Historical Truth 1 – Old Testament G2M
A good while back the Israelites had neither kings, nor judges. This was God’s will. He set it up this way. They followed God directly in cooperation with Moses. The cloud moved, they moved. The role of Moses was not one of ‘king’, nor leader, but perhaps if you had to slap a title on him it would be ‘prophet’ – delivering God’s messages as an obedient mail man. He was a normal man, not without sin. It was not Moses who brought them out of Egypt, it was God – and God made sure this point wouldn’t be confused by means of wild and terrible acts against their oppressors. This relationship, was God-to-Man (or G2M for the sake of creating an acronym). He was a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire by night. God said move left, and the people moved left. God said move right, and the people moved right. God said “jump” and the people said “how high?” – kind of.
However, when Moses went to the mountain to speak to God, he stopped to tie his shoe and took a bit longer than expected and the people, losing their G2M mouthpiece for longer than they wanted, ended up making a golden calf to worship – a heinous and adulterous breach in their relationship with God. It proved that having a man-in-the-middle (MITM) was an unnatural relationship and doomed to fail.
Following Moses, the Israelites set up more leaders (kings/ judges) because they preferred a MITM relationship rather than G2M. The end result of this choice was a total degradation and ultimately the complete abandonment of the God who delivered them.
There was a restoration, of sorts, in Nehemiah but it was never as G2M as it was with Moses. There was always a MITM.
Historical Truth 2 – New Testament G2M
The book of Acts was not only a restoration of this G2M relationship, but the fullness thereof where God’s own Spirit was poured into man and ‘the people’ went wherever God’s Spirit instructed. Jesus had ripped the veil, the holy place of God was accessible to all men, and the MITM relationship was fully, officially, and legally ended. God had taken up residence inside his newly restored earthly tabernacle – the body of believers.
As you read the book of Acts, you see that they acted as one body, and did acts of God on the earth – without priests, pastors, kings, or judges. Everyone was G2M when the Spirit poured out on the believers in Acts 2, but at some point, it went MITM and then the church went bad – real bad.
My Opinion (Read at Own Risk)
MITM is not the will of God, nor can anyone spiritually grow in this secular, man-made environment. It is a recipe for stunted spiritual growth at best, but spiritual degradation at worst (I’ve seen this too much to track it).
I reason that if you were to remove the Pastor, the Priest, or the (insert your one-man-show church position) that many of the churches would cease to prevail at that moment. They would either go to another establishment that had a strong leader, or they would leave the church completely.
But it’s happening anyway.
People are tired of hearing ‘about God’. They want to know God, or not bother.
And thank God!
Imagine going every week to a travel agency where they pumped up a trip to a nice resort. They showed you nice pictures, they showed videos, they walked you through slide presentations, they showed how awesome it was in this place. You went week after week diligently because you badly wanted to go. But no one showed you how to go. How horrible would that be? How long would you keep going to torture yourself? The reality never happens.
Same deal in many churches. How long will go you and hear about transformed lives: miracles, signs, wonders, love, joy, giving, dying to self, blah, blah, blah, and blah… but not get a chance to live it? The reality never happens.
But worse than all of this is the fact that most sincere believers I know just want to *know God*. We want God to be the ruler of our hearts and lives. We want to be holy, pure, and with a clean conscience before God and man. We want to walk with Him, talk with Him and experience the fullness of His plan for our life. We want to love God and love others – but all we have is a well-composed 3-point sermon (and some coffee and cookies afterwards for ‘fellowship’).
Thank God the people are tiring of it because God was tired of it the day it started.
It’s time for a G2M relationship.
I’m done with MITM.
A letter written to my friend that I felt was worthy of sharing to the world as well:
Now brace yourself for the rest since you asked!
Interestingly, about this time last year we made a decision to pull out of church-church. It’s a long story and had nothing to do with personality conflicts or even really theology, but it started with the fact that we could not find in the Bible any justification for Christmas and Easter but instead only proof that they were both pagan rituals brought into the church. When this was brought up it was immediately shut down. It started to make us really wonder because those outside of the church also shut us down in the same way. So it was observed that the unbelievers and the church were in agreement that Christmas and Easter were a good thing – and this is highly troubling if you think about it because the world should be pretty much against all things Christian (except for our good works). Satan is the prince of this world. So why was Satan’s folks and the church in full agreement about Easter? Even though perfect historical facts prove them to be based in paganism? So that was the start of my questioning about the church-church.
For me, on a personal level, and at every church I’ve attended I’ve been quite troubled by the following:
- existence of known and habitual sinning within the body of Christ (without rebuke or correction and ultimately excommunication – which is a clear directive in the Bible)
- a very serious lack of Bible understanding individually
- programmatic rituals which are not bad by themselves but when coupled with the above provide a perfect framework to spiritual death within the church (a feeling of godliness without the power)
- the fact that churches meet in buildings called ‘churches’ and people, especially Koreans, will say ‘Do you go to church?” which has an implied meaning of ‘Do you believe that Jesus is Lord and have you received him as your Savior and live your life for Him?” the two questions of which – as you well know – often have no correlation within the church-church
- the fact that ‘churches’ provide all their financial data, and the data of their members directly to the tax authorities strictly for a worldly benefit (tax numbers and tax benefits). See this post here as well about that.
- the bizarre reality of how people will drive all over their city commuting to ‘churches’ when their own backyards are spiritual graveyards and are ripe for the meeting of the believers together
- and more
In addition to the above challenges with the church-system, I have also personally and very deeply struggled with the lack of teachings about and help towards those struggling with (and yes these are all biblical sins) the following sins:
And you can run a few quick tests to confirm:
1. When was the last time you heard a preacher educating about how the sin of homosexuality works (spiritually) and how we are supposed to help homosexuals? Have you ever heard a preacher preaching about how we should reach out to these lost and hurting children of God?
2. When have you heard anyone preaching to/teaching a pre-married couple about the need to abstain from sexual interactions until the covenant is legal? Have you ever heard them preach/teach that perhaps it’s not even wise to do the worldly version of dating?
3. When have you heard anyone try to stop someone in their congregation from divorcing? Although I haven’t heard of it I’m sure there is a good chance this occurs regularly, but, when have you ever heard of a pastor boldly trying to stop them from committing adultery by re-marrying? Not ever once have I heard of a pastor doing this yet Jesus Himself said this:
Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery Luke 16:18).
4. When has anyone preached about how to help a pornography-addict, set up a course, etc? Or have they just preached empty statistics about how many Christians are addicted to it?
You see? A form of godliness without the power. This was a big part of my struggle and even began to seriously bother my conscience as God opened my eyes.
