Are you transformed?

From Darryl Dash‘s new article for Christian Week:

It was a proud moment. The church had just welcomed eighty-three new members. The pastor began his sermon. “This is great, isn’t it?” he began. “But before we get too giddy about new members, let me ask you a question: Why should we bring eighty-three new people into something that isn’t working?”

The pastor, Bill Hull, describes this as the first time he had unmasked himself in thirty years of ministry. “Something his wrong,” he said. “All the formulas, strategic planning, mission statements, and visionary sermons are not making disciples.” In his book, Choose the Life, Hull comments, “We were stuck in the same rut in which so many churches find themselves – religious activity without transformation.”

…Dallas Willard, author of numerous books on discipleship, argues that there is only one solution to the crisis facing the church. It is to make “spiritual formation in Christlikeness the exclusive primary goal of the local congregation.”

It is to move beyond all the discussions on architecture, styles of music, and structures, and focus all of our energy on bringing “all those in attendance to understand clearly what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to be solidly committed to discipleship in their whole life.”

This goal, he writes, would have to be approached gently and patiently with existing groups where “people have not understood this to be part of their membership commitment.”

Willard is right. As Ray Stedman wrote years ago, “God’s first concern is not what the church does, it is what the church is.” A post-Christian world, skeptical young adults, and God himself will not settle for anything less. (Link)

I was going to comment on this, but Randall has already weighed in and Leighton talks about it all the time on his blog. This troubles me—that Christians generally aren’t any different—but I don’t have the answers. I can’t even seem to figure out how we could be different, given that love and good works exist outside of the faith. Food for thought.

“‘Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.’”? (John 13:35, NLT)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)

3 thoughts on “Are you transformed?

  1. Jobina

    I don’t want to speak for the whole of the “Christian” world, but this is the the direction of MY thoughts…
    I feel like the world, the church and especially those who enjoy picking the church apart and criticizing it look too much at what the Christian should do, or how a Christian should act, or the type/amount of works a Christian should do. I came to a pivitol point in my Christian walk just a while ago. I was struggling with “Why in the world am I a Christian?” I could come up with only one thing: because I believe in who God is and I dedicate my life to following him. I can’t fix the church institutions of this world. I can only follow Christ. I can become involved and share what I know to be true in my life. I discovered a long time ago that church politics is not for me.

  2. Steve

    Dallas Willard is one of the greatest gifts of God to all of who want to be better Christians. The Divine Conspiracy is one of the books that changed my life. I heard him speak a month or so ago and the several hundred of us there were greatly blessed. I heard he is now on a year Sabbatical to write a new book.

    Ray Stedman is another treasure to Christianity.

    Great guys who have written great books.

  3. Marc Vandersluys

    Jobina: I agree with you. There was a while there I asked myself why I bothered with church when there’s so much wrong with it. Then I decided that change wouldn’t come if all the people who felt like I did quit going to church. Not that I’m some kind of revolutionary or church-changing force, but we will each have an influence when we do our best to serve God.

    Steve: I read The Spirit of the Disciplines not too long ago and I’m looking forward to reading The Divine Conspiracy.

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