CHURCH AS JESUS INTENDED PART 3

The only “building program” in the New Testament is the building of men and women up in Jesus Christ. In the New Testament God did not reinstitute a new physical building program as He did in the Old Testament. God sovereignly destroyed the only physical building in the world that had any reflection of Him!

In the New Testament, in every town and city, Christians gathered in house churches. It was through all these small house churches everywhere in cities that Christians so rapidly multiplied and “turned the world upside down” for Christ. Only when we follow God’s model can we expect to do the same.

In the New Testament Jesus’ followers came together to “break bread” and “remember the Lord” only in house churches. Why only in houses churches? Jesus may have many more reasons that we don’t think about or understand, “His ways are not our ways.” But I can think of at least 10 pretty good reasons:
1. Identification: God does not want to be identified with a lifeless dead building anymore but rather only with life – the life of Spirit-filled believers.
2. Invitation: No one ever feels defensive when invited to come to a home, but rather gratitude and appreciation.
3. Extension: A house church is like a large family. It is just a large spiritual family. How a family operates is similar to how a house church family functions. Thereby, a good family becomes a good model for a house church and a good house church becomes a good model for a family.
4. Participation: A group as small as a house church allows everyone to participate and enjoy doing so. There is no such thing as “pew warmers”. House churches naturally foster real spiritual growth among everyone. In a traditional church, you are like a “spectator”. You walk in and are ministered to, spoon-fed, and entertained. You sit, you listen, you hear music, you hear a sermon and then you walk out. It’s like a spectator sport where you go, sit, watch and walk out. But believers in the New Testament church were not spectators ꟷ they were participators!
5. House Unity: Believers that meet in small house churches all feel very close to one another and experience true practical unity, quite unlike and impossible to experience in a large church congregation.
6. City Unity: Small house churches feel a greater need and desire to have unity with the larger body of Christ throughout their city, breeding a citywide spirit of love and unity with all believers in their city. The big building church congregations are so large that they often don’t see outside of their own big organization, unlike the small house churches.
7. Multiplying Leaders: The more leaders that develop within any group in society, the greater that group will multiply. Small house churches automatically stimulate spiritual leadership where large church building congregations with their professional clergy intrinsically suppress multiplying leaders.
8. Spreading the Gospel: Preachers are more apt to follow the New Testament example of going out to the public to preach the gospel when they don’t have a big church-building organization for people to come into. They’re more apt to follow the New Testament command to “GO and make disciples…”
9. Money: Billions of dollars are spent on church buildings, while if the same dollars were spent directly on people it would have an explosive impact the world over for the Kingdom of God.
10. Our Heavenly Father knows best: If we are not able to see any good reasons for house churches, we should still defer to house churches for no other reason than it is the only New Testament example that God Himself gave us. Does not our heavenly Father always know what is best? “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?” (Isaiah 45:9).
The implications of the precedent that God set in the New Testament for meeting in-house churches is staggering once you understand all the benefits and implications of it. Here are 8 more important implications:

  1. Spiritual growth explodes qualitatively and quantitatively because everyone is committed and involved in a house church.
  2. Real accountability with all the believers becoming close, loving one another, and being “subject one to another”, as the Scripture instructs.
  3. Potential leaders have real and practical opportunities to develop and multiply rapidly unlike possible in traditional churches.
  4. All Believers can be more individually encouraged and motivated to share their faith in all their workplaces and marketplaces.
  5. Eliminates the destructive clergy/laity class system so unbiblical and oppressive in traditional church organizations. In house churches, all the Believers are not just “priests” in theory but in practice (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
  6. Stimulates all Christian men to rise up and see their spiritual opportunity and responsibility to become mature men and spiritual leaders within house churches, thus greatly benefiting and affecting their own physical family, their workplace, and their whole community (1 Timothy 3).
  7. Allows for and galvanizes the “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” to get out of their “church” buildings and follow Paul’s example to preach in public areas and from house to house (Acts 20:20).
  8. No money is diverted into building programs or church bureaucracy etc. but all funds go to help any faithful believers that are in genuine need and into the growing number of spiritual leaders to “fill all the city with their teaching about Jesus” (Acts 5:28).

Extracted from Jim McCotter’s book Church Revolution Today.

MEGACHURCH EXPOSED

The explosive three-part docu-series, Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, will premiere on Thursday, March 24 on discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real-life subscription streaming service, with all three episodes available on that date. Featuring interviews with Hillsong insiders, megachurch experts and Ranin Karim, the woman whose five-month affair with celebrity senior pastor Carl Lentz led to his downfall, the series will explore the high-profile, star-studded church’s alleged exploitation, abuse and cover-ups.

Is this church as it is described in the Book of Acts? I am sure it is not, just as the institutional church model is not God’s model for His church.

CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

The end-times church is prophesied to be like the original church in the Book of Acts, with no institutions, no expensive buildings, no paid pastors. The church will meet in homes and will be centered on making disciples that make more disciples.