A religious ritual void of the life-changing power of the Spirit is what I was seeing in so many traditional congregations around me.
In summary – a massive hypocritical lifestyle that stinks in the sight of God.
And that is just a piece of my spiritual situation.
There is another challenge I have with the church-church and that is that the pastors are doing the five-fold ministry by themselves. We have pastors who are supposed to shepherd the flock, but where are the apostles, the prophets and the evangelists?
And the proof of something being amiss in the way it’s going for the poor pastors around town is that pretty much every pastor I know is either stressed, sick, having marriage and family problems or all of the above. Seriously. I joke not. Yes, I’ve heard the argument that Satan is attacking them more, but I’ve started to shy away from that one over the last few years, although I don’t deny that Satan hates pastors.
The great news is that after pulling myself and the family out of the church-church for a while, and dedicating that time to home Bible studies with other couples and families and our kids, things massively started to change including, but not limited to:
- a greater hunger for the Word of God
- a greater hunger for and revelation of truth in general (ie. Christmas, Easter, flat earth versus globe earth, evolution vs creation, satanic influence in the school system, etc, etc, etc).
- a much better understanding of the world around me such as world events
- a much closer relationship with my direct family
- an improved relationship with the unsaved members of my family and their circle
- an increased excitement towards the things of God including holiness, righteousness, wisdom, hard work, diligence, etc, etc)
- an increased confidence that God is with us individually, inside of us
- an increased confidence that God is capable Himself, without the church-church to sustain our very life and stamp His seal of approval on me directly with His Spirit
- an increased hunger to find others who are like-minded and hungry for God
- an increased intimacy with the brothers and sisters we have found who love the Lord in a similar way
- an increased desire to do the will of God instead of my own will or the will of others around me
- more of God, less of us.
In short, we have been transformed through the experience.
We are daily seeking to build the small fellowship we have but we are not willing to compromise on the above for the vain benefit of telling someone which authorized church-church we are part of. We find no basis in the Bible for this and so we are not going down that road again.
However, don’t misunderstand and think that we are ‘outside of the church’. It’s quite the opposite. We ARE the church now. We are actually doing the stuff we see in the Bible and God is bringing (quite quickly) other believers around to share this with.
And hopefully something here was encouraging to your faith.
I expect that God will do a mighty thing in your life and the life of your new wife.
Be strong in the Lord and faint not.
Seek the Lord and ye shall find Him. Knock and the door shall be opened.
Blessings to you, brother!
Music – it’s just so personal.
Musical Theory Crash Course – What is Music?
Let’s, for a second talk about music on a secular (wordly) level. It’s composed of melody, harmony and rhythm. Theoretically, then, a computer can write a song by adding all of these elements in some way and create ‘music’. And computers can and do this. On a secular level, it’s actually pretty good. So let’s be clear that music can also be 100% impersonal.
Genres are really just a ‘tendency’ of one or more of the three components above to follow similar patterns. I happen to really like reggae as a genre and the reason is syncopation or ‘off beat’ rhythms. Instead of a typical rock beat which goes:
So ‘reggae’ would follow a ‘tendency’ to do that or similar rhythm and would therefore be considered a ‘reggae rhythm’. There are, of course, other elements like the place where the bass comes in which is so different from standard rock as well.
And don’t think that church music is without genres and this is part of the discussion of this blog post. But if you were to step back there are two major ‘church genres’: the hymn and what Koreans call ‘CCM’ or what English speaking countries tend to call ‘Praise & Worship Music’. Now, on that topic, let’s start this blog with some FUN! Because I’m all about fun whenever possible, even if people get upset.
Note before clicking: do *NOT* go to the red URL because it seems to go to some very potentially *bad* places, although I haven’t researched nor will I.
Is it possible to make worse music for God? It’s music like this that has turned a lot of people away from Jesus I think! What the heaven genre is this? “Mullet Praise”? Dear God have mercy…
Let’s stick with this fun theme and watch another one, shall we?
Note before clicking: Based on my own research I cannot support Amazon (who owns Audible) or Facebook, so please do not support what he is selling until you have done your own due diligence.
How to write a perfect “Praise and Worship Song” (CCM):
This same guy made this similarly funny video.
The Problem with Christian Bands
But this topic of music is not actually that ‘funny’ in the church. I heard a statistic that I have never been willing to research myself but that I believed immediately upon hearing which went like this: “Music is the number one cause of all church splits”. As soon as I heard it, I believed.
When I became a disciple of Jesus I was coming from a rock and roll garage band kind of background. I was the typical teen with the guitar and amp and even made a little headway with our little band. Although music was, before I met Jesus, my god and idol, when I came to the church I realized that music was still important. Ever since then, and it has been over 20 years now, I have wanted to take a deeper look at what music is, what it should be, and why it’s so impacting. This blog post is supposed to just whet the whistle on the topic and hopefully spur some comments from people around me and out there so that I can build on the study and leave something useful out there for the body of Christ.
We’ve had some laughs, we’ve drunk some milk, but now let’s get into the meat (even though I’m trying to be a vegetarian). A Korean sister in the Lord found this video. I searched both high and low trying to find it in English because a) I want to know who this dude is so I can give him some credit and b) I desperately want to watch part 2 of this series. Anyway, if you speak either English or Korea, this video should be amazingly beneficial to you on this topic. If you know who this guy is, please throw some comments below and let me know:
Details about music, genres, right, wrong, harmony, melody, rhythm as it pertains to the church and worship
But for me, it didn’t stop there. There is more to discuss. Here is a good video to watch where a hip hop reggae Christian artist dude asks a very important and personal question: Why do some churches reject his music? Please watch especially the response from Ravi Zacharias at the end.
Why do some churches reject my music genre?
The first speaker answers with a very bold and, in my opinion overly generalized way when he said ‘If you reject a certain kind of music there is something wrong with you.” I totally disagree. There may be very good reasons to reject a certain kind or genre of music as we shall hopefully study over the next few months as I find time.
He also mentions the idea that ‘you can reach people with music’ and his implication is therefore ‘so you should use music as a tool to reach people’. I am now of the opinion that this is a very dangerous position to take because I agree that music is, at the very roots, a tool: a tool of expression of the soul, a motivation tool, a tool of influence, a tool of worship, and many more applications. But if a tool is powerful, the person using the tool must understand what the tool is, the benefits and dangers of the tool, the right and wrong time to use the tool, and essentially be well grounded in the usage of said tool. To just throw a ‘Christian band’ in front of your church and ask people to participate in whatever they lead you to do is, in my opinion, opening yourself up to some problems. Refer to the ‘Problems with Christian Bands’ video above.
