Change is hard to accept for some reason. Even though we live in a world of change, people do not like change. I remember my daughter, Ariel, weeping in response to me shaving my mustache off. Her response taught me something about human beings. Most of us do not like change. Change throws us off.
The same is true of church members. I remember consoling a member of another church who asked, “Why do Pastors feel the need to come in and change everything.” They had just welcomed a new Pastor to their church. He had been there for six months and was advocating several changes. He wasn’t changing everything. But he was making his mark on the ministry. She interpreted it as “changing everything,” which highlighted something I knew about people, even church members: People do not like change.
Perception does not always fit reality. I know people tend to view “new visions” as something utterly new and disconnected with the past. The reality is our new vision is very much like our original vision. It is simply a progression from our former vision. The seeds of our current vision were planted by our original vision and in several ways:
- They are similar in their motivation.
The original vision was in response to church decline. The new vision is in response to church decline. The Chinese church in America planted new churches to respond to the losses experienced by Chinese churches who offered bilingual worship services to members who wanted English-only services. Our new vision was a response to losses to new churches that were diverse. Our young people are looking for churches who help them live their lives and their lives are lived out within a very diverse context.
2. They are similar in their purpose.
Journey was founded by a missionary, Pastor Wayland Wong. Missionaries are all about the Gospel. Journey has always been a Gospel driven church. The only thing that is new to our vision is to make the nest step and that is to not only be saved by the Gospel but to also be shaped by the Gospel, It’s something that the Apostle Paul encouraged the Galatian church to do. They, like us, viewed the Christian life as their responsibility. It’s something they did. Paul corrected their understanding. He said:
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3
3. They are similar in their practice.
Journey has always encouraged their members to share the gospel with their friends, co-workers, and family member or at least invite them to church so they can hear the Gospel. Sharing the Gospel is important to our faith and to our church. That hasn’t changed. We are just as passionate to reach those who currently do not know Jesus. The only thing that is new is the method used to reach non-believers.
In the past the Church (not just Journey but the church I America) focused on individual, confrontational evangelism. People were trained to share the Gospel using the “Roman Road” or the “Four Spiritual Laws.” Though these methods produced some fruit, they were so intimidating to the average believer. As a result, most believers never shared their faith with anyone.
Our new vision offers a more effective path to sharing our faith with non-believers. This new method is not new but was something practiced by the Early Church. Jesus never trained his followers to do individual evangelism. They did evangelism in community. Jesus trained the Twelve to carry out His ministry. Jesus never send them one by one but two by two – in community.
We need to do the same. Every small group is encouraged to sponsor one mission per year. Find one way to bless your community through an of service. Let people know that you care and people will care what you know.
4. They are similar in their core belief.
Journey has always had a high view of scripture. To love Jesus, meant to love Jesus in the way he wanted to be loved and that was by obeying him. Jesus said, “If you love me, then keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
All of our practices are biblically based. The are not socially driven. Check it out:
“The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:15
“And the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world…and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
“Accept one another, then, as Christ has accepted you.” Romans 15:7
“They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:45
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,” Matthew 28:19
So it is clear, our new vision is not new. It is simply the living out of our former vision. It is where our first vision leads us. It is simply the next step in fulfilling our original vision. So there is nothing to fear. It is not a break from the past but the fruit of our original vision.