The Church

This message shows what a remarkable organisation the Christian church is. The church is the world’s most ancient institution, yet still displays surprising vigour today. At once stable and dynamic, the church provides a basis for local community, yet continually spawns specialist mission and social agencies to serve humankind.
 
The Christian church often gives God a bad press, by its shameful compromise, judgemental attitudes, and moral failures. Yet Jesus promises that this flawed, fallible and all-too-human community will be the instrument of his redeeming purpose in the world. The triumph of the church is one of the great paradoxes of human history, bearing witness, even in its weakness, to the grace and faithfulness of God. 
Comparing the life of the church with a living organism - individuals and institutions often go to extremes. On the one hand we find a driven-ness and activism that can lead to burnout; on the other a self-absorption or indifference that can lead to social irrelevance. Jesus, when he established the movement we now call the Christian church, skilfully avoided both extremes. 
 
The Christian church often seems encrusted in centuries of tradition. A significant recent development, however, has been the rediscovery by many churches around the world of forms and dynamics of church life drawn from the early church, as described in the book of Acts. This message
 
As a human institution, the church is influenced by forms of social organisation popular at different times in history. But the Bible’s descriptions of the church point to dynamics of community life which go beyond secular models of social organisation. The church is not just an assortment of isolated individuals. It is a divine society, in which individuals find their unique fulfilment as members of a larger whole, and their selfishness is overcome in God’s workshop of personal transformation.
 
Today, as in the ancient world, people are busy advancing themselves and climbing the ladder of success. Jesus revolutionised our understanding of leadership by standing such ideals of self-advancement on their head. Instead, he advocates an approach to leadership based on attitudes of servanthood, a willingness to take on menial tasks, and the surprise value of deeds of kindness. T his message talks about the transforming impact of servant leadership.
The multitude of different Christian denominations and sects, 33,800 at last count (David B. Barrett, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 2000, p. 24) is often invoked by critics as invalidating the church’s message of God’s reconciling love in Jesus Christ for all peoples of the earth. But disunity is not limited to the church. It is a widespread human phenomenon, reflected in marriage breakdown, family discord, social disintegration, class struggles, civil wars, and international conflict. Unity is as rare as it is needful in human relationships. Rob shares some practical experience and biblical insights about unity, including the relevance of what he calls ‘Jesus’ Disputes Procedure.’
 
The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is his prayer to God for the unity of his followers, so that ‘the people of this world will believe that you sent me.’ In this address, Rob Yule,  expresses his dismay that more Christians aren’t concerned about the negative impact of their disunity, and shares the different levels, from local to global, where unity needs to be worked out. 
The Christian church does not exist for its own sake, but to serve its founder in making the message of God’s saving love in Jesus Christ known to the peoples of the earth. In this message, Rob Yule addresses some of the fears and misunderstandings of evangelism that hinder believers from being more effective witnesses for Jesus.
 
Enormous economic, social and cultural changes are sweeping the world. Christian churches are not immune from these changes, which pose great challenges for their identity, mission, and survival. Rob Yule gives his perspective on how the church can meet these challenges and his view of the prospects of Christianity in the third millennium.