In my observation, one of the last "holdouts" that God is dealing with as He changes the shape and forms of today's Church is the sermon. It's the "Alamo." It's "Custer's last Stand," or even worse, the "Ark of Sacredness." When it comes to the things we are willing to adjust, alter, or change, the sacred sermon, the holy homily, is the last to go. Given the reality that the average pastor is judged, praised, crucified, or deified for his weekend oratory, it is no wonder that he spends most of his waking hours (and sometimes not-so-waking hours) preparing, polishing, and practicing this Protestant performance ethic.
If you can stand it, I would like to ask you all one more time to look at the Lord's Supper through the lens
of the New Testament and see if you would not agree with me that this may be one of the biggest blind spots for the church around the world in the last 2000 years!
It's a supper, stupid!
First and foremost, if you look at all the texts that describe what we now practice and call "The Lord's Supper", you will notice that it was in the context of Jesus and His disciples sharing the Passover meal together.Google+
The subject for today is that of detoxing
from a system / institution, be that church or missions. What are
the easier parts, where are the pitfalls?
Webster's defines detox
as: "to remove a harmful substance (as a poison or toxin) or the effect of
If you have lived through a "detoxing phase" in your life with God
and His church please tell the world…
For the past few
months I have been working part time as a web designer. This may not seem to be
a good place to find parallels to the house church movement but I found some
interesting comparisons with how people use web sites and how people “do
church”. It seems hard to imagine but when people get "on the web" to search
sites or look for something to buy, etc. they don't actually stop and try to
figure out how to use the site they are on but rather prefer to "muddle
Read it for yourself, from Web Usability expert Steve
figure out how things work. We muddle through…"
Many denominations, extra-local fellowships and circles of emphasis will begin disbanding and severing those ties, even those that were ordained by God for a season, in order to take their place in this great net that the Lord is now forming. For some these ties will be just ignored or forgotten until they have passed away, almost without notice, because of the greater intensity and substance of this new move. For others it will be a very painful rendering as they are persecuted and rejected by those who do not understand. Those who are required to leave much behind will soon receive many times that which they have left.
Some leaders will actually disband their organizations when they realize they are no longer relevant to what God is doing. Others will just leave them behind of themselves. In becoming part of this harvest, all circles of ministry or influence with individual identities will ultimately dissolve into a single identity of simply being Christian. Single presbyteries will form over cities and localities… Their unity and harmony in purpose… will become a marvel to the world.
Rick Joyner (1993)Google+
"Since the time of Socrates it has been an accepted part of Western
wisdom that, in matters of social organization, it is necessary to know
what is right before we can know what is wrong. Insofar as man is reasonable, the intelligent way to begin is to consider first the end. The only reason why a physician can diagnose the nature of an illness is that he already has a vision of what a really well body is." (Elton Trueblood, 1953)
In this e-epistle I would like to list five signs that point us to a vision of what the New Testament church looked like 2000 years ago. I believe that we can measure for ourselves – for better or for worse – against these signs. We can, and should, look for these NT principles and practices of apostolic churches in our modern times to gauge if we meet their standards.
Do you know how difficult it is to be a pastor in a traditional church?
I do. I was one for over 25 years.
Consider these statistics from an article called "Death by Ministry".
- Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
- Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, The 12 Steps are read out loud at every meeting.
For those of us who are still in detox from programmatic Christianity, there is value in repeating what we have said before: the simple church revolution (reformation?) is not about doing conventional church in a home. It’s not “Honey, I shrunk the church!” It’s not 20 minutes of singing, 30 minutes of Bible study, 10 minutes of prayer and then refreshments. (Or, any other prepackaged way of meeting.)
“OK. If it’s not about that, what is it about?"
In a word, it’s about listening. Listening to the Holy Spirit (and each other).
The Holy Spirit’s part: “He will make everything plain to you…He will remind you of all the things I (Jesus) have told you…He will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is…He will take from Me and deliver it to you.” (Jn 14:26; 16:13-14 in The Message)
Our part: Listen to the Spirit and do what He says. (Jn. 14:15)
Out of our listening comes direction for our own personal lives…how to walk with God, how to love our families and friends, how to be salt and light in the world. Intimacy gives birth to fruitfulness in every area.
And, out of our listening comes direction for how to be/do church. (One more thing that bears repeating – when we say “church”, we don’t mean just a weekly meeting. Rather, it's a group of people we carry in our hearts. In other words – family.) Out of listening comes that which we contribute to the family – a word of instruction, a song, a prophetic word, a need to be shared, a non believer to be prayed for, etc. As well as a note to be written, a phone call to make, a person to invite to dinner, money to be shared, etc.
My friend, Kent Smith, has given us three “centering questions” that will help our house churches live this out. Continually asking (and answering) these questions will allow the life and direction of God to flow in and through any house church. (In our house church, we begin our meeting by answering question #1. in groups of 2 or 3.)
1. What have you heard from the Holy Spirit this week that will help or strengthen the rest of us?
2. As we are listening to each other, what is the Lord saying to us as a family?
3. What will we do about this—and how will we help each other?