Challenging the Status Quo

 
Pierced Man
Photo by Sweetliferving
 
 
 
I have been amazed at the number of frozen yogurt places that are here in Indonesia. Let’s see… we have: Sour Sally, Sour Mary, Icy Blue, J. Co, Twistberry, Tutti Fruiti, Iceblazz, and the list goes on and on.

On one hand, I ask myself, “Why are there so many yogurt places in Indonesia? Isn’t one or two enough?” But then, I conclude that having options and variety is good. Even though they all do frozen yogurts, each one (at least the ones that we have tried) are a little bit different.

The taste of the yogurt is different depending on where you go. Also, the various toppings are different depending on where you go; and the amount of toppings you get in an order is different depending on where you go.

As I think about this, I realized that having many yogurt places is a good thing. In fact the business principle reminds us that when there is a monopoly on something, then the customer loses. It is so easy for a company or a yogurt store for that matter to get comfort and settle for the status quo because they have a market on yogurt ice cream lovers. But as soon as another one opens up, then the original yogurt store will have to do whatever it takes to keep their edge on the market share.

With all these thoughts about yogurt ice cream, I couldn’t help but to think about the Church.

I think I have heard the complaint that is often times disguised in a form of a legitimate question by people when they ask – “Why do we need another church or ministry in the area if there are already other ones?”

To this, I will say 3 things:

1) We have to remember that there is no “one” church that can reach out to all types of people and all the needs of a city. If this was the case, then why do we have various styles of worship, philosophy of ministry and emphasis on particular distinctives. Part of the beauty of the Body of Christ is that it is very diverse. If we were all the “same” then I think we would miss out on a lot of different expressions of God’s creativity as well as opportunities to reach out to as many people as possible.

2) If there is no need for another church in an area, then we are assuming that the whole city has already been reached – people have been evangelized and discipled. The fact of matter is that in many cities, only a small percentage have been reached with the Gospel. There are so many people who either do not have contact with a follower of Christ or they have been turned off by the Church and Christians. This is why we need new churches to start so that we can reach out to more unchurched people with the Gospel.

3) The culture and needs change over a period of time. Sometimes starting up a new church will not only reach out to new people and a new generation, but it will also challenge some of the existing churches to find new ways to make a difference for Christ. It is too easy to do “business as usual” in the Church. But we need to find more creative ways to reach a whole generation. By having new churches start, there will be more risk taking compared to an institution that has been established for a long time. Also, as new churches focus on evangelism and reaching more people for Christ, then the other churches will be reminded of their calling and find new ways to fulfill their calling.

 
 
If some of the above things are good thing, then why is it that there is always opposition that comes from Christians when a new church starts. Now, in a Muslim country it is understandable if the opposition is coming from Muslims who oppose the cause of Christ. But when other churches and ministries oppose the start of a new church or ministry then we will have to wonder what is going on.

Whenever I hear of people who are resistant to new churches or ministries starting, I have notice some things that will inevitably need to be addressed:

1) Our insecurities will have to be addressed. A lot of times when something new starts or even when someone else does something better than us, some of insecurities begin to surface. We have to know what those things are because usually those insecurities are our Achilles heel and it will come back to haunt us. Our significance and security is found only in Christ.

2) Our motivation will have to be questioned. Sometimes we enter into something with pure and good motives, but after a period of time it is easy to lose focus of the reason why we have obeyed to follow Christ. Why do we do what we do? If it is not for Christ and His Kingdom, then we are building things on sinking sand. Not only that but we will get jealous of other people and get frustrated with things. We have to make everything all about Christ and God’s glory or we will end up losing at the end.

3) Our fears will have to be confronted. Fear is one of those emotions that cause us to do crazy things. Fear is the opposite of faith and trust in God. When fear creeps in then we get more self-centered and focused on our own selfish needs. Until we learn how to depend on God in light of our fears, then we will never find the true freedom that will cause us to love and sacrifice.

4) Our pride will have to be challenged. Pride never comes all of a sudden. In fact, pride is something that comes in quietly and then it slowly grows until it has devastating effects. Just look at the Bible and you will see many stories of people’s downfall due to their pride. Unless our pride is addressed (usually pride is connected with insecurities and fear), we are be heading down a road where God will begin to oppose us (Pr 3:34; Jas 4:6; 1 Pe 5:5). For some reason, God always seems to use people who are humble.

5) Our perspective will have to be altered. So often our perspectives get misaligned after a period of time. It is like a car and having the wheel alignment fixed from time to time. The wheels can be initially balanced but after a lot of different bumps and potholes on the road, it is easy for the wheels to get all whacked. Therefore, once in awhile wheel alignments are good for the tires. In the same way, our perspective needs to be aligned with God’s perspective. We easily forget that we are not building our own little kingdom but we are suppose to build God’s Kingdom. If this is the case, then it doesn’t matter who gets the credit or which ministry does better because as long as we all know that we are on the same team, trying to fight the same enemy… then, we will always be on the winning side.

 
 
Back in 1996, when we first came to plant the church in Ann Arbor, we faced a lot of opposition from various churches in the area to my dismay. But after thirteen years of trying to be faithful to God’s call on our church, we have witnessed lives that have been transformed by the Gospel. There is still a lot of work to be done, therefore if there is anybody thinking about starting a church or a ministry in Ann Arbor, Chicago, Austin or Indonesia, please… I beg you to come start something and join the battle. We need all the help we can get.