In today’s sermon – Don’t Change My Church – I examine the suggestion that the church needs to make changes.  I will also talk about a necessary change that local church congregations should make with a second thought – Get Back on Message.  My key verse for this message comes from 1 Corinthians, it reads:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV

I have attended church worship service all of my life – literally.  I was baptized at an early age – 8 years old.  I have been a song in the choir, been a Sunday school superintendent, and now I am a preacher/pastor.  I say these things because my faith is very serious to me – it has the greatest priority in my life.  My faith is not a joking matter nor do I joke around or talk lightly about my Christian faith. With all of that said, I have been seeing some things that have me upset within those who say they believe.

There have been suggestions made, after the uncovering of some very terrible and heinous acts of some clergy.  These actions have led to calls for “changes” to be made to the church.  There’s certainly a change that needs to made in the local church congregation which I will focus on in a little bit.  In the meantime, I want to set some people straight when they talk about the Church and have no understanding about the Church.

What is the Church?  What is my Church?  I want to do some teaching here for just a moment.  The “Church” (notice the proper noun) is not the place where I go to worship.  I’ve worshiped at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church (Adamsville, GA), Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church (Raliegh, GA), New Found Faith Christian Ministries (College Park, GA), and now preach and co-pastor at Christian Unity (Douglassville, GA).  None of these places is the Church.  I want you to understand that these are the names that were assigned to the congregation that gathered at the buildings in these locations.  The Church is not the building!  These locations are simply local worshiping locations for a congregation of believers.  The Church is also not one denomination.

Well then, you may ask, “what is the Church”?  The Church is Jesus Christ – the only begotten Son of God the Father.  The Church resides inside of me!  The Church resides inside of all who genuinely believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through the giving of the Holy Spirit.  The Church begins with Christ and is Christ, along with all who chooses to follow Him.

Therefore, when you say that the “Church” needs to change, you’re saying that God needs to change – God is unchanging.  God is the same as He was yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever more (Hebrews 13:8).  You cannot change God – who are you to think otherwise?  The building can be destroyed but my Church cannot be destroyed.  Believers die but the Church cannot be destroyed.  I will pass away one day, but the Church will continue forward because God is everlasting.  I say today, don’t you think you can change my Church!

There are some who see what goes on at a local congregation and try to ascribe that to the Church.  There are some who see what goes on within an entire denomination and try to ascribe that to the Church.  Unfortunately, not all local congregations are the same nor are all denominations the same – I will touch on this more in a moment.  People who likely have never step foot inside of a local church, or understand the way of the Church have the most to say.  There’s a proverb that speaks to this type, it says:

A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.

Proverbs 18:2 NKJV

They have much to say though they have no understanding of what they are talking about.  Scripture calls this person a “fool”.  What’s the change that is in mind? The call is essentially for the Church to conform to the “new age” (ways of the “modern” world).  Change is certainly needed but it’s not the change they feel is needed.

Message of the Church

With the Church being defined, I tell you that there is a message that should be preached by all local congregations.  This message is a word that local should not ever stray from.  Paul says (1 Corinthians 1:23) that we should preach Christ crucified.  This message, Paul says in our key verse is foolishness to those perishing.

I like what Paul says in this scripture (1 Corinthians 1:18).  He points to the message and he focuses on the message of the cross.  You see, the cross is at the front of the Church and should be at the front of every local congregation and every believer.  Paul tells us that there is power in that cross.  The cross is what the apostles rose up and shared in their day – it is the gospel of Christ.  The cross, Jesus dying on that cross and then being risen from the dead, is what the apostles preached and what we should preach today!

You see, in that message of the cross, there is the power of God and His truth.  The message of the cross reveals the Lord’s love towards mankind.  The cross also reveals the Lord’s forgiveness, His ability to heal the broken in spirit, and the promise of His salvation.  This, I tell you, is the wisdom (the message)that the Lord delivered to us through His messenger (Jesus Christ).  The Church, the collective body of Christ, ought to be preaching (ministering) this message throughout the land!  The message is what we ought to be following and living by, as well as believe and trust in!

