Where’s the fellowship? Being led by God in awe-inspiring ways? Depth? Just a lot of stuff it seems that I’ve heard about from a few different people as of late. Some aspects within my own church but just as much elsewhere.
NOTE: I’m more than aware that since the church involves people, and we people are broken, and unlike God, screw things up a lot, we will do that to the church as well.
Out of a recent discussion with my g-men came the thought that the way Jesus’ mission came about is rather opposite to quite a bit of church organizational concepts. Jesus rather specifically picked individually a very small set of disciples and only after much time and prayer and devotion, did they ‘go out’. Compare that with church planning models that aim to quickly organize a church and grow substantially with the idea of reaching everyone and *then* build a core of those who have stuck around. There’s plenty of criticisms to this model (like this … but apparently even Willow Creek itself has changed) that focus on how this aims to focus more on marketing and watering down issues more than reliance on God… but a point I recall in our discussion was more that this seems to perpetuate a shallowness (e.g. certain men’s retreats) among the church and the unlikeliness of anyone developing spiritual depth. No wonder so many hop around from church to church!
Even after that, the ‘Way’ (e.g. the church) didn’t really fully come into being until Pentecost and that was after Jesus had rose to heaven, right? They weren’t interested in pleasing and appeasing anyone either, with them telling the Jewish leaders “We must obey God rather than men!”
Read the end of Acts 2:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
What love for each other. Fellowship like that you just can’t ‘organize’, ESPECIALLY when it’s in-sincere. Where’s the real accountability? Sharing meals together? Giving to anyone in need? Now I’m not talking about looking at church ‘leadership’/staff for that sort of things – those are completely the church’s responsibility and not just for you know ‘those people’ but EVERYONE. You remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira, right? Being a Christian isn’t supposed to be easy. See it also calls out on the apostles (which I interpret to be for us as our church leaders/pastors/elders) that they performed many wonders and miraculous signs. I don’t know about you, but I have barely heard about this anymore, but from those older than myself who have, comment that they don’t see this as much anymore. I DO believe in what Jesus said:
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Weekend before last, we went to a relative’s Baptist (I only point that out since I have very little exposure to the denomination) church in the area to hear a pastor who’s from the town in North Carolina where all of my wife’s family is from. If I could sum up his preaching, it would be ‘Expect the unexpected.’ And don’t be stuck on traditions for the sake of them. Now his preaching style is very different than I’ve really ever heard (remember I’ve very little knowledge of Baptists … but expect that clearly there’s a big difference between my exposure of preaching and Baptist preaching…), but he was a few years younger than we are but he sure had a fire for God that I don’t see often. Which is sad.