Enough of the Talking – Part 2

Continued from previous article “Enough of the Talking”.

At this juncture do I stubbornly cling to my doctrine, or do I recognize that I may not have had God quite as “figured out” as I thought I did?

How do we know what we believe? Where do we get the doctrine we cling to so tightly? Is it merely through the transfer of information, or life experience? Should it be both? I wonder if one of the reasons we are in the “pickle” we are in as the American Church is because we have successfully indoctrinated people with information about what they should believe about this or that. But, they have no idea why they believe such things, or what it looks like lived out. It gets messy when our everyday life experiences begin to challenge our knowledge of doctrine. No longer can the realities of life be explained away by well thought out doctrinal statements, or theologies surrounding this or that issue. This is when the rubber meets the road, and following Jesus starts to get adventurously crazy…

It is interesting how little information Jesus shares with many of the individuals in the Gospels who have life transforming experiences upon encountering Him. Sure, there are parables about farming, money, etc. that He shares with the disciples. He says a bit to the Pharisees while rebuking them. He is caught from time to time preaching to large crowds about things they do not seem to understand. But wait…can you think of any stories where Jesus encountered individuals and said what could be written in one to two sentences on paper? How about, “I am willing, be clean! See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matt. 8:3-4) Or, “Take heart son, your sins are forgiven.” (The paralytic in Matt. 9:2) Or, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” (Matt. 9:24) He then raised her from the dead without saying anything. He just grabs her by the hand, and she gets up. He then heals a blind man and mute man by asking if they believe He can. They say they do believe; He touched them, and said, “according to your faith will it be done to you.” All He says after that is for them not to tell anyone it happened. Interesting. These stories litter the Gospels. We could go on and on…

The point is that Jesus did not preach a sermon, give them a doctrine, lead them in a prayer, or give them books to read. These people experienced the power of God through the person of Jesus. Their doctrine would be shaped for the rest of their lives as the Holy Spirit leads them. They had not known much other than the fact that they believed Jesus was God. He healed the sick, and His disciples did they same while telling people to repent of their sins, for the kingdom was near. That’s what they knew. I can imagine most of what Jesus did made most Jews of that time very uncomfortable. Think about it…

On the evening of the last supper, or Jewish Seder, Jesus took the cup that was reserved for the prophet Elijah who was to return. Growing up Jews never touched this cup. At the end of the supper they would dispose of it and “wait until next year”. The fact that Jesus not only picked up the cup, but also then drank from it was blasphemous to the Jews! It challenged everything they had once thought, or the doctrine they had so tightly clung to. This doctrine was interpreted from the Torah, or the first five books of our Bible. All of a sudden what these disciples had believed so strongly in their heads was being challenged by what was happening in front of their eyes. Their experience with Jesus changed who they were into who they became, and were becoming. The act of the disciples drinking from the cup now meant they truly believed He was the one they had been waiting for. (As if the many healings and miracles had not been enough) That evening the doctrine or theology of these 11 men changed forever. (To us the doctrine was fulfilled. To these Jewish men it was changed. They no longer claimed the same “doctrine” as other Jews who were still waiting on the Messiah)

Perhaps some modern theologies, or doctrines might parallel this story. This is not an argument for or against Cessationism, but one of many examples of how our doctrine might be challenged by real-life experience. If I claim to be a cessationist (based upon how I was indoctrinated) most of my Christian life, but then go overseas, or right here in the states and witness countless physical healings or even resurrections then “something’s gotta give”. At this juncture do I stubbornly cling to my theology (which was most likely based upon the scriptural interpretation of a dead guy, or particular stream of denominations), or do I recognize that I may not have had God quite as “figured out” as I thought I did, or thought they did?

Again, my pursuit through this article is not to challenge having sound doctrine, but to challenge what that sound doctrine is, where it comes from, how we allow it to indoctrinate us, and which doctrines require a much looser grip. I am not suggesting that our experiences define our doctrine, and what we see as truth from scripture. However, our experiences as we pursue Jesus should shape and mold our doctrine, how we interpret truth in scripture, and how tightly we cling to “negotiables”.

