Summary: What does a forward looking church look like?
The Future Church
New Barna Research has discovered that a person’s lifelong behaviors and views are generally developed when they are young – usually prior to reaching teen years. The research showed 4 critical outcomes:
First, a person’s moral foundations are generally in place by the time they reach 9. Their fundamental perspectives on truth, integrity, meaning, justice, morality, and ethics are formed early in life.
Second, responses to the meaning and personal value of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is usually determined before age 18.
Third, most spiritual beliefs are irrevocably formed by the pre-teens. “In essence,” George Barna notes, “what you believe by the time you are 13 is what you will die believing.
Finally, the research revealed adult church leaders usually have serious involvement in church life and training when they are young. Churches experiencing great influence in children’s lives realize that children are of special significance to God. Consequently, effective churches employ long-term, multi-pronged strategy that they tirelessly execute to facilitate the spiritual growth of children. (Barna Online)
I believe the church must see that all believers matter in church life but children really are the future church and the decisions we make in the present impact the Future church. I believe in order to be a productive happy Christian you must focus on the future. You can’t look back and relive failures or shortcomings. I also believe in order to be a successful, blessed church you must have forward thinking. You can’t go forward looking back.
In our text the apostle Paul explains forward thinking. He was a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Philippian saints, he wanted them to know that he had not yet attained the goals stated in verse 10. He was still actively pressing on toward them. He had by no means reached the final stage of his sanctification.
Paul’s salvation experience had taken place about 30 years before he wrote to the Philippians. He had won many spiritual battles in that time but he still had more spiritual heights to climb. This testimony of the apostle reminded the saints at Philippi—and it serves to remind us today—that there must never be a stalemate in their spiritual growth or a plateau beyond which they cannot climb.
Why must we as Christians and as churches keep going forward? Thom Rainer the president of SBC Lifeway, our educational arm of the SBC writes, “80% of the approximately 400,000 churches in the U.S. are either declining or at a plateau.” Breakout Churches, Thom Rainer, Zondervan.
The Reason we must be have a Future church mentality is it keeps us focused on our Devotion to God, Focused on our Direction, it gives us a Spiritual Determination and motivates us on in Spiritual Discipline. **12**
There are ways in which Christians should remember the acts of God in the past, but Paul knew that he must not dwell on the past; its failures and sins have been forgiven, and its achievements in the service of Christ must not allow him to rest on his laurels. He wanted rather to be found straining towards what lay ahead, and to express this he uses another very strong word, applicable to an athletic context or a chariot race; every fibre of his being was set on the goal and purpose of his Christian life he was focused on the future.
The Future church mentality
I. Is Not Satisfied with Status Quo (v.12-13)
Paul is telling the church at Philippi not to rest on its laurels. This was a great church and Paul said don’t be satisfied with the way things are and except the status quo because this won’t get the job done.
Again in the book Breakout Churches, Thom Rainer and his team researched over 50,000 churches. One of the churches that was a “Breakout Church,” Central Christian Church, in Beloit Wisconsin, had this statement written in their church history; “Central Christian Church has never been satisfied with being satisfied.”
The problem churches have and any large organization for that matter is the danger of being adequate. Nothing really wrong just bogged down in not being great. Bureaucracy abounds and creativity is criticized.
“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.” Laurence J. Peter
“Creativity is bound to stir up controversy because its ultimate impact always is to change the status quo.” O.A. Battista
Church we have a daunting task of evangelizing 25,000 people in a ten mile radius. Doing things how we always do them is not going to get the job done we must have:
A. Focused Devotion (v.13a) “this one thing I do.” Be focused on our call as Christians and as a church. No athlete succeeds by competing in ever sport, their focused on their best one. They give all their energy and preparation to what they do best.