Transforming the Life of a Congregation

In order to transform a congregation, people must be willing to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit who in turns helps people "connect" with God and people. When the power of the Holy Spirit comes together with meaningful relationships, transformation is inevitable.

Relationships are the avenues for effectual ministry and the glue that holds people and congregations together. But why do many congregations seem to be so successful at doing Church; yet at the same time, are lacking depth and maturity in the way they do relationships?

There are a number of reasons for this and not enough space on this page to address this situation.

Probably the greatest cry among Christians today is the need for authentic Christian community, that breathes life into the hearts of people and serves as an agent for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Authentic Christian community happens in churches which prioritize "relationships" over "religion." It is also where the "organism" or spiritual life within a congregation is served by "organization" rather than the other way around.


 

 




Building Authentic Christian Community

Today, we need a 21st Century Church that captures the true essence of the 1st Century Church. These early Christians understood what authentic Christian community was all about, and they "lived" it. Congregations today can tap into the same power that transformed these early Christians - "koinonia" relationships which empowered renewal, revival, reformation...and transformation.

We are introduced to the word "koinonia" by NT writers - Luke, Paul, and John. Luke writes in Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Paul writes in 2 Cor. 13:14

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

John writes in 1 John 1:3

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship (koinonia) with us. And our fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Koinonia is a Greek noun that is used 20 times in the NT which translates, "partnership, participation, communion, and fellowship." Koinonia comes from the Greek root word "koin" which translates "common sharing." Koinonos (koy-no-nos) = sharer, associate, companion, partaker. Four aspects of koinonia are predominately taught and applied in the NT: Fellowship, Communion, Sharing, and Partnership.

Fellowship - unified relationship
A. George Ladd (noted Bible scholar) writes in his book, A Theology Of The New Testament, "Fellowship was one of the distinctive marks of the Jerusalem church (Acts 2:42). This is something more than human fellowship or the pleasure people of like mind find in each other's presence. It is more that a fellowship in a common religion. It is an eschatological creation of the Holy Spirit. This relationship exists between people because they share a common relationship to Christ (I Cor. 1:9). A bond exists between all who are in Christ that is unique and transcends all other human relationships (p.543)."

Communion - intimate relationship
Koinonia denotes a close, intimate relationship between people who share a special love and concern for each other. Tom Marshall in his book, Right Relationship writes, "The motivation for intimacy is the desire to become one with another while still retaining our own identity. We have a created need for intimacy, because only intimacy has the capacity to end our loneliness. Intimacy creates vulnerability because the walls are down between us and the emotions are always involved. For intimacy to thrive requires a committed relationship. In relationships we swing emotionally between two desires, a desire for intimacy and a desire for privacy. You cannot be equally intimate with a large number of people."

Sharing - bonding relationship
Koinonia is where people share their lives together. Acts 2:42 Message "They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, THE LIFE TOGETHER, the common meal, and the prayers." Sharing is people giving and receiving from each other. 2 Cor. 9:13 "Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else." Hebrews 13:16 "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Philemon 1:6 "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." Philip. 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," Koinonia really happens when Christians share their lives with each other. This cements a powerful bond that is not easily broken.

Partnership -working relationship
In a Koinonia environment Christians work together in a divine partnership. 2 Cor. 8:23 "As for Titus, he is MY PARTNER and FELLOW WORKER among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ." 2. 1 Thes. 3:2 "We sent Timothy, who is OUR BROTHER and GOD'S FELLOW WORKER in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith," This man-to-man, divine partnership is also between God and man. God doesn't really need man's cooperation in ministry; but for the most part, God doesn't choose to do ministry without man.


Path Towards Transformation

Transformation happens when purpose, process, and people are "empowered."

First, the Holy Spirit empowers purpose which lays the foundation for vision, ministry and mission. Purpose defines why we exist, what is our mission, what we hope to become. Purpose defines our vision which helps us to "see";and then, purpose helps us "to be."

Next, purpose empowers process. The Holy Spirit uses a powerful process to transform our lives through relational discipleship development - a lifelong journey of faith. Through this process the Holy Spirit helps people discover and develop spiritual gifts according to God's purposes. These gifts help to define our mission. The fruit of the Spirit helps define our level of character, maturity, and passion. God empowers this process according to each person's unigue design and purpose.

Finally, this purposeful process empowers people. Through His Holy Spirit, God empowers people to
become true ambassadors for Jesus Christ. This level of empowerment becomes "transferable" from one person to another. Through meaningful relationships people empower people. God designed "relationships" to be the divine agents that connect people with each other and create influential avenues for transformation.

The path towards biblical transformation only happens within the context of "koinonia" relationships - the divine, supernatural attributes of God connecting with the
the natural attributes of man. Transformation guides people toward relational synergism, "oneness," and authentic Christian community. When this happens, people are transformed into the image of Christ. Groups of people are transformed into a true expression of New Testament Church - the Body of Christ; and then, churches are transformed into city-churches, powerful agents of Christian influence.

