Mark 2:22: New wine in new wine skins
I‘m finding Christian’s wedded to current western church practices are having a tough time coming to terms with the Next Generation Church Strategy. The reason is quite straight forward. The strategy combines a new approach within a new way of thinking. Well actually it isn’t different so much as innovatively biblical. It says take a clear understanding of the times in which we live to frame the means to bring down the two chief opponents of God working against him in our times. The means is the 12 Reform platform and the opponents are fascist liberalism and feudal corporatism - the ‘two giants’ doing everything God hates (c.f. Proverbs 6 and Isaiah 59).
Referring to the parable from Mark 2:22 we know you cannot put new wine in old wine skins. The new wine is the 12 Reforms and their antecedent five core Christian world view principles. That’s the new wine, but what about new wine skins (Mk 2:22b)? The new wine skin within the NGC Strategy is the local church determined to break back into public respect and recognition by being transformative, prophetic and counter-cultural in a loving confrontation with God’s enemies by using the reforms and the core principles to re-engage with their community. That’s the next generation church. This new wine skin is about being salt and light by confronting the things God hates with reforms that point the way to a better way of ordering advanced western societies that comports with the five core CWV principles.
In recent encounters with Christians in leadership positions I’m finding they will accept the new wine skins but don’t want to have anything to do with the new wine. A new wine skin is useless unless new wine has been fermented and poured into it.
The problem is this. Christian leaders, like most Christians in the West, have their feet in both the spiritual and the secular, but they can’t see it. They are unwilling to see the times in which we live in spiritual terms and therefore they are not prepared to embrace the 12 reforms because they can only see them in secular terms as a political action plan. They therefore view them through a left or right-leaning political lens. If any one of the reforms does not conform to their secular ideological preferences they reject them all. They struggle to understand the 12 Reforms are evangelically motivated and not politically driven. The reforms certainly have political and social gravitas but that’s not their primary aim. Saving souls is more important (what profit a man….). So for the sake of their political positions they reject the need to confront the giants and use that to re-ignite interest in Christianity, making evangelism easier. They are rejecting the new wine and without it all they have to put into the new wine skins is the old sour wine – the wine of outreach efforts that now bear very limited results.
It is frustrating to see this lack of vision and the entrenched unwillingness to embrace new ideas. The local Church I attend is theologically sound. It is a good community of believers but its outreach effort bear little fruit. After over 20 years in the area it has 200 members. As churches go that is seen as quite good; acceptable yes, but in any sense optimal? Not at all. And yet the church seems happy where it is. Where is the leadership that draws on the parable of the talents and wants to embrace any new ideas offering the promise of doubling numbers or even increasing the church by a factor of ten.
In times that have changed so dramatically over the last forty years you cannot sip the old wine from the old skins. The Next Generation Church Strategy is new wine in new skins.