Lecrae

I have posted many stories on pastors such as Francis Chan that have walked away from large institutional churches, in Chan’s case a church of 5,000 to set up home churches with no paid pastors or buildings. I personally support the Kenya Home Church Movement and am delighted to post stories here on its growth.

The following story about rap artist Lecrae reveals further what God is doing with His church in these prophesied “last days”.

Lecrae loses tour date after tweeting that he’s done with ‘institutional, corporatized’ Christianity.

Reach Records founder Lecrae revealed that he and his team lost one of their tour dates this spring after sharing an honest tweet about deconstructing from “politicized” and “corporatized” modern church culture.

“Once upon a time I thought I was done with Christianity. But the reality was I was just done with the institutional, corporatized, gentrified, politicized, culturally exclusive version of it,” the popular emcee tweeted on Tuesday.

The following day, Lecrae re-shared his tweet and wrote: “Just lost a show because of this tweet. Point proven.” The Grammy award-winning artist added: “Vulnerability gets people kicked out of exclusive tribes. Jesus welcomes the outcast and seeks to bring healing.”

Lecrae does not get all things right like all of us but he is right on point with this move.

INSTITUTIONAL CHURCHES COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD

Over the last few decades in the West, and particularly in America, we have seen the destruction of the institution of marriage, the removal of God’s Word in most areas of public life, particularly schools, and the embracing of Critical Race Theory. Moreover, most pulpits are silent about governmental abuse, the LGBTQ agenda, and the blatant murdering of millions of babies. This is an indictment against the nations and the church – our silence speaks volumes. Are God’s people watchmen or cowards?

The pulpit regulates the spiritual condition of God’s people which affects the nation. A lukewarm, sex-saturated culture (and church) simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew.

Sadly, many pastors under the direction of their institutions are exchanging truth for passivity, boldness for cowardliness, and conviction for comfort…they are not aflame with righteousness. They are motivational speakers rather than preachers of righteousness and females taking male roles of leadership in the church.

Arlington Street Anglican Church
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Westboro Baptist Church

Pastors (Christian leaders) must take responsibility for the spiritual health of today’s church, and the nation. We don’t need more marketing plans, demographic studies, or giving campaigns; we need churches as outlined in the Book of Acts filled with the Spirit of God. Disciples making more disciples of Christ.

The Institutional churches and the prosperity gospel have emasculated the church. It will be the church of Laodicea:

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.Revelation 3:15-18

This is the church that is “Left Behind” to experience the wrath of God with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements. As I have explained previously, each of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 represent the church in each of the seven years prior to Jesus return (70th week of the 70 Weeks Prophecy given to Daniel by Gabriel – Daniel 9:24-27). The church of Laodicea is the last church that will live through the seventh year when the wrath of God is poured out on an unrepentant world. The previous church, the church of Philadelphia is the church that is raptured.

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my nameBecause you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.Revelation 3:10-11

Which church will you belong to the church of Philadelphia or the church of Laodicea?

ARE CHURCHES BEHAVING LIKE MALLS IN THE AGE OF AMAZON?

This quote from church thought leader Carey Nieuwhof sums up the institutional church well. It is obvious that only a major disruption , indeed a catastrophe was needed to bring the church to its knees and consider it may not be serving the purposes of God.

History tells us that God uses disruption even major catastrophes for His purposes. History also tells us that disruption leads to innovation which in turn changes the world.

God forcefully moved Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden. This pattern of forced displacement of people by God is in the whole narrative of Scripture. It is an essential part of His global plan for the redemption of mankind which brings glory and honour to Him.

Does God bring destruction and calamity? Does our loving and gracious God cause disasters to occur in the world?     Read these words God spoke to Noah:

I have determined to make an end of all flesh for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold I will destroy them with the earthGenesis 6:13,

God destroyed that He might save. God saved Noah and His family that He might preserve the line of His coming Redeemer.

What about the TOWER OF BABEL: Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:3-4

Once again we see a massive disaster brought about by God, which caused massive migration and displacement of people: the foundation of the nations that exist today. A refugee crisis on a much larger scale than today.

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives (eternal life).” Luke 21:17-19

Covid 19 is another of God’s major disrupters. The church needs to recognise that we are in a time when God is doing something new. Therefore, it is a time to get into prayer to seek His leading, just as the church at Antioch did in Paul’s day. Those that read my posts know I believe the church in the prophesied “last days” before Jesus returns to take His Saints to heaven and before He pours out His wrath upon a world which is fast becoming as it was in Noah’s day, will be much like the early church as described in the Book of Acts. It is one of the reasons I am supporting the Kenya House Church Movement (KHC) and I am hoping that some of my followers will join me in that endeavour. None have done so as yet, but that is OK, God’s timing is always perfect. My next post will be an update on KHC.

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES

This extremely simple presentation on a napkin outlines what church is all about, what it is designed to do and then explains what the institutional church has added which has made it extremely difficult for it to accomplish what Jesus designed for it to do.