Recently, I have been wondering how Peter, a disciple of Jesus, would have fared in this generation in terms of effectiveness. Would Peter or John be wearing skinny jeans, sporting a tailored beard, and preaching with iPads? With the current outcry for the church to adapt to the changing world, we have seen the churches getting “edgy and professionalized” so they can relate and be more attractive to this generation. I have wondered many times how are churches going to look or respond in relation to the world. While I believe that we should relate to be effective, we also need to be careful not to change the message of the gospel for people who come to our church. God’s character does not change, but His methods do change in relationship with His people (thank God we don’t have to sacrifice animals to worship Him). We should change the methods but not God’s message or what he asks of us. The programs in the church can change, but there are three things that we should not change or forget as disciples of Christ.
First, a disciple should be following Christ. In Matthew 16:24 it says
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you
must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”
Jesus said that if we want to be His followers, we need to be like Him, selfless and enduring of our cross. Disciples in this generation must follow Christ and his example. We need to be more selfless and not worship comfort. We can make our churches really comfortable, as a sign of love and care for the believers, but we can’t forget that Jesus is not just our savior but also our Lord. Comfort is not the breeding ground for visions and revelation. If he is Lord, our lives should be submitted and immersed in Him. We must clearly point out that everyone can come as they are, but they should leave as a different person, as the power of God through His presence can change a person’s situation and disposition. If they came in lost and self-serving, angry, or depressed, they should leave the service empowered and transformed by the gospel. He is Lord.
Secondly, disciples should be connecting with other believers. Fellowship, a word that is normally misunderstood as just a gathering or meeting, is deeper than that. It’s not just being in the same location, but it requires some direction. It means we are in the same boat, and we are choosing to head in the same direction. Christians can be in the same place but have no specific direction. Potlucks are not necessarily fellowship, but they can be, because fellowship empowers and unites people. In Acts 2, it says that the disciples were all together in one place. They weren’t just there, they were there because Jesus asked them to wait for the Holy Spirit and that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came. They were in the same location, united with one direction, to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Fellowship isn’t a party, rather an empowered community. We need to know the importance of belonging to a local church.
Lastly, disciples should be winning people for the Lord. Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 4:19 “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” We need to share our testimonies and preach the gospel to everyone we know. Heaven and hell is not a myth. These two are eternal destinations, and they have eternal implications. Heaven is with God, and hell is a place of punishment with Satan. If we love the beauty of heaven, we should be disgusted at the ugliness of hell. We will need to find our voice in this generation because we have the best message—that God loves us and He died for us that we may be restored and made whole. It is time to get outside the four corners of the church and share the love and power of God that we have received. Freely we received, freely we must give. Peter went out and preached after he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was called to fish for men and that is what He did on the day of Pentecost and the remaining days of his life.
These three things were modeled by the disciples in the book of Acts. They were used to help the early church explode. We can do more with the resources that are available, but all of these resources will not be utilized if we forget the three things mentioned above. Let’s be relevant and relate. I also think we should go back to the basics.