- That our current one-size-fits-all model of church infers that there is one right way to corporately relate to God
- We know that like-mindedness is a powerful thing, and that it’s crucial to know that what you’re believing corporately is indeed true
- That there is no one answer, just as as there is no one-size-fits-all model, because we were not created en-masse to be the same, we were created individually, by-hand.
- That not all Christians attend a church
- That most individuals who try to change this model usually end up ‘raising a new puppy’ instead of ‘teaching an old dog new tricks’
- That our current model of church creates homogeneous Christians—which is the opposite of how we were created
- That the church lacks vision because vision comes from the individuals, who are discouraged from being ‘different’, and
- that we are created for community, diversity and the Great Commission
The Way-Back Machine
When I read the gospels and the accounts of Jesus’ life here on Earth, I find myself questioning our current model of church. This is taking things waaaay back, so bear with me. Think about it. Where in the gospels or the New Testament do you see church, as in our modern understanding of church? Probably the closest thing I can think of is early in Acts, when you see the people communing together. But even that does not comes close to the way we do church nowadays. Pooling our money and resources? Nope. All being of like-mind under the Spirit? Nope. Today’s Christian church is a series of programmes and initiatives, with a Sunday morning tacked on the back for good measure.
I am failing to see the biblical evidence for the way we do church today. If you’re ambitious, you can piece together bits and pieces from the bible and say this is why, but the fact remains that the only models of church we have in the Bible are the accounts of Jesus’ life with the Apostles and some extracts from the New Testament. There is no central building (oh wait—there was—but that was the Temple, which Jesus did not regard highly), there is no-one leading worship—people worshipped God for themselves. Probably the closest part of our modern church is the teaching—the sermon on the mount, Jesus teaching his Apostles, etc. Though our teaching is scheduled and formalised, we have teaching. Coincidentally, when I do attend church, this is my favourite part.
I’m just trying to set the scene a bit here—there is little biblical evidence to justify our current model of church.
I’m not saying…
I am not saying that we shouldn’t do church. I’m saying that what we’re doing now, in many cases, is all we have. And that of course, there are flaws in it, like anything else us humans have done. I am not saying that Christians shouldn’t share their faith with others, or be a part of a community, or worship together.
What I am saying…
I am saying that Christians should not feel obliged to attend a traditional church. The most important elements of church (learning, fellowship, worship) are easily experienced without going through the motions of the popular model. It is crucial we do not judge others who are not attending a traditional church (if you couldn’t tell, this is a personal pet-peeve). I am saying that worship is first and foremost something between you and God, and secondly something to be shared.
The Fundamental Growth of Church
I believe that, at the end of the day, after all the programmes and worship and everything, that church is something which should not be organised from the top-down. I believe that if the Bible affords us any model of church, it is that church is to be organic in nature—not organised. Churches, I believe, are gathering members for the sake of the organisation / community, but the Bible and human experience shows us that people will become a part of something they believe in without needing to be recruited. In the end, both you and I are responsible for the change in our church communities.
I often think about the potential answers to a particular question:
If all the churches closed their doors—just shut down—what would the people do?
I believe people would realise that they’ve been going along with ‘the programme’ for years without questioning it. I believe people would all-of-a-sudden realise they are responsible for their own faith, their own relationship with God. I believe people would start organising themselves into small groups of like-minded individuals in order to sharpen each-other through teaching and fellowship, and to worship together. I believe the segment of members in more ‘seeker-friendly’ churches who are there for the wrong reasons would not bother seeking out one of these new smaller groups. I believe each person’s walk with God would grow stronger and more genuine.
Ask yourself the question—if all the churches closed their doors today, what would I do? The answer might surprise you.