More Than a Meeting

Have you heard recently these common phrases after church: “Have a great week!” or “See you next Sunday…”?

Nothing imaginable makes me cringe more than hearing these statements over and over again, like “going to church” is something akin to next weekend’s “golf outing”. Until the church – be that simple, house, or regular – sees Christianity as more than a meeting, we will have little to offer the unsaved masses around us.

I often reflect on these words by Roland Allen, a little known missionary to China whose promising career was cut short by poor health in the early 1900s. His voice is as prophetic as it gets! A voice that I truly wish more people would hear:

“If Christ had not said, “Go into all the world”, the word “Go into all the world” is so manifestly the expression of the Spirit of Incarnation that whoever had first uttered it would have been instantly recognized as the mouthpiece of the Spirit…. The Spirit is prior to the letter. The letter does not create the Spirit but the Spirit the letter.” (Missionary Principles)

You must agree with me that the Spirit of Christ wants more from us than a “See you next Sunday” Christianity!

Surely Jesus’ death on the cross bought for us more than a “Have a great week!” faith. Surely, even if no New Testament author had penned these words “Thou shall share your life abundantly, everyday, with your new family in Christ”, the Spirit of those same letters would demand that we do exactly that!!

If ever the world needed a return to the first century church life style and power, it is today!

”The first century church was a Way of Life – a lifestyle. Today, the watching world is still wanting to know if there is a way to live together in community that correctly manages the abuses of the fallen sin nature, including the abuses of sex, power and money. Does the church model the solutions to these issues? Therefore, church should be a web of relationships, of right relating.” (Wolfgang Simson)

Encourage One Another Day After Day

“Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb 3:12-13

Recently I have taken on a part-time at our local Wal-Mart. I obviously don’t quite fit the Wal-Mart mold, having just returned from the mission fields of Central Asia and now live with our family amongst the Muslims of our small community. As I have I talked quite openly with my co-workers about the Lord, I noticed that the average person has no clue to what a real Christian is. They also have little to offer their friends who are, indeed, seeking help and answers to life’s difficulties.

Case in point. As I talked about Jesus and Christianity, it was quickly pointed out to me that: “I stopped going to church when the priest physically abused me as a young child.” Another jumped in with
“I believe in reincarnation and don’t believe in any bible, etc.” When I further queried her if she also believed in coming back as “plant matter” (ie. a tomato) like the billion Hindus of the world, she could only offer up: “Oh, I don’t believe in that kind of reincarnation!”

Most people – to create some sense of peace in the midst of difficult times – have created a “religion in their own image” and see no inconsistencies with living up to their own “personally created” moral standards. They are not attracted by a “See you next week” faith!

They may not see the inconsistencies of the own “religion” but they do see the inconsistencies of lifestyle by many Christians.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus, a “once a week meeting” with fellow believers is not enough to sustain your spiritual life. It is not even “life support”… You are already dying!

To start on the road to reclaim Christianity, I believe we must breakout of the Sunday church mindset! We need to follow the New Testament example of meeting daily! (see the life of Jesus, and Acts 2:46-47, 5:42, 6:1, 16:5, 17:11, 19:9).

Maria and I often use the saying: “To have life within the meeting, you must have life outside the meeting.” This means that, like Wolfgang Simson wrote above, we need a “web of relationships”. A brotherhood and sisterhood, living in committed relationships, where we can – daily – “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” (Heb 10:24)

Yours for the least in the Kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

3 thoughts on “More Than a Meeting”

  1. Very good post! That is the point isn’t it. Walking out our faith daily is far more important than even proper doctrine, etc. However, the western church wants you to ascribe to a certain set of beliefs before they will walk with you. It seems that that is backwards. Jesus invited many to walk with him long before he tried to change their beliefs.
    I wrote a post a while back about the same topic.
    Your Brother,
    Brent

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  2. Excellent words! In church this morning I reflected on many of the same thoughts, and this afternoon in a discussion with my sister on the need for discipleship and community before what we call “missions” can really have any effect.
    Thanks,
    Rachel
    Rachel Starr Thomson
    Author, “Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord’s Prayer”

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  3. As I check around the blogging world and especially house church type blogs and websites the discussion still is about what we will do during the meeting time. In other words everything revolves around the meeting. I’m still hearing “what do we do with the children?” When???? During the meeting of course. Little is shared beyond that. Of course a lot of us do not have like minded folk close by. The problem I see when people focus too much on community is that mission rarely happens. I am beginning more and more to dislike the term house church. House church is becoming view as the meeting in the house. I believe that mission is the church’s raison d’etre and community is its essence. Our prime directive is to go.

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