I believe that Ravi’s answer was more grounded and has within it the core issues that need to be addressed when discussing music.
Music is the Language of the Soul
Ravi said ‘Music is the language of the soul’ – and how correct he is. But this brings us to the most fundamental problem in the church today: no one knows what the soul is, let alone that there is a difference between the soul and the spirit! To get immediately educated on the topic, I recommend that you go and buy Watchman Nee’s “The Spiritual Man”. I regret so deeply that I had this book on my shelf for nearly 20 years and never opened it until now. Now and only now things are starting to make sense in the world as this teaching of body, soul, and spirit comes alive.
What is the Soul?
As a quick snap shot, the soul is composed of the mind, the will, and the emotions. Simple as that. But as it pertains to music, you will note that *unsaved sinners* all have a mind, a will and emotions! And herein lies the greatest danger – what is the *spirit* behind the music? Is the person leading you into worship even saved? Are they born again? Are you sure? Or, are they leading you down a pathway to *their soul*? And who is the master of their soul? Is it Jesus? Do you know? Are you sure?
I’m not going to pretend to scratch the surface of this topic but I hope that up to now I have spurned some ideas and that we will be able to walk down a very deep path towards truth on this topic of music in the church and in worship.
I’ve been a professing disciple of Jesus for about 20 years. Prior to meeting Jesus personally, I had seen an Anglican version of Him. It was a ritualistic cookie cutter machine of religious gymnastics. I realized I didn’t have what it took to become good at this sport so I left. When I really met Jesus it was through a group who preached that I had to be ‘born again’ to be saved. Now this was different. This had something that stirred my very soul. This had some truth that my soul knew was right. And so I got born again according to the playbook of many other folks who got born again. Anyway, enough of my background. I mention it only to say that I’ve seen the very ritualistic form of religion as well as the more evangelical form of it. And here’s the part that’s going to ruffle some feathers and backstroke some cats (just made that up):
The Jesus preached to me since my birth is *not* the Jesus I see in the Bible.
And now let me make this a bit more personal for you:
The Jesus you think you know may be a form of dead religious gymnastics, not Jesus the God-Person-Saviour-Christ of the Bible.
or, let me put it a bit more cool-jazz style (start slow trumpet in dark urban alley):
Whatever religious ‘thing’ you’re doing, might actually be *preventing* you from truly knowing our Heavenly Father.
It’s time to take a step back and evaluate where we really are in our relationship with our Heavenly Father and I’m going to help ignite the process by showing some things about Jesus in the Bible that might surprise you.
Jesus Never Fits the Religious Gynmastic Programs
1. Jesus pardoned sins while walking the earth
When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. (Mark 2:5)
Everyone knows that Jesus healed people. This is exciting and fine. But Jesus, in front of the ‘church of his day’ (the synagogue) declared that He had the power of God when he forgave the man his sins. Shocking would have been an understatement for anyone standing nearby – much more shocking, if you think about it, than the fact the paralysed man stood up and walked. The healing was merely proof of his former shocking words. How many times has your church preached this part of Jesus?
Jesus spent time with sinners
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? (Mark 2: 16)
It would have been considered extremely poor religious behaviour for Jesus to be spending time with the unclean heathen. But for this reason did Jesus come – to heal the sick. Healing the sick offended the religious folks. This Jesus was offending them.
Disciples of Jesus didn’t fast
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? (Mark 2:18)
The Pharisees fasted. Even the disciples of John the baptist fasted. Anyone who was part of any religious team fasted! But not Jesus’ team. They walked to a different beat. This Jesus simply didn’t feel the need to fit in with what was going on. This Jesus knew who He was and didn’t derive his identity from approval of religious teams and their coaches and their board of directors.
Jesus worked on the Sabbath
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? (Mark 2:23-24)
According to their rules and regulations, one wasn’t supposed to work on the Sabbath. And here is Jesus ‘breaking the rules’. Or…. was He? Is it possible for the one who made the game and its rules to break the rules? Jesus was declaring that He was not part of the religious game but instead the Maker of the game. Surely, this rocked their religious boat.
Jesus healed on the Sabbath
And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched [it] out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (Mark 3:5)
The religious teams considered an act of healing to be ‘work’. They were so addicted to the comfort of their religious systems that they were unable to even desire to see a man with a withered hand healed. Their desire to see the cold rules of the law followed to a tee was stronger than the desire to see a suffering person’s pain and burden healed.
The above five events pulled from the Gospel of Mark really require us to sit back and take a look at our own lives. Pretend just for a moment that you are part of a synagogue of Jesus time. Let’s pretend that the ‘synagogue’ is called a ‘church’ for fun (it’s just a name of a gathering after all…).
You find out that a certain miracle-worker named Jesus has showed up to town and really offending the churches. Some are calling him a blasphemer, some are calling him a heretic and a cult leader. This Sunday he and his crew show up to your church meeting and walk in. In the middle of the well-planned sermon Jesus puts his hand up and asks why 80% of the males in the group are in bondage to pornography.
An uncomfortable silence follows and the males squirm in their chairs.
Then Jesus asks why there is over a 50% divorce rate amongst you.
Further awkward silence.
Then he asks why there are those participating in holy communion who have wicked lives behind the scene.
Now here is the question I want you to really think about. If the above were to happen today, do you think the Shepherds and the Sheep of your group would:
a) repent in bitter sorrow and weep over their condition or
b) kick this preacher out the back door for rudely speaking out of turn and mucking up their flow
I want you to think about this. Really.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Jesus that I see in my Bible also said this:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Matthew 10:34-35)
He also said this:
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)
And the list goes on.
I hope that I’m mistaken, but I’m guessing that the Jesus above doesn’t match up with the Jesus being preached to you. And that’s why you are in permanent bondage and your life is dark and dreary. Don’t think I haven’t been there before nor think that I’m fully out of the religious forest.
But great news, folks. Jesus is not a religious cross-fit program. He is a Person – and the most amazing, loving, forgiving, life-changing, freedom-providing One I have ever met.
Do not accept spiritual mediocrity.
Do not accept a program to substitute a relationship.
Do not accept a ‘form of godliness’ and deny the power of God.
Decide today that you will *know* your Heavenly Father by knowing His Word yourself.
Turn off the TV.
Turn off the news.
Turn off your cell phone.
Bow the knee.
Our Saviour has come.
He awaits at the door.
He is knocking.
