When Jesus declared the world-altering statement, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations,’ He arguably had in mind many different things, including planting new churches in all cultures. New churches, even when established in areas where the church already exists, have a unique ability to reach new groups of people and bring new life and energy to the proclamation of the gospel. We certainly need the stability of decades old churches, but we also need the energy and vitality of new churches. We recently visited just such a church.
This church is two years old, and the day we attended was actually their 2-year anniversary. This is a brand new local expression of the body of Christ just learning how to be a body, and I would say they are doing a pretty good job of it! The body life was vibrant and fresh with an extended greeting time between the corporate worship music time and the sermon; never seen it done quite like that before, but it worked well.
The pastor was young and used his iPad for his sermon notes, scrolling down as he preached. I couldn’t help but observe that when I started preaching, I used ‘yellow pads’, and now they use ‘iPads’! Such a contrast, yet an awesome example of the church moving forward with the culture, not afraid to use the latest tools and technology for the advance of the gospel.
New methods and technology did not in any way change the old, old message, the truth of Scripture, and the fact that Jesus is the only way. I wrote down a salient quote from the sermon: “how we respond to Jesus determines everything.” Indeed.
It is widely recognized that it will take new churches to reach new generations; that it is incredibly difficult for older churches to change with the culture. Some would say they shouldn’t change, but they should stick with the old methods and styles that they have been using for the past 50 years. Regardless of one’s view on that point, this church was using new methods and a new vibe to reach a new generation. Even so, there was no shortage of gray hair in attendance. And I was blown away when the pastor shared that 80% of the congregation was involved in ministry! That turns the old 80/20 adage on its head, and in a good way!
I quickly recognized that attending a Sunday morning service was not a completely fair way to get a feel for this church body; by their own statements they proclaimed, “community groups are the heartbeat of [this church].” Nevertheless, there was an energy, a youthfulness, an innovation that came through loud and clear, even as the truth was proclaimed without apology. This church clearly has a bright future, reaching people with the gospel that might not have otherwise been reached. It may be in the toddler phase, but it is acting all grown up in taking the great commission seriously. May we continue to plant new churches in every part of the world, that many more may find the good news of Jesus Christ!