I am currently in Orlando, Florida for the week. being occupied with work related issues, I won’t have the time to prepare and offer up original posts. A dear reader of this blog found this post in the archives from August 2012 and sent me an email regarding it stating that the post assisted them in understanding some things they’ve been struggling with when it comes to “church”.
Since I’m out of pocket, I thought I’d re-post this particular post. For those of you who have read it before, forgive the redundancy. For those of you reading it for the first time, I hope it blesses you in some way, even if it is just to make you think! Peace!
Recently, I spent some time with a precious young man. During the course of our conversation about life, God and such, he stopped and asked me, “Bryon, why don’t you start a church?”
If you know me at all, you know I am chuckling at this very moment and have a widespread grin on my grill! (grill = face, for those of you who are not hip. :-))
With what we have come to understand over the years, our definition of “church” has drastically changed. There has been a forsaking of all we have known as “church” for most of our lives (and ministry) and a migration into a more, shall we say, biblical definition of Father’s mind concerning what He desires His Church to be.
So, when most people ask me the proverbial, “Where do you go to church?” question, I usually avoid answering the question because, quite frankly, it exhausts me to answer it. I realize that they are asking the question from an old paradigm and it takes too long to get on the same page. And, in my experience, even after you invest the time to clarify their meaning of “church” with my definition of “church” so that you can effectively converse about the topic, they sort of just look at you dazed and confused once you unload on them.
On the rare occasion, there is a prompting of the Holy Spirit and you realize that the conversation is an assignment and the person really is searching for Truth. In those moments, you make the investment of time and energy to share what has been entrusted to you over the years.
This was one of those occasions. Actually, the question, “Why haven’t you started a “church”?” was different. Most people do not ask me that particular question.
So, in this post, I would like to answer that question.
The first part of the answer to the question is that I have done it before. What’s more, I’ve been heavily involved in what most people, who look at “church” that way, would consider to be “successful church”.
(I apologize for all of the words in quotes but it is the only way to relate that I have a different meaning for the word than I used to have and that most people do. I’ll back off of it though because it annoys me so I know it more than likely bothers you too.)
Anyways, I’ve flown the private planes, met the Christian celebrities and have been shown the money. And, all the while, with all of the buildings, the staffs, the activities and, yes, downright hard labor……..I observed the lives of the people involved; those “in ministry” (sorry), those being ministered to and even myself. Straight up……….the result was and is that it just doesn’t work. It does not/cannot accomplish what it is the Father wants accomplished in His people.
Now, here is where I lose the majority of people because it violates them to consider that what they are involved in and identify with in relation to God could actually not be in line with God’s purposes and way of doing things. I understand their angst and I do not deny anyone the right to feel that way. Granted, it usually ends with them calling me names but I don’t deny them that either.
So, if you are still reading this, I will give the second part of the answer.
Church-es cannot be started. They must be birthed. Church-es cannot be planted; they must be founded upon and in Christ and his redemptive work.
Jesus told Peter, ” I will build MY church.” ( Matthew 16) He has always done so and will continue to do so. It is his work. Through his work on the cross, he redeems and regenerates the lives of people and causes them to be born again by the Spirit.
As Head of his Church, Christ’s graces of apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher and evangelist is then responsible for discipling and equipping those redeemed materials to begin to be fit and formed together as a corporate expression. This is not accomplished by men’s religious orgs, programs and ideas. Rather, it is accomplished by acknowledging Christ as Head and permitting his grace to flow to/through every member of the Body via proper relationships. (Eph. 2:21/4:16; Col. 2:19)
Church is born by the Spirit, and therefore, it must be perfected by the Spirit. It cannot, it will not be perfected by the fleshly works of well meaning individuals and organizations, even if they are “christian”. (oops!). That which is born of the Spirit must be perfected by the Spirit and not by the flesh.
God is a Spirit and those that will worship Him will do so in spirit and truth. He seeks those who would worship Him in that way. God can only receive back to Him, that which is consistent with His nature…… i.e., spirit to Spirit. This is the reason He causes us to be born again
Yet, the converse of this statement is also true. That which is born of the flesh (even well-intentioned things, such as religious institutions) cannot be perfected by the Spirit. That which is initiated by the flesh (man’s ideas, programs, structures, worship) has no capability of being received by God.
So, the answer to the question, “why haven’t you started a church?” is because I’ve done it and it doesn’t work. I refuse, therefore, to expend my lifetime, energy and resources doing something that doesn’t accomplish what God intends. And, just because I’ve always done it that way is not an acceptable reason for continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results!
On the other hand, I am involved in relationships with God’s people, in various ways and in different expressions who are being the Church. It works. Christ is formed in the lives of His people and Christ is what is being exchanged via relationships. The result of these relationships is the building of a Body of people in a number of geographic locations who are in fellowship and do life together.
The church is not something we go to anymore…..the Church is the people of God with His life in our midst. Church is something we exist as; not something we attend. I didn’t start it, I’m not building it and I’m not responsible to sustain it. He birthed it. The Holy Spirit administrates it. God gives the increase! And, it is a beautiful thing to behold!
Keep your peace!