I know. It sounded like I was going to provide a step by step tutorial about how to both live in the world and yet live in God’s kingdom. Sadly, I’m just not that spiritual yet. However, I do enjoy slamming out blogs of things that I’m working through in my own life.
This week, I encountered and interesting situation. Someone had taken the words of a Bible teacher, believed them, and then acted on them immediately. For this, the person is to be praised, however, with every nugget of God’s truth and revelation comes the need to seek His divine balance. Divine balance? That sounds like a great marketing tagline… but I digress.
The most obvious example is when Jesus instructed his disciples to cut off their body parts if those body parts cause them to sin. Everyone knows our body parts cause us to sin so if they really believed his words and took action on them, there would have been a bloody mess on the ground. In a sense, Jesus was correct in that it would have been better to be a bloody pulpy mess on the ground rather than go to hell forever, but He also was standing before them as the Grand Solution to the sin problem. The balance is to know that the power of God that Jesus allows us access to is greater than the power of the flesh if we believe. In other words, there is no need to chop off your extremities and leave them for the fowl of the air if bow your head in humility and trust God for the power to overcome temptation. This paragraph went way too long…
In this specific issue, the teacher was preaching on the final judgement of God and the end of the world, and, of course, the soon coming of Jesus. This person was impacted by the Word of God and was instantly changed. I’m assuming that she started looking around the world and saw what the writer of Ecclesiastes saw – that everything in this earth is vanity and worthless. I imagine that in her heart she started to question whether her pursuit of education and dreams were worth it. I imagine that deep in her heart she started questioning whether or not she was even on the right path with God or heading down some path created by someone else. I imagine that she was in a state of deep sorrow, confusion, and possibly even depression. Why do I imagine this? Because I, too, was in this state.
When I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus the Christ, I was very despondent when I realized that no one else around me could see the light. I just assumed that if I shared the revelation that God just gave me that they would see, repent, and follow me on this most excellent adventure (that was an 80’s reference btw for you young lads). But they didn’t. In fact, I became as it were an alien to them. A nut bar. A religious fanatic. A cult victim… you name it. They did not see the light.
And man was I lonely.
However, looking back, I am so glad that I went through that. It confirmed so many scriptures, namely that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace but a sword and that He came to divide a home, not unify it. In essence, it yet again proved the Word of God to be ever true.
So, this person decided, I suppose, that there was no point in continuing her education and that she should just take my earthquake preparedness (I always preach that but never do it myself, sadly) advice and just sit back and wait for the soon-coming of Jesus. I commend her faith but unfortunately that is not a biblical position. It is lacking in balance. Here is the balance:
Matthew 24: 36-42:
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
You see, they were working like normal when Jesus came back. For students, you will be going to school – perhaps in the most boring class of your life – perhaps gazing out the window – when the Lord shall come and retrieve you.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
You see, there is no avoiding our nasty toil, whether it be labour in the field, power-washing the cement, reviewing contracts or sitting in the most awful class in the education system. We must work and sweat while working because of the nastiness of the work. We’re made and designed to do it until the end of the ages. Sadly, the proverbial buttercup must suck it up. There are lots of other scriptures in the Bible about working with good work ethic if you want.
So, we are to live in this secular world (which hates God).
While living here, we are to work hard and be model citizens in the societies where God has planted us.
The whole time we are living in this world we are not to ‘reside’ or ‘stay’ or ‘build our kingdom’ in the world because we are not from this world. We are from another kingdom – the kingdom of light. God’s kingdom.
And so we must always find the balance between that temptation to bunker down with our assault rifle and await the certain persecutions against the brothers and sisters and living like sheep amongst wolves in this corrupt world while we await the New Jerusalem.
Thankfully the Word of God, if you read it all, will always, always, always, give you that much needed balance so get in the Word and ask God to show you the Way.
Frankly, this topic is a tough one which has recently occupied much of my thoughts. The two conflicting issues are as follows:
- Does the presence of an unbeliever during times of fellowship hinder the power and holiness of God (a kind of quenching)?
- Do we remain totally open and let any polite person sit in our midst regardless of their spiritual position, so long as they don’t ‘disturb the flow’.
In one or more of my recent posts I first alluded to my position of being, as of late, quite strong in favour of separation. My position was this:
- God called his people to be separate (you don’t have to look far to find this throughout the Bible)
- Most people I have spoken to have noted a ‘notable difference’ in both the presence of God and the effectiveness of their prayers when praying in the midst of believers (all) and in the midst of unbelievers (even some).
- At the very least an unbeliever, for their own health, should not be participating in communion (1 Cor 11:17-31)
Shortly after growing fairly cemented in my new position, I searched and came across this interesting discussion on the topic. Somewhere in the middle one person posted 1 Cor 14: 23-25 which says:
If therefore the while church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, his is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
This not only shows that an unbeliever might be in your midst, but also that a great result might come of it, if (in context) the group has some ‘holy order’ going on.
But, I can’t help but notice the word ‘if’. This word is not ‘when’. It is ‘if’. When is certain. ‘If’ is conditional as in the following examples:
I will give you the book when I get there.
This person is expected. The receipt of the book is expected.
I will give you the book if I get there.
This person is not fully expected. To count on receiving this book would not be wise.
So, even this scripture above does not convince me whatsoever that the believers were expecting the visit of an unbeliever. I read and interpret this scripture as follows:
If, by chance, while the brothers and sisters of light, who know and love the Lord Jesus are meeting together and doing holy things together (ie. studying the Word, praying, worshipping, etc) and someone happens to pop by who does *not* know the Lord Jesus, and has no fellowship with Him because the blood of the Lamb has not yet cleansed him, if the spiritual gift of prophecy is flowing mightily, this word of prophecy will come forth and convict this unbelieving sinner of his sin and he would fall to his face, repent, and be now able to worship the true and living God, and enter the fold.
I also interpret this to mean that if the spiritual gift of prophecy is not operating (and don’t deny that in most places it’s either not operating at all or operating in a weird way) that there is no provision to be able to move forward in unity since there is now the presence of one who, without trying to sugar coat things, hates God and His ways.
I am therefore still not convinced that the current practice in the Body of Christ of having an ‘open to anyone’ policy for group meetings is wise.
Of course, I’m expecting that any reader at this point has a little voice inside of them saying “Well how then do we win the lost if we can’t invite them on Sunday?”
That’s easy. You have an outreach focused meeting at your church building, if you so love meetings with unbelievers at your church building.
However, if I’m not even sure that that is the most effective way to win the lost. In this article I touch on that a bit. I feel it’s more effective meeting the sinner where the sinner is, rather than meeting them at the very last place they would feel comfortable – at a worship service.
