Redefining Church?

(I’m writing today in the context of the Christian Church) Tradition is tradition because a method, belief, or practice has been tested… tried… and found true.  In every generation there are some who decide to challenge tradition… change the way church is done.  Currently there seems to be a movement who are challenging the church structure God set in place.

A good representative of what I’m talking about is what is called the “Meta-Church” (Beyond Church).  In this new concept of how to do church, there area a number of “new” stratagies being called for.  Consider a few of them that may sound good, but upon further examination… well… I’ll comment afterward.  The subtitle of the article is: 21 Steps to transit from being a barren church to a millionaire of souls. (Emphasis in blue is mine)

1st Step: Rewrite the job description of professional clergy from a pulpit orator, sacrament dispenser and tithe gatherer to a shepherd who feeds his flock to be healthy and reproducing by encouraging them to practice priesthood of all believers with authority to baptize, break bread and equip fishers of men. Note: I believe it is written in the 1 Timothy to “Preach the Word…”

2nd Step: Move from meeting in temples to gathering in ‘houses of peace.’  ‘God does not dwell in temples made by human hands’; rather He dwells in human hearts. For we are the mobile walking and talking temples of the living God, with a maximum of organism and a minimum of organization. Note: I believe it is written in Titus that Elders were to be set up to guide the church.  And it is written in Hebrews to “obey your leaders.”

3rd Step: Phase out programmed Sunday ‘services’ while implementing informal, small gatherings. The Bride of Christ must have intimacy with her Lord every day, not only for a couple of hours a week, lest she become unfaithful.  Note: The pattern of both OT and NT is for believers to gather in a central place… not to remain in seperate small houses.

5th Step: Dispense with wafer-and-sip Holy Communion services, and promote breaking of bread with simple Agape meals (love feasts) from house to house that believers take together with glad hearts, so the Lord can add to His numbers daily.  Note: Is he saying that God CAN’T grow the church in the present setting but it must be changed “so” the Lord can…?  I would strongly disagree.

7th Step: Shift from spectator-oriented church to ‘metastasizing’ interactive, participatory, prophetic church. Empower men, women and youth, to get the dragon off the driver’s seat.  Note: It seems he calls for the unders-shepherd (Pastor) to be done away with… in a negative way mind you.

17th Step: Substitute seminary training by sharing the whole wisdom of God from house to house.  Sound doctrine is the ability to convince those who oppose.  Note: To be consistent I guess he would agree that there’s no need for formal medical or legal training for doctors (He is a physician himself) or lawyers.  Personally, I WANT my doctor to have formal training from those more knowledgable than himself.  His suggestion is not wise.

20th Step: Re-set your priorities to preach Christ where He has not been named. For this you do not have to go to church from Sunday to Sunday nor work from paycheck to paycheck.  Note: He is asserting that going to church (Believers assembling themselves together) is no longer needed… which is contrary to Scripture.

Change is not always good, proper, or right.  In my view this man is manifesting a rebellious spirit that is contrary to Scripture and the pattern of Scripture.  Not only that, it is quite possible that he is reacting out of hurt or anger he’s experienced in a church setting.  I just have a problem anytime people come up with something new and fresh that does not seem to be born of humility and brokenness.  Enough said…

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10 comments on “Redefining Church?

  1. Searching says:

    The only observation I would make is that all those items appear to be all about man rather than all about God. And that says it all to this old soul.
    Blessings Ron!

    • pastorron7 says:

      Excellent point Searching. You should read the rest of his “suggestions.” Some of them are further out than the ones I mentioned. God bless you for being discerning.

      • Keith Davis says:

        Ron. Remember that many times people who challenge the accepted norm appear to be “angry” or “hurt” because that is the truth. From someone who has been burned time and again by the “system,” it does tempt one to seek other ways. Know this: I do not seek “new” ways for the sake of my anger or hurt, but to try with an open mind to seek out the real truth.

        We must see the truth of history, that is, church tradition and where it all has come from, We need also to understand that what we see today as “church” “worship services” is nowhere to be found in scripture.

        For many years, I accepted the tradition of the “church” (system) as the truth. It feels very good to be set free from that system, at least in my mind. I’m still working on the way it looks.

        I know that what needs to exist should allow Jesus to lead, Holy Spirit to guide it, and Father God to bless it.

        I love you my brother. You have been a great encouragement to me and my family. For that I’m so grateful. We may disagree on how to “do church,” but the bond of love that binds us together in Jesus Christ will always exist and that means more to me than any kind of disagreement.

        Love ya bro. I hope to be back in our meetings in a couple of weeks.

  2. Keith Davis says:

    I guess my comment didn’t make the cut?

    • pastorron7 says:

      Keith. I know what it is like to hurt and be hurt. But anger is does not accomplish the rightousness of God nor is it a valid reason to malign the people of God as this man does in a backhanded way. Neither is hurt a reason to abandon or leave the people God calls to minister to. Cases in point are Moses and Paul. Moses led rebellious people who wanted to kill him… but he never abandoned them, instead he prayed for them and led them for 40 years. Paul was attacked and undercut by the Corinthian believers… but he didn’t write them off or ignore them. Instead he pastored and directed them through his hurt and their rebellion. The New Testament if full of dysfunctional congregations and their failures… but not once do the leaders turn their back and say… “We’re going to start over and do this different.” Think of the churches described in Revelation 2 and 3. Of the seven churches only one wasn’t castigated for their failure to follow Christ. I think all that is a pattern for those who are called to the ministry to follow. I know… I’ve walked much of the path you have.

