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Leading the Church in Times of Transition

By Mickey Keith on January 11, 20070 Comments
Leading the Church in Times of Transition-

The Church is mentioned 115 times in the New Testament.
15 times= global
100 times=local.

God has His eye on the Church and is as passionate about her as a Bridegroom is his bride! Zechariah 2:8...he who touches you, touches the apple of his eye.”
These biblical names for the church give us an indication of God's affection for the church: Body of Christ-Family-Flock-Chosen generation-Royal Priesthood-Holy Nation

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him in love.” Eph. 1:4 NASB

Of the 115 times the word church is mentioned in the New Testament, most of them come from the Greek word “Ecclesia” which means `called out ones’.

We are `called out' of :

Darkness into Light
Sickness into Health
Poverty into Wealth
Bondage into Liberty
Depression into Joy

The word `church’ never refers to a building, in fact the early church didn’t have access to buildings- Budgets, buses, bank accounts…
All of these things enter our thinking when we speak of `church’ however, the church is a BODY of related believers!

God desires to establish for Himself a family- He is the Father, and Jesus is the elder brother. John 1:11-13 “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”
That makes us brothers and sister in Christ.

God is so passionate about building for Himself a family that He was willing to give His son, His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for all of mankind. He planted His best seed in to the soil of the earth , and He is receiving a harvest of many sons and daughters.

John 3:16,17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

John 12:24The truth is, a kernel of wheat must be planted in the soil. Unless it dies it will be alone--a single seed. But its death will produce many new kernels--a plentiful harvest of new lives NLT

God loves the church- Jesus died for the church, and He said, ”Upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Matthew 16:18

The church is in a period of transition- How do we lead effectively in transition?
Fossil= “A piece of organic matter that couldn't make the transition.”

Israel struggled because they couldn't make the transition from slavery to a theocracy- They saw that other neighboring nations had a king, so they demanded a king… God gave them a king, but His plan was to be their king and rule through the prophets and priests.

Transitions in the scripture that were managed well- Moses to Joshua/Elijah to Elisha.

“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: 2 "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” Joshua 1:1-3 NIV

“…anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah”. I Kings 19 NIV

Jesus told a parable about transition in Luke 5:37-39 “And no one puts new wine into old wine skins: otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wine skins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, The old is good enough”. (The old ways are better)

It is in transition that gains are won or lost. Every relay runner will tell you that the race is won or lost in the changing of the baton.

In times of transition, people’s hearts are tender toward God…divorce, death in family, loss of job, financial reversal, etc.. These are great times to penetrate otherwise `hard hearts’ with the love of God and truth of the Gospel!

Lee Iaccoca took over Chrysler motors during the most difficult of transitions. They were facing bankruptcy, but because of his strong leadership, Chrysler became a world leader and still remains at the top of the automotive industry.

Churches advance or decline in times of transition…We lose or gain based on how we handle change. But so many churches refuse to change.. Our mindset is `speak to the north , south , east and west, “ and God will send them in…“
When He has told us to pray the Lord of the Harvest that He send forth laborers into the harvest field! He taught us when you give a feast, go into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in! “Go ye into all the world! Most Christians don’t understand the GO YE part!

Many times attending a church service seems like stepping into a `time warp ‘. Songs, customs, clothing, decorations, and media all are still behind the times, because someone refuses to change with the current culture. Don’t misunderstand me- The message must always remain the same, but the methods must be relevant to keep pace with the culture. In case you haven’t noticed, the culture is different than when we were children.

We must not put our `heads in the sand’ and hope things will go back to the way they were in the days of `Leave it to Beaver’. Today, there is no June Cleaver at home when many kids come home from school. Instead,, she is forced to work all day to make ends meet, because she is the sole bread winner in the family. 24.7 million children (36.3%) live absent their biological father. About 40% of children who live in fatherless households haven’t seen their fathers in at least a year.

MTV, Disney, and Nickelodeon are spending millions to preach their messages to our kids to influence the way they think, shop, dress and relate to the world. We must seize the moment- “Carpe Diem” and become a church that relates to today’s youth culture.

For a missionary to cross cultures without studying the language and customs of the people he is trying to reach is futile. Hudson Taylor was barely in his twenties when he arrived in China as a cross cultural missionary. When he chose to adopt the Chinese habits of diet and dress, he met with opposition…. from the veteran missionaries. But Taylor captured the hearts of the Chinese because he was willing to go beyond the ordinary. This revolutionary way of thinking opened doors for his ministry, and set the pace for decades of other missionaries.

Let’s reinforce the identity of children who are not hearing it from their fathers…Matthew 3:16,17 NIV “This is my son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.” Our blessing and affirmation of our children means everything to their success and their future. But what about the kids who are not getting the blessing from a nurturing, affirming environment at home? This is where the church must rise up and care, love, nurture, teach and reach a generation!

The battle lines are drawn, and the message is clear- will we let the world shape the values of this generation?
We must reach this generation of 20-somethings, and build `cutting edge’ harvesting churches!

The following chart shows the percentage of each generation of Americans who are Bible-believing Christians according to the latest George Barna survey:

Builders-1927-1945 - 65% born again
Boomers - 1946-1964 - 37% born again
Busters- 1964-1982 - 17% born again
Bridger's/ millennials - 1982-today - 4% born again

America has gone from a Christian nation to an unreached people group in three generations. How will this group of Americans shape our culture in the next 5 to 10 years?
Currently 4.5 million teens turn 20 each year. Once a child reaches that milestone, the odds of reaching them for Christ are 10 to 1. Barna research - “What you believe at 13, you’ll die believing”. The average age of conversion in America today is 15 years old, and 80 % takes place before age 24.

But we have reason to hope! Jesus is too large to ever be silenced. His name will be great among the nations(Mal.1:1) This young generation of Americans are more missions conscious than any group before. Each year, more American teens take missions trips than ever before in history. As a result, many of them have a great, encompassing,broadened world-view.

GenXers and Millennials are also very spiritually hungry, not for religion or even church, but for the reality of the Christ living in them. We must respond to the challenge, pray for strategies and be open to the Spirit.

God has not overlooked this generation. They have been chosen for great things! They will be history makers!

Remember, the water is turbulent where oceans meet. We must respond to the challenge of transition, pray for God's strategies, and be open to His Spirit. The world has a great stronghold on this generation, but `Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world."

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