Church can be as simple as gathering around a meal, laughing and fellowshipping together. It should regularly include breaking bread and remembering the Lord’s death, preferably around meals and times of fellowship, singing and praying, laying hands on those in need, and giving to each other and to the ministries of the corporate body as it reaches out to others. It can be as practical as asking the Lord: “…how can we reach out to our friends and neighbors together?” then obeying what he tells us to do.
Simple church includes celebration in large gatherings whenever possible. Simple church doesn’t always mean small church. There is a place for large meetings. They inspire people to remember they are part of something bigger than themselves. Large celebrations inspire faith and point the way forward for the whole congregation or network of churches. Vision from God for church in its simplest form is a powerful thing. Church is people, ordinary people, living their lives for Jesus. No hype, not mad at anyone, no special revelation or new doctrine or wonder-leader, just friends obeying Jesus together.
Do you want to be part of a church community that is relationally and intentionally reaching out to other people? That is simple church.
God will give you a fresh vision for the simplicity of church if you ask him. But be careful, if you ask for it, God will give it to you and it will be like a burning fire in you that takes over your life! Vision precedes reality. If you want a vision of how God sees the church, ask God to let you see what he sees and feel what he feels. That is what happened to the prophet Ezekiel: God showed him a valley of dry bones. But God saw an Army. God opened Ezekiel’s eyes and he saw the valley of dry bones from God’s perspective.
Seeing the ancient vision of Ezekiel for yourself means you start dreaming about church can be. It will give you something powerful to hold onto when you bump up against the politics of institutional church, or used by people in the name of God. A vision from God is simply a God given way of seeing things as he sees them. It’s a picture of what he wants for your life, and no one can take that from you. A person with a vision is not a prisoner of a person without one. More importantly, you will not be the prisoner of super Christians who try to “one up” every one with the latest and greatest experience or revelation or vision.
Vision from God burning in your heart will challenge the status quo in your life. It will enable you to break free from your dependency on programs and buildings that offend you or make you feel okay about yourself. It will challenge past ways of doing things so you can dream new dreams. Every person needs a vision of the church from God’s perspective. Every person who is hungry to grow in God needs a vision from God for his or her part in the church.
A fresh vision of church in its simplicity will create courage in your heart to break from the old and try the new. It will inspire you and your friends to resist the temptations to cynicism and give you courage to act on your beliefs. Vision from God for his church will give you faith for the church you are part of. You will see how much God loves the church. You will pray for her and weep for her, and if necessary, leave her. You will be free to love, forgive and submit to her and her leaders as well.
When God imparts a vision, and he finds someone with courage to take hold of that vision and run with it, God himself will stand behind it. If he gave it, it is his vision. He will complete what he starts in you, as long you obey him and act with integrity and humility. Even if you make mistakes, God will rescue you if you ask for his mercy. No force on earth or demon in hell can keep you from the will of God, if you walk obediently before God and humbly before others.
When people receive and act on a vision given by God, God will get behind them. Great things happen in the ordinary parts of our lives when we obey God. It won’t be easy, but your journey will be with God. What more could you ask than to go on a journey with the creator? There are many stories of others who have gone on this same journey, and found fresh life and hope. Bill Hybels tells how Dr. Gilbert Bilezekian stood before a class of young college students and filled their minds and hearts with a dream of being a church like the one in the book of Acts. “Twenty-seven years later, the handful of us who started Willow Creek Community Church still bawl like babies when we remember the power of his words. It is no exaggeration to say that everything we’re seeing today at Willow Creek and in the thousands of other churches in the Willow Creek association worldwide was inspired by his impassioned words.”
Bill was a college student when he dreamt of a new way of doing church. He followed his dream for his generation. Will you follow your dream of church for this season in your life? For your generation?
(Used by permission. This excerpt taken from the upcoming book by Floyd McClung "You See Bones, I See An Army" Ó 2006 Floyd McClung. Contact Floyd at: http://floydandsally.com/ or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org)