      There are several thoughts you write in your comment I strongly disagree with… but I choose to let those go since we have discussed them before. Instead I choose to take the approach that the people in the Church are God’s sheep and they are to be dealt with gently, graciously, and patiently (God give me the strength). Since it seems you would rather take a path that is new and fresh in your eyes, I’d say go for it! Pull the trigger! Do as you desire and leave the institution as described by you behind. Time will tell as to God’s favor.

      As for “not making the cut,” I have been mulling over my response since I first read your comment. Just because you don’t hear from someone immediately does not mean they are ignoring you. It may be that they are measuring carefully how to respond.

      Bless you my friend and we will talk soon… God willing.

  3. Scott Shifferd Jr. says:

    I see the house church catching on. This will certainly be a large movement that I pray does great things in turning to Christ and His Church. As long as, they can break from their hierarchical leaders and exclusive sectarianism that separates them from those do not worship “under chimneys”. I say that with no ill-will, but rather to exhort. Christ’s eternal Church for which death cannot prevail over. I would encourage them to truly observe the Assembly just as 1 Corinthians 14 speaks of 2 or 3 speakers rather than many and also not expecting women to take authority and teach over Christian men against God’s will. Sadly, these have absolutely slaughtered the Lord’s Supper and made into an invention of men. Oh, I wish they would read again that the Supper was establish during the Passover and not a common meal. For which Christ’s Spirit rejected making the Lord’s Supper a common meal saying, “For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.” Lay aside tradition sure, but not to take up another.

    • pastorron7 says:

      Thank you for your comment. However… I do take issue with a few of your statements. When you say Christians should “break from their hierarchial leaders” you are going against the Scripture where men are to be in positions of authority in the congregation for the purpose of leadership and discipline (See Hebrews 13:17). I do take it as a denegrating to describe God’s people as those who “worship under chimneys.” Why would such a thing be said about God’s people who He led to build for His glory and the multiplication and maturing of believers? I just don’t think that terminology is either helpful or inclusive. The way you describe the Lord’s Supper as being “absolutely slaughtered by men” borders on heresy… but is certainly not words that build up as Christians are encouraged to speak to one another in Ephesians.

      I do however think you are wise in writing that leaving one form for another is simply a change in tradition and practice. Once a group meets together more than once… a leader will emerge… they will agree on a time, place, format, and practice. That is nothing different from what congregations do now. I have no problem with believers meeting in houses… which is what the early church did before they were able to have their own places of worship. However, God’s people have always congregated together… sometimes in large buildings (The Temple) for the purpose of worship.

      Tradition is not always bad. Nor is tradition good simply because it is a tradition. In my mind I see those who castigate, denegrate, and undercut the way God’s people worship God as led by Him as unhealthy in their practices. At this point I think Paul gives excellent guidance in Romans 14:5… “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

      It is not necessary to tear down one thing in order to begin… or lend credence… to another. I say, if you’re led by God to do church as you speak of… do it. But do it humbly without taking shots at others who are your brothers and sisters in Christ for the way they are led by God to worship! Blessings…

  4. I was not writing in disagreement with you, but with the cited words. Please understand the definition of hierarchy are not those leaders appointed by the Spirit. I don’t really see anything that disagrees with your reference above.

    Yet now, I must say that if we apply Romans 14:5 to every Christian practice, there would be no unity, nor one faith, one church, one baptism, one hope, or even one Lord in who we can all believe. Romans 14 addresses those “reasonings” that are not addressed by Christ’s Spirit in His words given to us by His apostles and prophets. Being “convinced in my own mind” against the teachings of Christ does not make anything right.

    • pastorron7 says:

      That’s one of the drawbacks of email, text, and comments… you cannot SEE or HEAR a person’s body language and too many things are left to personal interpretation. Sorry if I came off as harsh.

      As for Romans 14:5, There are some things that don’t rise to the level of being willing to not have fellowship with another person doctrinally. Paul is referring to when the right time to worship was (Saturday, Sunday, EVERY day). In some things there is room for latitude in love. But there are some things that we are to make a test of fellowship (Trinity, Virgin Birth, Substutionary Atonement, Jesus as the only way of salvation, etc). No person can suggest an interpretation of Scripture that conflicts with the revealed Word.

      When it comes to doing church one way over another, there is room for interpretation and lattitude with grace and love. If people take the approach to “do church” differently than others… no problem. That doesn’t mean I agree… that they’re right and others are wrong (Though I would strongly debate them on points). Also I would ask it to be noted that I did not suggest that a person can go against the Scriptures and be right. Think about this…

      How can two people… believe in the same God (Jehovah of the Bible)… read the same Scriptures… be led of the same Holy Spirit… on the same issue… come to different conclusions… and BOTH be right? That is what Romans 14:5 addresses. Being “fully convinced” involves: Diligent study of the Scriptures… prayer and seeking God… leadership of the Holy Spirit. Being “fully convinced” is NOT “this seems right to me,” or “this is just what I believe in my heart.”

      We may not be that far apart on the important things… but there are other matters we may be polar opposites… and be brothers in Christ.

  5. David Walters says:

    The issue here is not so much the form of church services or structure, but experiencing true revival. Most traditional churches are not governed by the Holy Spirit. If the church is to have leaders then all they end up with are followers. The five fold ministry gifts were ordained by God not to be religious superstars or ecclesiastical hierarchy, lording it over the people, but to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, rather than teaching them to obedient spectators at the Sunday morning service.The church is the only place where many people are taught, but never allowed to graduate. Victor Choudhrie vision is radical and functions outside the box and comfort of regular church. It has the seeds of revival. Forty years ago I was part of a revival in England which was amazing, But eventually the spirit of control came in and shut it down. I say, “Victor go for it.” It’s about time the church woke up and stopped playing, arguing and debating petty things.

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