As we enter this new year, one thing is crystal clear to me. I don't want to be in the same place I am at this same time next year.
- By this time next year, I want to be a pastor of a congregation that has experienced the mighty power of God to change and transform people's lives and the community.
- I want to be a part of a congregation that is thriving once again.
- I want to be a part of a congregation that is experiencing the type of growth and new life that I read about in the book of Acts.
And in order for us to be a church like that, I am convinced that we cannot do church the same way we've been doing church. We've got to do things differently. Not just for difference sake, but to do ministry more effectively and efficiently. And if we are going to do that, then we cannot do things the same way we've been doing ministry.
What got us here won't get us there.
As true as this is for the local congregation, so it is for the denomination. What got us here - where we're losing 50,000 members a year, where we're becoming more and more irrelevant by the day, where churches are barely hanging on instead of thriving, where stability and maintenance is the rule, where the growing and thriving congregations are the exception - what got us here will not get us to being the church we all want to be.
The things that must change are not the "What" of the church, but "How" we do church. The "what" of the church cannot ever change:
- What we stand for: Biblical truth, the Bible being the only authoritative word, etc.
- What we are called to: to be a community that demonstrates the love and the righteousness of God, to grow new disciples and to help them become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, etc.
- What we believe: That Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life. That no one comes to the Father except through the Son.
"What" of the church cannot change, for once that changes, we seize to be the church.
But "How" we do church must change. We cannot do church as if we live in the last century. The world has changed. And the how primarily deals with the polity of the church. That is why I believe we must take seriously the potential changes to our polity.
I do not for a moment think that the proposed nFoG is the answer to all issues. But it is the first step in getting us to think about how we can do church more effectively and missionally.
What got us here, won't get us there.