Church, We’ve Had A Problem
Church, We’ve Had a Problem.
Key to Spiritual transformation # 6: Transformation is the business of the church. For other keys see http://www.baptistdigest.org.
On Tuesday 04/13/1970, Apollo 13 was nearing our silvery galactic neighbor. Suddenly, damaged wires caused the number two oxygen tank to explode. At a distance of 199, 990 miles from earth you can bet your bottom dollar that Commander James A. Lovell knew there was a problem. Calmly, he sends these fearful words to headquarters: “Houston we’ve had a problem.” A plan was devised and amid much ado exploration of the Fra Mauro Highlands on the dark side of the moon (the mission of Apollo 13) was aborted but the spacecraft returned to earth with its crew intact.
Many voices today from within the church speak the sobering words that must be spoken to the church: “we’ve had a problem. What’s the way back?” The problem is lack of transforming discipleship (a term Gregg Ogden uses). What is transforming discipleship? It is the intentional development of the character and the gifts of Christ-followers to live a Christ-centered life. The business of the Church is to train Christians to become followers of Christ by becoming students of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). How will church as we do it change if we trained in becoming this kind of disciple and in doing what these passages describe? Colossians 3:12-15; Luke 6:46-49; Matthew 16:21-26; Lune 14:7-11; Galatians 2:19-21; Luke 14:28-33; Luke 17:7-10; Psalm 127:1-2; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 13:33-35.
We have a problem in that we have not focused our resources in doing the main business of the church. Jesus’ strongest desire was the continuation of his mission: make disciples and “train them to do everything I have told you to do” Matthew 28:19. This training of Christ’s followers is the unchanging business we are in: “You have one main business in the church; duplicate all I did with you. You heard me teach and you saw me practice many things. Some you won’t remember, but the Holy Spirit will remind you.”(Dallas Willard in Divine Conspiracy)
The main preoccupation of the church, the main skill it must develop, the major resources it must contribute, ought to be geared to the formation of the Spirit of Christ in his disciples. If that is not the business of the church what else, pray, can it ever be? Who will evangelize? Who will be our missionaries to the world? Who will be our devoted to Christ heads of state? Who better to rise to the top to lead businesses than transformed disciples? Who will repair our appliances and our cars better than an honest, Christ-like disciple?
I have labored in many jobs in the world. I have served in many local church ministries for all my Christian life. I have served as pastor, deacon, teacher, committee member, board member, and janitor. However, one more thing there is left for me to do is to be a member of a team that takes the challenge of teaching and training of the “whatsoever I have commanded you” seriously. To execute the vision and discover the means of implementing it in a local church and watch what happens in our midst. Have you such a team whose sole purpose is the implementation of a plan for Christ-centered living? Heart transformation will not happen by accident! This team will see to it that every aspect of church life is dedicated to learning and living out “The Everything” Jesus has commanded. That would be a dream-come-true; perhaps worth the cost of all else we do in church. This is Headquarters’ solution. This is our business.
When it comes to the transformation of the human character (changing the heart, soul, mind, and body) and the mission of disciple making as Jesus commissioned we rank as novices. Not many will disagree with this statement. Alarming results drive the last statement. Southern Baptists sources tell of an army defection from church and faith when our children leave for college. They are dropping their faith like a hot potato. This high rate of casualties demands a correction of course. We cry out “Help, God, we’ve had a problem. Help us to become experts in the business of character transformation.” If people are not changing from the inside out discipleship isn’t happening. And if disciples are not rising up, we’ve gone into the wrong business. We have a problem.
Strong words these! I know. They are not meant to condemn but to exhort us to find—and to petition Headquarters for—the solutions we desperately need. Crashing is not an option. Aborting our mission is out of the question. We must land on the platform of the ship we call discipleship as designed by our Head Engineer.
Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus designed our mission when he handed over the business of making of disciples to his disciples. Apollo 13 had to abort its mission because of a problem. We can’t abort ours. Heaven help us to train spiritual astronauts who know how to fly the spacecraft of Christianity into the heart of every person that orbits our lives. Our business is to train ourselves and others to walk with the Master. No worthier mission will ever be given.
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