Waltzing with God

Following God or abiding in Christ is like a waltz. It is intimate. Your face and heart are open. You are holding onto Christ, following God's lead. You are touching him and being touched. You are not hidden from God. Whatever you feel, or think, or are doing; you are aware that God knows. You keep an awareness of this and process disappointments or confusion immediately. Even though you have many unanswered questions, the answer is before you and you will hold onto that person and let that person hold on to you who holds everything.

Meeting

I read this excellent article by Lionel Woods on the ecclesiological question of how the church should meet:


So the best option would be to look at the letters and attempt to develop consistent instructions and themes to see how the church should meet. Here is what I see. All of the Pauline epistles accept for four were written to the church, yet it is odd that the letters written to individuals have been used to construct how the church should meet (pastorals?). In each of these letters addressed to the church, leaders are mentioned in passing and decision making, teaching, caring for one another, and doctrine was in the hands of all of those who met together. Each member is held responsible for the edification of his brother not a select few, yet in most of our churches it is the exact opposite. Responsibility is with the whole and never does Paul address leaders separately in his writings, yet everything happens with leaders and flows down in our churches. Meals also seem to be important, important enough for Paul to spend a great deal of time making the Lord’s Supper and a full meal one in the same thing (just saying).
So, there seems to be a pattern. This pattern is, the whole church edifies, the whole church makes decisions, the whole church serves, the whole church instructs and no division between leaders and non-leaders. Just one body functioning together. Oh yeah, I missed one important thing. The familial language is inescapable. None of the churches seem to have rigid organization, I am not saying that this was to be the way it should be until the Groom returns, just what I can clearly see from the text.
So again the church could be described as a tight knit group of family members working together for the good of all. There focus seem to be Jesus and allegiance to Him which builds allegiance to one another in order to reflect His glory to the world they found themselves in.


I've made the mistake of beginning a discussion about how we need to do church differently with "the church is not a building". The real issue is not where we meet, but how we meet. Those who are leaders also have the challenge of how should we lead. If we want to meet more like what is described in the NT and articulated by Lionel, we will have to lead differently.

Hope

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
(Issac Watts, 1719)

My hope is in God. God has been good to me. God is my only hope. I won't make it without God's help. Hopeless situation? Not a problem for God. Impossible situation? Possible for God. Even if "it" isn't happening, I still hope in the one who can do "it", and keep walking.

The clergy / laity problem

From Jason White:

In some ways, I believe that the way seminaries are “training pastors” is undermining development of healthy, interactive, communal church bodies. They way we teach ministry here creates a distinction between clergy and laity. Because of this distinction it seems that the focus is put on the pastor to study a text and give it to the congregation in a nice packaged form, on top of doing other duties like visiting people in the hospital, deacons meetings, and all the other stuff they do that isn’t found anywhere in Scripture. The church body expects the pastor to do these things because they’re paying him. In turn, they get lazy. They diverge into coming to church on Sunday and Wednesday to “hear a message”, or “get blessed”, or “hear some good preachin’…”, do these terms sound familiar? Its become a take, take, take relationship. Whatever happened to the take, give, give, give, tell, tell, tell relationship? My point is not to bash Seminary in general, its to expose the fact that we’re doing something wrong. And its affecting the body in such a way that we’re removing the headship of Christ from the church and replacing him with a well-dressed, polished speaker.


From Dave Black:

One of the reasons I oppose the professionalization of pastoral ministry is because I believe that Jesus would have opposed it. He demonstrated that kingdom ministry meant personal interest in other people as demonstrated by intercessory prayer and by deeds of selfless love. He prayed for His disciples on the night He was betrayed, and He constantly showed personal and even sacrificial interest in the well-being of others. His ministry was person-centered. The practical effect of Christ's ministry upon ecclesiology is twofold: All believers are priests by the fact that they are one with Christ, and all believers are ambassadors for Christ because He Himself has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. As Catholic theologian Hans K√ľng puts it in his voluminous work The Church (p. 473):

"The abolition of a special priestly caste and its replacement by the priesthood of the one new and eternal high priest has as its strange and yet logical consequence the fact that all believers share in a universal priesthood."

Church for God

I think that (church) services should be for a purpose, like a wedding or a memorial, or a celebration. Gathering services should be serving one person: God. After God is served, people get served because God loves people.

How can we call it a "worship service" when the bulk of the time is given to a speech where we may or may not glean some insights into a passage of scripture. What about continually lifting up the author of the Holy scriptures? We've actually put learning about God or His ways above knowing God. Wouldn't it be absurd to be studying The Lord Of The Rings in a fellowship where J.R.R. Tolkien was present, or rumored to have been present in the past, but never or rarely asked to speak to us?

We have church and mission backwards

I believe that one of the reasons why some churches in America are ineffective and irrelevant is that we have let church forms and functions dictate our mission. God calls us to first be missionaries - not first define who we are and what we do (we're this type of people and we do these types of things), and then out of that; form our mission.

A lost message, lost doctrine, lost way of the Christian is that all Christians are missionaries. As soon as you believe, you are a missionary.

Most Christians in America go to church services a lot and go on missions a little. It should be the other way around.

You might be asking, "where does mission come from?" The answer is God. At the center of everything is God. In the beginning, God. God created man and man fell. Then God began to reveal his plan to redeem man, culminating in God's sending his only son on the mission that we read about in the four Gospel (good news) books. For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son.

God sent Jesus on a mission. Jesus, by The Spirit of God, sends Christians on his mission. New Christians are birthed within the mission work or context and form church. Can pre-Christians find Christ in the church gatherings or meetings? Of course. That's not my point. My point is that evangelism comes before church formation or that church formation comes from your evangelism. How your church looks will depend on who your church is. So your church can become any form, depending on the people. In many churches today, the form is set and then many people don't fit. That's backwards. It ought not be that way.