Are we building our own luxurious houses or are we building God's Kingdom? (Haggai 1)
Are we more interested in holding a correct theological and ecclesiological position, or is our concern for the unity of the body of Christ? Do we believe that our way of being church is the right way and that everyone else is a little misguided?
Back in my days as a physician, one of the highlights of my career was performing an EKG on a very well-known persecuted Christian from the underground church. As I placed my hands on the deep (at least 1 inch deep and a foot or so long) scars on his chest and back, I was in awe at the example of this joy-filled and gracious man! One of the things I best remember him saying was that in a situation where believers suffer severe persecution, denominations and theological divisions do not matter. What counts is the heart and the relationship with Jesus. In prison he had deep fellowship with some who, under normal situations, people would say were part of a cult, or certainly very unsound theologically.
I pray it will not take that kind of persecution to bring the body of Christ to unity.
Jesus is in the process of breaking down the barriers that we have erected between us. He is coming back for a pure bride, without spot or wrinkle. As life accelerates towards his coming again, I believe we will see Christians walking together without regard to which church they attend, or what theology they hold. Even so come, Lord Jesus!
What can we do as churches together that we cannot do on our own? Let's build his Kingdom rather concentration on living in luxury and comfort in our own houses.
The church landscape in this country is changing.
Ecclesiology lies along a continuum. At one end churches are traditional, structured and liturgical; at the other end they are simple, organic, and missional. Most lie somewhere in between. But a shift is occurring. Many churches are taking steps towards the organic, missional end of the spectrum. The Lord may not lead them to move completely to that end of the continuum, but the changes they are making appear more organic than traditional.
What is most important is that wherever we are along the continuum, our focus in on the King and his Kingdom.
What are the reasons for the shift?
- As the nation slides towards a post-Christian status, church is no longer at the center of social life. People no longer think about going to church on a Sunday. Across the board, denominations, missions groups and churches recognize that an attractional form of church is no longer effective for the future. Many are exploring the concept of missional communities or simple/organic churches.
- The current economic crisis is affecting many churches. Just in the last month or so, we have been working with a church locally that can no longer afford to keep their building. They are therefore looking at a more organic network of smaller churches.
- A subtle, but increasing hostility towards Christianity is affecting some churches. For example, in New York, recent legislation means that more than 60 churches are no longer allowed to use schools or similar buildings to meet in.
- As churches follow the Holy Spirit, some of them are hearing the Lord leading them this way.
The definition of insanity is to keep doing what we've always done and assume we'll get different results. If the church continues the way she has been for the last several decades, we'll find ourselves in a post-Christian society.
Is God using this shift along the continuum to prepare us for what lies ahead?