Contemporary Is Not Enough
Extract from 'The Church Of 2020' ... New Book by Mal Fletcher
We talk a lot these days about the importance of 'contemporary church' - and so we should.
Too often in the past churches have tried to speak to their Babylon without ever learning the Babylonian tongue. The prophet Daniel heard from heaven, but he spoke Babylonian.
Contemporary church should not be seen as an end in itself, though. It is a means to an end. The goal is not being contemporary, but becoming prophetic.
We should work to be in touch with the times so that we can be prophetic, ahead of the times. As Christians, we are not all called or gifted to be prophets. But collectively, we can speak with a prophetic voice and model prophetic truth to our communities.
To be prophetic is to challenge contemporary values, culture, thinking and behaviour and point the way to something better - the kingdom of God.
God's prophetic people share the present experience of their generation so that they can shape the future destiny of their generation. God reveals his prophetic plans to his people so that they can call their generation into alignment with those plans.
The prophet Daniel was heard because of the unique revelation he brought. His wisdom reached into a part of the universe Babylonian technology and philosophy could not reach. He brought to men a 'big picture' view of where they were headed - and why.
This was a key to Daniel's lasting influence. But Daniel recognised something more.
Daniel also knew that our true influence is not measured by the number of people who agree with our point of view.
We can't measure influence by the size of our churches alone. Some quite large churches have very little influence in their cities, simply because they gauge their impact by size alone. Size is usually a product of influence, but it is not the ultimate measure of it.
Influence means the ability to produce change. How can we change people who are already living in line with our teaching? Where there is no change, there is no influence.
Real influence is measured by how much people outside our churches defer to our teaching when they have a decision to make.
When a pagan king asks Daniel, the man of God, to unravel the graffiti on a palace wall, that is influence. When Pharaoh asks for Joseph's advice on an emerging national crisis, that's influence.
Of all the lessons Daniel had learned during his season of obscurity, this is perhaps the most significant. True influence is not a product of how well we celebrate the past, or enjoy present. True influence is a result of how well we engage with the future.
Influence is born when we use an informed understanding of the past and the present to help us shape the future. If we don't invent the future, someone else's vision of the future will reinvent us.
** This article is a short excerpt from Mal Fletcher's new book, 'The Church of 2020'. To read the longer extract, click here or visit nextwaveonline.com. (Pdf requires free adobe reader from adobe.com). Release dates: E-book, April 20, 2006, and Paperback, May 4, 2006.