Sun, Nov 23, 2014

God's Grand Vision for the Church

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I. Understanding our situation

A. The Post-Christian West – The church is irrelevant.
B. Americans view church as less relevant.
C. Cultural definitions of relevance

1. Relevance as preference
2. Relevance as fashion
3. Relevance as focusing on pressing questions

D. Churches assumed that it was their fault. So churches responded.
E. Life cycles of a church

II. Biblical Vision

A. Definition of relevance(Hebrews 4:12, Proverbs 16:2)
B. The local church is God's primary agent of change in this world.(Ephesians 3:8-11)
C. Christ warns that churches that fail to effectively engage in mission will be disciplined.(Revelation 2:5)
D. The Bride is central to God's endgame.(Revelation 19:6-10)

1. The Wedding Feast
2. The closing invitation (Revelation 22:17)

III. Application

A. Reconsider what relevant means. If you believe that the Bible is God's word, then it is relevant.
B. Reject relevance-as-preference and relevance-as-fashion.
C. Love Jesus, then love the people and things He loves.
D. Join in all that the Spirit is doing.
E. Keep God's grand vision in the forefront of your mind.

Discussion Questions:

1) Why do so many in the West view the church as irrelevant? How do you define relevance? Do you have unsaved family, neighbors and/or co-workers? How do they view the church?
2) How do people see holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter?
Is Black Friday a bigger deal than Thanksgiving? If so, what are the implications of that?
3) What are some of the relevant questions or topics of conversation in your circles? Who defines what the hot topics are? Is there an objective criteria for what makes an issue relevant, or is it purely subjective? Why do some ideas get pushed to the side as irrelevant while others get pushed forward?
What does our concept of relevance reveal about our values?
4) Have you had any exposure to the 'emergent' or 'hipster' church? If so, what are your impressions? How often should church be reinvented? If every generation has its own version of church, where does intergenerational faith fit in? Is our version of church stuck in one generation's preferences? What role does preference play in picking a church?
5) Consider this definition of relevance: "Relevance is reliably conveying accurate and timely information about the way things really are in order to effectively and meaningfully engage with our environment." Is that a fair definition? Do you have a better definition? If so, what is it? Is something relevant even if not everyone agrees about that?
6) Have you ever thought of a church having a life cycle? Calvary is 60 years old – where are we in the life cycle of churches? Do you know of churches that have gone through that cycle but didn't regenerate/reproduce? Do you know of churches that hit a plateau but found renewed purpose?
7) What does it mean to you that the Church is God's primary change agent in this world? How common is it in your circles to hear "I love Jesus but not the institutional church/organized religion"? Is it a valid move to profess love for Jesus but not for the Bride?
How does not participating in Christ's promise to build His church affect a so-called Christian? Can someone grow into a healthy and mature Christian while rejecting what Christ and the Spirit are doing in this world?
8) What do you think about the Spirit and the Bride working in partnership? Is that a new idea for how the church operates? How does our idea of church-as-business, or church-as-democracy, or church-as-buffet fit in with the idea of the church working in partnership with the Spirit?
Have you seen a church grieve the Spirit? What are the long-term consequences of a church or a movement continually grieving the Spirit?
9) How effectively does Calvary join the Spirit in saying "come"? Do you invite people to enjoy the reality of reconciliation with God?

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