Friday, April 07, 2006

Transforming Churches

Part of the whole transformation process that is going on today has to do with the transformation of churches. Already in the '70s the environment was being created to prepare churches and leaders for radical change. One of the war cries of the early charismatic movement was “new wine in new wineskins,” meaning that the church has to be changed or transformed in order to accept the “new wine.” New wine was interpreted to mean “the new thing that God is doing.” This is of course not what Jesus meant at all when He said those words as recorded in Matthew 9:17.

This emphasis on “new things” suggested that the old things are obsolete and of no value. Leading this “new move” are “prophets” who are constantly trying to project the church into the future. This vision for the future church has no similarity to God’s design for the church and is contrary to the Bible’s predictions of what the church in the end times would look like.

Unfortunately, they are also willfully ignorant of the fact that the true ministry of prophets, both Old and New Testament, is not to focus on the future and new things. Yes, a small portion of the prophetic ministry has to do with the future, but this may be less than ten percent of their total function. The true function of prophets is to call people back to the Word. The prophets in the Old Testament were constantly calling Israel to return to her roots, to her God and to the Law. Isaiah said: “And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter," should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:19,20).

What the church needs today is not to be transformed into some seeker-sensitive, marketing driven, politically powerful business. It needs to return to its roots. It needs to seek out the old paths. (Jeremiah 6:16).

The true church does not need to be transformed. By definition it is made up of those who are true believers, walking in obedience to the Head of the Church. If that is true then each of those members will be doing what Christ expects of them and will be functioning in the Church according to His will. To say that the true Church needs to be transformed is to say that Christ is making a mess and is a bad workman. After all, it is He who is building the Church. (Matthew 16:18).

But now we have become so arrogant to want to tell the Head of the Church that He did not know what He was doing throughout the last 2,000 years, and that we are going to fix what He messed up and improve on the principles He established in His Word! May the Lord be merciful.
The false church cannot be transformed. It is false and anti-Christ and will never, and can never be anything else. The future of the pseudo religious system is not one of greatness but of calamity. “Therefore her plagues will come in one day – death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, `Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.' And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore” (Revelation 18:8-11). (Babylon and the Great Harlot does not only refer to Rome, but to every false religious system.)

Our only hope for those who are true believers are that the ones and twos will come out of the false systems and be separate and holy to the Lord. “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)

This does not mean that preachers should not call people to a deeper walk, more holiness, more commitment, etc. But to suggest that the true church needs to be transformed or that the false church can be transformed is simply not true. There certainly are many individual churches that need to be changed. But this change is not to some new paradigm or any of the new formats, worship styles or worldviews that are being promoted today. Those churches that are not where they ought to be, need to repent and to return to their first love, the pure doctrine, a simplicity of worship and a right relationship with one another and the Lord Jesus.

The kind of transformation of churches that is being promoted is certainly a transformative process. I am not arguing that it is bringing about change. The question is whether that change is for the better or for the worse. Since the promoters of the process are clearly scornful of the old values, it is obvious that the change then has to be further away from the Lord, the Bible and Truth.

Also to suggest that by adopting a new marketing strategy, new worship style and new hierarchy, that a church can be transformed is a delusion. The church is made up of individuals and unless those individuals are, or become, the people God wants them to be, the church cannot be improved.

If your church is in need of change in the sense that it is not what the Lord in His Word expects it to be, then the change better begin with you and I. Anything else will lead to a whitewashing of the tomb while the inside is still filled with dead bones and uncleanness (Matthew 23:27). If you long for a change in your church there is only one thing you can do. Pray that the Lord will change you and transform you into His likeness. That is all. You cannot change others or the system. Once you get to be whom the Lord wants you to be, He will direct you and use you but it has to begin with you and I.

Not my brother, not my sister, but it's me oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer

Not the preacher, not the sinner, but it's me oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer

[Reprinted with the permission of Anton Bosch]

The Truth:

"Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil." (Prov. 3:7)