ChurchETHOS

The Final Step

Posted in discipleship by Nathan Creitz on December 21, 2005

Step One – Personal Transformation
Step Two – Church Transformation
Step Three – Change The World

I have been thinking a lot about what it takes to make a difference in this postmodern world. I don’t really think of it as a step-by-step process. I do think of it as an evolving thing where I am personally devoting myself to follow Christ and, meanwhile, my church is benefitting from the gifts and the sacrifice that I and my fellow members provide. This brings us to the final step: actually changing the world. Can I really make a difference? Can God really use me? If the first two steps are increasing in my life, then, yes, God will use me to change the world.

How do we change the world? For the longest time, it was through mega evangelistic rallies, mega tract distribution efforts, and mega churches. That stuff is still around, but in many areas that are becoming more postmodern, those tools are no longer that effective. No one wants to embrace a Christianity that they discover when they pick up a tract off of the park bench. Besides, everyone is doing the mass literature distribution thing. You can find flyers for a club, magazines for Jehovah’s Witness, and coupons for a free haircut or a massage. Trying to discover the love of God through a piece of trampled paper is difficult for anyone to do.

Instead, as authentic followers of Christ and effective members of His Body, we are able to make a difference in the world, one person at a time. Sure, we have evangelistic events, we plan programs, but people come to Christ through relationships. Faith comes by hearing the words of Christ. It’s time for Christians to start speaking the words of Christ to our friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, and classmates. There are several ways that a vibrant, authentic community of believers can influence culture.

First, the Bible tells us that the world will know we are disciples of Christ because of the love we have for each other. When was the last time a lost person was in the midst of true community? It’s not happening at some of our “fellowships” that some churches plan each month. Instead, it’s happening around the dinner table, or in a small group Bible study, or over coffee, or even at a large gathering of believers. I believe that anyone moving to a new area, when looking for a church, should find a church where they can invest their gifts and resources, where they can also be invested in through discipleship and Biblical preaching, and where they can feel comfortable bringing their friends that are seeking. A church that isn’t filled with step one-ers and step two-ers (see prior posts) is not one to which you would want to bring a lost friend. When an unbeliever is exposed to authentic community, no words need to be expressed. They will see love, peace, relationships, connections, purpose, and a life that they do not have for themselves.

I believe another powerful apologetic that is expressed through the church is (or should be) the act of kindness or service. The churches that are strong in the community are the ones who give to the community. Whether it’s shovelling snow, giving away free water, mowing the neighbor’s lawn, helping the homeless, or teaching ESL classes, the church can use the giftings of it’s members to develop an entire spectrum of community-loving initiatives.

There are thousands of approaches, but if we focus more on the motivation, God will show us the way we can be most effective in our various communities. Everyone has an idea for winning the world to Christ. Some have developed graphs and charts and plans and ideas and programs. It really just comes down to living a visible faith. Personally, we need to be interacting with the lost. There needs to be someone or several people who we are actively, and prayerfully, sharing the gospel with on a consistent basis. As a church, we must be teaching and training and equipping members to share the gospel and we should be providing opportunities to share the story of Christ to our community.

It’s amazing that winning the world for Christ seems so simple and, at the same time, so difficult. God wants us to supply to our faith goodness and knowledge and self-control and endurance and godliness and brotherly affection and love. If those are ours and are increasing we will be effective in Christ. Those outside the church will see these qualities in us and will understand that our message is not empty, but full and rich with Truth. Steps and plans may come and go, but principles remain solid. The final step is really a principle that we need to live energetic, missional, evangelistic lives on our campus, in our jobs, and with our families. What step are you on? I hope you are on all three.

Boston (42° 21′ , -71° 7′)

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2 Responses

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  1. Anonymous said, on December 25, 2005 at 3.52 pm

    Nathan,
    You are an excellent writer, but above that, the vision God’s has given you and your faithfulness to His work is inspiring.

  2. amy said, on December 25, 2005 at 4.35 pm

    Merry Christmas to you! Your Awsome! God has given you a great gift. Keep up the great work. miss you. your friend Amy


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