Mark 2:22 NIV
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
Not many churches in America have experienced as much change and transition as New Life has in the past four years. While some of the changes were caused by difficulties and trauma, some of the changes were normal and needed. In fact every fellowship needs changes from time to time or it will become increasingly irrelevant and ineffective.
The problem with change is the old wine. We love the old wine. In fact, wine lovers will tell you that old wine is best. However, the old wine will one day be gone and only the prudent winemakers who long ago began putting new wine into new wineskins will have wine to drink when yesterday’s wine has been consumed.
All of us want things to be the way they always have been. I mean, if things were great yesterday, shouldn’t they be great today. That sounds right, but that is not the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus used the winemaking analogy to make this very point. Only those who are willing to make new wineskins will get the new wine. Old wineskins were great yesterday, but today, they are of little value.
The first two months of 2010, I have witnessed the birth of the new New Life. It was not some master plan of mine to have it happen at this time, but God apparently had other ideas. To be clear, New Life still has at its core some of the same values it has had for 25 years – we love worship, missions, ministry to students and we still place a high value on prayer.
New Life still feels like a growing family and not some religious monolith. These are the core values I have tried to protect while at the same time, bring in the new wine that was so desperately needed. We changed the way New Life was governed, we became much better stewards of our resources and we raised the accountability and oversight for all of our ministry staff. These changes only made us stronger and actually allow us to minister better than ever with fewer resources.
The new wine we are about to enjoy is rooted primarily in our commitment to be a James 1:27 church, meaning we are serious about helping widows, orphans and keeping our hearts unspotted from the world. We are also committed to the Great Commission by planting and sending church planters and missionaries around the world.
I realize many long-time New Lifers have had a difficult time with all the new faces and the new values that direct the leaders. But to their credit, most of them have let go of yesterday and made room in their hearts for the bright tomorrows. I am thankful they have allowed me to bring some new wineskins so God can give us the new wine we so desperately need.