Monday, June 27, 2011

The Design of Church Part 3

Part three
How should a “church” be designed? If you’ve read part one and part two of this series, you’ll see a picture emerging, I hope. The church has a very specific purpose. That purpose has never changed, not from the first moment God Himself instituted a gathering of His people. The purpose is twofold. One; to glorify God through Worship and draw closer to Him. Two; to be the place (not A place, but THE place) where Gods people are instructed, equipped, encouraged and empowered to fulfill Gods purpose for their individual lives and the life of the Body of Christ as a whole, with an eye on being examples to the rest of the world so they, too, will know that He is God!

Right about now, I could go into a long dissertation about what the church isn’t about – but I can cut this short by saying it this way – we ‘ve got it wrong in our current church system. We’ve made it all about being a “showplace” for we the people of God, rather than GOD! It’s about “our music, our teaching ability, our drama productions, our classes, our programs, our Pastors and every other type of “title” we’ve been able to think up! It’s about our worship – not WHO is worshiped! It’s about “us, us, us” and all done making us feel very good about ourselves because we claim it’s all done in His name, supposedly for His sake.

Take a good hard look at the words in modern “worship” songs and you’ll see what I’m talking about here. Too many of them are all about “look at ME as I’m worshipping God” and we’re convinced that pleases God if we experience some moving emotion, but the reality is, it’s all about us Us US.

Too many church services are all about the musicians, the Pastors and all the other distractions that keep us from actually doing the work the church was called by God to do. Equipping the Saints – not to glorify their own accomplishments, gather plaques on their walls, lay claim to great fame – but to go out into the world and call others to obedience in Christ to the God who Created them!

I know this is an unpopular idea and isn’t designed to “fill our churches” with tithing souls that fund continuation of our programs and services. Truth seldom sits well in the heart and mind of those who are not actively seeking it with humility. OUCH! That’s us Us US! Like it or not, we have become the “Pharisee’s “ of our time!

BUT THERE IS HOPE! If we are willing to let go of our agenda and welcome Gods agenda.
Stay tuned. And as always, you are very welcome to comment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Design of "Church" part two

Part Two:

“What is the purpose of the church?” is the essential question to be answered before we can move forward with this idea of “The Design of the Church”. Interestingly enough, I’ve received a few responses which bypass this idea completely and declare the “church” in its current form is NO LONGER RELEVANT. Not to sound like I waffle, but I agree, and I disagree. Let me approach it from this direction if I may.

In the Old Testament we see a particular “picture” of the gathering pattern of Gods Chosen People. It began with God Himself giving specific directions. The Tabernacle was to be set up just so, and this and that occurred this way and that way at these specific times, and these certain actions were to be performed by these specific people. It was a wonderful pattern – but one that was not intended to remain “forever” fixed in the same way it began. Over time, we see the varying ways things “evolved” – until Jesus Himself actually tells the religious leaders of His day that their very pattern of worship TRANSGRESSED Gods actual desires. In plain English, their behavior and sacrifices and religious ceremonies NO LONGER PLEASED GOD. (Take a look at the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 15). What does this tell us? Even though the Israelites had been directly given specific instruction concerning HOW TO DO CHURCH, in a fairly short amount of time, they had changed it all so drastically that it didn’t even resemble what it started out as anymore.
In this manner, I agree with those who feel the church is no longer relevant, for I believe the church as we currently conduct it isn't an accurate representation of what it was intended to look like as set in motion after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ Jesus.

I don’t want each post to go too long, so I’ll get to the point. In its infancy, the first century church looked one way, and then changed and evolved over some period of time to better fit the need of the growing Kingdom and Body of Christ. BUT the PURPOSE remained consistent, and that purpose, I believe, is found in the Apostle Pauls letters to the churches. Specifically in Ephesians, the whole book, there is a pattern that emerges that relates to the purpose of the gathering of God Chosen People. There are relevant passages in every letter he wrote that all fit together to form a complete pattern. The clearest common denominator is the statement found in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11 through verse 16.

