By her very nature as a bride, the church is a living and growing community. She is a young woman betrothed. Her goal is maturity, she is being prepared to meet her Lord and therefore, like all young women, she is not only growing, she is changing.
The Reformers understood this and were not afraid to work hard in order to see her flourish. Even if it meant separation, derision and discomfort. It was costly then and it is costly now. Never-the-less, this beautiful woman will grow. What was begun in Christ and has continued on down through the ages has now become the calling of this generation.
Growing pains are just that. Painful. As our congregation seeks to find it’s place and purpose in the Kingdom of God our faithfulness is paramount. We must seek to remain faithful to scripture and all that it has to say to the Church. We must also remain faithful to one another.
This means, we must be careful not to sweat the small stuff as we work toward reformation in Tanilba Bay. By God’s grace, our congregation is going to change and grow. God has set a pattern for the church in His word. We should consider it a joy to search the scripture in order to understand it. What follows is an introduction to that pattern for all of us to consider.
Understanding our Mission
Having established that we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ as our Head, there are two questions that we need to ask ourselves. We must ask, “what is our relationship to one another?” and “What is our relationship to the world around us?”
Mission Among the Saints
Internally, our mission could be stated,
“To equip one another for the work of the ministry until we all reach maturity in Christ.”
The goal is to be transformed into the image of Christ. That is what it means to be mature. And God, by His Spirit, has given to the church servants to equip and nurture us to that end.
While all of us are involved in the work, God has ordered His creation so that this transformation happens from the top down. When Adam fell, those under him fell. When Christ rose, those under Him arose also.
Likewise, throughout Israels’ history it was generally true that when the King, Priest and Prophets were faithful, so were the people. And, when God prepared to call the Hebrew nation out from Egypt, He started by appointing and working with Moses and the elders of the community (Ex 3:15-16). When Christ came, He began His ministry in the same way.
By gathering and nurturing the leaders of a New Israel. And so, as a church we will start in the same place. In nurturing a strong eldership capable of fulfilling its task of Shepherding, Ruling and Teaching. So that, the people of God might also be equipped to serve and continue to grow up into Christ.
What flows naturally from this is our external witness, our answer to the question, “What is our relationship to the world around us?”
Mission Among the Nations
Externally, our mission could be stated,
To gather and disciple the nations under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
The goal is to present the world with the Grace and Truth of Jesus Christ and urge them to come in to His Kingdom. Essentially, God is calling all mankind to His Feast. It is the most joyful of all Feasts and we are called to present it that way.
Israel was called to be a light to the Nations. She was to present herself as a kingdom of Priests, living holy lives. In the life of Israel, the Nations would see the wisdom, glory and transforming power of God and they would come to her in order to be reconciled. As the New Priestly Kingdom, our aim is to present the power of the gospel in the same way. Our transformation will lead to theirs.
Putting it into Practice
Because the gospel effects every area of our personal lives, it is going to also effect every area of church life. Where we worship, how we worship and what we aim to accomplish through our worship.
It is going to effect how we do our evangelism and how we structure ourselves for every area of ministry.
The bible sets out a very simple pattern by which the church is to be structured. It will be our aim to understand and adopt that structure.
But changing things is not an end in itself. Our desire for change must come from the top down. Change must come from a love for and submission to, Christ as our Head. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
We accept change because we want to grow in maturity and because we want to make the display of Jesus Christ clearer and clearer to the world around us. In every decision that lies ahead, we need to be asking the same questions,
“How will doing this equip the saints and bring them to maturity in Christ?” and, “How will doing this enable the nations to hear, see and be discipled into the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Loving One Another
Finally, as we make a fresh start together, we are bound to face obstacles. One of the greater obstacles – and a common church splitter, is a failure to faithfully love one another.
Our love must not be an abstract concept. It must be lived out. We love one another by being honest, open and transparent. We love by bearing with one another’s weakness and by depending on grace. God has welcomed us. The overflow of His grace is that we are now free to welcome one another.
- The wisdom of some change may not become evident all at once. Love is patient.
- Some of the changes that we make may get under our sinful skin. Love is Kind.
- Some of the changes we make will not suite our pride. Love does not insist on it’s own way.
- Some of the changes we make may not conform to our many traditions. But love rejoices in the truth and our faith must rest in the truth as it is in Jesus.
Please pray for our congregation. Pray that we will be open to godly change. Pray that we will be open and approachable toward one another. And pray that we will resist worldliness and remain faithful to our Saviour in all things as head of His church.