The key issues are succinctly illustrated with the bus illustration in this post. However, the wheels on the bus won’t go round and round if they are sliding on an icy pad without a firm foundation or pavement to roll on.
It is always about firm beliefs that drive the existence of the church. If you are weak on these, your wheels will spin.
Robert Coleman asserted in his classic book The Master Plan of Evangelism a simple fact concerning the ministry of Jesus. He said, “Men Were His Method.” (That was written in the context of the 1960s when it was politically correct to say “men” when referring to all humans. But in point of fact, he did choose men.) It is all about the people, not the new toys. People. All people. “… from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages …” Revelation 7:9 We could properly add to that verse every age, education, economic standing, etc.
People are messed up. That is true outside the church and inside as well. Sometimes, there isn’t much difference. But – and we will get to it later – there is always a major difference.
There are different ways to measure how a person is doing in life. Everyone makes up their own mind about what they will live for and care about. here are some scales for you to consider regarding all the people around you.
I once was young. The transistor radio was the new coveted toy. Now that I am old, I still like (not covet) the new toys. I don’t pine for yesterday in any way. I plan to live today and into the future because yesterday isn’t coming back anytime soon. In doing so, it is imperative to separate the elements we must conserve from those that must be open to change. We must know the non-negotiables. But we must not include peripherals, which must be open to changes we cannot predict. It is a long way from a transistor radio to a cell phone. What’s next? We must know what hills we are willing to die on.
Anything that doesn’t fix people will fail. Further, it still is the intent of Jesus to build his church. It is through the church that tomorrow will be better. It isn’t about the accouterments to make the church smell good. The church will always smell good to God when we get it right. “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one, we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)
The key element that must not change is the focus on the eternal welfare of people. When you get older, you must ensure you keep the main things the main things. It is no use to try to fix up yesterday. It is tomorrow we must fix. It takes curiosity to learn new stuff. It takes courage to unlearn the residual patterns and effects of the past, which are ineffective. For example, we are in trouble if saying people will face “a Christless eternity” is met with passivity. If people don’t care about being with someone they barely have heard, such an appeal will go unheeded.
Doctrine matters. This is about rescue. We must find the correct vocabulary to express soteriology in terms that resonate beyond the seminary and inner circle of Christians. Even to define the term “soteriology” as “the doctrine of salvation” – while true – won’t cut it. What does the word doctrine mean? What is salvation anyway?
If you aren’t clear on these (and other) foundations, you can gas up the bus to the max, and it will still spin wheels.