Being the Church

Zim road

The following quote from “Worldly patterns in the church” by Glenn Tungay:
“Unfortunately the more institutionalized and business like a church is in its form and function (having a clear leadership hierarchy, salaried staff, buildings, programs, shops and so on), the more prescriptive in doctrine and authoritarian the leadership will tend to be. This is a natural function of the business model – a model built on worldly systems and procedures. Of course every church is different and some large churches do their best to bring through spiritual, kingdom principles in leadership. However kingdom principles always operate in the opposite to worldly ones, and this always creates a tension in modern churches where humility, honesty, service, generosity and faith have to somehow find expression in the midst of controls, budgeting, leadership agendas, congregation agendas and general human frailty.” 

Let us explore BEING the church and DOING church.

The church building may be the biggest stumbling block to individual christians living out their faith.
As long as there are paid professional christians to do the hard things for us, there is no need to go and be the church ourselves.
If there is a food pantry at the church building, there is no need to open our own fridge to the hungry.
If there is a pastor at the church building there is no need to open our own schedule to the many hurting people we encounter day to day.
If there is an evangelist at the church building there is no need to pray for the sick person at the restaurant.

So taking away the building puts the focus on the christian and his home, his community, and his purpose.

The following taken from wikipedia:
“Dunbar’s Number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.

Dunbar proposed that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships, explaining it informally as “the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.”

Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group.”
When we consider our family, neighbors, work colleagues, friends, and past associations, we very quickly tally up 80 to 150 people who are involved in and impacted by our lives. This is called our “community.” These are the “neighbors” God has given us to love as ourself.

I am convinced that the very simplistic purpose of the christian life is to live out wisdom, power, and love in the midst of difficult circumstances, making difficult decisions all while difficult people watch our lives.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22v37-40

This is not Jesus saying you MUST love God, you MUST love your neighbor.
That is control, and religion. God gives us free choice of whether to love him or not.
This is Jesus saying HOW you are to outwork your love for God and Neighbor should you decide to have any love for them.
Many people work out their love for God by sacrificing animals, killing babies, and condemning neighbors.
Here Jesus is saying “this is what loving God and loving Neighbor should look like.”

There is a very specific identity, gifting, and calling that God created each one of us with. These burn in our heart, leap in our soul, and course through our mind.
By doing these things WITH God, we honor the giver of the gift.
As christians we should be seeking the kingdom through what sets our hearts, souls, and minds on fire.

And then love your neighbor as you would love yourself. Actually sit with this for a bit. What does that mean from my neighbor’s point of view toward me?
My first neighbor is my wife, my children. Those who live around me. Those who work around me. How do they see my interactions with them? As loving, humble, wise?
Do I mirror Jesus to them? And when I don’t, do I humble myself and repent to them?

This perspective localizes and personalizes the idea of christian mission from some far off Instagram mission that we paid a few thousand dollars for, to the very uncomfortably close neighbor, work colleague, and family member who we live out our lives in front of, over the course of years.

This is definitely not to heap pressure on to go evangelize at every moment!
This is to encourage us to stop avoiding the difficult, lonely and hurting lives of those who are living without hope in our sphere of influence.

Heathens expect christians to avoid them like spiritual lepers.
If we can just touch one leper, sit with them in their misery, we forever change how they view a loving God, who would touch them, and not run away from them and avoid them.

We are THE church IN Lexington. The 150 people living this short life around us are our church community, whether they are christian or heathen. This is BEING the church.

So now how do we DO this church?
Jesus loved to eat with his disciples. Jesus also loved to travel and do fun things with them like hiking mountains, sailing boats, chasing storms, camping out in the desert, pursuing the miraculous, and debating theology and philosophy.

Jesus was equipping and commissioning his disciples to be able to go and do the same things he had done. Paul got to the point of it: “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

We want to be part of a culture where we are both being discipled, and we are discipling others.

There is no mention of Sunday services and Church buildings in the ministry of Jesus.
There is however mention of meeting in each others homes and eating together, traveling together, enduring hardship together, and praying.

Opening our home and travel time to others is an uncomfortable and vulnerable act of self sacrifice and humility.

So that is what we want to do! Invite people into our homes, into our private lives, and then encourage them to follow us as we follow Christ. Basically, have joy and eat together while reminding each other of Jesus! And then encourage your disciples to start inviting people into their own home to have joy and eat together.

This is another aspect of dying to ourselves: moving from receiving from a group of people that we are comfortable with, to contributing to a group that makes us uncomfortable.

We want to be part of a culture where we are both being discipled, and we are discipling others.

Who leads this church? Who is ‘in charge?’
I’d rather ask ‘WHAT is in charge?’ By that I mean what spirit are we discipling out of.

A desire for power and fame is inherent in the human heart.
The contrast to this is love and humility.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4v6).
He who exalts himself will be humbled. He who humbles himself before the Lord will be lifted up in due season.

If we don’t know that God sees us in secret (Mat6), and is our protector, provider, and promoter (Prov22v4), then we will act out our insecurity by protecting ourselves, providing for ourselves, promoting ourselves, and doing things FOR God and people to validate us.

This is seeking our own kingdom, in our own righteousness, rather than seeking first God’s kingdom and humbling ourselves to accept Jesus’ righteousness for us.

We cannot afford to tie up our identity in anything other than God’s great love for us His children, us His bride, us His friends. We must jealously guard this factor of our identity.

If I tie my identity into how many people I disciple, how many miracles I perform, how many homeless I feed, and how many people marvel at my revelations, then I get very jealous about anything which threatens that source of my identity.

A competitive and scarcity mindset pops up into how I DO church.
Rather than being content to love the 12 people around me, I lust after the power which comes from having thousands of people worship at my throne. Jesus help me.

Jesus is who we follow and submit to.
Anything that competes with Jesus for the lordship of our hearts is what we want to avoid.

Discipling 12 people will very quickly expose any hypocrisy in our teaching because of the intimate access to our private life and immediate ability to enter dialogue.
Preaching on a stage to hundreds or thousands allows no access to the preachers private life nor an opportunity to enter into dialogue.

Monologue is a counterfeit discipleship akin to social media where you can virtue signal at will, with none of the discomfort of having people come into your home and car to follow your example as you follow Christ.

Practical Actions:
Be part of someone’s “home” discipleship group.
In humility and honesty, open my life to their counsel.

My wife and children are my first neighbors. Focus on loving them as yourself before trying to disciple anyone else. 1Timothy 3.

Invite others to be part of my “home” discipleship group.
In humility and honesty, love & serve them in becoming more like Jesus.

At work, work as unto the Lord. Do things to be seen by your Father who is in secret, not to be seen by your co-workers, boss, customers etc. Serve God, not money. If something is burning on your heart to do, start doing it in small actionable ways, and trust God to provide, protect, and promote.

Salvation changes the heart.
Scripture changes the head.
Relationship changes the habit.


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