Thursday, July 27, 2006

What is a church?

I've been reading David Garrison's "Church Planting Movements' and highly recommend it for any Christian anywhere. It offers a definition, explanation, and case studies of church planting movements. The gist of it is this--people are getting saved and the Church is growing in countries overseas in an exponential fashion, but there is a huge difference between what we consider a church here in the U.S. and what is considered a church in these other countries. In the U.S. when we speak of church we often are thinking of a building or of a particular group of people who have been together for years, doing everything "the way we've always done it." My friend and brother-in-Christ Alan has been exploring these issues for a while now on his blog (see link on my site.) In many other countries a church consists of a house church of 15-20 people studying God's Word together and discipling one another. When the group gets too big to meet in the house, a few of them start another house church. This intentional multiplication builds the body of Christ at an amazing rate. The believers invite non-believers to the group with them to study God's Word, showing them how the process of evenglism and discipleship works before they are even saved! They do not stop to plan/fundraise/argue about a big building. They do not set up committees for every aspect of church life. They do not pay a pastor. They have multiple leadership chosen from among the men in the group. And then they intentionally split in order to grow the church. They model their churches after the New Testament church.

Compare this approach to the un-intentional splits that happen all too often in our churches here: arguing over who gets the building, gossipping about the "other side," dishonoring the Lord's name through actions and words, and most tragically--tearing down the body of Christ, causing non-believers to want to run as far and as fast as they can from "the church."

Oh, that the church in this country would emulate these church planting movements! Oh, that we would be willing to not sit in comfy pews or padded chairs being entertained by a polished, talented praise team. (OKAY--all you people who like the whole praise team approach--BACK OFF!!! I'm just saying that we are too comfortable in our churches,,,) All of these things keep swirling around in my mind: how can I promote a change in this country? how can I support church planting movements worldwide? How can I develop personal relationships with non-believers so that I can share the gospel with them?

Anyone else struggling with these things?

1 comment:

Alan Knox said...

Struggling? Oh yeah! Hopefully? You better believe it! When you live as the church, others recognize the difference. Being the church is contagious!

Good to "hear" from you again!