The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXI
This past week, our local pastor taught from Titus 2, exhorting what older men and women and the younger men should do, their roles and responsibilities. There were six bullets of what older men should do, five bullets with five sub-bullets for older women, only one for young men, and young women weren’t even mentioned. The only thing for young men was “self control”. I joked with a friend that as an older man more is expected of us, and for a young man it is controlling his testosterone level! Older women are to guard their young ladies from these young men! We all laughed.
But as I thought about it later, I realized that growing up has its challenges and its benefits. There are men in their 30’s, some even older, who still play video games all day and are going nowhere. They need to “grow up”. Often the only difference between a father and his son is the price of their toys. The father’s need to “grow up”. The Bible says, “Once I was a child, and thought as a child, but now I have put childish things away.” There is a time to put away those childish things and “grow up”.
If the 21st Century Church wants to be effective, then many of its believers need to “grow up”. We call ourselves “children of God” and often revel in remaining a “child” in the process called sanctification, or spiritual growth. I once was in a small group made up of six adults and fourteen children. Most of our efforts were taking care of the fourteen children rather than continual development of the six adults. The church often finds itself in the same situation, spending most of its time and energy on the “children of God” rather than helping them in their spiritual growth toward “the maturity of Christ”, in their effort to be more Christ-like.
The church needs a new mindset on how to “develop” a Christian from childhood to adulthood. Educational and intellectual knowledge is not enough. I truly believe Ephesians 4 holds the key to this development of “equipping, preparing, the saints, the believers, for the work of the service” in an effort to bring unity in the Body of Christ and Christ-like maturity to the individual believer.
The 21st Century Church needs to take the birthing process of an evangelist, to the nursery and preschool care of a new believer through a pastor/shepherd, through spiritual adolescence with the teacher and prophet, to the release of adulthood through an apostle. “Growth toward Release” is the goal of the five fold in developing a believer. Like a child who trusts and is dependent on his father for his care and development, the Christian believer trusts the Church for his care and development in teaching him how to trust their “Father”, God, as Jesus taught and modeled throughout his life. If the Church teaches a believer to “trust” the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of the Father God, the believer can then be released to do the work of the service because he is prepared, equipped.
Instead of focusing on programs, church services, styles of worship, staffing needs, and doctrinal differences like the church has done in the last two centuries, the 21st Century Church needs to focus on the preparation, the equipping, of Christian believers, their development from being a “child” of God to being “mature” in the likeness of Christ.