Perhaps this discussion will be “easier to swallow” if we recognize that much of what we think is our doctrine can be whittled down to mere tradition, or ritual. Most of us do not realize how we have allowed that tradition to become a major part of our doctrine when it was never meant to be. This is scary and dangerous. At the same time all of our doctrines have bits that are just plain perverted, and not in alignment with the Kingdom or heart of God.

How about the issue of ecclesiology, or more plainly put, “church”? Sometimes our doctrine is more defined by our actions than what we say we believe. For example, most Bible believing Christians would say that the church is not a place, but the people of God. However, their actions as a person of God have become defined by going to church once each week. Or, most of us claim to believe, and desire to pursue living out the Great Commission. This includes the act of Baptizing new believers, and distributing communion. Most people who claim Jesus as Lord have never baptized a new believer into the kingdom, or intentionally administered communion. Again, our actions prove otherwise. We may not know it, but these things define parts of our doctrine, or theology.

Let’s close with a few more practical examples of how this might play out in real life. Perhaps you were raised in a “camp” that viewed alcohol as “evil”. The truth you extracted from scripture was read through that lens. You could preach a sermon on why alcohol is evil, and combat anyone elses attempts to reason with you. Then one day you met a dear saint, and warrior for the Kingdom who you learned likes to enjoy alcoholic beverages on a regular basis. Uh-oh. You are left with two choices. Either you judge your new friend who has an abundance of Kingdom fruit in their life, or you release the tight grip you have on your “theology/doctrine of alcohol”. You might come to a much simpler conclusion that your pursuit against alcohol became quite idolatrous, and completely negated Christ’s work on the cross.

We have already discussed an example regarding the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. Perhaps we will take it a step further, and go down the same road we just took the example of alcohol. If the gifts are no more, but you meet a dear brother in Christ who speaks in tongues or prophesies you are, once again, left with two choices…

Throughout my journey following Jesus I sometimes believe the lie that I have “it” figured out. It is those moments that I cease to learn, be sanctified, and play my role in the Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth. If I operate as if my memorized set of beliefs dictates the things I do, or the things I remove myself far from I miss out on experiencing Jesus in the various ways He desires to interact with me as His child. May we remember some powerful words spoken by Jesus in response to the disciples arguing about who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3-4)

Kids do not have a well-thought out and eloquent explanation for everything they believe and why. They have great faith, which grows and changes as that faith carries them into new adventures with Jesus. I doubt you would ever hear a kid arguing doctrine with anyone. They are humble. They are students. Jesus says we should “change and become like them, or we will never enter the kingdom.” May we humble ourselves as children, cling to Jesus as Savior through His work on the cross, and be slow to think we have God figured out. I wonder sometimes how much of our doctrine to which God might say, “wow, that’s not at all what I meant”, or “how did you come up with that”? Perhaps He would just say, “You made it so complicated. I simply wanted you to come to me as a child, and let me lead you by my Holy Spirit…”

Enough of the Talking…

“When you stop thinking like a beginner, and start thinking like an expert you cease to learn.” –Alan Hirsch-

Talking is something we are really good at as American Christians. In our insecurity we gain endless amounts of knowledge about who Jesus is. We study, read books, go to school, and do all sorts of things to validate ourselves as God’s children. The problem is at the root we have neglected to find our validation in who Jesus is to us as an active part of His Body, His Bride, The Church. We replace the commands of Jesus to DO His will, and resort to merely becoming experts at knowing His Word. We even take it a step further by creating our own doctrines and theologies in order to lambaste those who might threaten our comfortable Christian lifestyle. We know our five points, “ecclesiology”, eschatology, theology, and doctrine along with a defense to anyone who might challenge us in this comfortable certainty we have created for ourselves. How certain can we really be if what we claim to know never leaves the Starbucks table where we sip coffee while enlightening our young up-and-coming “disciple” who we have fooled into thinking we are brilliant? We now have a new convert whose salvation is sealed by the passing along of our fancy words and deceptive knowledge. (1 Cor. 1:20 – 1 Cor. 2:5) This new “convert” who we think is “grounded” in knowledge of the Word & doctrine through our passing along of information may not be as grounded in either as we thought. There is definitely a root issue here seeded in how we truly make disciples of Jesus, but an even deeper root of how we allow ourselves to be discipled first. We can only make disciples to the extent that we allow ourselves to BE discipled.