Saints worship and love God.
Sinners worship themselves and hate God (although they deny it in many fancy ways).
In conclusion, I still stand fairly strong in my position that in general, with a few exceptions like the one above, that when we gather together to do God’s holy things (worship, prayer, Bible study, etc) that it should be the family of God – the children of light who are present.
For what fellowship does light have with darkness? (1 Cor 6:11-18)
Please add your thoughts as I seek God’s answer on this ‘tough topic’
As I trudge along my spiritual journey to meet Truth Himself (Jesus is Truth)(remember that famous scene when Pontias Pilate said ‘What is truth?”) I have now come to what I used to think was small potatoes – the church. I always used to view ‘the church’ as a kind of vehicle that helps you get to heaven – kind of like how a school is a vehicle that helps you get a better job. It turns out both were lies.
Ack! I’m pretty sure I just saw the Pope drive by my front window in a lowered car with tinted windows…
Wait Pope Daddy! Let me explain!
In both cases, it’s about who you become, not where you go that matters and in both cases it’s about the people, not about the building. I won’t waste my time on the education topic but I am eternally interested in the church and what God thinks about it and my role in it.
The purpose of this post is *not* to be divisive and appear heretical. The purpose of this post is an honest search for truth. The cults of the world absolutely love to point out that ‘Christianity is full of denominations so it can’t be the truth’. Even the Catholic church uses this point. And they are right. It is all messed up and fragmented and not as it appears as the bride that Jesus is coming back for – without wrinkle or blemish. This current church is blemished up the kahuna! I have no idea what that means by the way…
Before I hack away like an angry health inspector on all the issues that I see with the current ‘church machine’, I’d like to first acknowledge that problems had already arisen and been identified in the body of Christ throughout the new testament. Sometimes I like to point to the first church as a model but it wasn’t without problems either. Nor should that be surprising. Satan is on a full attack against the Truth. Satan has little interest in deceived organizations. They are already his.
So from Revelations 2-4 kind of range (I’m too lazy to look it up) the body of Christ already had the following major issues that Jesus was giving first hand warnings about:
- false apostles
- deeds of Nicolaitans (whatever that means)(probably liberal Canadian views on everything)
- eating food sacrificed to idols
- fornication/sexual immorality
- dead religion (church zapped of everything)
- lukewarm lazy slobs in need of nothing from God
I kind of paraphrased but whatever – read it on your own dime.
Here are the issues I see with the current church machine:
Elevated Role of the Pastor
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers
In the above list you will note there are five (5) key roles that God gives people. The current pastor is expected to be all five which is bad for him, and bad for you – and it’s not from God. Side effects from this lop-sided spiritual distribution may be:
- excessive stress on the pastor
- top-down incorrect theology trickling down
- controlling and manipulation
It seems that the default position of the pastor is to be salaried, instead of defaulting to tent-maker. I have no idea where this one came from. To me this is just illogical and bad business. When you start a business, the co-founders starve and flip burgers at night until there is enough customer base to generate their income. If they don’t do this, investors will look at the operation and ask why they should be funding their steak dinners and car payments. Sorry to be so nasty on this topic but I read in the Bible that Paul made tents so his salary wasn’t a burden on the church. That’s biblical. The side effects from a salaried pastor may be:
- pressure to take up more offerings
- pressure to focus too much on the offering
- pressure to teach the old testament tithe as new testament law
- Guilt on the pastor for being a burden on what may be a small group (I assume this?)
- temptation *not* to preach messages that might offend the people who drop the largest offerings
- temptation to preach endless messages on financial giving
- temptation to do what the elders or other board members think is best even if it’s not God
Again, to me this is just basic business. I have no problem giving a salary to any God-serving man or woman but it has a long list of potential dangers that I believe are to be avoided. Just to be fair, the argument *for* the salaried pastor is to free this person up for the full time work of the ministry.
No Hard Preaching
The Bible is full of hard truths. Pornography, for example, is both idolatry and fornication and divorce is unbiblical and damaging to everyone involved. Oh, and of course the ever-distracting theme of homosexuality. The only time that one is preached is when it’s being preached against and the impending destruction on our world like Sodom and Gomorrah. Fair enough! That’s true. But isn’t it exciting to think that we can actually be the ones to help all these people above get free and HEALED!!??????? I know! Make me walk the plank! What a rebel rouser! Excommunicate him! Firing squad! Sheeeeeeeesh.
If a full-blown sinner involved in, let’s just say fornication or adultery, can sit comfortably in your church for a few weeks, you need to seriously question which parts of the Bible you are preaching (or not preaching). But we can’t just preach them out without letting them know there is a glorious freedom to be had. The best day of my life was my born-again birthday when I realized the chains of my sins were broken and powerless over me and my relationship with God.
Elevated Physical Position of the Pastor
This section may just be my opinion (warning).
Not sure why this bugs me but I have always been bothered by the uni-directional, slightly elevated position of the pastor. Usually there are a few risers and then a big pulpit. Then off to the side is the rock band. It just always seems like a ‘show’. I suppose it comes from the need to project the voice and hear everything in times past. It’s probably that simple. But it feels like a university lecture hall with a rock band. Who in the world participates or interacts with those? Answer: No one. And if you do, the other people don’t like you for interrupting the speaker. So, I suppose if the whole goal of ‘church’ is to show up and hear a uni-directional message from the Bible without interruption, then mission accomplished. But what if the pastor is preaching something that is totally off base? What if something is burning inside of you from the Holy Ghost and God is telling you to share it with His people? What if you are a prophet and this message must get out? I’m sure God will forgive you for not wanting to interrupt the speaker for the sake of order. Plus, you could email it to the mailing list after… HA?
Elevated Physical Position of the Worship Team
The more I look at what satan is doing in the secular world with music and idolatry, the more I am concerned about this ‘worship team’. I saw a trailer for an upcoming movie on a secular kids DVD this week. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bunch of tatooed hipsters with nasty haircuts, torn jeans and the like jumping around on a stage with all sorts of acid-induced lighting. Had I not seen the words of the song on the screen behind them I would have surely thought this was a secular rock concert. Every part of it looked secular. It just kind of creeped me right out. That’s all. It was one of those ‘this is wrong’ moments. I don’t want to dwell on the ‘christians looking like the world’ topic but the ‘rock band’ thing really seems to be established in the weekly worship. My idea was always ‘what would happen if we stuck the band BEHIND the congregation and started worshipping? My guess is that no one would know what to do or how to worship – which is just plain disturbing. Disclaimer: I have not run the test to check!
