Saturday, 11 May 2013

To Boldly Go Where No one Has Been Before

For those that know me well they would know that I am quite fanatical about Star Trek.  So much so that I can literally sit down and watch hours and hours of Kirk, Piccard or Janeway cruising around the universe looking for new worlds and having new adventures. As I write this blog I have only just left the cinema where I got the chance to watch the latest Star Trek adventure. I don't know about you but for me, it's nice to just sit back and imagine myself visiting all these new worlds.  It is an awesome feeling allowing my imagination to enter the world of Star Trek and experience things that are not yet here.

Star Trek has actually brought to fruition many of the technologies that we enjoy today.  Mobile phones, floppy disks, computer systems, ipads and many of our other technologies have been influenced by this sci-fi phenomenon. Star Trek to me however, is more than just a movie. It is a reminder of what can truly be possible if we would just trust our imagination, trust our sense of adventure and to simply leave our comfort zones (Earth) and enter into deepspace. (the star trek universe)

The catch phrase of the Star Trek saga which has always been in place is to "boldly go where no one has gone before."  Isn't that an exciting statement?  Well for some it can be terrifying (I know it is for me occasionally.)  As I reflect on this statement however I am reminded of my own Christian walk.  As Christians and as a church God calls us to boldly go where no one has gone before.
I don't know if you have noticed but the church is slowly in decline.  In fact if we look at the universal church in Australia and dare I say it even the world, the only movement that has moved forward is the pentecostal movement.  You see when you look at the church, and when I reflect on my own experiences within it, I find that one of the main reasons we fail to boldly move forward is because we are too busy getting ourselves caught up in the past.  I hear people all the time say to me that we can't do something because that's not how we have done it in the past, or you can't do this because it will upset someone.  It is very easy for us to look backwards  in an attempt to move forward.  Yes history is important and we can learn from it and I guess that is the point, we can only learn from it.  If we are to boldly move forward into the future then we cannot continue to do the things of the past.  Yes they may make us feel good and feel comfortable but the reality is that it can't take us forward.  I once heard it said that you can't keep doing things the same way and expect a different result.  If we are to live for Jesus and move forward then we need to boldly go where no one has gone before.

When I think of The Salvation Army and how it began I am frustrated to hear people tell me that we cannot do something because it is just not Army.  What is Army anyway?  Are brass bands? Mercy Seat?  Happy Clappy songs? Song book?  Are they Army??  I don't think they are.  They are just things that have been used over a specific time period from other influences to bring others into a closer walk with Jesus. The early Army was innovative and would often try new ideas in an attempt to win souls for the kingdom.  The church as a whole needs to boldly go where no one has gone before if we are to stay relevant to the people we are trying to reach out to.  The churches role is quite simply to share the good news, disciple and to win souls for the kingdom.

Friends, as Christians we are called to more than just sitting in church and soaking up the stuff in a way that makes us feel good.  We are called to explore new ideas and get well out of our comfort zones for Jesus.  The journey with Jesus takes us on a whole new experience and will certainly call us to boldly move forward.  We are however, not going to accomplish this if we keep looking backwards and getting tricked into doing the same stuff the same way in an attempt to get a different result.

Programs are one of those things we seem to keep doing because lets face it, we have always done them.  I don't believe our communities need programs. People may come to our churches through our programs but I really don't believe that a program in itself will keep people there.  We need to be Spirit filled people, totally on fire for Jesus willing to take risks as well as bold and confident in our faith.  If we want people to be attracted to our churches then we have to have Spirit filled churches that welcomes the moving of the Holy Spirit; not putting restrictions and time limits on how we do things.  One of the reasons I believe many churches are going backwards is because we do not allow the Holy Spirit to run our churches and we do not allow the Holy Spirit to challenge us and our people, which in turn allows them to move forward. 
Liberal theology is coming in and we are letting the power of the Spirit move out.  We don't preach the Word as the Word anymore because we are afraid we will upset people or worse, lose them.  If we are truly going to see our churches and our people grow then we need to stop tickling their ears with lovey dove messages and actually preach the truth.

I really do believe that God wants us to boldly go where no one has gone before but the more he tries to do that, the more we try to rationalize, theorize,  justify, and apply our own thinking and comfort zones to the task.  Just like the USS Enterprise we need to set off in faith, expecting to find and to experience new things in Christ and to be Spirit filled.  Maybe we even need to take a few risks.

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." -- William Shedd

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