I think the saying is basically true: we are either going forward, standing still or falling behind.
1. That saying is true for churches
2. The problem is that it is very easy to become complacent and comfortable (the prelude to standing still)
3. Once we stand still, everyone passes us by and we begin to fall behind
Note: Phil 3:13-14
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
1. Paul believed in moving ahead
2. It is the only way to avoid stagnation and failure
As a church, we need to think about what it takes to move ahead.
1. We must never be satisfied with the past or believe that what we are doing in the present is all that we can or should do
2. To achieve all that God will give us opportunity to do, we must be ready to move forward to meet the challenges of the future
There are Challenges to accept
1. I don't intend to list a lot of specific things to do
2. I do intend to list many of the different kind of things we can do
3. We just need to decide that the challenges before us are there because God wants us to do something about them
I. Accept the Challenge of Making a Difference in the World.
A. Some verses we need to focus on
1. Note: Matt 5:13-16
2. In 1 Pet 2:9, Peter said that we were a chosen generation, a royal priest- hood, a holy nation.
B. We need to accept the challenge of making a difference in our world.
1. That difference must come as we live rooted in and founded on the Word of God
2. Christians have been silenced and made to feel unwelcome and unwanted by the world.
3. I've got news for you -- you are unwelcome and unwanted by the world, and it probably won't get any better.
4. But we cannot let them shut us up, shut us own, shut us out or shut us in.
C. We must not resort to ungodly actions, but we must continue to show the world that we have answers to the problems plaguing mankind.
1. Prime example -- we need to oppose the abortion of unborn children, not because it is politically unacceptable, but because it is morally wrong.
2. However, those who advocate killing abortionists are just as wrong as the abortionist are.
3. How can a someone miss this point so drastically?
D. We can change the world the same way God's people have always changed the world.
1. One person at a time.
2. By teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus and changing the hearts and minds of those who live around us.
II. Accept the Challenge of Reaching Our World with the Gospel.
A. Everywhere I go , I find people who think their community is not open to the gospel of Jesus.
1. Is it based on the failure of well planned efforts to evangelize the local community? -- No
2. Is it because there is so much opposition or animosity to the church that no one will listen? -- No
3. It is because the people so hated God that they refused to yield to his will? -- No
4. Usually, it is because the local church simply does not make the effort.
B. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)
1. Coca Cola is so well known, that you can go into some of the most remote places in the world and there you will find bottles of Coke
2. Their motto: Think globally but act locally! They want to be everywhere, but to do it they know they take care of each location.
3. We need to learn this lesson.
4. It is tremendous that we are able to have the mission program that we have, but if we fail to reach people in our own community it will hinder what we can do with our mission works.
III. Accept the Challenge of Developing Leadership.
A. Have you thought about who will lead the church in 10, 20, 30 years?
1. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Tim 2:2)
2. Paul invested himself in the training of Timothy.
3. Timothy was to do the same with other faithful men, who would in turn invest themselves in yet others.
4. Christian leaders must develop future leaders.
B. Just as there is a responsibility of leaders to train, there is a responsibility of followers to become trained.
1. To lead one must have someone to follow.
2. Good leaders, most often, first learned how to be good follower
C. I might add that currently the challenge is to develop male leadership.
1. There has been much controversy among churches over ministries like "Promise Keepers".
2. The need of today is for men to be leaders!
3. Too often men have abdicated their biblical roles to their wives.
4. Before you ladies take issue with me, just remember that God established the roles of husbands and wives, and you cannot improve on Godís plan.
5. God has a chain of authority that we must respect and develop if we are going to succeed in accomplishing his will. cf Eph. 5:23 & 1 Co. 11:3
IV. Accept the Challenge of Following Godís Word.
A. The effort to move the church forward into the future must not abandon the foundation of Scripture as our authority for what we do
1. In recent years, there have been decisions made by some that threaten to change our worship and our work with unbiblical reasoning.
2. Some of those are:
a. The increased use of entertainment as a replacement for worship.
b. Abandoning the model of male leadership.
c. A de-emphasis on the importance of repentance and forgiveness for salvation
d. Compromise of various other doctrinal points for the sake of making Christianity more appealing to the world.
B. Here's what the Bible says about the importance of God's Word.
1. "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." (Deu 12:32)
2. "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:" (Rev 22:18)
3. "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Rev 22:19)
C. Those who are going to believe that the Bible is the word of God, must also believe that God has put in it all that we must believe and do.
1. Beyond that, people simply add or subtract their own ideas and desires in place of God's.
2. We must be a people rooted in the book.
a. We must know what God's will is.
b. We must not be so tied to our traditions or customs that we fight against God's will.
c. We must not be so quick to look for new answers and methods that we neglect what God says.
Ultimately, moving the church forward into the future involves every member.
1. Since the church is people, the church moves only as its people move
2. All these challenges are personal challenges to each one of us
3. Note this poem: "This is my church..."
It is composed of people just like me. It will be friendly if I am. It will do a great work if I work. It will make generous gifts to many causes if I am generous. It will bring others into its fellowship if I bring them. Its seats will be filled if I fill them. It will be a church of loyalty and love, of faith and service. If I who make it what it is, am filled with these. Therefore, with God's help, I dedicate myself to the task of being all these things I want my church to be.
What kind of church do you want to be a part of? One that is going and growing? Then we must be a part of that! Will you accept the challenge to see this church grow and be all that God intends for it to be?
If you are without Christ, will you come to Him for salvation tonight? If God is dealing with your heart will you come and settle things? The invitation is open for all who will come.