Jesus the Christ appoints LEADERS in His Body, not so they can be revered and lauded and served, but so that they can serve the rest of the Body, preparing believers new and not so new to accomplish the purposes of God Himself.

Once we agree on the purpose, we can begin discussing how BEST to accomplish it. Is there a pattern in the Bible to be followed?

You can comment here or send an email to turnthetideministry@live.com

Your comments and ideas are welcomed and encouraged! Whatever you do, just
MAKE IT COUNT FOR CHRIST!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Design of "Church"

The idea for this essay began about 20+ years ago! Back then, I asked the question this way, "WHAT is the PURPOSE of the church?" Today, the question remains essentially the same with a little twist. "What is the purpose of the church and what is the best way to accomplish that purpose?"
About now, some of you may be thinking of answers. GOOD!
email them to us at turnthetideministry@live.com
I'm serious, and I'm serious about an answer to this question.

Over the last number of years (20+!)I've attended a few different churches. Some I was visiting as a person off the street, some I visited as a guest Pastor/Evangelist. Some I served in as a layperson, and some I served in as a Staff Pastor. I began to wonder, is "consistency, McDonalds style" really the best way to "do church"? You know what I mean. You go to any McDonalds and even though the service may differ from store to store, the food is consistently the same. Burgers, fries, shakes - all the same. Same meat, same condiments, same buns. That consistency gives a feeling of security about the food we're ordering, no surprises, no differences and that comforts us in some way.

BUT IS THAT THE WAY OUR CHURCHES OUGHT TO PERFORM? IS THAT THE WAY OF THE BODY OF CHRIST?

Those who care to, please think on, chew on, meditate about, pray about and read the Bible about this for a few days. I'll be back with more.

Would you like fries with that burger?

Whatever we do, let's be certain to:

MAKE IT COUNT FOR CHRIST!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Worship

WORSHIP...
You say the word worship and it conjures up many different thoughts, feelings and pictures in the mind. Music playing, people praying, hands lifted high, looks of heavenly ecstasy on their faces, some singing, some swaying, some praying loudly while others stand or sit with tears rolling down their cheeks.

Others might picture one in solitude, silently contemplating the wonders all around them, or kneeling alone, head bowed, mouthing words of thanksgiving.

What if I said worship was standing on the sidewalk, handing sandwiches and coffee to the destitute, homeless or just down and out? What if worship were described as boldly, kindly going into the street and sharing a message of love and freedom with prostitutes, drug dealers and hardened criminals? Worship, when you’re alone and no one else is looking or even cares what you’re doing, and you do the right thing anyway? Worship, when someone spits in your face and calls you names and abuses you even though you’re doing your best to help them, and you offer love and grace? Worship, when you’re facing a temptation and you really want to do what you want to do, and you humbly choose instead to obey commands from a book, authored by One you’ve never seen, in purest of HOPE that it’s truth you can trust and rely on.

Worship is the value, the worth you place on something. Or someone. God, your Creator, Jesus His Son, your King and Lord. What value, what esteem do you hold them in, in your own heart, in your personal and intimate deepest place? That value will determine how you behave, how you speak, what you do, how you spend your time and how you treat other people. The greater value you place on God, the greater your response to Him will be. Not just on Sunday, not just in church, not just when the music’s playing, not just when someone else is watching, not just when you think it counts, but all the time, in every situation, toward everyone you come in contact with. As your relationship with Him grows, you will grow in your attitudes and behaviors.

Before you know it, you’ll no longer think of worship as being a separate “thing” you do or a set aside for a certain place or time. It’ll be the life your living, the joy you’re experiencing and the motivating factor of every facet of life for you. So those times when you’re singing and praying and reading the Bible and lifting your hands and exuberantly offering praise to the Lord your God will be only ONE of the times and ways in which you worship the Almighty.