HAVE WE LOST SIGHT OF OUR PURPOSE IN UPC?
TENNY SAYS YES!!
There is a law in physics known as the law of inertia. This states simply that an object maintains its state of being until acted upon by an outside force. That force then causes the object to lose its original state of inertia.
So, looking at the Church as that object, it has through the years maintained its commitment to its purpose of world evangelism. But now, having been acted upon by the world’s influences, the Church has lost some of its original state of inertia. Thus, the great need of this hour is for the Body of Christ to return to a unity
of its original purpose.
There is a danger that an aging organization must beware. The older a movement gets, if is not careful, the more it begins to grow whiskers. It ages, not only in actual years, but also in the area of the original purpose that brought it into being. As a result, that body loses its focus. The answer, then, is for there to be a constant refocusing upon its original purpose.
The need for the Church is to constantly remind ourselves of our reason for being. Why are we here? If we are to keep that purpose before us, we must first know what the purpose is.
So just what is the unity of purpose of the organism? The answer is simple: it is the heartbeat of Jesus Christ. His purpose was “to seek and to save that which was lost.” That also was the original purpose of the Church.
And that was the original purpose of our Pentecostal movement. Our people were revivalists. They went everywhere and preached everywhere. But eventually, as the movement grew, we had to determine how to take our message and disseminate it. And so we developed auxiliaries: foreign missions, home missions, a youth division, etc.
Now these auxiliaries in themselves are helpful. Organization is a needful thing. But if you’re not careful, adding more and more auxiliaries can get you further and further away from your original purpose. That which was determined to strengthen you can become a weakness. Thus, you spend more time tinkering with the machinery than you do perpetuating the initial power encounter that brought the whole thing into being.
That’s why you have to have a return to the original purpose; a renewal if you will. You see, I’ve often said that there are three words concerning the work of the Holy Spirit: renewal, restoration, and revival. We need each of these. We need a restoration of New Testament Christianity with demonstrations of the
supernatural, and we of course need revival. But these grow out of the first one: renewal of our purpose.
We must force ourselves back to that original purpose of reaching the lost. That must be what consumes us, and nothing else. Otherwise we become constricted. Then every man gets his own turf, and we all get into territorial preservation.
“I am foreign missions;” “I am Youth;” “I am foreign missions.” Meanwhile, we’ve all forgotten that it’s all about a man named Jesus and a place called Calvary.
Make no mistake: this territorialism can be dangerous. As a result, we become protectionist and expend all our energy toward preserving our own turf. Consequently, we lose the view of what God is doing or wants to do.
This is not a competition. We are not trying to beat each other; we’re trying to cooperate with the Spirit of God in reaching a lost generation. But to do this, we must have unity in our purpose.
Remember that the devil never even showed up in the Garden of Eden until Eve got there. Why? Because he recognized the power that comes from the unity of relationships. He knew something that we sometimes forget: that a two-fold cord is not easily broken.
Therefore, Satan will do anything to keep us from having unity in our purpose. He knows that if we become myopic and have only tunnel-vision, we will lose our world-vision.
So many times, we question our brethren if they have a new approach to evangelism. We take our focus off of the lost and instead scrutinize the method simply because it’s different.
I can recall one of the elders in our district standing up in a conference and charging the brethren to open their pulpits to our young ministers. He said, “When I started, we told them to go to the next town and start a church. Get out on the street corners. Build you a brush arbor.” But today if you said that, someone
would file charges against the young minister because he didn’t have the permission of the board to do it. There was a liberty given to the local pastor that too much top-heavy organization can steal.
There has to come a new commitment to our original purpose that results in a new liberty. This is a liberty that will allow people to express Christ in unique ways without fear of being misunderstood.
So often I wonder if we are truly interested in going into all the world as our primary concern. Or are we more interested in structuring a manual by which we can control one another. Yes, by-laws are necessary, but not at the expense of our unity of purpose.
I recall at a General Conference several years ago an issue being debated which warranted debate. But on this day, we had 1200 preachers who came from all over to debate the matter. Then, two days later, we had foreign missions day, which less than 600 hundred preachers attended. To me, that spoke volumes.
The greatest reason for the existence of the Church is world evangelism. It is our purpose! Yes, we need organized efforts, but the structure must never be our master. It must always be the servant. More than anything else, I fear institutionalization. I’m afraid of the day when men become more organization-
minded than Calvary-minded; when we become more interested in a manual than Emmanuel. The structure itself is not where the task of world evangelization is done. It’s done at the local level.
And so, consequently, a return to our original purpose must have the local church in mind. How do we return to that purpose? First, and most obviously, we begin with prayer, with fasting, and with worship. I’ve analyzed many programs over the years. What I’ve determined is that what is born of God succeeds.
Then secondly, we must learn to deal correctly with new ministries and new visions. The person who has received this new burden must deal with it by first determining if it is of God or if there is some hidden motive behind it. Remember that a vision which is of God follows His law of birth, death, resurrection. Any
vision that He has authored will be born, will die, and will be raised again.
But then, once this person has determined that the ministry is of God, the ministers around him must deal with it. How? By simply saying, “I don’t understand, but God bless you.”
This last step is an important one. Yes, there will be tension among us. But remember, there is such a thing as creative tension. For instance, the right amount of tension on a bow string of a violin makes beautiful music. Too much tension will pop a string; too little, and there’s no music. But just the right amount, and what beautiful music is heard!
What the Church needs is more orchestra music. Maybe you don’t understand the trumpet-players, and maybe they don’t understand the violinists. But one thing is certain: The song of redemption will never be played until we become willing to play together.
(The above material was a Theological question given to T.F. Tenney in an interview.)
Christian Information Network