Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can Churches & Christians Change? Yes We Can!

In the last couple of days, I like millions of Americans have watched the changing of the presidency and the historical inaugural of Barack Obama as our first African American President. I love history, I love justice, I love when people realize that they too can have hope for the future. That is what I saw in the eyes of "Black America" on election night and again yesterday, as I flipped through the coverage and saw CNN, Fox and others talk with the people on the ground. The one that was the most touching is the one on Larry King Live, when they interviewed a little girl [from Chicago] and her grandfather [a judge, from Detroit]. The little girl was excited about the future, the hope that was out there, but in contrast her grandfather was part of the civil rights movement and was at the "I Have A Dream" speech that was delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. two miles away from where Obama, became our 44th President. To see this grandfather weep... made me think about the suffering that his people went through to get to this point. Yesterday, this man saw change... it took sacrifice, hard work from thousands, even millions of people,... it cost some people everything they had... but they saw change.

Sometimes, i think of churches in the same manner, and even the Christian walk. Some thing has to change. Look, if Obama's presidential campaign can motivate millions of people to get out to vote and to make an impact in this world, in this culture, in their society... then why can't the church and the people in the churches do the same thing? As President Obama said yesterday, it was time to use new tools & methods with the same values of old to change this country & this world. Through out the campaign, we all the heard the chants, "Yes We Can!" Churches, it is now time to ask ourselves, can we, will we, do we want to make a difference in this world? Do we want to impact this country, this world with the influence of Jesus Christ? It is going to take change. It is going to take change of our methods & tools to communicate the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Do we have churches that are willing to change everything if they have to reach their communities, their neighborhoods, their cities, this country and this world with the Kingdom of God? For churches to change, it is going to take church leaders and people in the pews to change as well.

It is time for Christians, Christ followers, to "take up their cross" and follow Jesus. It is going to mean, that we must make a commitment to change our attitudes that church and Christianity is for Sunday morning only... and for us to start living out this Christian walk. It is time for us to make time in our schedules for more of Jesus, more room for the Holy Spirit to move in our lives. For some this is scary. For some of us, we are going to be called names like heretic, apostate, and even have our loyalties questioned. I believe that the church is being called to sacrifice like the leaders of the civil rights movement, to sacrifice it all... to take up their crosses and to follow the one and only Jesus. For us to make impact our culture with the Kingdom of God... it is going to take us, taking up our crosses and following Jesus. It is going to take us losing our lives, for the sake of Jesus and for the Gospel. This type of change is going to demand things from us, that we have never thought of... it is going to take a willingness to drop our will... our agendas for the sake of Jesus.

Can the churches of America change? Can the Christians in those churches change? YES WE CAN!

What will changed churches look like? We will stop and reverse the epidemic numbers of people leaving our churches... we will start to go places that we have never been before. We will take an honest look at our selves, our church's ministries, at how we are impacting the culture around us. We will never be satisfied when injustices continue in our country... our churches will broaden their social agenda, past the two biggies and make a stand against the injustice of poverty in the inner cities and the hills and hollers of Appalachia. We will start to be salt to our neighbors and communities around us. We will change the flavor of our workplaces because we look to shed light, where there is darkness. We will change our churches because of prayer. We will sacrifice to move the Kingdom of God forward in our communities... we will leave our church programs behind and move toward going and making disciples... we will go everywhere and become the messengers of Jesus. Our churches, our kids... will see hope in us. They too will be excited about the future of the church... they will be excited about what it is that God is doing in front of them.

Can the church of America change? Can the Christians in those churches change? YES WE CAN?

I will leave you with a quote from VineyardUSA's Church planting magazine, Cutting Edge in the Autumn, 2007 edition... "Many Christians continue to think that America really is the last best hope of earth. I very clearly want to contradict that and say, "No. It's not America. The church is the last and greatest hope on the face of the earth."

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