The Church at large is going through a major transition. “Re-inventing Church” has become the buzz of our “Christian” culture. This concept is designed so that churches can “survive” the great “decline” that so many of our denominations and independent churches are experiencing. Many talk about the irrelevance of the traditional institution of the Church and the need for “grassroots” and “organic” manifestations of Christianity to begin to emerge in order to “save” the Church from its decline. Some critique the Church and dream about a new day when we might at last feel “at home” in a faith community.
There is also a true weariness and people are tired of finding “new ways” of being Christian in the world because every time they thought they stumbled on something “new”, they soon realized it had been done many times before. At the end of the day, people aren’t looking for some new, hip way of being Christian; we’re all looking to fulfill a set of basic human needs in a way that makes us feel comfortable and helps us become better people. I believe that we all want a community to belong to. Some like large communities, some prefer small, but we are all looking for accountability and reminders of the things that matter most in our lives – God, family, friends, hope, and love. We all want a place where we can be a part of something bigger than ourselves, something that brings conviction, something that makes an impact, whether that’s sharing the gospel in foreign countries or feeding people experiencing homelessness in our communities. We’re all looking for a little rhythm and ritual, something to help us feel grounded, connected, and present to our lives. We want reciprocal investment, where we make sacrifices and give in while also receiving “blessings” back into our own lives. This has been the core of the practice since the early New Testament church.
To accommodate the cultural desire, we’ve modified it. We’ve changed it with louder music and smoke machines. We meet in bars and gyms instead of sanctuaries, so as to create a non-church atmosphere. But it’s all doing the same thing for us by helping us meet our needs and find our place in the world. When these basic needs are met, then we flourish. When they’re not, we feel unbalanced and begin to fade. This is what the early Christians longed for when they began meeting, eating with each other, praying, and doing life together. It’s the reason the writers of Scripture emphasized community so strongly. We’re made in the image of the God. Of course we all need a place to find renewal with our Lord and then our community. I think it’s really that simple. Some find these needs met in mega-churches. Great for them! For others it’s in the quiet of a small church. Our culture is no less interested in the concept of “church” than ever before. In fact, I believe we’re more interested.
We long for real feeling, real connection, real impact, and real relationship. Our virtual lives rob us of these essential, basic human experiences. Church doesn’t need to be reinvented. We need to stop being cynical. Just because something doesn’t work for us doesn’t mean it’s bad or defunct. We all must keep pressing on in this journey, seeking to find the setting and place that gives us life and inspires us to keep pressing on in the Lord. For true believers, our lives naturally move towards community, giving, and knowing and experiencing God. Find what works for you and do it; commit to it. Don’t waste your precious energies criticizing your “old” way of doing things.
We simply need to go back to the Word and begin to do what the Scriptures have told us. If we do, we will no longer be a “Come and get it” Church but a “Go and get ‘them’” Church! WE GO OUTSIDE THE CHURCH TO THEM! We want to be a church without walls! We will no longer be a “Silent” Church, but a “Story” Church! WE SPEAK FROM OUR HEARTS ABOUT CHRIST! We want to tell our community and the world about JESUS CHRIST. We will no longer be a “Shrink-wrapped” Church, but a “Connected” Church! “LOVE” means BEING in right relationship with God and others! We want to know our community so well, that if our church ceased to exist, our community would miss us! But to be able to love one another we need to KNOW more about each other!
What are things you pray for when it comes to our church? Let’s see how Paul prayed for believers: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11, NIV)
And this is my prayer: that your love (agape) may abound more and more (to be over any given measure; to go beyond; when everything looks to be used up, when it comes to AGAPE LOVE, there is always more available; the word is used of a flower going from bud to full bloom!)
(1) in knowledge (epignosis – precise and correct knowledge of things ethical and divine; the ability to recognize something to be so; this knowing comes from researching, investigating and verifying. Paul prays for your love to be that way first!)
(2) and depth of insight (aesthesis – made from two words, the prefix AIS and the word THESIS. It is the habit of the mind that weighs what it sees and makes a judgment about it before it decides what to do.)
Paul said, My prayer is that your AGAPE LOVE may come to full bloom over and over again for each other recognizably and decisively. Paul’s prayer is for believers to have a well thought-out LOVE CAMPAIGN! I love my family. I even agape-love my family, but if all I have is love without wisdom, my love never makes it any farther than the feelings I have right here in my heart; it is kept to myself. Or worse, I try to express that love in foolish ways, without understanding, making mistake after mistake after mistake and never correcting them!
Paul has better hopes than that for believers. So why does Paul pray this? What good is wise love? What does it do for us? Two things:
(1) We can discern what is best. Wise love is shown by the quality of what we do. Discerning what is best means, after examining all the information gathered, WISE-LOVE makes it possible for you to decide the best course of action to take: what to keep and what to get rid of, what to do and what not to do, what to say and what not to say! So what does that do? I want to know, where does this wise, discerning love lead to? If you look at a fruit tree and saw buds, then blooms, what do you know to be next on the tree’s agenda? Fruit! Keep that bud-blossom thing in mind…
(2) We may be PURE and BLAMELESS for the day of Christ, FILLED with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. What kind of fruit do you like? With or without bruises? Ripe or unripe? Infested or non-infested fruit?
What Paul is praying for, and what I am praying for, is for we who are believers to not have just love buds growing on us, but that our love for one another and our community would come to full bloom over and over again, and move on to complete fruitfulness as we express well thought-out LOVE towards each other and as we gather information about one another, investigating areas where love needs to be applied and then applying love there skillfully. We want to consider what is best for each other and be passionate about seeing it happen here and now. We want the kind of LOVE Jesus Christ generates in the life within which HE lives. THAT kind of love is going to bring God truck-loads of praise and glory both now and when Christ returns! That, Saints, is the Church. I am hoping this small article will put a mirror in front of you and have you examine your thoughts and apply the Word accurately. Let us BE the Church that God established before the foundation of the World.
Love you all @ KF