In light of some discussions over the past few weeks, as well as things God has been stirring in my heart anyway, I have begun to ask a few questions. Perhaps as I put these down on paper it will both help to coalesce some of the thoughts running around in my mind and provoke others to some thought. When I speak of we, I am referring to that local expression of the Body of Christ to which Debbi and I consider to be our primary place of fellowship.
Where are we, not in a physical sense, but in a Kingdom sense, where are we on the path to our spiritual destiny as a group? What are we? What do we know? Really, can we answer these questions, even in part? We need to try, really try.
We do know a few things. We know for example that we are pressing in as best we know how, discontent with where we are, hungry for more of His presence, ruined for anything less. We are a body of believers, gathered together and called out of various areas and backgrounds to follow and gaze upon the Lamb together. We know we are family, community, a specific expression of His body, for this specific time, and with a specific destiny. We are a church, a small piece of His Church, His Bride. Within that context we know we have a specific call and anointing, a specific and unique expression of His Bride, and of the Lord Himself.
As I sit and write this, many thoughts and questions are swirling through my mind. How do we define church? What about leadership? If we are to build it must be upon a proper foundation, and that foundation can only be Jesus. How do we ensure that we remain solidly upon that foundation and continue to build upon His pattern? How do we make adjustments when we start to stray from that pattern? How do we identify those with not just the call, or the anointing, but those who have been called, anointed, and released by God into their destiny? When we do identify them, how do we best make room for them to step into that destiny? For that matter, how do we make room for those called and /or anointed? What can we do to raise them up and help them to grow and mature, until they find and step into that place where they are released into their destiny?
While it is easy to say we need to let things grow and develop organically, (and this is I believe a valid point,) if that is all we do we run the risk of wandering aimlessly like a ship with no rudder. Rather, we must be deliberate in our plans and actions while remaining open to course corrections from the Lord. So then, where do we start? How do we organize and build this vital, living structure we call church? As we build, how do we proceed so that this aspect of the Bride remains a vibrant, living organism?
As I have already stated, if we are to succeed, we must build according to God’s pattern. So what does the Word tell us about the Church? Very little really. Jesus only mentions the Church once, in Matthew sixteen, Jesus says “…And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church …,” What was this rock upon which Jesus was going to build His church? Jesus had just asked the disciples who they thought He was, and Peter replied, (I suspect blurted out might be a better description,) “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The rock was the revelation of Who He is. Other than that, Jesus was silent about how to build. I think that little is said for good reason. It is God’s desire that the church not be rigid and structured, but soft and flexible, ready to go where He goes, move when He moves. No less importantly, she must remain soft and supple in order to receive and hold the new wine. A wine skin that is hard and stiff is only suitable for holding old wine. The new wine will only cause it to burst. Last, but certainly not least, who wants a stiff bride?
One of the few descriptions of the church structure we can find is in Acts 2:42-46. What can we learn here? “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart…” I see a few points here:
- The church met daily at the temple – a public place to gather, teach, be taught, and to worship. Obviously we can not meet at the temple, but what can we glean from this for today? Perhaps we can construe that we should meet on a regular basis in a church building, or even better a school, storefront, meeting room or some other place of public assembly.
- They met from house to house. Gee, imagine that! There is room for both!
- They were taught, fellowshipped, prayed, and broke bread together. Here I think lays an area we need to focus in on. We have historically been weak on the doctrine (teaching) part of things. We need to be deliberate and consistently set time aside for teaching one another, and not just the cool revelatory stuff, but the foundational things as well. Things like giving, healing, faith, who He is in us, even salvation. The things that we need, that we all need, to walk out this life in the fullness of our calling.
- They shared what they had. There was no lack, for they looked after one another, sharing all things so that everyone’s needs were met.
- They rejoiced together, fellowshipping, celebrating, open and honest with each other.
- They did the “stuff.” They not only talked the talk, they walked the walk, God’s power and glory flowed in them and through them touching those around them.
As the saying goes, “But wait! That’s not all!” Paul tells us in more than one place, that we are all to come with something to contribute. “…teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs….” (Col 3:16) There is of course much more to be said about this subject, but this is certainly more than enough to keep us all chewing for a while. I seriously doubt that there is a church in the world fully walking this out, although there may be some who come close. I am not even sure if we CAN walk this out one hundred percent, but wouldn’t it be fun to try?