The funny thing about growing in Christ is that you don’t start from a blank slate; you start from erroneously held beliefs about the way it all works. And erroneously held beliefs don’t vanish the second someone says, “Jesus, I put my faith in you alone.”
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“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” — Clay Shirky
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I love the work that Neil Cole is doing—and Alan Hirsch (The Forgotten Ways), Bob Roberts (Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World), Frank Viola (Finding Organic Church), and many, many others.

In one form or another, they are champions of “organic church.” The term is fluid, but it contains at least three ingredients: Frustration with the-church-as-we-know-it, a focus on people (vs. programs) and mission (vs. institutional maintenance), and a vision to transform the world.
Out of Ur

As the above post goes on, a comment is made that  I felt I needed to echo. What God is doing in our day – organic spirituality/Christianity,  incarnation, missional embodiment of faith and emerging theology – is not the end. Change will happen again and these movements will need to transform/ reform themselves or become the old wineskin. Of this I have no doubt. My prayer is that if another change happens in my life time, I will remain supple enough to change with it.

I heard one pastor say that every generation needs to reboot their faith. This is true. It is also true that every age (Roman Empire->Dark Ages/Middle Ages->Modern Age->Postmodern) needs to reformat their faith hard-drive.

What ever comes after this postmodern age will bring with it a reformatting of the faith. Between now and then there will be many generations that reboot their faith within the postmodern context. But as for me in this time, I can only go with how God is leading me.

As For Me And My House We Will Serve the Lord [in how He is leading us].”

Religion is temporary. Once we catch a glimpse of what it points towards, it begs to be discarded. Should we hold onto it long after it has served its only true purpose, we only slide back into a state of being that ushers us away from the simple joy of living life with friends and neighbors.
Shawn Anthony

More and more I have a burning passion to enter into a community of faith that has more in common with family then it does with club. So much of institutional Christianity gets bogged down with structure and maintaining what it is, that it misses out on being family. The other side of this coin is those that discard the institution and enter into distant family relationships. Sure they get together, but it is almost by accident.

I believe the true church – the ekklēsia – involves a coming together with intent. In the comments to a blog I wrote:

I hate using the word ‘church’, as it has come to take on so much baggage that is not what ekklēsia means. Sure the ekklēsia will meet and have gatherings, as a matter of fact, it could be said that a group of individual Christians who never come together in community are not the ekklēsia. Ekklēsia holds within it an understanding of gathering together.

My belief is that the ekklēsia gathering need not, and possibly should not be institutionally structured. It is more organic and simple. the ‘Institutionally structured’ church requires effort to be put into the structure by many people and requires a top down leadership structure not unlike the gentiles (Luke 22:25) The result is an exoskeleton structure that will remain even if the Spirit leaves.

Jesus said that were two or three are gathered… Assembling together is all about relationship. If an institutional ‘church’ is the ekklēsia it is because of the relationships and is despite of the structure.

and

Institutions are a product of this world. Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world.

The institution gives us a glimpse of this coming together with intent that the non-church ekklēsia neglects. However, I have the conviction that “with the institution comes much baggage”. God has placed on many hearts a desire to leave this baggage behind, and there is a growing contingent of faithful believers who are struggling to come to grips with a religion-less, non-institutional expression of our faith.

The early ekklēsia met daily.

We are leaving a Christianized culture that met twice on Sunday and a few times throughout the week.

We are becoming/ have become a post-Christian culture that is swamped with time commitments which makes meeting once a week burdensome.

In one sense, we have an even greater need to get together; however, to survive in our culture, we become so busy that there is little time left in a week. All too often, I fear, we neglect relationship building – both within the ekklēsia as well as missionally – due to time constraints that result from our religious commitment to go to our weekly events. We use up our relationship time with our religious meetings.

I guess the warning is that as we ‘discard the religious’, we do not neglect  relationships.

I have no doubt that this process  of working out our faith outside of the institution will be messy. But I also have no doubt that it will be worth it.

If only we could all take the Rabbi’s advice.

Spiritual-religious advice this week: be compassionate to all and make excuses for others. (Or at least try.)
Rabbi Brian


according to Richard Rohr,  “many of the major concerns of Jesus are at major variance with what most of our churches have emphasized.
as quoted by Kingdom Grace

A missional imagination is not about the church; it’s not about how to make the church better, how to get more people to come to church, or how to turn a dying church around. It’s not about getting the church back to cultural respectability in a time when it has been marginalized…. This [missional] imagination turns most of our church practices on their head. It invites us to turn towards our neighborhoods and communities, listening first to what is happening among people and learning to ask different questions about what God is up to in the neighborhood. Rather than the primary question being, ‘How do we attract people to what we are doing?’ it becomes, ‘What is God up to in this neighborhood?’ and “What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?’ This is what a missional imagination is about. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 20.
@ The Blind Beggar (emphasis added)

Some of these posts were first put on Facebook as notes and  part 1 of ‘What should ‘Church’ look like’  created quite the stir with over 500 comments.

