Levi Strauss founded his Company in San Francisco in 1853 by opening a dry goods business selling clothing, blankets and hankies. Twenty years later the firm received a patent on its riveted-pants. In 1971 it became a publicly-owned Company. In 1985 it reverted to private ownership. In 2019 it once again went public. The 166-year-old Company has re-invented itself under the present leadership by sharpening its focus and image. San Diego U-T, 3/22/19
Which brings us to the question, what can the church do to re-invent itself? The problem question beleaguers church leaders. In a world-culture now decidedly anti-Christian, how do Christians respond?
First, a warning. Never listen to those who want to make the church more popular with the public! The number one priority of Christian leadership in every age is to keep Christian people intimate with God in Christ. To keep us all listening to God speak through the Holy Spirit in his word to water-baptized believers filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
The number two priority for those believers, lay or clerical, doctorate-educated or privately mature through constant study and prayer: re-invent nothing. Preach the Gospel as written. Seek no hot-button issues that please people with your “relevance”. For in each effort we try to be “relevant” we lose our integrity with God and the Spirit’s Power in convincing, convicting and converting sinners.
Remember godly Josiah, architect of the Last Reformation in Judah before the exile. While remaining true to God’s word, he renewed religious life after Mosaic revelation. When he stepped outside that role to a political issue, he met death on the Plains of Megiddo.
There will never be an issue more important for Christians than evangelizing the lost. That’s why Jesus came, and only as his people maintain that emphasis can we maintain our role in society. And that’s done merely by preaching the Gospel, text by text if necessary, issue by issue, personality by personality. But always the Good News and nothing but!
Dusty Rubeck, President of CDF Capital wrote a column in its publication The Cornerstone. Among other points, he wondered “How will the church change in the decades ahead?”
Whatever the church changes—locations, programs, methods or preaching—it must never alter the eternal message of the Gospel....“that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ...” II Corinthians 5:19. Nor must that message be considered secondary or tertiary to programs or methods. It must be foundational to church life and ministry. Putting anything in its place disgraces the Savior who died to forgive our sins and rose again as Lord of the church. And he will hold accountable any preacher who betrays him by ignoring, downgrading or dismissing that message to make his appeal more acceptable.
The message of both Old and New Testaments is the same of both Moses and Jesus, of both prophets and apostles: God is always on the offensive against wickedness, never on the defense against its attacks. God has nothing to prove to sinful humanity, whatever claims we hide behind to excuse our unbelief and disobedience.
Whatever the younger generation of church leaders think, the message of the church doesn’t need to change, dare not change and will be subject to God’s wrath if we try to change it. Humanity must change. It must repent of its sins and be baptized for the forgiveness of its sins. It must then let its renewed self be “hidden with Christ in God” Colossians 3:3.
God will not excuse preachers who find an easy way for people to be religious without being Christian; to be church members without being converted from self-will to Spirit-filled, Christ-centered lives; to claim a spiritual experience while denying the elementary truths of Jesus Christ as God’s Only Begotten Son. –End Part I-