My primary question to the Lord during this time of prayer and fasting has been “What is your church supposed to look like?”
Well, He is answering and I am processing what I am hearing. Why would I even ask such a question? I believe the question was placed in my heart by the Holy Spirit and is one of those things that He will often do when He is wanting us to dig into Him to find truth. It’s much like when He asked Hagar, “What is the matter with you?” (Gen 21:17), or when He asked Moses “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). He obviously knew the answer, but they needed to look inside of their hearts for the revelation of that truth.
So what is the church suppose to look like? First, it is suppose to look like Jesus since it is His Body. But I don’t really see that being the case. Instead of one body with many members, I see many “bodies” that have been “dis-membered”. Instead of unity of purpose and motive, I see little unity and questionable motives. Instead of Christ being the head, I see Christ is given little if any voice in how the church is run. And what about the concept of the “priesthood of the believer”? Is that really the case? I don’t think so. This may be taught, but not truly lived out in experience in the church at large.
To even think that the church, as we know it today, is not the will of God would seem blasphemous to some to even consider. In Frank Viola’s book “Reimagining Church“, he gives us this quote: “A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” (Dresden James)
Why would someone care, after all hasn’t it been working so why fix what is not broken? Has it been working? Do we look like Christ? Are we doing the same works that Christ did? Are we in this world as He is? Are we making disciples rather than just converts? Do we see the priesthood of believers as a reality in His church today? The problem is that the church has spiritual DNA that brings life and we have contained it in a religious system that does not support that life. I felt the Lord tell me recently that the reason there is so much “transfer growth” in churches is because we have been trying to maintain life in a dead system. People go to a church for a while and are excited about the newness of it, only to find it boring in a few short weeks or months. So they go somewhere else where it will be exciting for a while. And the pattern repeats. The church is the body and life of Christ which is a life bearing organism. Life cannot be sustained in a sterile, religious system.
We have turned the church into a “spectator sport” rather than a participatory experience where each believer understands he or she can truly be an agent of change in this world. Where is the church that turned the world upside down? (Acts 17:6) I am afraid it was deserted long ago for a “more suitable” model that would further the cause of individuals over the cause of Christ. Many pastors would have to relinquish control and lifestyle to step back into the church that emulates the body of Christ as it should be.
I am still on my journey of discovery and I know that I can never return to the church as it has been. I see the church as a large ship that has been floating a few degrees off course for many years, only to find that today, 2000 years later, we are much further from the true pattern than anyone could have imagined. A large ship must be turned slowly to avoid throwing people off. I spoke with a former naval person recently and expressed this concept to her. She said that when ships needed to be turned, it had to be done slowly and if people were not in the right place on the ship, they would be thrown overboard. It is not the will of God that anyone would perish, so there is a process to get us back on track.
I will continue seeking God and praying. In recent days, I have thought often of Nehemiah and the path he took in restoring the broken walls of Jerusalem. I believe there is a clue to be found in the life and leadership style of Nehemiah. Jeremiah 33:3.
More to come……….