Not long ago I was driving and saw an old, broken-down, pitiful representation of an automobile.
It was a Lexus.
Yes, I said Lexus. Even luxury cars get old. They get dented, dirty and worn out. Everything WE make gets old. This includes ways we’ve created to share the Gospel.
Ouch. You may not like that. Even Jesus told us that when the subject of new wine and new wineskins come up, many don’t want to hear about it. They want the old stuff (Luke 5:39).
But in new contexts, for new people, we need new ways to share the one thing that never gets old: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How does that happen? By adapting. In my new book, “Gospel DNA: Five Markers of a Flourishing Church,” I note the importance of Adaptability (p. 150):
Adaptability is a both/and proposition: Both being tenacious about the truth and being daring about outreach coexist; both tradition and innovation walk together; both the old and the new inhabit the life of the movement. This requires a great deal of trust, communication, accountability and intentionality. People from different generations need to love each other. Individuals with differing opinions and preferences need to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Common values and beliefs need to be reinforced over and over again while permission is given to stretch into new areas by doing new things. If a church does not steward this balance carefully, decline can set in. [Steve] Addison wisely noted (in his book, Movements That Change the World, p.110):
When powerful organizations and movements in one era end up crippled in the next, the cause is often “the failure of success.” They become so convinced what they are doing is right that they stop paying attention to the world around them. They stop learning and adapting. Worse still, the informal methods that brought the initial success become formalized in inflexible and complex policies and procedures. Creativity and innovation jump ship or are made to walk the plank. There is a cure for movements that have lost touch with a changing world. They must revisit their core beliefs and then give the young and the young at heart freedom to pioneer something new.
How might we ramp up our capacity to bring the one thing that never gets old to an ever-changing world?
By: Rev. Michael W. Newman (www.mnewman.org)
Mission & Ministry Facilitator, Area C