Play the Church or Be the Church



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  • Play the Church or Be the Church

    The corporate church is to be a unified manifestation of the people worshiping before the throne of God. That is the reality of new covenant worship. And when we comprehend this, there springs to mind a thousand reasons to rejoice, to praise, and to sing. Before the God who is a consuming fire, we don’t shuffle in casually. We don’t demand our artistic preferences. We don’t merely gather with our friends. We don’t merely sing together. As the people of God, we seek to enter into the very presence of God. Encountering God in this way is the very nature of the church. By definition, to be the church is to gather in God’s presence and to worship God together.

    In the Old Testament, Jacob gives us the definition of what the church is. After he saw the vision of the ladder and the angels going up and down from heaven he said “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” … “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’” (Gen 28:17-20). So the church is first and foremost “The House of God”. It is the place where man meets God. This understanding is also shown in the tabernacle (the OT church) which was the place where God dwelt among his people.

    On a practical note I think that our attitude to what church is, affects our experience of going church. The problem is sometime we have a high expectation from the congregation that we expect everyone in church to be the ideal Christian. But the fact is that church is a hospital and you do not go to hospital expecting to see healthy people. Every member of the church is a sick patient. The only doctor who is able to heal is Jesus Christ, in the Orthodox Church for example every member of the church including the Priests, Bishops and Patriarchs goes to confession therefore realizing his sickness and his need of being healed of his sins by Christ in confession.

    You may have heard the funny expression by Billy Sunday, "Going to church no more makes you a Christian than sleeping in your garage makes you a car." Is there more to church than organized corporate assemblies and interchurch activities as a living body? While there is value in diligently meeting and sharing every few days, to encourage, to catch up, to participate, what about the commission left to every soul who has found salvation? We know that a body of water that does not flow out becomes poisonous. To only serve and feed self and each other can create unhealthy "bloated" Christians who don't "exercise" their calling to reach out and share the gospel.

    Statistics show, a large mass of people are abandoning the church, those who cannot continue in entertainment-based, conversational or dry-intellectual data relaying institutions any longer. Rather than ignoring it and tolerating, or soliciting change that never is heeded, they leave. If your church lacks strong pastoral leadership, praying saints, repentance, spiritual growth resulting in salvations, than there may be justification to move on from the spiritual dessert onto a spiritual oasis.
    • Every year, 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity, leaving as hurting from spiritual abuse or neglect
    • From 1990 to 2000, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations in the USA declined by almost 5 million members (9.5 percent), while the US population increased by 24 million (11 percent).
    • The United States now ranks third (3rd) following China and India as the "un-reached people group."

    One thing I learned in church growth is when a person leaves a church, there are only a few weeks (4 to 8 max) to bring them back before the hurt becomes too much and/or they get settled somewhere else (if they even go someplace else). When the hurt builds because it was not diffused by a simple effort of contact and care, these people may never come back to their home church-or any church. The statistics tell us; this is true in any church and why many are failing.

    Statistics from Barna Research reported recently that perhaps 50% of people who go to a church are not even Christians. I first heard of this statistic from teachers like J. Vernon McGee and Francis Schaeffer. He often said he believed a strong percentage of people in the church were not Christians, that they only go to feel approved of God or for a family member. At least 20% in Reformed and Evangelical churches would fit in this category, and the Mainline would be higher than 60%. In the Catholic Church, it has been suspect to be well over 80%.

    What we hear as responses from most of our church leaders are the excuses of "cultural decay" and "changing values." Meaning the world system is now more powerful than the Holy Spirit and they are defeated because of the culture. A church body will have several markers that reveal its health. Having one or two of these is not enough, a healthy church requires most or all of them:

    • God's Word will be central teaching 2 Tim. 3:16,17;
    • There will be contagious Passionate Spirituality Eph. 6:10-18;
    • There will be Fruitful Evangelism with new converts Luke 19:10;
    • There will be Spirit-filled Worship bringing the hearts together in unison Psalm 100;
    • The church will be Great Commission Driven to share the gospel Matt. 28:19-20;
    • There will be consistent Leadership Multiplication where the laity become leaders 2 Tim. 2:2;
    • Numbers will be increase due to Group Reproduction - cell groups multiply Acts 1:8;
    • The body will have Fruitful Resources, meeting its own needs and overflowing to advance God's Kingdom outside itself;
    • Intentional Disciple making will be the fabric of membership motivation 2 Tim 2:2;
    • Loving Relationships will be growing among men as a unified bond and the females as sisters John 13:35.

    There is a good discussion video on Crosswalk about this subject by Philip Nations, along with insightful comments by readers below that video:

  • #2
    Eph 4:11 He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church.
    Eph 4:12 Their purpose is to prepare God's people, to serve, and to build up the body of Christ.
    Eph 4:13 This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God's Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard.
    Eph 4:14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray.

    The biblical standard of Church has been so eradicated that in many instances the false, immature or those not raised up by God are able to step into the positions in leadership. Their purpose may be to gain a place of power as to make a difference, pursuing their own goals of being "in charge," all the while impeding the transformation of God's people, slowly eroding the purpose of the body. Thus the body remains immature and is influenced by installed leaders who are dull of spirit serving as puppets, or the pastor who demands absolute sovereignty in decisions, whose strategies lead the church astray.

    As such the counterfeit replaces the true. They may deliver sound biblical treachings, where they know their bible, but their hearts are corrupt for lack of transformation. Their goal is not to destroy the Church but to have their own corner control of it. Being basically carnal in motivation and spirit, these leaders discourage and thus drive out the genuine servants of God, those who submit to Christ's purpose so that they can ''Lord it over the Church" without opposition. Those that remain often are weaned away from service to the Lord to becoming servants of man, following a leaders own contrived vision, which he claims is from God. Those that willingly submit to a controlling leader will be promoted as company "yes" men, thus increasing the reach and effectiveness of leaders need to control over all and every area of the body. You can identify a controlling leader, by default they choose elders who have no spiritual depth to challenge their counsel. Spiritual abuse is often difficult to detect, because it can be very pious and subliminal, deceiving even the elect.

    You are considered divisive, a traitor and many other things if you challenge the way things are done. So were rejected the prophets before us, hated for speaking truth, unpopular and often killed. From my experience, the purpose and method of God is counterfeited in the Western church. If I asked an Asian pastor to start a church as to share the gospel, then in a few weeks he would show me the dirt floor used for prayer, the field where he preaches, the tree for shade under which he teaches, the river used for baptisms, the tin pot for collections. If I asked someone from the West to do the same, they would show me the truck used to move the sound equipment, the volunteers who will set up the technology, the donations used for signs, materials and advertising, photos and newsletters used to market the church and the web site to be unveiled.

    This passage drives home the relevancy of the comparison, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world, that he may put to shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world, that he may put to shame the strong things; and the ignoble things of the world, and the despised, has God chosen, and things that are not, that he may annul the things that are, so that no flesh should boast before God." 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

    (GNB) It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!' "
    (ISV) Their worship of me is empty, because they teach human rules as doctrines.'"

    The body is effectively being starved of the blessings and presence of God while in appearance being teacher's and worshipper's of the truth. Over time this and other type's of error can only result in unbelief and even some falling away.....

    A car basically needs air water oil and petrol to run effectively. If you switch or substitute any of these then the car will come to a sudden stop or slowly grind to a halt and sometimes damage other comments in the process.. but then this a good way to sabotage a car or....... a Church.

    Video and your post are very enlightening....Thanks.


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