is needed. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Whoever hears my voice & will open the door, I will come in, have dinner with him, and he with me.” What an invitation! But like the parable of the great banquet which Jesus told, the invitations must be extended by HIS servants (that’s you and me). People need to receive an invitation; however, today the challenge is to offer an invitation in a way that it will be favorably received.
* Consider this; when you get an invitation to a wedding, would you automatically go? Suppose you have had trouble with the brother of the bride or maybe (ladies) the groom was your first love and broke your heart or maybe you just didn’t KNOW the family.
* Today, as believers and as a church, we face this kind of a challenge. It is not a challenge simply to invite people to church, but more specifically, we are to invite people to Jesus. From our Old Testament text consider what we have to do to meet this challenge today.
1. My approach as the church. – Last week, we spoke of the Christendom impact on the church. Sadly, this has cause many different approaches to the church. Some people believe that it’s “my church” and should serve me. And if it doesn’t serve ‘me’, I’ll either get the pastor and/or staff fired (so we can get a “real” leader) or I’ll go somewhere else. The Biblical flaws in this mentality are too many to mention. Jesus saved us, made us into a family, and gave us a task to do. How should we approach this task?
a. To Prepare – Are you prepared to not “have a minister” but to “be a minister?” Look at our text and discover from verse 24-37 and see that by my count over 300,000 men are enlisted and what are they doing? It says they are “lined up in battle formation.” One of the issues of the modern day church is that we are no longer in battle formation; in fact, we have attempted to take the battle from the fight. When you have a conflict (and we have one between God and Satan) and one side makes the determination not to fight, the other side wins by default. So the question becomes “how can we prepare to do our part for His church?”
* Make sure you are a part of the army. You will never be a part of any team by osmosis. You must make a conscious decision to join. Some here have, quite likely, never made that decision. To be a part of the team called the ‘church’ requires us to make a decision to trust Christ. Only He can forgive our sins, give us a new life, and place us on the team.