The Wall Street Journal recently published an article discussing the possible release of a new “less-expensive” iPhone. This is a dramatic shift for the Romanesque Technology Empire. This rumor comes after a noticeable drop in Apple’s sales and an increase in their rivals’ more affordable smartphone. Apple has been known since 2007 as the premier provider for the latest and greatest smartphone technology. The problem for Apple is that, as the economy and culture shifts, so must their product line. If they want to be a single item seller, they better have the newest technology ready to roll out on their devices. So what does this have to do with the church?
The article from the Wall Street Journal reminds me of a marketing professor my wife had in college. He would walk around class with a toy dinosaur in his pocket, and anytime he had reason to he would pull out that dinosaur and say, “Evolve or die.”
Now, I am supremely confident in the fact that the Body of Christ will not die. However, that doesn’t mean some of the individual church bodies won’t close their doors if they do not take notice of an ever changing culture. One way to prevent that from happening is to remember the functions of the church and see that they’re executed effectively.
- Worship occurs through all that we do. Remember, “Love the Lord God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Worship occurs in a variety of ways: alone, in small groups, with tons of people, through singing, through prayer, and in life. No matter how the worship comes it must be focused on Christ, He must be the object of our worshiping.
- We must be ever mindful of the calling to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” (Matthew 22:39) The church must be going out, as a way of life, and demonstrating God’s love to the world in which it lives. The church must invest itself into the community around them in a effort to share the glorious love of Jesus with them.
- While investing in the community is important, the church cannot just present a social gospel and hope for the best by fulfilling community needs. The church’s hope and our communities’ hope can only be found in the Good News of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work. The church exists to communicate the whole message of Jesus Christ: His coming, His life, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His promise that He will return.
- While I enjoy a good pot-luck and chicken dinner, that’s not the point of fellowship. Fellowship is a joining together and a bringing-in people type of event. While we are worshiping, ministering to others, and evangelizing we should be baptizing those who come to faith in Christ. Why? Because it is a symbol that they are being brought into the fellowship of the church and are now identified with the body of Christ. They now belong to a fellowship of believers who are a family and they “do life” together.
- Through loving God, loving others, ministering to those whom are loved, sharing the Good News of Christ with them and bringing them into the fellowship of the body the church is now commanded to teach them. The church is to build up others in faith and in knowledge to become mature committed believers.
Our churches need to avoid the Apple mentality that they have found the perfect formula to success and will remain top dog. There is no standard formula on how to be successful. Things change. While the functions of the church should not change, the form by which they are accomplished must be examined. With each new generation the church must understand how to best carry out the five functions for maximum impact. The difficulty is that there isn’t a one size fits all model. The model that works in one demographic may not work in another. It is up to individual church leaders to adequately assess the community in which they live and put into practice an effective means of reaching that community for Jesus Christ.
What are some way that you are carrying out the five functions of the church? How are they different from what was once done before?