Transformation From the Inside Out

Transformation From the Inside Out

One of the most amazing feats of nature is how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. It captures the imagination of children all over the world, and even some adults who maintain their wonder of the natural sciences. 

When the caterpillar is ready to begin its transformation it begins building a chrysalis from its own body, often mistaken for a cocoon. Once protected by the hard shell of the chrysalis, it sheds the outside layer of skin and the internal work of transformation can begin. The transformation to a butterfly begins with powerful enzymes released, turning most of the caterpillars’ organ structures into liquid. This liquid completely rebuilds a new expression of DNA resulting in a new creature. The transformation is literally from the inside out. 

At Greater Europe Mission, when we think about the word transformation, we imagine something similar. We don’t think of it as a new and upleveled version of the same thing. Rather, we think of transformation as a total restructuring of components, a rewiring and regeneration using a wholly different expression of what it means to be a human walking with God.  

To see Europe transformed by Jesus requires a restructuring of the fixtures of society. This is a tall order, but we are up for the challenge. This renovation starts with the individual, then the neighborhood. Transformation won’t come through models of mass marketing or large mega church buildings. It will come at the grassroots level, as followers of Christ commit to continually demonstrating what it means to be transformed into new creations that look and feel totally different from the rest of society.  

Transformation is the Prize 

In the Christian west, and among mission-minded people, we often get sidetracked into thinking that something other than transformation is the prize. Whether it is larger or more effective ministries, an increase in human flourishing, more kindness, empathy, or social action, we hold these as prized solutions rather than the transformation we are hoping and longing for. Often we substitute transformation with a quantifiable metric that is easier to assess. However, like the caterpillar, transformation brings us into a quieter, more hidden place that doesn’t look like the progress we often prize.  

In our American ministry structures, we sometimes substitute the harder, more challenging work of transformation with getting people to pray a particular prayer, believe a particular doctrine, and intellectually adhere to any number of versions of the good news we have come up with. But intellectual adherence to specific principles, prayers, and doctrine are not the prize.  

Although we have built necessary theological frameworks, these ought not to be the primary export to Europe. Theological frameworks are for the purpose of protecting the transformation found in an intimate relationship with God (John 15). They are not focal points to be emphasized in hopes of winning the affections of people’s worldviews over to a particular brand of ideology.

We are not in the business of winning people over to a new ideology. We are asking people to undergo a deep transformative process in community with us, inviting them to radically turn over the interior structure of their hearts and become transformed disciples––to see all of Europe transformed by Jesus. 

Food the World Needs 

In John 4:32 Jesus said to His disciples that He was sustained by food they had no comprehension of. Jesus was sustained by the intimate and prophetic words of His Father, teaching Him how to harvest and bring people into His loving fold. 

Being on mission in Europe is not about getting people to pass a didactic theological exam so we can list them as “new Christians”. Mission is about showing people what life looks like when all our affections, motivations, and loves are reoriented––renovated at the deep, interior level of our heart.  

The world needs the fruits that transformed followers of Jesus produce. If you long to see this type of transformation in Europe, come join us!

Greg Salvo, Inspire Your Church Towards Gospel Transformation

About the author: Greg Salvo serves as the Relationship Manager for GEM USA, recruiting and equipping church leaders with tools they need to see their congregations effectively serve on mission. His passion is to see the church engaged with God’s mission in Europe, and Europeans transformed by Jesus. He and his wife Becca, GEM’s US Director of Mobilisation, live in Illinois.