Christians in the west have conducted 'church' services the same way for the last 1700 years. A model birthed out of the Constantine era, rather than from the first century 'Church'. This model is not only flawed but has outlived its usefulness many times over.
"Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans." (John 4 : 7 -9) NLT
In the above scripture, Jesus did something that was totally unorthodox for that time in history. He changed the model so that the Samaritan woman could hear the gospel. (the mission).
If Jesus had stuck with tradition and the same old model of dealing with the Samaritan people, it would have hindered Him from accomplishing His mission, to save those that are lost.
Here is another example:
"In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, And he (Jesus) noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves." Matthew 21:18,19
In this scripture, Jesus saw a fig tree with nice green leaves. He was hungry, so he approached the tree assuming it was producing figs.
Too many of today's ministries are like this fig tree. They look good from a distance, but upon close examination are fruitless. They look impressive, but their model is flawed. Their appearances are deceiving, and like the fig tree, these ministries are slowly withering away.
Note: Jesus was still hungry when he cursed that fig tree. Like Jesus, many souls are and have walked away still hungry desiring nourishment and to be edified.
Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman and the fig tree, are two examples of how traditions and outdated models have a history of being or becoming barriers, or stumbling blocks.
J. Lee Grady said it best, "What worked 30 years ago has outlived its usefulness."
Throughout history, the people of God learned to use the tools and technology of their time to reach the lost. They were able to change the model of ministry without compromising the mission.
- Jesus used the Roman roads and common language to save the lost.
Mission: Save the lost
- Apostle Paul and Luke used writing, papyrus and scrolls to communicate and teach the word of God to the growing Church throughout Rome.
Models: writing, papyrus and scrolls
Mission: to communicate and teach the word of God
- Martin Luther was not only a priest, but a professor of theology who started the Protestant Reformation. For him to be credited with this, he needed something to help spread his preaching across Europe. Enter Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press.
The printing press allowed for Martin Luther to become one of the most famous priests this world has ever known. It also allowed for Luther to push the Protestant Reformation.
Model: The printing press
Mission: help spread his revelation and preaching across Europe
- Billy Graham used radio and TV to revolutionize evangelism to reach the world in ways not seen since Paul and the early church.
Models: Radio and TV
Mission: Reach the world with evangelism
- The land line phone and the Smart Phone are two different models of the phone. Though they both allow you to communicate. The Smartphone on the other hand...Well, if you have one, you already know.
Model: The land line phone is a relic and one dimensional.
Mission: To be able to communicate anywhere, anytime, untethered.
The phrase, "We've always done it this way" is a poor excuse to always do it the same way. From time to time, it's necessary to change the model or kill the mission.