Oct 13, 2021.
Most of us are uncomfortable changing memorized patterns. The status quo is a powerful thing for the simple reason that it requires less mental work. Thus, humans and groups have opted for the known approaches, even when those approaches are no longer effective.
#JesusStories: One day the Pharisee’s criticized Jesus’ disciples that they were not practicing righteousness by fasting (Mark 3:18ff). They pointed out that even John the Baptist’s disciples were going without meals for spiritual reasons. Jesus’ reply was one of those ‘head-scratchers’. First, he said that no one fasts during a wedding party. Then he pivoted to say that no one patches a hole in an old garment with a new piece of cloth. And then he ended by pointing out that no one puts new wine into an old wineskin. Then he walked away. In retrospect we can see that Jesus’ mysterious answers forced them to meditate deeply about their willingness to shift from the ‘Moses-Law’ chapter to the ‘Messianic’ chapter, but it was difficult to grasp in real-time. And that shift proved to be very hard for those who had practiced their spirituality the same way for 700 years. In other words, it made for some very deep ruts. But with the coming of Jesus, something new and very different was now pouring out of Heaven. There was a new intervention coming that could not be attached to the old torn cloth of law-based spirituality; there was a new experience pouring upon the earth that could not be contained in the old worship patterns of synagogues, annual temple visits, and the 613 rules-of-righteousness – of which fasting was just one of them. Wow, if anyone needed a new spiritual path, it was those who had bloated spirituality to 613 rules. How impossible. I am sure glad I live in the day of Salvation where I can focus my eyes on only one place – Jesus the author and finisher of my faith!
Before we rush ahead, we must admit we get into spiritual ruts too – ruts that need to be interrupted. Jesus understands this and has sent numerous season shifts to His Church. Heaven has poured out new waves of blessing many times – waves that forced the Church to form new wineskins to hold it: Agape’ Church, Persecution inspired Missionaries, Consolidation of The Holy Scriptures, Desert Fathers, Church-Planting Monasteries, Printing of the Holy Scriptures, The Reformation, The Great Awakening, Azusa Street, Rise of the Stadium Evangelists, The Jesus Movement, The Charismatic Renewal, The Worship Movement, Emerging Church, Fresh Expressions of Church…just to name a few. And each time a new heavenly wave came, the Church had to make some new wineskins so the new wine would not be spilled. Now don’t get me wrong, the old wine and old wineskins are still valuable to Jesus because they are still very meaningful to many in his flock. None-the-less, we are again on the cusp of a new wine pouring upon the Church – one that can respond to a more chaotic and fragmented and tribalized world. Eyes up everyone – NEW WAYS are coming.
*We are looking for 1000 new ways to express a 2000 year old tradition. (A Seminary Billboard)
*The situation required Christians to make many adjustments in their efforts to communicate with their society. The interpretation of the Lord’s Supper was included in these new ways of looking at things. (Ben Witherington)
#PracticalStuff: Are you using the JesusStories bible? This is a bible intentional developed for the never-been-churched. This is a wonderful way to get your dinner church congregation visually focused on the life of Christ. Beside that, they are nice gifts to hand out to everyone all the time. And for the speakers to preach from this bible each week underscores our BIG message that the life of Jesus still changes everything. Note: we have received some grants to keep costs down so you can afford to order them by the case, and you can order the from the bookstore on this website.
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.