When I was in NYC last week I saw a huge banner on the fence of a university that is undergoing a restoration project.
“Restoring the past, building the future.”
I thought how applicable that statement is relating to our assemblies. Somewhere along the way we lost some of the focus of the New Testament church (the past) while failing to build for the future.
Restoring the past
One of the most important aspects of restoring the past is making a distinction between biblical principle and man-made tradition. Many people are clinging to the past by trying to maintain traditions that are either simply cultural, generational or personal preference. Adherence to a system of practice and equating it to doctrine or biblical principle is damaging and only helps to create a divide between the younger and the older generations.
On the other hand, when we look into the New Testament we see definite principles, some of which have been forgotten, minimized or set aside. These principles need to be discovered again and brought back to the center of our teaching. Principles such as the unity of the saints, the necessity of evangelism, the shepherding work of the elders, true biblical fellowship and love for one another are dismissed and replaced with a system of practice.
Building the future
I’m excited about the next generation. They are far more focused on teamwork, fellowship and resolving issues. They are more global, integrated and less worried about differences. They focus on positives and get excited about new ways to evangelize and build up the church. They are not concerned with maintaining a status quo but want to see God work in a powerful way.
I believe we need to harness their enthusiasm for living for Christ. I have seen assemblies try to squash the young people from expressing their views and sadly they leave (or get forced out) to the detriment of the local fellowship.
Things are changing
I’ve been encouraged to learn of a number of assemblies who are once again restoring the focus on the NT church and building for the future. It’s a needed balance. They are breaking away from the chains of legalism and ritual and discovering a renewed love for the Lord and His people.
They are re-establishing the focus on the gospel and making intentional efforts to reach the lost. They are getting rid of jealousy, gossip, judgmental attitudes and embracing acceptance of others, encouragement and love. Those assemblies are spiritually (and in most cases numerically) growing and are seeing the Lord move in their midst.
May the Lord help us to fix our eyes on Christ and his Word, not on the ways or systems of men. May he give us the courage to get rid of the traditions that are holding the church back and alienating the younger generation. May he empower us to ignite a new generation of men and women who are sold out to the cause of the gospel and the truth of the body of Christ.
It’s happening. The Spirit is moving his people forward. Are you a part of that movement? Is your assembly active in restoring the past and building the future?