Building Transformational Church
In the early morning of 27th August, I was sleepless throughout the night. The Lord gave a message for the church leaders in Thailand. Below is the brief outline of the sermon that I preached. I think it is relevant to most of the churches today as well. Hope this is helpful to you too.
Many a times, we tend to see the needs of the church and we try to solve those needs. But today, God wants to show us something deeper. He showed me three areas that the churches need to transform so as to build stronger churches in Thailand. I would share based on Rom 12:1-2.
1) Firstly, we need a Christ-centred theology. In v 1a, we are told to look at the mercy of God. It is because of this mercy that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. The cross focuses on two things:
a) R: Redemption. The cross is about redemption. It gives us a new meaning in life. It is the motivation from within as a response to God’s love and grace to us. As leaders, we need to appreciate and be grateful for the things Jesus did for us through the grace of God.
b) R: Repentance. The cross is also about repentance. It allows Christ to be the Lord of our lives. If there is no real repentance, the church cannot be strong. Believers without true repentance would be playing with fire. As leaders, we must be courageous enough to lead our members in repentance and walk right with God.
In our theology, we must be careful of 5 Ps that God showed me:
a) Prosperity: This theology builds the church to believe that God would bless them and make them rich materialistically. This does not always happen. Believers can be poor yet living a satisfied life in God. Rather than asking for material blessings, let us know that God is the greatest blessing. In Him we lack nothing.
b) Prophecy: This gives people hope that revival is coming so we should go out and win souls. Though it is good to have revivals that brings in the crowds and excites everybody, revivals cannot be sustained. Our spiritual life cannot be sustained by revivals. Revivals can make us feel excited, but we still need to build our lives in Christ. The question is not just whether we are ready for revivals, but are we ready for the coming of Jesus? Believers should be prepared for bad times and not just good times.
c) Purpose: This builds the church based on certain purposes or goals to attain. It is great to have a purpose or set goals for our church, but we must not forget the processes in the purpose. God is not here to get things done for Him because He can do it very easily Himself. He let us do it because He is using these to transform us. Sometimes, we may not achieve our goals, but God has finished His process in us. We need to focus on our “being” rather than our “doing”. We must understand that God has called us to make disciples and not just converts. Making disciples is actually the most important work in the kingdom of God. But we tend to forget that making disciples is a process and not a point. This process of becoming more like Christ is God’s greatest purpose.
d) Power: This aims to have more power by building bigger churches. We can end up fighting for our own name and power. There is nothing wrong in building small churches. We must know that our members’ faith is not built upon us but on God.
e) Partnership: This is to be involved in different partnerships with other groups to build unity. If we are involved in too many, we will have too many meetings to attend and too many programs to run. As a result, we can get so busy that we do not have enough time to minister the word of God. We need proper management.
2) Secondly, we need a sacrificial mentality. Since Jesus has sacrificed for us, it is now our turn to offer up our lives as living sacrifices for God (v1b). God’s grace has been given freely to us but it is a costly grace. It is time for us to respond to God. Sometimes, we have a receiving / dependent mentality. This is an attitude where churches tend to see that they are poor and cannot do anything. They are just waiting for somebody to help them. But we must move out of this mentality and know that we have a big God and we can always give out of our poverty. The Bible recorded for us two incidents of Jesus feeding the multitudes. One is feeding of the five thousand and the second one is feeding of the four thousand. But both times, the disciples did not have enough faith even though the second time they had less people and more food. Do we have the attitude to give like the little boy? Let us build our church with a right attitude. We must be ready to help, to give and to commit to our churches.
3) Thirdly, we need a transformative living. We must not conform to the world’s thinking but be renewed by the transforming of our minds (v2). Only through the transforming of our minds, can we understand the will of God. Do not assume that by having our Sunday Services, cell groups, visitations or trainings, we will breed disciples. They may just be training the disciples in knowledge. In discipleship, there are three main areas: character, skills, and knowledge. Of these, character is the most difficult. For skills and knowledge, we can use training, but to build disciples we need to spend personal time like Jesus—to help them with their thinking, feelings and doings. We need to instil biblical values and principles for life. Churches today need to have proper discipleship. Most churches have fellowships and trainings but little personal discipleship. But it is personal discipleship that we can build strong disciples who would in turn become future leaders. This may mean that we need to cut down time for some meetings or activities so that we can use the time to disciple our members. Only then, our church can become stronger. We cannot build a building taller without digging deeper foundation. We cannot build a building upright without putting the pillars in place.
Dear leaders, let us not build churches which are anthropo-centred, need-centred, goal-centred or problem-centred. We need Christ-centred churches that have a right theology, a sacrificial attitude and a transformed living.