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The church today is dealing with an identity crisis. Many congregations are struggling to maintain relevancy as society rapidly changes in our Post Modern world. Some maintain traditional forms of worship that have been passed down from generation to generation, but are finding it difficult to attract the younger generations who consider them irrelevant to their lifestyles. Others utilize modern marketing techniques, audio/visual systems, and seeker-
The struggle in the church to deal with the social changes and values of the world is not a new problem; it has been around since the early days of the church.
John 17:14 -
The real identity crisis is not rooted in staying relevant to the current cultural trends or maintaining our church traditions. The real identity problem is this:
How do you cultivate an other-
This has been an issue throughout the history of the church and has resulted in tensions between traditional approaches to church life, the desire of scriptural expressions, the need for sociological relevancy, and the hunger for supernatural expression.
We can see these tensions displayed throughout church history in the unique rituals, liturgies, theologies, and even in physical church architectures.
We can see this in the protestant reformation project, which was as much about adapting to the social changes emerging from the Renaissance as it was correcting problems in the Roman Catholic church. We can see this in the Pentecostal revival, Evangelical movement, Charismatic movement, Seeker Sensitive movement, Modern Worship Music project, and even the current New Apostolic Reformation movement.
Often these tensions are tempered by the church focusing on the day-
So in order to deal with the issues raised from John 17:14, we should ask ourselves this question;
Do we really want to even attempt to cultivate and other-
We can be traditionalist, conservative, liberal, evangelical, or even Pentecostal. We can add modern music, video clips, and drama to our worship time. We can add all types of helps ministry; alcohol and substance abuse, physical and mental abuse victims, marriage and trauma counseling, immigration services, etc. We can create an adult education program and teach different self-
All of these things can be very helpful and good for the members of our church, but we should be honest and admit that we are primarily helping them better adjust and interact with the world around them; they are becoming “better-
Historically, I see that the church has a tendency to focus on purpose, vision, and mission within the scope of our mission field (in the world, physical realm) without truly dealing with how our other-
John 17:18 -
As we look at this verse, we see that if we are to understand how we are sent into the world, we need to understand how Jesus was sent into the world. We tend to think of our call and mission in terms of the boundaries of the physical world around us and perhaps with respect to the depths of the inner soul life … how we think (mind), how we feel (emotions), what we are aware of (consciousness), and what choices we make (will). It is “natural” for us to frame ministry this way, but when we do, we may be taking a shortcut, because Jesus doesn’t call us and sent us only according to the categories of the physical realm and the human soul.
As the Father sent Jesus into the world, Jesus has also sent us into the world.
Why did Jesus speak to Nicodemus about earthly things and heavenly things? I thing that He was creating an opportunity for Nicodemus to step beyond the limits of his human religious thinking. He was challenging him to think differently … seriously differently. Then he provides a real-
Jesus came down from heaven to earth and is in heaven at the same time.
When Jesus said this He was standing on the Earth talking to Nicodemus (He who came down from heaven) AND he was, at the same time, in heaven (he who is in heaven). Jesus exists and operates as a dual-
Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus said this to Nicodemus ….
In order to see and enter the Kingdom of God, a person must be born again, spirit-
There is much more to say about this, and we will continue in the near future with Part 2.