Rediscovering what it means to be the church

Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? …It worthless.”

“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

  •  It’s not about buildings, it’s about people
  • It’s not about membership, it’s about discipleship
  • It’s not about performance, it’s about presence
  • It’s not even about success, it’s about obedience

Looking Deeper:

1)It’s not about buildings, it’s about people

We’d all love to have great buildings b/c people like great buildings & cool spaces, but remember the early church, where did they meet? Wherever they could. Homes, under trees, the steps of the Temple, caves, wherever. No one had a building that was referred to as a church till about the time of Constantine in 4th century. In many ways the church is beginning to return to these early roots. Anchor Mission churches meet in coffee shops and schools, and basements, and storefronts more than we do in actual church buildings. Non of that matters because it’s about the people & not the building.

2) It’s not about membership, it’s about discipleship

It’s been called the ABCs of ministry, (attendance, buildings, cash) America’s church often has fuzzy vision that resembles the materialism and values of the corporate world model; but our call is the call of the early church; to real discipleship, to make disciples. All other things serve that goal, not vice-versa.

At the end of the day did we take Jesus at His word and “Go, make disciples” or did we grow our membership? There is a difference. As disciple-makers  we seek to encourage each other not to buy into the corporate church model.

3) It’s not about performance, it’s about presence

Of course we want to do all we can to do a good job, do things well, “professional”, decently and  in order; but at the end of the day we need the spirit leading and anointing what we do. As Paul said “I didn’t come to you with men’s wisdom but with the spirit”.

An example of what I’m talking about is music and worship in the early church. Paul, James and others instructed that the church support each other with songs, hymns, spiritual songs, words of wisdom, and scripture. But by the 4th century congregational singing was quickly diminishing, being replaced with performance chiors, which required  up to 9 years of training to sing in Latin. It had become about performance and not necessarily about presence. For 1000 years that’s pretty much how it was. One thing the reformation returned to the church was congregational singing, thousands more voices praising God. This trickled down via hymns, to the camp meetings, and then to Calvary the new expressions of worship of today.

Things should be done well. It’s important to do all things as best we can, but it’s more important to do so seeking Gods presence, seeking intimacy with Him, being focused on Him & not ourselves. It’s about presence. As a group we seek the presence of God.

4) It’s not even about success, it’s about obedience

We all want to be successful, to pay our bills doing what we love, to be known and respected for what we do.

According to the world’s standards John the Baptist was a failure, Isaiah-failure, Jeremiah-failure, Paul-failure. The early church, leaders of the early church were not called to be successful; they were called to live by the truth, and to make disciples. Often this meant death, persecution, or at least suspicion by a jaded and un-trusting world.

You’ve not been called to succeed, you’ve been called to be obedient, to try, to pick up your cross and follow him. Bonhoeffer says you’ve been called to DIE. You’ve been called to obedience, not necessarily success. As church planters we encourage each other to obedience.

At the end of the day all that matters is if you were obedient. All that matters is if it was all about presence and not performance…about discipleship and not membership, about people and not about a building. At the end of the day all that matters is if you took God at his word and encouraged people along their path to go forward on their journey with Jesus. Did you call them forward on that journey or not? That’s all that matters.

In the words of Saint Francis: “We’ve been called to heal wound, unite what has fallen apart, and bring home those who have lost their way…” We need to return to this simplicity often;  just what it means to be the church.

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