Go to Church or Be the Church?

July 24, 2010

My worldview places the fellowship of believers-in-Christ – the church – as essential to life. I made a comment once on my desire to see church “done” differently. Someone asked me to elaborate. The elaboration follows. The first phrase that came to my mind, and which I said out loud when asked to elaborate, was: “It would be less safe”.

It would be more organic. It would be less oriented to principles and programs and more oriented to relationship, prayer, and waiting on the Spirit. It would be primarily a cell church. The life of the body is in the cell. The health of the body is only as healthy as the cells. The life of the church would be in the cell. The church is only as healthy as the cells. (If I were asked to strip away everything the church does, leaving only one thing, it would be – guess what? – the cells.) That is, small life-sharing groups.

I think I’d have 3 to 12 men – elders, and my main task would be to spend time with them individually and corporately. This would be one of (eventually) many cells. The main agenda would be discipleship – the Word of God and prayer.

We’d be trying to understand and practice what it means to be a man, husband, father in our world. We’d be equipping them to carry out the God-given task of shepherding their families. Their primary elder task would be: find at least 3 and no more than 12 men and do the same thing, in their way and in keeping with their personality, schedule and gifts. Our elder meetings would be primarily for prayer, mutual encouragement, and reporting and sharing about how it’s going with their 3 to 12 men. (Jesus limited Himself to 12; why should we attempt more than that?)

We’d encourage families to bring into their homes, as much as practical, children of those who don’t have yet the advantage of parents who raise their kids for Jesus, and model Christian living.

Corporate gatherings would be along the lines of what has been called “open church” – open worship, open sharing, open ministry. It wouldn’t be an “audience” on Sunday mornings. We’d attempt to practice “the priesthood of the believer”. Spectator Christianity advocates wouldn’t be comfortable.

I Cor 14:26 – “When you come together, everyone has something to contribute: a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation, etc…” We’d try ways to enable that to happen. We’d quit depending so much on the up-fronters and a set (and too often depressingly predictable) program.

Acts 13:1 – “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul…'” Prayer would be a central focus, and so would getting direction from the Lord in prayer gatherings. It wouldn’t be just up to a small group of guys, although the elders I describe above would be very much involved in prayer as well. Some – maybe most – church decisions might come out of such extended and intentional prayer gatherings.

Eph 5:19-20 – “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…” Tertullian (very early Christian guy) describes meetings he was in: “In our Christian meetings we have plenty of songs, verses, sentences, and proverbs. After hand-washing and bringing in the lights, each Christian is asked to stand forth and sing, as best he can, a hymn to God, either of his own composing, or one from the Holy Scriptures.”

I think if we did this for awhile we’d no longer have the challenge of finding a man courageous enough to talk to God, actually out loud, with other people around. You don’t produce “real men” by making them sit in rows and listen for 70 years. You do so by having them stand up and proclaim boldly what’s in their hearts and in the Word {among other things}!

There might be a different family group or individual (or more than one) each week who brought a special presentation – testimony, Scripture teaching, song (including original songs), poetry, ministry report, drama, home-made video – for the encouragement and edification of the people and praise to God. They would know at least a month ahead of time in order to prepare.

Everyone has at least one sermon in them, and I’d find ways for each person to share theirs – a “5-minute sermon” spot. Teaching could be generously passed around among the elders and other family heads as they matured.

There’d be times to share needs, not only for prayer, but also for practical response – maybe right there in that service or before the day is out. We’d ask God to help us find ways to get rid of as many “laymen” as we could by stretching them into speaking words of their own into the life of the church, and moving on from there – becoming ministers.

(Imagine a home where only the father is allowed to speak freely. In response, when directed, the mother and kids chant in unison. They can speak individually only when specifically permitted to do so. Why does the family of God function that way?)

My attempt to “do church” would seek to change that.

3 thoughts on “Go to Church or Be the Church?

  1. This how it was from the very beginning. It’s just too bad, that modern-day society has changed everything.


  2. Thanks for the comment, Pastor Gil.

    It’s happened over a long period of time. There are groups trying to live this way. There’s a yearning around the land for something different.


  3. Pingback: Inflexibility | MATTERS of WORLDVIEW

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