Boxed Lunch Set Meal
I also like to call this ‘compartmentalized faith’. It’s also known as ‘the Sunday Christian’. It’s the packaging up of our faith into nice little sections of our life, right down to the way we perform our ‘service’ (which by the way 5% of the people serve and 95% are served by the 5%). It looks a little bit like this: quiet music, intro prayer, praise and worship team rock out, optional hymn(s) here, main prayer, sermon, closing prayer, optional communion here, the blessing prayer thing, a little more quiet music, hand shaking, optional meals, departures. Repeat next week. Sometimes in between there might be a prayer meeting or a cell group meeting but not usually.
All of the above is fine, per se, but I double-dog DARE any of you to try to change ANY of it. I DARE you to listen to that still quiet voice inside of you and obey it and see what happens. From my experience, the program dominates. As a quick example, God might be leading the praise and worship team to continue. After all, in heaven all we are going to do is worship God so maybe we should practice this blessed skill here a little more. But if the clock says to stop and God says to continue…… who will win?
So, in conclusion, the program, the compartments and the order seems to win. I want to also declare that I love order and habitual things can be very good. It’s very good to wake up with an alarm clock and read your Bible. But these things cannot rule over the voice of the Living God and prevent our obedience to Him.
I do boldly declare that the church has become ‘meeting focused’ not ‘Christ focused’.
This again is not really the ‘fault’ of the pastor or ‘the church’ per se, but a cumulative result of the reliance on the Boxed Meal Comfort Syndrome (BMCS). It’s much more comfortable to commit to one or two hours per week. It’s much more comfortable to not open our ugly closets of sin and selfishness to our brothers. It’s much more comfortable not to look at their closets. It’s much more comfortable to not pray with others and hence not be responsible for watching a failed prayer. It’s much more comfortable to walk by programs than by faith. It’s very comfortable to be a modern day Christian in a first world country and I’m no exception. But Jesus said these troubling yet exciting words:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (most translations say ‘making disciples of all nations’), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Jesus’ disciples didn’t wake up one day and know everything. They lived and breathed the Living Word and then put into daily practice the command of living out the commandments. We are to spend time and mentor others the same way that Jesus did with them. That’s our model and it works. If the business world has figured it out maybe it’s time for the church to revisit this one?
Limited Bible Knowledge
I’ll keep this one short and simple. It’s shocking how little the people in your church know about what’s really in the Bible. All of the above explains it though. But no wonder we are lead to and fro by every wind of doctrine and food for the wolves.
This is typically a by-product of the Boxed Lunch Meal above. It’s very, very difficult to build meaningful and deep relationships if the only chance we have to do so is at the handshake and departure section of the Sunday meeting. Many people are surprised to learn of sudden divorces, pornography addictions, adultery and more. Why are you surprised? You don’t even know these people beyond a handshake. If you were in their lives I’m very confident that God would have shown you the red flags waving and used you in some amazing way. But you just saw their surface smile, not their dark broken insides.
I also feel that this is one of the reasons why the love is disappearing at an alarming rate from the church and why believers are turning to every other form of deception. If true Christ-like love flowed like a river amongst your body of believers (the church) you would hunger and thirst for their fellowship.
Programs Programs Programs
This is another by-product of the Boxed Lunch Meal above. The only way to deal with the scriptures that the Bible talks about related to outreach and work while maintaining the church machine system in it’s current state is to create programs that fit within that system. I’m very glad for the good deeds being done, but I have to be honest. I don’t want a program. I want a relationship with God Almighty and I’m pretty sure the people on the receiving end of the program do too. So, as long as that is the goal and every single person in the group is going down this road, hallelluyah! But a lot of people use ‘programs’ to appease their conscience which knows that they are not growing in Christ, nor doing the works themselves. So they fund a program or join a few times here and there.
In Bed with Big Brother
This topic is interesting. It seems as though either the church hasn’t thought of this or doesn’t know. As mentioned in another one of my articles, if you would like to see what any church (or charity) has done with their money in Canada, all you need to do is click this link to our friends at the CRA and take a peek. Here, try for yourself. Enter your favourite church’s name and watch the results!
That’s downright disturbing for so many reasons, but if you are familiar with the mark of the beast in Revelation, that might be a good place for you to start your research.
The church signed up for that deal, no question, and if any persecutions started one could simple shut down the church…. except for one problem: Everyone who has ever given money to said organization for the bliss of a tax receipt is also now linked by their social insurance number (SIN) which is linked to this blissful believers home address.
If I were a man given to fear, that would be scary….
It seems to me as though wisdom would call the Body of Christ to seriously and quickly question whether this is in the best interest of themselves or their congregation but I have a strange hunch that this will be a very tricky habit to break free from if one were to try.
Those tax deductions are like catnip to a cat.
Christmas and Easter Focused
I’ve done lots of writing on this topic and you can search this blog for it. I’m kind of bored of the topic. I have decided both Christmas and Easter have nothing to do with Jesus and should not be a focus. Yet every church focuses on these two days. Enough said. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
This is another smaller point but I just want to point out that in the current church machine many well meaning people burn a lot of gas driving to congregations. I feel that the more local we are, the more relevant we are. Simple as that.
Another small one. I know the ‘day’ doesn’t matter, per se, but it’s just kind of weird that Christians meet on Sunday and not Saturday which was the sabbath. I don’t want to spend too much time or energy on this but it is worth at least asking ‘why’, isn’t it? Sun? Day? Why?
And that just about wraps up what I thought was going to be a 20 minute post. I have now grown older and grey and my bladder is about to explode so I must bid thee farewell, thou who readeth.
Blessings to you.
I decided to blog parts of an email I just sent to my wife. When I email my wife, by the way, the idea is that she can take time to digest what’s going on inside of me and it allows me time to compose my thoughts instead of blurting them in her face with my nasty style. Without further adieu, here are my thoughts at this interesting juncture:
Here are my thoughts:
1. God’s word is the truth. If there are any questions at all, the Bible is the final judge and decision maker – not us, not a man, not a church, not a movie, etc.
2. We, as a family, should be seeking ‘good theology’. There is nothing stopping us from studying the same theology (and more) than the stuff the pastors study in theology school. In fact, the Bible commands it. We should be hungering meat, not milk. The leaders even more.
3. Our motive should *not* be to ‘invent the newest and best church’: this is not about us. It’s about God. This is God’s bride, and we should not be doing this for any other reason than for his glory. Any other reason is selfish and we should just sit in the pews of our own churches now if that’s our reason. Here is a great little blog I found on this topic: http://pastors.com/do-we-really-need-more-churches/
4. Our motive *should* be:
-for God’s glory
-to know God more
-for our marriage to be restored and built on the rock
-for our children to be restored and built on the rock
-to find out who we really are (in Christ)
-to express our love towards God
-to experience the richness of this thing called ‘the body of Christ’
-to reach the lost
-to feed the poor
-to clothe the cold
-did I miss any?