When our pursuit of Jesus becomes hijacked by our pursuit of defending the particular doctrine that was handed down to us we cease to be disciples and start to be defenders. Whether we have become greater defenders of John Calvin’s five points, Bill Johnson’s healing or eschatology theology, or Mark Driscoll’s view of what it means to “be a man” we have ceased to pursue Jesus and His kingdom. While the above men are all great men of God they are mere men; one of them is dead. Jesus came back, and that is why we worship Him, and pursue His kingdom over any other man who ever walked the earth, right?

Many believers spend more time arguing doctrine with other believers than they do living out the doctrine they claim to believe. We fall into the trap of becoming very comfortable and sure of what we believe. Anything that challenges that, or is in any way different MUST be wrong because we have an explanation for everything in our doctrine for what we do or do not believe. But wait, aren’t we supposed to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”? (1 Peter 3:15) If that verse popped in your head I challenge you to go read the entire book of 1 Peter in context, and see if Paul is using this verse to urge “God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1) to defend themselves against other believers who might have different doctrine. Being sure of what we believe is not always a good thing…

Can you think of anything in your life that you used to believe, or think as truth that you have come to grow away from due to God pouring out more grace on you? I hope we can all say yes. For example, were any of you raised like I was thinking the idolatrous lie that alcohol is “the devil”? There are thousands of examples we could reference. Surely we do not claim to have this whole God thing figured out…? How arrogant. Surely there are things we once clung tightly to that are no longer worthy of our tight grip. Why then, do we continue to allow ourselves to fall into the same trap over and over again? It is the trap that causes us to release our grip on one thing as we grow in our understanding of the kingdom, but quickly cling to another-perhaps with more strength than before. We become experts on what we “know that we know that we know”. We cease to be students of our great teacher. After all, we have Him figured out already, right? It’s in our doctrine.

I am not against doctrine. I do not dare come against the need for being grounded in the Word, and having “sound doctrine”. My pursuit with this article is to challenge what we think “sound doctrine”, and being grounded in the Word means, along with how we “attain it”. Most of us think we are “grounded in the word” by having a well read/versed man with a degree teach the scriptures to us on a weekly basis. Or, we listen to “lots of sermons and podcasts online”. Even better, we spend all day in commentaries & Systematic Theology books so we can use big words to win an argument against someone with “different theology” than us. Or my favorite, the ability to robotically repeat what Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll believe about things. We think having sound doctrine means being able to explain everything about God, and the Bible in any context.

Sure, there are some non-negotiables, but the doctrine of many becomes a huge list of non-negotiables, certainties, and attempts to explain away or wrap our heads around the things of God that our human minds cannot comprehend. Perhaps the only non-negotiable we should have is the fact that Jesus is Lord through His death, burial, and resurrection for the salvation of man to pursue ushering in the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven; all of this is through the leading of the Holy Spirit given to us by Jesus, the Son, through God the Father for intimacy with Him.

I would submit that we come to learn the Word, form the doctrine we believe, and grow in intimacy with Jesus through getting out into the world to radically pursue Him. This is a lifelong process. Our “doctrine” and learning to be grounded in the Word is constantly shaped as we set out to be on mission with our King. The “problem” with this is that following Jesus gets crazy…

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)

Christ said we would see “greater things than these”. Then, He gave us His Holy Spirit, and a commandment to make disciples. Arguing about doctrine with other believers not only causes division and disunity among the body, it also does not cause unbelievers to trust Jesus as Lord.

There is so much talking, and so little being, and doing. There comes a point in many of our lives when we can no longer sit around simply knowing God’s word, and what we believe about this and that issue. That point is when we embark on an adventure with Jesus that causes us to wonder what we had been doing all that time, and praise Christ for the measure of Grace He has poured out on us. It is throughout this journey that we are forced to be grounded in scripture to avoid the schemes of the enemy. It is this adventure that shapes and molds the doctrine we come to believe as the Holy Spirit speaks to us and brings revelation through scripture.

This pursuit of Jesus is not meant to be a comfortable, or easy one. When we start really following Jesus, and taking the things we say we believe seriously by doing them things might get a little dangerous. After the danger comes and we continue to press into the Kingdom we will begin to learn what it truly means to call Jesus Lord.

