Monday, April 25, 2016

What the Church can learn from Willy Wonka.

This is not going to be a post about chocolate. I just put that out there, for those that may be disappointed.

Charlie Bucket had found a golden ticket. Grandpa Joe offered to come and visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory with him. There was only one glaringly obvious problem: Grandpa Joe couldn't get out of bed! Bed-ridden for years, the ole' bones weren't working!

God is giving the church of today a spiritual ticket to a great future. By the power of the Holy Spirit, dead bones are coming alive and God is breathing afresh upon the church. Though, it's difficult to get up, when the old bones haven't been working for some time.

See, when I spend a day or two at home, and I lounge around the house, I become lazy. My body gets used to inactivity. I find it easier to sit on the couch, have a coffee and watch the news.

I have this picture of the Lord Jesus handing the church a new future. I see him saying to us, 'Here it is. Embrace it. It's new, get ready for it. It's going to impact many lives, get ready.' The problem is we are used to what we are used to. God wants to do a new thing, but we hold on to what we know.

So, anyway, I'm at home and relaxing, and my wife says, 'Let's go to the shops.' Of course, I'm now relaxed at home, and I couldn't think of anything further from my mind, than shopping. I've become content in sitting on the couch. And anything that disturbs that almost becomes quite frustrating to me.

Now, I have simply learned to enjoy sitting on the couch. I have enjoyed taking a siesta at home. Though, I am in danger of missing a new opportunity, because of my new learned behaviour.

In the spiritual realm, this is the thing: 'If you want to change the world, you have to get off the couch.'   

So, Pete, get to the point.

I believe the church has two options moving forward. We either mobilize or we crystallize.

William Booth once said, 'I consider that the chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.'

I agree.

Though I would add this: We are in danger of being a Christian church that sleeps through the next move of God. A body of believers that misses what God intends to do, because we're busy justifying our own deeply held theological positions, sketching out our own futures, consumed by the perilous amounts of trash permeating the airwaves and in love with the sound of our own iniquity.

The challenge lies in what our response will be to what God is saying in this season. I can hear it loud and clear. 'I'm doing that new thing now, embrace it. Let go of your old life, follow me.'

Though just like you can't receive a new job until you let go of the old job, so it is with God. If the Lord is to work his power within the church, we must lay our lives down again before him, give up our old lives and allow him to do a work within us.

If we allow that, we become mobilized. We become an army on earth, that brings joy, hope and salvation to the masses. If we stifle it, then we crystallize and become irrelevant to the world around us, and become like pillars of salt in a world that is dynamic and rapidly changing.

Recently I spoke at a forum for Bloggers, Editors and Social Media gurus. I spoke about being dynamic and embracing creativity. While I was there, I was taken aback by the stories of a declining denomination, that is stuck trying to continually reaffirm its past, in order to validate its future, but in the process fails to allow anything new and great to happen in the present. The denomination is crystallizing, and until some bold leaders declare that its time to let go and embrace a new thing, mobilization will not occur.  

Though, on the flip side...

I am filled with great optimism! I see and hear communities of faith right around the globe who are becoming mobilized. They are joining together as one army of believers, sold out to restoring broken humanity with its Creator. We must reach the tipping point. We must call more people to join us, to come on the journey with us and to lay down their lives for the cause of Christ.

As I write this on a day in Australia's calendar, where we recognise and honour the sacrifice of military personnel who have protected both Australia and New Zealand, I cannot help but think... Sacrifice is key; Laying down your old life and embracing the newness of what God is intending to do through you.

Choose to be mobilized, not stagnant. Choose to rally people together to serve the Lord. Choose to celebrate together. Choose to be a little bit bold and creative. Choose to keep Jesus front and centre, and don't allow the frivolous distractions of the enemy stop you from the destiny before you.

Mobilize. Either that, or crystallize.

I know which one I want.

By the way, Grandpa Joe did get up out of the bed and go to Willy Wonka's factory. It's like God breathed some life into those dead and tired bones and gave him energy and excitement for a new adventure.


  1. But Pete...? Did you get out of the couch?

  2. Mobilize! Lets break out of Laodicea and embrace the new wineskin of ekklesia!


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