Friday, July 6, 2012


There are those, today, who disagree with what I write concerning the comparison the early church to today's modern institutional church.  I have found these individuals can be divided into a couple of groups.  First of all, those who disagree the loudest are part of the professional (usually paid) clergy system.  Many of these individuals are trained for nothing else but ministry related jobs.  Therefore to follow this path would put them out of work.  The second group who disagree with these thoughts are Christians who do not want to take responsibility for sharing in the meetings.  I believe part of the reason for them not wanting to take responsibility is they have been wrongly taught for years (for most, all their lives) and they have become comfortable with the way things are. They would rather pay someone else to do it for them.  The bondage they are in is somehow comfortable to them because that’s all they've known.  There is also a third group who believe the early church was young and had not yet developed to be the church we have today.  My response to that is the early church was a Spirit led assembly.  Do we outgrow the Holy Spirit's leading as we mature in our spiritual walk?  That could certainly be the reason today's institutional church doesn't have the impact on the world the early church did.
  • Frank Viola in his book Reimagining Church (pg 56) wrote, "So why did the early church meet in this way?  Was it just a passing cultural tradition?  Did it, as some say, represent the early church's infancy, ignorance and immaturity?  I'm unconvinced.  The first-century church meeting is deeply rooted in biblical theology.  It made real and practical the New Testament doctrine of the priesthood of all believers - a doctrine that all evangelicals affirm with their lips.                                               And what is that doctrine?  In the words of Peter, it is the doctrine that all believers in Christ are spiritual priests called to offer up 'spiritual sacrifices' unto their Lord.  In Paul's language, its the idea that all Christians are functioning members of Christ's body.                                                              In addition, the open-participatory meeting envisioned in the New Testament is native to our spiritual nature.  Every Christian has an inate spiritual instinct to gather together with other Christians and share their Lord in an open atmosphere that's free of ritual and human control.  To pour out of their hearts what God has poured into them."
It was in these meetings of the early church where spiritual growth occurred.  This growth occurred on both a corporate as well as an individual basis (Ephesians 4:11-16).  We grow best and in to God's fullness when the different members of His body function and minister Jesus to one another.  We grow as individuals when we function and do our part in the body.  You see, as we function and are involved in mutual edification we, ourselves, grow in Jesus.

On the flipside of that proverbial coin, today's modern institutional church stifles the spiritual nourishment and growth of the believer.  It leaves that responsibility to one or two people in the church.  No wonder the modern church is lacking in the power of God today.  It takes the power of God to bring about real change and transformation in the lives of people today.  Sadly most churches, today, don't have enough power of God to blow the fuzz off a peanut let alone affect any real change.

Frank Viola also wrote, "Truthfully, there are few things more conducive to the culture of spiritual life than the open-participatory meeting that's depicted in the New Testament.  God established open-participatory meetings to incarnate the glorious reality of expressing Christ through a fully employed priesthood."

How exciting would it be if in every gathering of believers each member were to share and participate?  How different the church would be if mutual edification was the norm and not the exception. Consider the possibilities of believers breaking the chains of bondage religion has put us in and being made free to be the church God envisioned!  Why that's enough to make you want to shout!!

Let's do it!  Let's gather with our brothers and sisters with the intent of sharing what the Holy Spirit has poured in to us.  Let's see what God will do in our midst!

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


It you know of someone who would be challenged and encouraged by this blog please pass on a link to them.  You can share this blog easily by clicking on the links below.  I believe the church needs to be set free from the bondage of the status quo she has been in for so long.  The blogs over the next few weeks will help us to see how this can be done.  If you are interested in reading more regarding the organic expression of church life I recommend Frank Viola's book "Reimagining Church".

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