Its funny, of all my posts, that one seemed to me to be the least controversial. Maybe I’ve just wrestled over this issue with God so much that it became mundane to me. Or, maybe this is an issue that strikes at a chord of disillusionment many are feeling in the Body today. Even though my other writings deal with similar disillusionment, this topic is in your face. We experience it every week, we can put a face to it.

Every where I look, I see all kinds of people that are struggling with a disillusionment. There are:

Some of these people are hurt and bitter, with or without cause. Though this bitterness is not good or even right, there are probably more people where they came from that are remaining in their situation and in their bitterness. From what I have read, those that remove themselves from the source of their hurt, find healing.

Just as often though, there is a disillusionment and the desire to walk in something that they see in their bible but that is hampered by the machine. And most notable to me is that the people that are leaving to try something new, were leaders in the old thing. (Could be that we are just hearing from leaders because they are, well, leaders).

I look at this movement and see hope. I see the hand of God doing something new in our day. Others may look at this and see the enemy. What ever side we fall on, we need to recognize that these people are still apart of the Body. We need to love on them, embrace them, and even include them. To say that God cannot be active in their midst because:
a) they do not have the same leadership structure or
b) are doing something out of hurt
is to:
a) dismiss all churches that do not have our leadership structure. I belong to a church that have elders that rule over the congregation. There are other denominations that have popes and some that have elders that influence but the congregation votes (by majority or by consensus)
and b) heaping judgment on pain.

As I am on the side line cheering these fore runners on, part of me is envious. I think that these people will be remembered by history as the unnamed heroes of the second great reform. Often I feel the desire to jump ship and follow after them; but I have hope that change can come to the old guard. Like the first reformation, there are those who are inside the institution working for reformation and those that separate themselves. I pray that we will not make martyrs of those that choose, by choice or by accident, to walk away and live in what God is leading them into.

I believe that this new reformation will be marked by a desire for unity. The global community and flood of information make it easy for us to see our enemy’s side of things. And though we may never come to an agreement with them, we will see that they are real human beings and not just those witches in some other city. Once we know them as human, it becomes easier to pray for them and bless them rather than burn them at the stake.

The other thing I see happening in this move, is that all forms of hierarchy are being destroyed. In my reading of the New Testament, it is very clear that we are all brothers and sisters and that Jesus alone is the head. Sure there are elders and deacons that are recognized in the Body, but these are not offices and do not hold authority over others. They are examples, guides and even helpers on our joint journey.

Lastly, I think there will also be more recognition of the Spirit’s influence in every believe. God can distribute gifts, ministries, effects [1 Cor 12] as he desires to a gathering of 100, 1000 or even 10. He can even give some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. There are some that believe this can only happen by the blessing of the pope while others believe it needs the blessing of the elders. I believe, more often then not, God’s gifts go unrecognized by anyone but Him and possible the recipient.

In a previous post ‘ A New Testament Church in Form and Function’, I discussed some of the structural issues that I see in the institutionalize church of today. Here I will layout how I see meetings operating in the New Testament.

First of all, the church met in peoples homes. What does this mean? Well, the number of people that gathered had to be small which would allow for a more intimate fellowship. Sure they continued to meet in the synagogue and at the Temple, but this was not the fellowship of believers, this was the continuation of their Jewishness. It was also a time of out reach, debating and discussion with fellow Jews.

The fact that we ‘have church’ with other believers in meetings with 100’s and even 1000’s means the instructions we can see for our assembling together cannot occur in these meetings. Does this mean we should stop attending these meetings? Not necessarily. We just need to understand that these meetings are not where we are going to be assembling for fellowship. Only a superficial fellowship can occur here. What we are doing here is participating in a culture – a christian culture. Not wrong but also not a requirement for a healthy walk in the Way.

[a side note:
“not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:23-25) is not in reference to not attending ‘church’ but is talking about abandoning the faith, the assembly of Christ.

However, even if it does refer to a current meeting or gathering together, it does not need to be understood in the context of institutionalize meetings, but rather, how about being understood in the context of an organic, living and changing organism; the body.]

Apart from the understanding of meeting regularly in the homes of believers, what can we see about these meetings? I believe that 1 Corinthians 11,12,13 and 14 is talking about just such meetings. If this is so, then the believers meetings – those that we should be attending -would look vastly different than our domesticiized Sunday services.

  1. When they came together it was for the Lord’s Supper – the love feast.”Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.” (11:20,21)Every time they got together it was with a meal – the Lord’s Supper. Sure Paul says that because of the division that was happening during this supper it was not counted as the Lord’s Supper, but it should be
  2. The spiritual gifts are for every one as the Spirit sees fit. (12:1-31)
  3. The context of the gifts, the Lord’s Supper -all of life- is Love (13:1-13)
  4. These gifts are for the Body, and for ever meeting.”What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation Let all things be done for edification.” (14:26-33)The meetings of the believers should be open and participatory. These meetings were not man centered like today’s
    • We have a speaker who dictates to the body what God wants to teach [NOT each one has a teaching]
    • We filter prophesy so that God can only say what the speaker/ rulers of the meeting see fit [NOT each one has a revelation]
    • We have a designated team that dictates what songs are sung[NOT each one has a psalm]

If my interpretation is right, the way we do our meetings today is un-biblical and spirit resistant.