Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Faithfulness: Church needs to Change part 9

The Fruit of the Spirit

… is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)

What is Faithfulness?

There is so much we can say about faithfulness.

Recently I heard an Evangelist: Ryan Schiavo, speak about faithfulness as being reliable toward others as a mark of Christian character. In his context, faithfulness wasn’t just about belief in GOD but also about being consistent toward one another: following through on promises, keeping our word. I like that take, perhaps because I agree and aim to be a totally reliable person: my yes is yes; I keep appointments or request to be released and reschedule if I can’t; I stick to the commitments I make…. I need to work on punctuality as part of it.

Believing, trusting, being trustworthy, godly: these are all marks of faithfulness.

In this piece from the Church Needs to Change series, I simply want to touch upon the faith we need as a church body to believe: 1. to trust the Holy Spirit’s leading as a mark of being trustworthy toward GOD and one another, 2. to behave in a more and more godly manner as we go through life. Jesus did nothing beyond what his father lead him to do or say, and he did so by the power of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he said, “Be perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect.” If this were not possible, he would surely not have commanded it.

The church, I believe, needs to be expectant for GOD to move

Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

  1. Let us expect when we pray that GOD will answer our prayers, rather than forget the prayer and continue to be anxious or concerned about the issue just prayed over.

And in Matthew 21:21, “So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and cast into the sea,’ it will be done.”

  1. Let us ask GOD for His leading and then wait for it, rather than grow impatient, doubtful, or carry on with the programme as though we never asked for His lead.

And James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”

  1. Let us dare to hope that GOD is moving and will move in our lives and that of our family’s, for salvations, for healings, for revelation, for His return.

The church needs to change its way of being

As the church truly is the body of believers and not a building or service structure, then can we make more room for GOD? Can we leave gaps in the service, or scrap the service entirely, so that our invitation to follow is proved sincere as we make room in our minds and in our lives, for GOD.

This sounds radical

We who love Jesus know that giving ourselves to GOD through a salvation prayer of confession is the start of a life following Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith. It is a wonderful start! But just as we make a fresh start at the point of salvation, perhaps it is time to allow the church organisation to be born again as well. Jesus said he would build his church — and then somewhere around 350 or 400AD we took over. 

How about we let him take the same tools he uses to convict and grow us, to build his church as well. 

Maranatha, Jesus come.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Church Needs to Change (Part 1)

Climate change… and Church change

Humanity’s days have been changed by a health-scare of Biblical proportions. If the earth wants great restoration toward a more life-giving climate and landscape, its population must learn from the 12-week hiatus experienced around the globe as air polluting activity has been suspended.  Manufacturing, industry, use of cars and haulage, airline activity: all these and more have largely been placed on hold, more or less for three months on rotation, beginning in China in January and transferring along the continental pathways until finally reaching South America, where it is rising to a peak as I write. Will this change our way of life permanently, and can we step back from the brink of a ruined earth as we back off from polluting lifestyles?

The church is a living organism which also needs new air…

Places of worship have also been closed and church services have been put on pause as society has been navigating the pandemic. Now churches can open (in England where I live). But if we in the body of Jesus/Yeshua want a full restoration of GOD’s reign in society, we need to be transformed, not only by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12) but also through the expression of our faith. For a vitally different Holy Spirit-inspired adaptation and transformation, we need change in our worship, our prayer and in our action.

But how and into what should the church be changed?

First comes recognition and surrender; then can come change. And with the Holy Spirit outpouring, anything is possible.

When the first century church met, they congregated in homes and shared their food (Acts 4). Today when we meet, by-and-large, we sit while listening to one person speak for a good length of time on some part of the Bible. We contemplate what’s said, perhaps praying before and/or afterward; we sing a bit and shake hands as we enter and leave. Some places have coffee and snacks following the service. We usually don’t know many of the other folks present, and nor do we take the time to build relationships with each and every person. Some places are more lively, others more serene; some people are deeply committed to the concept of church, while others remain more on the fringes. Many people live lives of quiet desperation though few of their counterparts in a congregation will know it.

I don’t think this is all GOD intends for His church. In fact, I’m certain it’s not!

I have a desire to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), as Jesus teaches. I’ve had that desire for decades and I’m not the only one. But I do not believe it is going to happen unless we abandon everything we know about church and church service, and begin with a blank slate both individually and corporately.

This is our chance! Coronavirus, Covid-19 and the shutdown have given us much more time to spend with GOD. He has made room for change. And here’s what I’ve concluded:

In order for the church to minister effectively, for its people and for the outreach of the Gospel, it must change radically.

What is Church?

Today church is not what it was designed to be. Before I sound too negative, here’s why I say that:

The word church means two things. From the Greek translation of Biblical references in the New Testament, church is translated from two words:

Oikos = family

Ekklesia = sent out ones

There is no reference to a building, but to the human body (1 Corinthians 12) and to the body of believers aka church existing to serve.

So, once we recognise the word church doesn’t mean a physical structure of bricks and mortar, we can consider what it is meant to be: a family of sent out ones … sent out to serve those who are not in the family, so that they can discover GOD and the saving grace of His son for themselves, and to support  the poor (Galatians 2:10), widows and orphans within (and external to) the church group (James 1:27). Remember, We will be recognised by our love for one another and for the Father and for the Son,

“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

When we look at the fact that church isn’t brick and mortar, then what will we do with the brick and mortar buildings? Whether owned or rented, we do generally speaking, attend a weekly service in a building.

I once studied under a pastor who had a small congregation called Celebration Church. It was so-called because the pastor knew that was what a Sunday* morning was meant to do: celebrate Jesus Saviour — Yeshua Messiah.

Taking that on board, when we meet as a large group can it simply be “in celebration” of Jesus’ resurrection power? Shall we celebrate the Creator and thank Him for His creation? Can we earnestly seek the power of the Holy Spirit and surrender as we pray to receive?

In 1 Corinthians 14:26-32 Paul pleads with the congregation in Corinth to have some order, urging them to express their gifts but one at a time.

“… If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn and let one interpret.” (vs 27)

Is this all there is?

How have we gone from being disorderly to virtually lifeless? Is this all there is? I don’t believe so. I think we barely scratch the surface. But if we let go and let GOD, He can lead us into celebration and allow the move of His Spirit.

Life in the Spirit

“Now the Lord is Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) That would imply the converse is true: where there is no spirit, there is no liberty.

Some folks believe the gifts of GOD’s Spirit were only for the Apostles who knew Jesus personally. I don’t agree. But I do think that we have a long way to surrender before we can walk truly in the life, liberty and power of the Holy Spirit.

So, let us surrender

I don’t know what GOD’s church is going to look like. It will have something to do with a five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11), with elders and deacons thrown in. It won’t be a top down organisation and no one will be called “father” (Matthew 23:9).

But I don’t think it is intended that we know. Rather, as we yield ourselves to our GOD, prostrate and waiting, without chairs (except out of compassion for those with physical ailments in need of healing) and without sermons but rather walking in the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and with willing hearts to share, we will discover what church is meant to look like. And that, after two centuries of floundering, will be something to celebrate!

*Past posts I’ve written convey my attitude that Sabbath is Saturday and so is the day we ought to be congregating, but custom seems still to overrule.