Our nation and even world is in perilous times. Perhaps, it’s past perilous. We’re losing people into the pit of hell like people helplessly falling into a sinkhole unable to climb out. We all know it, see it, experience it and watch it…and we know the answer–God alone can save us.
Have there been times in global history where we’ve needed God more? I don’t think so. Because we are more connected together than we have ever been. And more disconnected than we’ve ever been.
It’s time to pray. Seriously pray. Corporately pray.
WE MUST ASK FOR THE SPIRIT OF TRAVAIL.
So what in the world does this have to do with restructuring the churches?
1) We’ve all been given gifts in the Lord, but not the ability to share them with “one another.”
In our churches we have one man at the front whose gifts of teaching are used and whose revelations from the Lord are shared. And we have a few people who lead in worship and whose gifts are used. On rare occasion someone else can share special music–but what if they have a Word, a revelation, a testimony? One has to take a number and if it’s more than 30 seconds long, it’s shut down. We are actually being trained to be passive.
The reality is that everyone can go their whole lifetime and not have the opportunity to bless others with their gifts, or revelations, or praises that God has given them. It is like a body in which the mouth works and one hand, but the rest of the body is inactive–the eyes, the feet, the other hand, the waist and everything else are stopped. It’s an unnecessary paraplegia. We need all parts working together for the good of the body.
2) The church is about “one another” in relationships
The point of church is to “one another” for the cause of Christ. When we go to a congregation of a couple of hundred or more and sit in rows looking at each other’s heads, the “everybody greet your neighbor” time does not lend itself to quality relationships. Chatting together a few minutes before service doesn’t either. Quality relationships are raw. Larger group of more than 50 lend themselves well to corporate worship and training, but not to relationships. The church is about relationships.
3) The body is not just bones, but also moving parts
The worship service is very highly structured, so much so that it even comes with a program or bulletin. Only the slightest deviance is usually allowed. And not on a regular basis.
But movement has both structured parts (such as bones) and moveable parts (such as muscles). If the Holy Spirit wanted to take the church in a different direction or had a Word to bring, it isn’t possible very easily. Church services often have a 90 minute time limit before the next group moves in. What is the Spirit wants to be unleashed?
4) Leadership is for leading, not for the building
Let me ask you a question, have you ever been in a church for some time and not known who the elders are? I have. I’m in that situation now. I am in a church of probably 150-200 and I have no idea the identity of the elders. Just the pastor.
Our current structure means that the leaders are more maintainers of the church. They deal with the issues of the building and they hire/fire the pastors.
But when was the last time you really saw the elders lead, teach, and more on a regular basis as much as the pastor? Our structures don’t allow them to do what they were called to do because there’s too much to maintain.
A New Direction
I believe to get bigger we need to get smaller. The early church met in homes and also gathered en masse for worship and training (Acts 2:26).
“We do that,” some might say. “We have corporate worship on Sundays and small groups throughout the week.”
But it’s not the same.
There’s a different mentality that comes to a “Bible Study” during the week. People know it’s an hour long, has a short time of Bible study, a song or two, and a few minutes to take prayer requests and pray. This can be good. The challenge is that everyone is thinking of the kids they have to get to bed as they have school tomorrow and the parents have to get home to rest as they need to go to work. There is a reason why the day of worship was also to be a day of not working. It allowed time for people to “one another” as well as time if the Holy Spirit wanted to move, there was ample space and opportunity for that.
I believe it’s time we have the Sunday morning worship services in our homes again.
If you have followed the life of Francis Chan, a pastor of a mega church out in California, that he made this change. At first he tried to take his highly successful and flourishing church and move it into this reality of discipleship. It failed miserable and people were hurt. You can’t put new wine into old skins. I had a college friend try the same and it didn’t work either. Shifting paradigms is challenging.
So Francis left and his family as well to travel in Asia for a season, and when they came back they started a house church. God moved, the Spirit moved, people grew and it was a structure that facilitated relationships with the Lord and one another. At times they will end up praying together and worshipping together 10-12 hours at a time. Not because they planned it but because of how God led them.
He also mentioned being a pastor in one of these small house gatherings is much more challenging, as the “one another” of life is more difficult. It’s not a Sunday morning sermon and go home, answering calls during the weeks. But it’s about being involved in the lives of those of his gathering.
(You can read his journey in Letters to the Church).
Why It’s an Emergency
–> The world needs more than 5-10 minute prayer times
–> People are in desperate need of relationships
–> Discipleship in the Word and obedience to it must be taught and modeled
It’s an emergency that we restructure because the world cannot wait for a body of believers that is not active, connected and moving. The family system is falling apart. Technology is disconnecting us like never before in the history of humankind. Our world is unraveling. And God has the answer–the church.
The church is a place that gives people belonging and serves as family, especially when there is no family.
The church when all parts get to work, serve the people around them in such a way that society is changed.
When the church as all parts functioning, movement can happen that changes the world.
We need this.
A church structured well isn’t perfect by any means. Just read the New Testament and you will find an ample number of serious problems. An unleashed church has more room for false teaching. The unleashed church has as much room to do good as it does to do bad. An unleashed church is still filled with people in different places of maturity. But an unleashed church is…unleashed.
And friends…it’s time.
We must gather together. Pray together. Worship together. And obey God together.