Tim Lundy shared in both of this morning’s main sessions. In this session on Past, Present, and Future, he shared the central model of I2 (Irresistible Influence), noting that it is based on Ephesians 4.11-13.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Pastors and leaders are given to the church to equip God’s people to do the work of the ministry. Unleash the people. The central leadership model is one of team. No one person can fully equip the body of Christ.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5.16)
Scriptural Overview: It starts with Jesus.
- Jesus’ personal ministry modeled irresistible influence.
- Jesus’ teaching emphasized it. (Luke 6.32-33) Jesus called us to serve all, not just those in the church. (Matthew 5.16) He called us to be a church on the offense. (Matthew 16.18) It’s a church that’s been sent out to proclaim and demonstrate the good news.
- Jesus trained the disciples in this model. (Luke 9.1-2, Acts 20.35)
- Jesus’ followers continued his example and teaching. (Acts 3) Peter not only communicated to the lame man, but he was able, through the power of God to minister to real needs. (Romans 12.20-21, Hebrews 10.24) Throughout the generations, you see the model of truth and proof. It was not just great theology, but hands-on ministry and compassion. It’s a proclamation backed up by the deeds of those who will go and love the world.
How did we lose this model? John Stott said there are five reasons:
- The evangelical reaction against theological liberalism. In our fight for truth and theology, we turned loose of ministering to the world.
- The division of the gospel into “social” and “spiritual” categories. It doesn’t have to be an either/or.
- Evangelical disillusionment with earthly life after World War 1. The world is worse than we thought. Evil really exists.
- The spread of premillenialism. As the theology grew that the world’s going to hell in a hand basket anyway, there’s much use to saving the world. Rich uncle who bought golden guns. We’re gonna be “raptured out of here” so why try? Why conserve? But we don’t know!
- The spread of evangelical Christianity among the upper and middle classes who equated it more and more with their own personal well being. As the church became more affluent, it became less influent. Affluence affects Christian influence adversely. Affluence doesn’t have to kill you if you keep your spiritual vision.
What are the results?
Our outward focus became an inward focus. We get consumed with just “doing church.” It’s maintenance ministry.
- We lost our connection to the world. We are islands disconnected from the mainland. We talk different and have a different culture. We yell our proclamations back over at the mainland, but across the water, there’s no relationship, only isolated verse. It’s like saying, “Hey, they’ve just invented a pill for ugliness. Quick! Take one!” Not only does that confuse people, but it offends them.
- We’ve lost our distinction from the world. The stats on morality within the church as compared to the world are alarming. Without a vision, the people perish. Without a mission, people stop sacrificing. When people know they’re living among the enemy, they’re constantly vigilant. When they’re not in that environment, they relax. Jesus said to be “in the world but not of the world,” but we’ve turned that around! We’re of the world, but not in it.
How do we change?
- Confess and pray. Quit praying for the world, but pray for laborers! Jesus said the harvest is
- As pastors and leaders, we must change our focus. We are called to equip them to do the ministry. It is not up to professional staff to do the ministry. Be the gift you were called to be! Home Depot’s slogan is perfect: “You can do it; we can help.”
- Evaluate and change your mission statement and structure when necessary. Make sure it communicates your intent. Too often mission statements end up on letterheads rather than on lives.
- Resource for it. What ministries have the most part of your budget? You’ve got to staff for it and hire for it. Look at your key volunteers and how you are deploying them. Are they being utilized in a way to accomplish this goal, or are they serving the organizational machinery?
- Build strategic bridges.
Lundy shared that he would cover these bridges in the next session.
- Good works
- Long-term partnership