Stay tuned for “part two” where we will dive into some real-life examples of how Jesus continually shapes our “doctrine” in a healthy way as we pursue life on mission in the context of community.

Proclamation & Demonstration…

Before I start I will warn you that this post will be bent towards the Gospel being “Demonstrated”. Obviously, both are necessary & Biblical. However, because we have seemingly focused more on one side (proclaiming) for so long we may need an extreme kick in the butt to move us back towards a healthy balance of both. So, I don’t want any comments about how there must be “both” – let that be a known theme throughout the post. =)

gospel-fight

Many of us who are professed Christians have been raised with a wonderful set of beliefs, doctrinal statements, moral code, and can, if put on the spot, share that set of beliefs with just about anyone. Those who accepted Christ later in life probably became indoctrinated very quickly. We have been taught about the importance of “sharing our faith” (The Gospel) with others. There are TONS of resources on effective ways to “communicate the Gospel”, or proclaim it to others. Many of them are wonderful-a lot of them are not. From handing out Gospel tracks to learning practical ways to share “our story” (Testimony) there seems to be a very strong push in America towards a Proclaimed Gospel….

Over the years we Christians have become very good conversationalists, debaters, authors, persuaders, & defenders of our set of beliefs. There have been thousands of books/blogs written not only on sharing the Gospel (with words), but also defending the Gospel. The Gospel message is powerful in and of itself. But, why has the Gospel (“good news”) been reduced to mere words shared from one person to another? Why have we settled for a proclaimed Gospel masterfully crafted with the right words in order that we may wrap our minds around it? We have become brilliant “wordsmiths” in our pursuit of trying to convince unbelievers they should agree with us, and accept Jesus like we have. Was the Gospel meant to only be “proclaimed”, or did God have something else in mind?

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

Wow. These few verses are littered with the Gospel’s transforming power in the lives of the Thessalonians. It also depicts how the Gospel was proclaimed “with words” AND demonstrated “in power”. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of only trying to convince unbelievers they should “think like I think”, or “believe what I believe”. Oh, and the whole “let’s SHOW them the Gospel with our actions”/”social Gospel” thing is not what I’m talking about either. (Not that those are bad things-just NOT what I’m getting at) In my struggle with this I went to check out what Jesus did…

Throughout the Gospels it would appear as if Jesus’ favorite thing to do was physically heal those in need. In fact, over half the stories of Jesus doing anything in His life involved miracles, and supernatural events taking place. In fact, many times Jesus uses very little words when interacting with those who don’t yet “know Him”. Think about a few off the top of your head… “Your sins are forgiven, rise, take up your mat and walk”, “your faith has healed you”, “Come out of this man you evil spirit!” He then tells that same man, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Does anyone else find it interesting that Jesus did not feel the need to sit down with them for hours to “make sure they understood” what had just happened? It’s also funny that He didn’t enroll them in a “new members class” or discipleship study group. We could go on for hours. The point is that Jesus not only proclaimed His message and the “good news” through teaching, or sharing with words, but he also demonstrated it with POWER. That power was through His Holy Spirit. He gave that same Holy Spirit to US…

John 14:12 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

newsupdate071508bClick the picture to read about this boy being healed…

Yes, your Bible says it too. Go check. It says that we will do even greater things than those things we see in scripture-because He is going to the Father. Later in Acts we read about the Holy Spirit being left on the earth for The Church as Jesus went to heaven.

We don’t like to think about these things because we can’t wrap our minds around them. We are logical people. Supernatural things & miracles are illogical. We ignore things that we can’t explain with our cunning words, and hide from things we don’t understand. So, we go through our entire lives dismissing them, and convince ourselves that “the supernatural” doesn’t exist. The God I serve is a supernatural God-yes, still.

Frankly, I have no desire to “go to bat” with my life for anything less than a supernaturally powerful, Creator God. Many of us believe in Jesus with our minds. I’m not so sure that as many of us believe in Jesus with our hearts. “Jesus doesn’t live in our minds, He lives in our hearts”, is something my friend Brian Orme said one time that really rocked my boat. We must ask ourselves, “Am I Christian based upon a list of beliefs that I’ve subscribed to, or based upon the POWER of the Holy Spirit moving in my life like we see in 1 Thess. above?”

