With economies floundering and a potential flu epidemic, it’s natural for someone to reflect on the big questions of life: why am I here? What does life mean? Where is God?
How should a Christian preacher respond?
During World War II, Martyn Lloyd-Jones continued to preach at the historic Westminster Chapel in London every Sunday morning–no matter what. Famous for preaching through books of the Bible, Dr. Lloyd-Jones did two things well.
First, he never deviated from his careful exposition of the Scriptures. No matter what was happening in the world of current events, Dr. Lloyd-Jones believed the best thing he could do for his people was to supply them with a complete diet of God’s Word. Armed with truth, the flock would be best prepared for whatever they might encounter during the week.
Second, he typically integrated observations and insights on current events into whatever message he was preaching Sunday. Although he continued to preach through books, he believed it was important not to ignore current events, but to think through those events biblically.
In 1944 a German bomb exploded near the chapel while Dr. Lloyd-Jones was preaching. A cloud of dust enveloped the congregation, turning everyone white. One woman thought they had all died and gone to heaven!
After a slight pause… Dr. Lloyd-Jones continued preaching and finished his sermon.
About 10 years ago my wife and I were driving through Houston, Texas during rush hour when I realized that I could jump over into the High Occupancy Vehicle (H.O.V.) and miss most of the congestion. It was wonderful! Passing all of those other vehicles snarled in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
As we cruised by our fellow drivers, my wife and I began talking about the H.O.V. lane as a descriptive analogy of growing churches in America. Why do churches get “stuck in traffic?” What would a church have to do to move into the H.O.V. lane?
After a little research, I was able to make two basic observations about the requirements for moving into the H.O.V. lane:
1. you may not enter the lane alone; and
2. you must stay in the lane until you have reached your destination.
Can we apply these observations to a church?
(1) you cannot go there alone – Moving a church off of a spiritual plateau or out of a numerical decline is not easy. You cannot do it alone. You need the Lord and His supernatural guidance and power. You also need a team of faithful brothers and sisters who will make the move with you.
(2) you must stay for the entire journey – If you begin leading change in your church so that it can become a “High Occupancy Vehicle” for the Kingdom, you must also stay the course until you arrive at your destination. Except for times of true revival when God speeds up the clock, time and tenure are critical requirements for successful change.
In addition, I never talk about leading change in a church without making it clear that you are not changing a program or an organization: you are leading a change of heart in the people you serve.
People can tell the difference too.