Dr. David W. Manner is the Associate Executive Director for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. He blogs at http://kncsb.org/blogs/dmanner . You can follow him on Twitter: @dwmanner.
Our churches are not getting it done. Instead of fulfilling the Great Commission by tapping into the unlimited creativity available from the Creator Himself, we continue trying to reach the culture by offering a mediocre imitation of what that culture already has. We are playing it safe by impersonating the language, structure, dress and music…usually a few notches below in quality or a few steps after culture has moved on to something new. Is offering a weak impersonation of the practices of a culture that doesn’t know what it needs or where to find it the best we have to offer? Maybe it’s time for our churches to Cross the Rubicon.
In 49 BC, Julius Caesar led a single legion of troops across the Rubicon River in order to make their way to Rome. This bold move was considered an act of insurrection since Roman generals were prohibited from bringing troops into the home territory of the Republic. If Caesar and his men failed to triumph, they would all be executed. The edge of the Rubicon is said to be the place where Caesar uttered the famous phrase, alea iacta est – the die is cast. Caesar and his men determined that this point of no return was worth the risk. Their boldness ultimately protected Rome from civil war and also ensured the punishment for their actions would never be necessary. The idiom Crossing the Rubicon now refers to an individual or group willing to radically commit to a revolutionary and risky course of action when playing it safe will no longer get the job done.
Crossing the Rubicon should never cause a church to compromise biblically, theologically or doctrinally but will often require it to make adjustments in order to accommodate culturally, contextually and systematically. The conviction to fulfill the Great Commission and the collaboration that we are all in this together are the unifying factors that inspire leaders and congregants to go all in and refuse to retreat. A unified commitment can give us all the resolve to Cross the Rubicon even when the end result is uncertain.
Terry York and David Bolin wrote, “Congregations must speak to and among the surrounding culture in a voice so unique, authentic, and unified that it turns heads: ‘what was that? It sounded like nothing I’ve ever heard before. I’ve never heard anything like that around here.’ Even though those responses from the culture will often come as ridicule, they might just as often come as inquiry. Either way…the church will be influencing culture instead of just reflecting it.”
Crossing the Rubicon will require the church to take risks. It will require entrepreneurial innovation instead of routinized imitation. It will require leaders and members to become artisans of a distinct and unique creation instead of assembly line workers that crank out a repetitive, monotonous and inflexible product. Earnie Larson is credited with saying, “Nothing changes if nothing changes, and if I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll keep getting what I’ve always got, and will keep feeling what I always felt.” Sounds like a good reason for a church to Cross the Rubicon.
 Terry W. York and C. David Bolin, The Voice of Our Congregation: Seeking and Celebrating God’s Song for Us (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005), 39.