Cultural Shifts #4

Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

            The difference between the Church Age and the Kingdom Age is more than just new church plants springing up all around.  It is more than worship teams with guitars, key boards and drums replacing expensive organs.  It is more than clergy preaching in blue jeans with shirttails hanging out instead of wearing suits or vestments.  The Kingdom Age and the Church Age think and behave differently from one another.

            The Church Age is about how to build and protect the ecclesiastical organization whose purpose is to help shape and change a world that is falling into moral decay and disarray.  The Church Age begins in the book of Acts as a band of believers invested in winning its world for Christ. It meets in homes and is organic in relationships and organization.   Acts 2:42 characterizes its practice and priorities:  “2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

           Most believers and non-believers would probably agree, however, that the Church at the end of the Church Age is a very  different animal from the Church described in Acts 2:42.   By the end of the Church Age, the institution seems to have eclipsed the once organic essence of people whose lives were radically changed by Jesus Christ.  Church at times seems more interested in attendance and finances than in  evangelism and discipleship.  Attendance bolsters the illusion that what is being done is correct, while finances are about getting new people to join the church in order to pay its ongoing bills.  This, of course, is not happening in all churches during the Church Age, but towards the end of its era it seems to happen more than any would care to admit.

            The Kingdom Age functions differently.  It is organic in nature.  It is about people touching the lives of other people.  It is not measured by nickels and noses but instead is measured by the love and interaction found within Kingdom relationships and with their ongoing relationship with God. It embodies Acts 2:42 in the same way the Church did at the inception of the Church Age.

            The Kingdom Age’s  concept of mission, too, is viewed differently by Kingdom people.  Mission is carried out by believers rather than the minister, while the function of the pastor is to come along side the church member who is the actual  minister in the world.  The Kingdom flows in and from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit rather than in the might and majesty of the institution. Kingdom people are more interested in introducing Jesus  to the people than trying to simply  get people into the church.  

            Kingdom Age people might not be at church as often as Church Age people because they are taking the church to the world.    Kingdom Age people are interested in new people out of heart not wallet.  This is why  church institutions will suffer during the Kingdom Age.  The old  wine skin has stretched as far as it can stretch and therefore cannot be reused again.  Churches that have a Kingdom mentality, however, will thrive because they are shaped differently.  They are the new wine skin people that have room to hold whatever the Holy Spirit is doing next.  

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