We are currently engaged in an initiative at LifePoint called “To Be The Church.” We are 46 days away from the finish line, which also happens to be Easter Sunday. This blog is the compilation of some thoughts I’ve had stirring in my mind in regards to the necessity of change and growth within a local church.
In the church the timeless and timely intersect. Our identity in Jesus is a timeless thing. We share this identity, as the church, with millions of other Christians across thousands of years of history. We are united with them, as the church, by the timeless person of Jesus Christ, the timeless gospel of Jesus Christ, and the timeless truths of God’s word. We also share in a timeless mission—to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded us.
Because our identity in Jesus is timeless, our methods (how we live that identity out) must be timely.
Because our Savior, the gospel, and the word of God do not change, we must continually change and adapt in our cultural context in order to bring these timeless truths to those around us.
It’s like riding a bike. You pick up momentum as you lean and move forward, and if you continue that movement you sail. If you stop moving, adjusting, or going forward, you fall over. Forward movement, dynamic change, and continuous progress keep you on track.
It is the same with the church. We must hold tightly to the timeless truths of the gospel of Jesus and the word of God, knowing that our essential identity as Christians does not change. BUT: we as individuals, and together as local churches, must embrace consistent forward movement in order to both accomplish our mission and fulfill our identity. Continual transformation, continual shift, is an essential part of being the church.
The church that stops moving forward DIES. The church that stops changing DIES. The church that doesn’t embrace continual transformation DIES. We don’t compromise the timeless truths and timeless aspects of our identity as gospel-centered, Jesus-focused, Bible-saturated Christians. But we must continually shift and grow and change in a timely manner in order to carry out our timeless mission.
Over the course of history the church has continually adapted. Here are just a few examples:
- Language: Around the time of the Reformation the Bible went from Latin-only translations, to the vernacular of the people.
- Technology: from the printing press to audio amplification to television to Twitter, the church has continually adapted to advance the gospel.
- Dress: From formal to informal (I’m aware this isn’t the case everywhere, but most places are beginning to eschew formal dress for a wardrobe that reflects what average people wear everyday).
- Programs: From facility-centered programming to equipping-centered strategies which empower people to bring the gospel forth where they live.
We must continually adapt our methods to the times, because we carry with us a gospel that is timeless. Since our mission doesn’t change, how we carry it out must.
 The concept of “timeless/timely” is one I picked up a few years ago. I believe I first heard it phrased this way by Mark Driscoll at some point in his teaching.