This message was preached by Steve O via zoom, at the Regions Beyond Advance conference in August 2022.
Come and see!
These are days when you want to respond to what God is saying in His Word. In the New Era, those who will listen to God and will adjust to fit into His purposes will see the great blessing, real fruitfulness and worldwide impact. My concern is that too few are radical enough to change in obedience to God.
John 1:43 - 51
Let’s understand what type of churches God wants us to build in this new era. Churches that put Jesus fully on display. When you read the early passages of the gospels, you can see that it was a new era for mankind. With the coming of Jesus, even time was divided into B.C and A.D.
The gospel of mark starts with quoting Malachi 3 pointing to what Scripture foretold about the birth of a New Era. It is in the context of this new era that Philip encounters Jesus face to face. Jesus looks him in the eyes and says follow me! Philip is overwhelmed by this experience. When he finds his friend Nathaniel, he is so excited! Nathaniel responds the way the world responds to us sometimes cynical, questioning – what good can come out of Nazareth?
But Philip is not put off. Instead, he says come and see! This excitement and uniqueness of what Philip was sharing, it worked because Nathaniel goes to Jesus and as he encounters Jesus for himself, Jesus reveals his inner thoughts. He is totally undone before Jesus and his inner seeking is fully satisfied as Jesus unlocks him.
The Pandemic changed all our lives. The pandemic was a time that revealed some deep weaknesses in the way we did things. So many churches are depleted after the Pandemic. The Pandemic removed a lot of things we relied on i.e programmes, lack of relying on the Holy Spirit. It became a time of reset for all. God always renews his church and culture through a remnant with red hot faith. It is our responsibility to discover that faith and get back to what really matters in this new era. When Philip called Nathaniel and others, they were immediately caught up in the new era in Jesus.
I want our churches to be like Philip. We have discovered something so beautiful and meaningful that no what who we meet, we can tell them “come and see- we have found the source of life”!
What type of church do we need in a new era that we can tell people to come and see:
4 DISTINCTIVES TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH
- Church in the New Era is a Family - an activated body: when unbelievers walk through our doors, the first thing I want them to experience is family. It’s not a community or congregation, it is the family that I want. We all have families. If you came to my family, you’ll find that everyone plays their part. As a family, we carry the household. For too long church has been pastor and audience where the pastor does everything. If you are a leader/pastor, your church is not your audience – they need to be your family. So we need to know what everyone’s gifts and passions are. We need to interchange and share the tasks that make the church a family. In our families we have fun. Fathers should serve the children and the children should honour the elders. It needs to be a family full of grace where we are free to make mistakes and be lovingly restored and where we forgive each other all the time. It needs to be a household full of hugs and holy kisses – security and celebration.
- A family of the word and spirit: what makes us different from a club is our supernatural relation with a living God. When people come in they need to see that we are a people who know the living God.
There was a move to build seeker-friendly churches. The Father, Son and holy spirit are the most seeker-friendly union you can find. We need to put that on display. How?
Speak confidently and openly about our relationship with God. We can speak about him like he is in the room because he is! Sometimes we speak of God as though he is not around.
We need to put the supernatural on display in our worship and sing in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:22 says tongues are for the unbelievers. Praying for healing, praying for needs, it all puts God on display. Being still and having time to listen to the spirit. A community that breathes hope: because we are a community of the word. Pray for the sick and for needs – it puts God on display and also allows the Spirit to do His seeker-friendly thing.
- A kingdom people - church on Sunday to Saturday. We put so much focus on Sunday mornings but Sunday morning is not enough. We must take the church onto the streets. We must bring transformation to our communities. The world has many questions. You and I have the answers. For this, we need to grow to see every person empowered to be God’s healing community in their family, school, workplace, sports club etc. Don’t start projects, release gifts.
- A family full of faith: Hebrews11:6 God wants us to live by faith. If we want to see the world overwhelmed that they know Jesus is alive, then we need active faith that works in our midst. 3 practical steps:
- Prayer - when we pray we are saying, Jesus is alive, he listens to us and he answers us. They need to see us praying big bold prayers. Prayers that bring change to our community
- Generosity- that’s how we share what we are and have with others. Let’s show the world where our provision comes from.
- Faith goals- share your vision, and have goals by faith. Ask God what you can do. Faith puts Jesus on display.
As we see the New Era coming, we want to be a family. By your love, they will know that you are my disciples.
If we will adjust, there is a great grace that follows. Mark's gospel gets straight into the work of Jesus. No genealogies or anything. So, we get a view of this massive change that has taken place. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth onto an old garment. The old and the new can’t fit together for the purposes of God.
If we are to fulfil God's call there are some aspects of the old that we need to let go of. Are you being radical in your church community? What are you doing differently now that you weren’t doing pre- pandemic? Are you trying to sew on a new cloth into the old era?