Sometimes I let my mind wander onto questions of ‘what really constitutes a church, or maybe its just ‘church’ with no ‘a’?’
Is what we are doing in our churches, whatever flavour they take, part of God’s plan, or are these just our own ideas on organisation and practice that we are baptising?
Is ‘structuring’ a church our idea or God’s idea? Do we need to organise it at all?… Can we validly be the church (and be effective in our mission) with no formal structures, no regular gatherings and no designated leaders? I know churches in the NT had structures (elders, deacons etc) but was that because God intended it that way or because we wanted to organise them?
If the church is (in its most basic form) where 2 or 3 come together in Jesus name then do we have to develop a letterhead, logo and vision statement to actually make it ‘a church’? Is it enough to simply ‘be the church’ when we meet with another person or group?
Can two families simply be a church? Obviously the biblical and practical answer is ‘yes’. Can one family be a church? Danelle, Ellie, Sam and I?… Are we a church? Or are we ‘church’ (There are four of us!)
What was Jesus on about with building his ‘church’?
One of the great insights from Roland Allan’s ‘The Spontaneous Expansion of the Gospel and the Causes Which Hinder it’ was that our own need to control the process is often critical in inhibiting the spread of the gospel and the growth of the kingdom. Of course this isn’t new. When the Gentiles started getting in on it the Jersualem council made sure there were four rules for them to obey!
Was that God’s will, or just them making sure the Gentiles didn’t get carried away with this ‘freedom thing’?
I have been thinking about the ‘new age movement’ or whatever you prefer to call it and the way it has spread so rapidly and pervasively across the globe with no central leader, no regular organised meetings and no formal structure. It just went ‘kaboom’. Is that more like what God intends for the church?
While some would say the new agers have no common creed and no textbook there are some definite commonalities all round the place. They seem to have hung together in a network or loose alliance and have infected all of our society. The dominant way of thinking about spirituality in the west today is from an alt spirituality framework ie pick and mix, no absolutes, tolerance etc. (yes I am generalising)
But as I look at the new agers I wonder what we can learn from them. Yes they have festivals and some common practice meetings/events, but few (none that i am aware of) have the same degree of structure / formality as most of our Christian churches. And yet their ideas and ethos has permeated all of our culture.
I’m sure Phil or Matt will fill in where I am ignorant here.
I am feeling toey about some things at the moment and trying to articulate them here for discussion.
I am concerned about creating a structure that we then need to serve and maintain. I wonder if in our selfishness we would be able to be church and do ‘church stuff’ without some level of committment to one another. Could we stay focused on growing as disciples and leading others to Christ without a bigger community of people to meet with regularly?
behind locked doors dvd download If I understand alt spiritualities right there seems to be more of a ‘personal benefit’ that comes from whatever spirituality the person taps into, hence it can appeal to our selfishness. Whereas when the call we make is ‘deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus’ . I’m guessing that ideology has less appeal for today’s religious consumer!
Am I making any sense here?
Anyway… All I am doing here is tumbling out some random thoughts that have been percolating over the last few weeks as I have considered how far we need to go with structure and how far we can push the boundaries of ‘unstructuredness’ and still do what we are called to do and grow into who we are called to be.
Any thoughts out of that mess?
Too messy to touch?