5. We should not be hungering after ‘plans and programs’.
While cleaning up the equipment with Pastor, it was quite interesting. He never said anything like “Wow, I’m excited that God is doing something so big inside of you!” or “Can you help me understand what God is doing in you?” In fact, he didn’t mention at all the topic of our plan to ‘move on’. Finally during the silence I said “So, I guess you might be wondering about our decision to stop attending?” At that point, his only comment, even though we sent a long letter with our heartfelt position was this “I didn’t see any plan in your letter which concerns me.” I wanted to say “Didn’t you read the part about ‘wanting to know Jesus more’ and ‘wanted to develop relationships deeper’, etc? Is that not a plan? So, what I learned at that moment is that the ‘plan’ means nothing more than “going to a regular weekly meeting at a set location with a set group of believers with a set understanding about the Bible.” I have no problem with set meetings but if those rigid things start to put God into a ‘box’ I can’t do it anymore. I continually think about the Pharisees. They did all the plans perfectly! They did long prayers, perfectly honoured the sabbath, washed their hands, didn’t eat with gentiles, etc, etc. But they also crucified Jesus. Jesus called them in Revelation ‘the synagogue of Satan’. I see how dangerous this ‘addiction to plans’ can be. They start to replace true righteousness with ‘religious righteousness’. They start to replace ‘faith’ with ‘works’. And it’s incredibly dangerous. Instantly I translated his comment about ‘plan’ and gave him the answer he wanted to hear as follows: “We have not been church shopping if you are wondering.” But, he seems to think that we would be ‘safer’ if we were in the lifeboat of a Sunday church program, than starting an adventure on our own. But this led me to think about the early church. There was no ‘program’ for them to plug into. They WERE the church. Wherever they went, there was the church. And growth was also occurring. Anyway, this is a long topic, but the point is that we *cannot* let a program make us feel righteous, but we also should not let a ‘set meeting’ make us feel bad. Showing up to work every monday morning at 9am is a good thing. Rising at 5am with an alarm clock to read the Bible is a good thing. Habits are good. In summary: whatever we do cannot be based on works but must be based on HIM – and if no fruit is growing on the tree – we cut it down and start again.
6. We should base everything we do on a Godly order of priorities. This is my understanding of the order:
1. individual <–> God
2. man <–> wife
3. parents <–> children
4. family <–> family of God (church)
5. church <–> lost
So, if the marriage isn’t good (#2) then items 3, 4, and 5 will suffer. How do we fix the marriage and grow the marriage? by focusing first on #1 – our individual relationship (s) with God. From there, we will be motivated to love our spouse and build our marriage into a glorious thing. Don’t forget that the marriage is a mysterious representation of the Body of Christ (Bride of Christ). God is very interested in our marriage. Another example would be that until we are solid as the family of God (#4) then we should not be focused primarily on reaching out to the lost. I ‘might’ be wrong here, but these are my first gut feelings on the matter.
And, so, to answer Pastor’s very precise question with a precise answer, I believe that our ‘plan’ for the first meeting is to discuss the ‘plan’ above! haha
Let me know what you think, and if you agree, you could share this with the other couple’s and this will form our first discussion topic.
Remember: This last move of God will *not* have a face or a name, and no credit will go to man. God Himself will get all the glory.
Is it better to meet in a church building or be part of a house church? I have asked myself this question for over 10 years now. Perhaps it’s because all the ‘downsides’ of brick and mortar churches is repeated to me every seven days like clockwork, but it’s due season for me to spit my thoughts out here.
Please also understand my heart before reading. I want nothing more than to be as effective for my God with the limited time I have left. The purpose of writing this is that I’m hoping to make some big life decisions that will glorify the God who saved me and increase my effectiveness for Him on this earth. Please also note that I would like nothing less than any further division in the body of Christ. I hunger for the day when all the brothers and sisters will worship together in preparation of the wedding feast.
However, I am compelled. It’s like a bitter scroll in my belly…. so let’s get into it, shall we?
To begin, I thought it would be best to create a simple pros and cons bullet list for each which could be edited over the years. Perhaps someone might read this post and even feel compelled to participate.
Clarification: please note that the usage of ‘house church’ or ‘home church’ does *not* mean watching your brick and mortar church’s sermon on a live internet stream from the comfort of your bed.
Pros and Cons of Traditional Brick and Mortar Church Systems
- Big Brother Approves. Is approved by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you) and should therefore be left alone until official government sanctioned persecutions begin.
- Unilateral Theology Controls. The theology can be ‘kept in line’ by the pastor or trained clergyman (or whatever title they get) and rogue spiritual renegades can be shut down before they mess up the faith of others.
- Nice Building. Convenient church building designed for the assembly of large groups together
- an unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to a church to hear about God rather than your living room or patio (have not surveyed to find out)
- Separated Children’s Church. Yay “Children’s Church”! (get those noisy kids outta there!)
- Cell Group Option. Can implement ‘cell groups’ to counteract the con list below and simulate a ‘house church’
- Potentially Local. Could be ‘local’ if the brick and mortar building happens to be near your house. Or, you could seek out such a church.
- Building Rental Option. Could rent space in existing building instead of buying or building a church to save funds. Also, sharing with another congregation, like we do, is possible. But that’s another entire series of ‘pain’ not to be discussed here.
- Big Brother is Watching. Is perfectly known by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you), and when official government sanctioned persecutions begin, every single member who has made a charitable donation can be found and ‘dealt with’ even if they don’t happen to show up that week for the cattle herding. If you don’t believe me, try searching out your favourite Canadian church here and realize that your SIN number is connected to this charitable tax number. You can run, but you ain’t hidin’.
- Unilateral Theology Stream. The theology of the person delivering the messages might be messed up. In fact, the person him or herself might be messed up both spiritually and personally. Their theology and theirs alone will likely be the only teaching you get
- Shallow Relationships. Many believers find the large, convenient building of the church to be cold, disconnected, and impossible to find relationships in, even with the help of friendly ‘greeters’ and ‘fellowship champions’ (it’s easy to get lost in a crowd). It’s very difficult to build deep relationships with your brothers and sisters. In our case, we have a great meal every single week, prepared by the members yet it is only a rare occasion where the deep things of God are discussed and lives are penetrated. The depth of penetration into each others lives, from my experience, is average at best, but even superficial as a norm where it is not uncommon to not even communicate with someone for half a year.
