Focus Scripture: Mark 2:22
The world is a different place today than what it used to be. It used to be that everyone (it seemed) went to church. it used to be that businesses would close on Sunday, the effect of "Blue Laws." It used to be that Little League did not play on Sunday (neither did soccer, but mostly because we didn't play much soccer in those days). It used to be that businessmen always joined a church like a networking tool. It used to be that entertainment on Sundays (and sometimes on other nights of the week too) was going to church. It used to be that church was the way society organized itself.
That is no longer true. We can lament the change in society, we often do. Or we can realize it for the blessing it is. After all, if a businessman joins a church because he wants his business to grow, is he really being a disciple of Jesus? If church is about entertainment and business connections, where do the people go who are looking for healing, wholeness, and personal connection with God?
Congregations are sometimes criticized for being like a country club where membership and leadership are about a person's standing in the community, rather than their discipleship. Congregations like that turn people off who are in search of a real connection with God and seeking true discipleship. Such congregations can be identified by the conversations that begin with, 'It used to be . . ." followed by a lament of how much better it was in the old days.
But those are old wine skins. And they burst, and the new wine all leaks out--and the congregations shrink. We need new wine skins, new ways to be the church, new ways to help people grow as disciples. And then the new wine, the new Spirit that flows through new Christians and growing disciples, will fill that new wine skin with the vibrancy of the Spirit.