Jesus says you can’t put new wine in old wine skins because old wine skins become brittle and lose their functionality. He is communicating to us today that we must create new wine skins to house the vibrancy of new wine. This is a principle of life in which new situations most always require new structures. A new job often requires you to learn new skills. A new relationship usually requires new ways of relating. What are the old wine skins that have become brittle in your church? Are they old ways of thinking or outdated programs, policies and procedures that worked well in the past but aren’t productive anymore?
As church leaders it is safe to assume that in the future you will face new problems and new pressures that can’t be successfully managed with your old ways of operating. New problems require creativity and new pressures will require solid conviction to stand up to the naysayers and bullies in your congregation who don’t want things to change. The good news is in your future, you will also be presented with wonderful new possibilities that require the new wine skin of courage.The local church needs to open its eyes to the new opportunities for growth that surrounds us. These are exciting times that God wants to do great things in and through your church, but it won’t happen automatically. It will take creativity, conviction and courage.
As the leadership baton was being passed from Moses to Joshua, God inspired the Joshua with these words, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.“Joshua 1:9. And so it is with us, we too have to be strong and courageous as we step out in faith knowing that there’s always going to be an element of risk.
In a 1959 speech, John F. Kennedy famously said: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” Although today it is widely recognized that this is not the correct interpretation of the Chinese characters, President Kennedy’s wisdom about a crisis yielding unique opportunities may be more important than ever. In the American mainline church, we are in a crisis time but simultaneously we are in a period of tremendous opportunity. To pour this wonderful new wine of opportunity into our churches it will require the new wine skins of creativity, conviction and courageous leadership.