Friday, March 25, 2005

the church part 3

Next I would like to take a look at our faith communities. Again I would like to start with the idea that Jesus is central to our faith in every single aspect. And in this aspect He should be as well. We are constantly called the body of Christ, and Christian thought is that we are filled with the very Spirit of God. The veil to the holy of holies was rent, and we are now the holy of holies.

So, like Jesus was the emmanuel, God with us, we too are called to be God's presence on earth now. Having been filled with the Spirit, one can honestly say spending time with God, is in many ways spending time with each other. Yet the structure of our worship has been largely regulated towards the professional, and the gifted, and not just the gifted but the "particularly" gifted. In many of our worship services the only reference to each other is the sign of peace, however that is lived out in each context. And fellowship largly becomes having lunch on the way home.

Many movements have arisen stressing the need for small groups, or cell groups, and there is much hope in this. But often these groups become nothing more than a smaller version of the big worship. There is little or no acknowledgement of the Spirit of God in each member, nor their particular giftings of personality, calling, and the miraculous . If we are truly filled with the Spirit, then to ignore some, is to ignore the Spirit. Paul alludes to this in his letters, saying every joint supplies, all bring something to worship and so on.

Now I am not advocating a wholesale refusal to gather in large groups, and have excellence in worship times. I am saying that it reflects a part of Gods charector, and is very important, but it is only a part. When we realize that it is an occasional, joyful, and powerful time, we not only pour our hearts more into true community, but we take the pressure off of our ministers that are somewhat less "gifted" than Greg Laurie, and Rick Warren.

The other idea here is the need for our communities to be lived out in front of the people we are sent to reach. When we embrace the community of faith, and begin to live in this love community. We become the greatest witness to the world. You will know they are my disciples by the way they love one another. Jesus also prays, Father I pray they may be one with each other so that the world may know that you sent Me. The truth of Jesus never shines so brightly as when the community of faith is loving one another. However, with our current structure, most of this loving is designed to be done behind the fortress of our churches. When the church becomes a place, the world never gets to see our communities, unless we get them to the place, and usually they have no interest in going to that place.

When the community of God becomes a living breathing entity, out in the world, being part of it, incarnating within culture, then culture can truly see the truth of Christ, and be won to Him. When conflicts are resolved with justice and mercy, when care is given with true compassion, when general affection is shared, Christ is shown to be in our midst. And though these things often do happen in our churches today, they too often happen behind closed doors, and our light is put under a bushel.

True Christian community needs to be our goal, as it was Jesus goal. It needs to be the focus of our structure, and our practices. And it needs to be placed in the midst of the population. Then Christ' body, is once again come to the world.

the rev

1 comment:

Duncan said...

Hey John
I can relate to what you're saying about small groups trying to become a small version of 'celebration-style' church. The church plant I'm part of started off with a a philosophy of everything being centred in small group settings. Yet when we first started a worship time, it soon became an up front thing with speaker and worship leaders. We limited that part to half an hour and broke into small groups for the rest of the time. It tooks us 18 months before we had the courage to turn the chairs into a circle and enjoy each other rather than the front. We're finding new ways of worshipping God that don't rely on singing songs or acting in unision.