A quick word of warning for those of you who begin to step out in faith and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit: God is interested in your obedience to Him. HE will produce the fruit. Do not allow worry, fear, or a heavy weight to press down on you as you begin to step out in faith. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) I can promise you from personal experience that as you step out in obedience more the Lord, who sees your faith in little things will trust you with greater things. Walking in the faith and power of the Holy Spirit is not easy. It takes time and practice. It also takes discernment to listen to God’s voice and be LED by the Spirit.

This past week my family and I have spent time begging God for more. More of His Spirit, more power, & more faith. We ask Him to Baptize us with His Holy Spirit, and POUR His Spirit out on us to empower us for works of service. We have been intentionally looking for opportunities to step out in faith, and see the Gospel Demonstrated in Power. Will you join us…?

“Good Teaching…?”

CB064071What is “good teaching”? There is one class of people who would name their favorite pastor, or conference speaker to answer that question. (Usually based upon how that person measures up on the laughter meter, or how “deep” & theological that person can dive with their eloquent sermons) Others would say that “good teaching” is a non-negotiable when searching for a “church home”. Many venture out on a journey to find a church with “good teaching”, never to find what they’re looking for. The sad thing is that the phrase “good teaching” is usually measured with an improper “scorecard”. It is usually a question of, “good entertainment”, or “did the person on the stage say anything in particular that caused me to perk up in my seat-based upon excitement, or conviction?” Or, “Did the sermons elicit any emotional response?” What then, really, is “good teaching”, and how can we shift our minds away from an inaccurate perception to a healthy, Biblical one?

My friends Tony & Felicity Dale, along with the help of George Barna, have recently come out with a book I have been reading called, “The Rabbit & the Elephant”. As soon as I am finished reading the book I will be posting a more extensive “review” if you will. Today, however, I wanted to share with you a bit of what the authors have to say about this topic of “good teaching”. I need not add anything to their words…

“Let’s look at the Apostle’s teaching first. If our simple churches are going to multiply rapidly, we no longer have the luxury of taking several years to train a Bible teacher. Anyway, the goal is not a few gifted teachers but a lot of hungry learners. Paul the apostle faced this dilemma as well-in some instances he was forced to move away from the new believers almost immediately. For example, in Philippi he only ‘stayed there several days’ (Acts 16:12, NIV). Therefore, we like to use an approach that allows the Bible to teach itself, enabling even young believers to lead. In New Testament times, teaching was far more interactive. For instance, the word used for Paul’s lengthy teaching in Ephesus is the Greek word dialegomai, from which we get our word ‘dialogue’ (Acts 20:7). Jesus’ informal teaching was frequently discussion-based and interrupted by questions He either posed Himself or was asked by others. Evangelical Christians tend to emphasize the importance of good teaching, but we believe that this is missing the point of helping people to genuinely learn Scripture and apply it to their everyday lives. Statistics show that we learn far more by actively participating than we do by hearing alone. People remember approximately 20 percent of what they hear, 50 percent of what they see and hear, and 70 percent of what the say themselves. In simple church, everyone is involved in the learning process. More than once, we have had people tell us they have learned more in just a few months of simple church than in years of listening to good sermons!”

The authors then go into a few methods of scripture study and teaching they’ve experienced in different simple churches, but you’ll have to get the book if you want to learn about those! Many evangelicals get worried that this type of teaching is dangerous, and allows potential heresy to creep in…

“Many who come from traditional church backgrounds are concerned that such an approach opens the door to heresy. We can attest that in the dozens of groups we’ve been part of over the years, we have never seen anyone sidetracked by wrong teaching. Even with the youngest Christians, we’ve found that when anything too outlandish comes up someone will usually point it out.”

Some other good tidbits from the book:

“Larger groups may run more smoothly if someone acts as a facilitator-to make sure that the study keeps moving, that everyone is taking part, and that no one (particularly the facilitator) dominates. It is not the facilitator’s job to answer questions but rather to direct the questions back to the group…by continually pointing people back to the scriptures, the facilitator ensures that the Bible remains the authority.”

“…The Bible itself is the teacher, and everyone in the group is involved in both the teaching and learning, as well as applying what is learned to daily life.”

“…The hard fact is that listening to long discourses does not turn people into disciples!”