Through God's purposeful process of people transformation we are given a real chance to experience God's divine love, enduring hope, and empowering purpose for our lives.


The staff of the Powerlife Project can help facilitate a path towards transformation based upon biblical principles that are being applied by churches all around the world.

These principles have helped churches turn vision into action, experience phenomenal evangelistic growth, and transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

These Christians are finding a place where they belong...grow...and participate in the building of "life-giving community" that is:

A welcomed environment pulsated with vibrant, caring relationships.  
A place where people are open and transparent; free of prejudice remarks and behavior.
A safe place for people to develop and exercise their gifts/talents in service to one another.
A wholistic Christian environment where people "connect" with God and with people.
A spiritual place where people love one another, pray, worship, and experience Transformation Power together.



We recommend that churches
map out a journey towards a transformational process that is customized to their current needs and aspirations. This should also be an empowering process that helps people discover and energize their passions, gifts, and unique talents. We also recommend that this process be based upon Christ-centered principles that help churches cross the threshold into the realization of explosive biblical dynamics. These principles help create "relational synergism" - a community of oneness where people "connect" in interdependent relationships that are networked together in a "life-giving" community environment.


TWELVE KEY PRINCIPLES FOR "BALANCED" CHURCH TRANSFORMATION > > >
. . . . .

1.
Passionate Spirituality - Experiencing Passion for God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) & His Purposes
2.
Loving, Caring Relationships - Reaching Out in Love & Compassion for People & Their Needs
3.
Koinonia Environment - Building Authentic Christian Community
4.
Culture-sensitive Evangelism - Speaking Contemporary Language & Building Relational Bridges
5.
Relational Discipleship Development - Making Disciples, Mentoring Disciplers, & Multiplying Mission
6.
Equipping Ministry - Capitalizing On Strengths, Passions, Gift-orientation, & Vocations
7.
Empowering Servant Leadership - Raising-up Devoted Disciples of Jesus Christ Who Lead By Example
8.
Purposeful Organizational Design - Casting Compelling Vision & Facilitating a Biblical Approach To Management
9.
Good Communications - Creating Open Channels of Communication That Foster Clear Understanding
10.
Community Outreach - Serving in Different Areas of Community Needs & Empowering Local Missions
11.
Contemporary Ministry Tools - Utilizing Up-To-Date Technology in Music, Multimedia, Communications, & Internet
12.
City-Reaching - Building Relational Synergism Among Churches & Parachurch Ministries for City Church Initiatives

Churches should organize their energies and resources around these principles. Their balanced transformational process should include a set of criteria for each separate principle which includes: vision statements, core values, strategic planning, goals and objectives. Each process should be viewed as vital to the overall health and growth of the congregation.



A Word of Wisdom

One of the greatest stumbling blocks for church leaders is to care more about "church" rather than its people.

In this sense the "church" represents form (organization, structure, services, programs, etc.) rather than the living organism that breathes life into that form - the people. We must be very careful not to let
form take on a "life" and power of its own, independent of influence created by people's growth in interdependent relationships and the transformational power of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he denounced religious activities as "having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them (2 Tim. 3:5)." The power that empowers the form is the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming people into the Body of Christ. Unless the form is made up of transformed lives, then the form has no true life, only artificial existence.

For true transformation to take place, some congregations are in dire need of "reformation" - remodeling of the old form; or in other cases, birthing of brand new forms (wineskins) that take off where old forms have served their time and purpose. But let us not forget that forms must serve the organism (the people) and not the other way around. Depth and maturity in relationships breathe life into any form, making it flexible, functional, and fun.

If we are to truly experience transformation in the life of a congregation then we should spend more time investing in people's ability to experience depth and maturity in relationships - with God and with each other. A considerable amount of investment must be placed in helping people grow in healthy, interdependent relationships (family, marriage, friendship, etc.). Transformed lives cause "forms" to transform naturally and more easily according to God's plans.

Sitting in the sanctuary or a classroom listening to one person speak is not creating opportunities for all people to experience depth and maturity in relationships with each other. Yes, it does expose and somewhat create a relationship with the one person speaking with all the people listening; however, it's really a one-sided, non-reciprocating relationship. Yes, there can be exposure for all the people to experience a moment of prayer together - building a relationship with God, but there's still no one-on-one getting to know each other and sharing in relationships. And even though we may sit next to each other in a pew or chair for 1 hours (or more) a week at the church-house, the opportunity for building mutuality in relationships is still very weak.

We must be about planting seeds of action (doing good things) in other people's lives, working together, and building the process of getting to know each other - caring for each other. Relationships are genuine, authentic, God-empowered "connections." These create conduit for Holy Spirit transformation power to flow. Transformation is "short-circuited" when conduit is damaged or broken.

Congregational transformation is simply an outward expression of an inward change in the lives of people who makeup a congregation - a network of vital, interdependent relationships.







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