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I began last week’s post with the statement, “As healthy environments promote healthy individuals, so unhealthy environments promote abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior within the culture.” There are many environments within a culture. The church is but one of those environments. Also stated was the fact that the church in North America has failed to maintain its percentages compared to the population growth, let alone any increase. This week our focus is on creating an environment of the church in ways that can truly affect the culture in which we live.

We would have to admit in many churches compliance and conformity are placed at the highest value, overlooking and ignoring the value of God-given potential of each individual. Are we not creating an unhealthy environment/culture if we are teaching sound theology, yet not creating an environment with ongoing opportunities for people to fulfill their God-given purpose? I understand and agree with the need for sound theology. I have also heard the thought process, “They should know what to do.” That was not the question. The question is, are we as a church creating the environment, the ongoing opportunities to use their knowledge, wisdom, and giftings?

What makes a successful lemonade stand? Is it one child who decides to sell lemonade? It takes much more than a thought. Before the lemonade can be sold, a table and or materials for a stand must be available. Someone had to manufacture the product that made that stand. Promotional signs must be made. Someone must manufacture a poster board and markers to write with. Each of those must be purchased from a distributor (retailer). Cups, pitchers, ice, lemons, and sugar must be purchased. Aside from this, somewhere, a lemon farmer is growing a large orchard of trees to produce the lemons. A treatment plant is cleaning the water and sending it through miles of pipe to the homeowner.

Every person along that list has had a part in the success of the lemonade stand. Just as the thought of one person for a successful lemonade stand is the beginning, teaching sound theology is only the beginning for creating an environment for succeeding in fulfillment of The Great Commission. In each local congregation, this type of environment, valuing and empowering each person’s God-given talents with ongoing opportunities to flourish individually and corporately is needed. Until we do so, we will continue to have declining, unhealthy environments feeding off the outside culture rather than influencing that culture.

It is not taking in information that creates a disciple. Even Jesus’ Disciples’ true growth came when they were sent into the world. Their true growth came as He invited them to get actively engaged through practicing His teachings.  These Disciples continued growing in spiritual maturity not only while Jesus was with them, but throughout their entire lives. Read the book of Acts with an eye for their learning experiences.

A person growing in spiritual maturity will develop mental, emotional, and spiritual health, will desire to restore and build healthy relationships inside and outside the church and will move toward his/her God-given creativity in fulfilling God’s purpose. God has not given us a box of lemons in 2020. He has given us a world of opportunities. Go and make some lemonade! Change the environment, change the culture.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.

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