However, I tell you that there are many things I see within both the denominations of the Church and local congregations that frighten me.  I often begin to wonder about the future of our local churches because I notice a change in the messaging that goes out nowadays.  The problem that I have begun to notice is that the local church is already changing and it is not a change for good.

We have turned the church into a den of thieves.  By this, what I mean, is that we have turned local churches into places of debauchery unfitting of a worship place.  We pick and choose who can or cannot worship within the church.  We pick and choose who can or cannot use their God-given gifts for the local church – this is not right.  We are to preach the message of the power of the cross (God) but now we choose to preach about financial and worldly gains (worldly wisdom).  In essence, I fear that we are straying from the gospel for worldly passions and wisdom instead of focusing on the spirit.

I want you to notice what the Lord has done to worldly wisdom:

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

1 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV

The Lord made foolish the wisdom of the world!  This begs us to wonder why would we ever want to lean on worldly wisdom when we already have the Lord’s wisdom within us!  Why would we ever want to stray away from the wisdom that can truly benefit us to settle for wisdom that only brings about temporary gains?  For me, this always blows my mind, because I am so in love with my Church.  Again, I say, don’t change my Church.

When we stray from the message of the power of the cross, I want you to understand that we lose sight of the truth.  There are many people who have lost sight of the truth today, not because of anything that they have done, but because the message has been so confused in the world.  You have preachers saying one thing on one side, but then on the other side, you have preachers saying a completely different thing.  Deacons don’t all act the same, mothers don’t all act the same, choirs aren’t all singing the same message, and members that make up the congregation aren’t all sharing the same message.

Look at what Paul says here:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:10 NKJV

We should all be sharing the same message!  There are times when I wonder to myself about some people, “what God are they preaching about to you – can’t be my God?”  Am I the only one that has felt that way recently?  People are fast to say that they are Christians – believers of Christ – but their actions and their way are the furthest from Him.

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:13 NKJV

“Is Christ divided?” Paul asks.  It should be impossible for God to be divided but we have managed to divide the Lord into pieces.  We brought the world’s foolishness into the Church, and we manage to segregate ourselves by race, by denomination, by wealth, by class, and we even bring sexism into the Church!  We have brought the worst of mankind into the Church and you know who rejoices?  The devil.

When we stray from the message of the power of the cross, we not only lose sight of the truth but we also lose the power of what God has done for us through the cross.  We lose the message of God’s forgiveness, His ability to heal hearts (spirits), and the promise of His salvation.  I tell you, there is definitely a change that needs to be made by all local congregations everywhere and that change is this – get back to focusing on the message of the power of the cross!  Again, I say today, don’t you change my Church!

The devil, I tell you, has been at this thing for a very long time.  He thought he could kill the message on the cross but didn’t realize there was power in the cross.  When he realized the power that the cross had, he’s done everything possible to corrupt that cross and therefore corrupt the truth.  The devil is hard at work today trying to bring about change to the Church – he would love for the Church to be changed and corrupted.

We, the believers, must do everything we can to not stray away from the message of truth.  Though the devil looks to corrupt the truth, we cannot allow the gospel to ever be corrupted.  Many in this world will continue to call the gospel foolishness, and tell believers that we are foolish to believe in such – that’s ok.  We do not come to the Church (Christ) to change the Church.  No, we come to the Church (Christ) so that He can change what’s inside of us.  The change that is required of us is not to conform to worldly wisdom but to conform to the way of the Lord.

We must get back to teaching and preaching the cross.  The biggest problem that we face today is that many of the teachers and preachers are out to get famous.  As Paul said, no man should baptize in their name – I don’t baptize in my name.  I preach and teach in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – this is what saves, not Rev. Leo H. McCrary II.  We are only perfect through Christ Jesus.

If you seek worldly wisdom and power, don’t bring that foolishness inside of the local church.  Leave that foolishness outside the doors of the local church.  Leave worldly wisdom and power to those who believe in such.  When you come to the Church (Christ), the focus is now on things of the spirit.  If you go to a worship service and the message of the power of the cross is not being shared, get up and find a congregation that is ministering the message of the power of the cross.

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