“…Research by the Barna Group has revealed that in conventional churches in the  US, within two hours of having left a church service, the typical attender cannot identify the topic of the sermon, much less the key points communicated within it!”

“While there are many people who appreciate well-crafted and flawlessly communicated sermons, there are even more who appear to get little value from them.”

***All exerpts from “The Rabbit and the Elephant” – Chapter 10: Simply Reproducible***

Click Here to purchase the book!

“Interns, College Courses, & Good Discussions”

Some of you know that we recently brought on our first “official intern” for Intentional Gatherings as an organization here in Vegas. We have had many people come in and out of our different communities in Ft. Worth AND Vegas over the past three years. They have all been “informally trained” to take what they’ve learned back to wherever they came from. We have also moved quite a few young people in and out of the different I.G. Houses in both cities. Here in Vegas we do, on paper, call those who have come into the I.G. House, “house interns”. We’ve also seen hundreds of students trained to start simple/campus churches through the various trainings we’ve hosted/been a part of. We would also hope that ANYONE who is ever a part of any of the I.G. communities would be equipped/discipled in such a way that they could ALL go anywhere in the world to start their own simple church. However, this is our first “formal” intern who has come in to learn specifically about planting simple church communities with the end goal of starting his own community when he’s done. We’re about a month in and things have been really exciting…Pray that it continues to be fruitful. Welcome Aaron Fullmer!

I have another friend who spent some time with our community here in Vegas last summer. He went back to school in Reno, but we’ve stayed connected. He’s doing some cool stuff in his neighborhood with his roommates to facilitate “Missional Community”. He’s in a college class right now, and had to write a paper/do some sort of study on The Church in America. Unfortunately, it was a discussion about “Institutional Church” & “House Church”. He asked me to comment on this issue for his paper. I’m not a huge fan of debating these two things anymore. However, I thought it was worth sharing with you guys for some more healthy discussion to continue our wonderful chat from this past weekend…

From Jon:

“I’m just looking for one or two quotes for an article for a class I’m writing. Just sum it up…

What’s your opinion on home churches compared to the institutionalized church?”

My Response:

“Dude you know I can’t make it that short-haha! This is as short as I could manage….

It depends on how you’re defining “church”. Biblically, The Church is defined by the people of God, The Bride of Christ, etc. To put the word “institutionalized” before the word “church” is a bit scary and dangerous to me. However, placing the word “house” before the word “church” is also very dangerous. When we do either we confine the people of God to a place, and put the Holy Spirit in a box.

Practically speaking I do feel that institutional churches do a poor job of “equipping the saints for the work of service”. Because they are run like a business they are dependent upon money, infrastructure, staff, programs, etc. When those are the dependent variables the God-given purposes of His people get distracted. In our current day and time most businesses AND institutions across the board are struggling. This is the VERY same with MOST churches that operate as institutions. When money is NEEDED to survive as a business (institutional church) then certain things MUST be done in order to get people: 1) into the church (building) 2) Make/Keep them happy 3) Please/entertain them 4) Get them to pledge membership-tithe & volunteer their time. When the primary focus becomes the above we very quickly throw TRUE discipleship out the window. (Please know I am not questioning the motives behind why these churches do what they do. They are obviously pursuing what they feel God has called them to in making disciples-I would hope & assume)

I have found, in my experience, that more organic expressions of the ecclessia better facilitate discipleship & “equipping the saints for the work of service”. Not only that, but because it is NOT dependent upon any of the above variables it is much more reproducible. Anyone from anywhere and in any context can follow Christ, make disciples, and facilitate Gospel centered community ON MISSION when the “criteria” for “what/how/why” we do church is made more simple & organic by nature.

God has used the institution to do wonderful things, and change lives-we’ve forced Him to have to work in that box here in America (Generally). He’s working in crazy ways OUTSIDE of the box of the institution all over the world. The Church-the people of God were never created to be institutionalized (Thank you Constantine) and sure as hell never meant to operate as a business. We prove our lack of faith when we insist that the movement of the Spirit of God, and the Gospel can/should only operate inside the realm of an institutionalized business. God is moving, and there is a HUGE shift happening among the Body of Christ. May we welcome it gladly, appreciating some of our past healthy tradition, but not cling to it in foolish  pride.”

Your thoughts?