- Atmosphere of evangelism. An unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to your patio or living room to hear about God rather than a scary church where their only goal is to preach damnation and sin (that’s what many think)
- Separated Children. Almost 100% of brick and mortar churches have “Children’s Church” which is, essentially, firing them off to a separate place. Should children be separated from worship with their parents? The debate is on…
- Cell Groups as a Program. Although there may be a “cell group” system in place, the physical brick and mortar con list (ie. costs, drive to main meeting, etc, etc) remain and the cell group is really just another “program” from the main church subject to the same folks and agendas.
- Waste of Time and Gas. In our case, we drive nearly 40 minutes each way to go to a building which is composed of probably 50% members who live where I drove from! This is folly for the following reasons:
- it blows gas into the air which makes our air suck
- the gas costs money which could have been pumped into your favourite ministry. On today’s standard for a quick calculation, there is no way that trip is going to cost me less than $5 each way or $10/week if we just go to one meeting. My wife goes twice so that’s $20/week. $20 x 52 weeks/year is $1040.00. Read that again. Now think about the World Vision ads and think that you could have kept *THIRTY FIVE* children alive last year instead of death by famine. I’m just saying. This one hits me real hard with kids of my own… I almost want to say ‘shame on you’ but I know that we are all doing the best we can with what we know. Carpooling would obviously reduce this but still…
- unless your stereo is turned off, there are no smart phones or tablets, and you are hyper-focused on speaking to each other, it’s a waste of time
- Locally irrelevant. With a house church you can penetrate and focus on your geographical area. Realtors call this ‘farming their area’. Is there any hope of us farming a 25 km area for Christ? Do I give a spiritual rats behind about a community 25km from my house? It’s so far away you might as well call it a missions trip! What I see in the Bible when I read it, is ‘hyper-local’. The people who meet together also live there and serve there, with the exception of the missionaries, evangelists, etc, who are always moving on.
- Geography over Theology. In order to be as local as possible, if you agree that local is better, you are forced to accept a church and its beliefs because it’s close to your home, not because it’s close to what you believe.
- Performance Atmosphere. No matter how you design the brick and mortar building, it always ends up looking like an stadium or auditorium where one person is up on a platform (and usually their musical rock stars as well). It’s hard not to view the entire experience as a ‘performance’. Those who need accountability will often find none and when questions come up, one is forced to ‘save it for later’ rather than simply ask. One might ask ‘how do we reach the deeper parts’ like this? Also, except for when preaching to the sinners is happening, I don’t see any example of this format in the Bible…
- It’s expensive. If you happen to have $500,000 to $3,000,000 to build a basic local church, that’s just the beginning of your pain. The operation costs can be fierce. With a house church the infrastructure is already in place and being paid for. The ‘landlord’ can be paid with milk and cookies or a kind word of encouragement.
- Sitting Ducks. If you read the end time prophecies at all, tying your place of worship to a piece of land seems, at best unwise. Should persecutions arise, all the enemy has to do is read the sign on the billboard and show up Sunday morning with their thugs.
- Immobile. As they say in real estate, it’s impossible to move land. What if something changes where, say, 75% of the congregation moves 30km away from the church? Too bad you just spent $3,000,000 on that fresh building with the big sound and screen…
- Tradition Rules. What if God wants to do something new and fresh? It seems like just walking into a brick and mortar building breeds an expected protocol that looks something like this: meet a greeter, take your seat, kid’s truck off to children’s church, rock band plays a few songs, choir sings a few songs (to appease the oldies, of course), the Lord’s prayer is repeated, the Apostles creed is repeated, some opening prayer happens, the sermon happens, communion may or may not happen, closing prayer, blessing, the people chat, the people eat (optional), the people go. Repeat seven days later. In fact, some churches even write this order into their bulletin board so newcomers can be sure to fall back on the paper if they don’t know how the program is going. Ok. No secret, this one really bugs me. I don’t see God as being so small that we can put him into our program or box. What if God says “Keep the music going. I like this.” Would you look at the clock and follow the bulletin? Or would you listen to God. I think in a house church there is a much greater chance of listening to God, but – I could be wrong. I’m not against order, but I’m against the order being above our God and having it tell us where to go rather than God.
Well, I feel like I’ve missed some so this will probably be a work in progress. I would love for others to throw some comments in here so that I and others can make the best choices as we move into the future.
May all of you readers be blessed wherever you are, though. I love you in Christ.
This topic has been on my heart a lot and seems to pop up all the time in entrepreneurial discussions and spiritual discussions.
In business, it seems there are people who want to start up a company but want to do everything themselves. They want full ownership of the company and want to make sure that all gains for their hard work go right back into their own coffers. It makes sense considering we are all selfish and greedy little creatures with serious control issues by nature.
At church I’ve noticed that people seem to think they can overcome evil by themselves or ‘God is big enough to help me overcome this problem’. They don’t reach out to their brothers or sisters for help on personal issues.
Yet in both cases, full victory is never achieved and I think in both contexts if one were to look deeply at the results one would agree.
Oh sure, there are individuals who seem to be able to do monstrous tasks and start highly successful businesses by themselves, and even seem to maintain a great relationship with God, but rest assured that a) they have not reached as far as they could have gone with a team and b) they are not the norm. I am the norm. And you are the norm. Otherwise you wouldn’t have stumbled across this article and read this far.
Good news. God made Eve.
This act proves that one human was not enough and there is a need for each other. In this case, for companionship and perhaps exciting acts of marital intimacy. After all, the Bible says this:
“Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? – Ecclesiastes 4:11″
We need each other. We ain’t going to make it through this short and cruel life alone and real joy of it all is the comradery we experience through the battle whether it be with your family, friends, sports team, church, business, or otherwise.
I think it’s exciting to meet people who have such strength in areas where I’m completely useless. One such example would be financial analysis. I just can’t stand it. And I can’t do it well. And those two factors are related. And I miss important details that screw it all up. But I know at least two guys who not only know how to do it well, but they enjoy it – God only knows why.
Now, on a practical level, like the Bible verse above proves, there is a multiplication factor, or a ‘leveraged return on investment’ if you will, on the time and energy spent if we have a team. So, it actually makes solid logical sense to choose teamwork over solo work, even with all the ‘extra headaches’ it causes. Check out this little article I found on the topic which summarizes it well.
And so I have made it my goal that no matter what I start, whether it be my own start up company, a church, or whatever, I want to do it with a team.
No team, no go.