Pastor Robert Zemke

Metanoia was the title of a conference I attended several weeks ago. Metanoia is a Greek word in the New Testament, translated as repentance. We understand repentance as turning from our sin and turning to God to receive his grace and forgiveness. It means to have a change of mind and heart. I only sometimes change my mind about things. My son was surprised that I changed my mind about pickles; somehow, over the last ten years, I decided they do go well with burgers. I also used to hate over-easy eggs up until fifteen years ago; now, it's my preference. I am in the process of changing my mind on mushrooms. We will see. I used to dislike most new popular music coming out regardless of genre, yet I enjoy some artists (I dare not mention) that my daughter listens to as I drive her to school. One thing stays the same: I still love my Red Sox and hate the Yankees. What about God and the Church? Do we need more than just the initial change of perspective on God when we come to faith for the first time? 

In the book Metanoia by Alan Hirsch, he states that “Metanoia is a complete transformation that calls us back to the heart of God and inspires us to live lives that are aligned with the life and teachings of Jesus.” We need a change of mindset so that the focus is not on ourselves, our concerns, and our perspective, but on God and his perspective and will. This is not a one time turning, when Jesus says, "Repent and believe the good news" (Mark 1:14), the verb describes a command to be repeatedly obeyed or carried out in given situations.

Metanoia is an essential reminder to followers of Christ to turn from their sin and to turn and trust in God. Unfortunately, we are often being trained otherwise. In his book The Disciple-Making Church, Bill Hull states, "The Church is weak, self-indulgent, and superficial, that it has been thoroughly disciplined by its culture. You can always get a crowd if you demand very little and put on a show. I am thoroughly convinced God wants disciple-making to be the heart of the church ministry.”  Hull wrote this several years ago, but it is still a reasonably accurate assessment. We need to heed Jesus’s call to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). 

The conference reinforced a shift in my thinking to understand more what scripture indicates a church is to be like. At the conference, it was stated that, “flourishing disciples become flourishing leaders who lead flourishing churches.” Fostering continual repentance and turning to God's purposes, his will, and ways is essential for a church to flourish. One of the ways to do that is to make sure the church exists for the benefit of its non-members. Also, most people want the church they attend to have services and programs they like and their family can engage in, but what is more important is finding a church that encourages you to take the next step in your walk with Jesus. Let’s be that kind of church.