I have been a follower of Christ for 16 years. Sometimes I've followed closely, and other times I'm ashamed to admit I have followed at a distance, and a time or two, or three, or four... I've been in outright rebellion against my Lord. I suppose Peter would understand me pretty well. My short comings and faults (and there are many) isn't what I want to write about. I want to right about what makes my heart beat faster, what has smitten me, what gives me butterflies in my stomach. Yes I'm going to write about a girl. She is beautiful, The most beautiful woman in all of creation, she surpasses even Eve. When she is present you cant help but stare, her beauty consumes you. She is regal, for Royal blood does flow through her veins. She is compassionate, and loving, helping everybody she can reach, whether rich or poor, and believe it or not this jewel of a woman, this high water mark of all creation is passionate. Helplessly passionate. She loves her man as no other woman has ever loved a man though out all history. She would die for Him, and in a sense, she has. She is also fierce, her ancestry boasts of many warriors. Her skill with a sword is unquestioned. She is all that, and more. Her name is Ecclesia, and she is the Bride of the Living God. She will soon be the wife of the Lamb, and I am a part of her. There is one problem though. Ecclesia is no longer free, as in the days of her youth. Many men have sought to control her, fearing her fierceness, her passion and her unpredictability. Throughout the ages they have chained her with institutionalism. They have bound her with scripted liturgy and agendas. They've tried to control her and make her manageable with police like guards who sit on boards & committees, and some thunder and rage like Zeus from the platform for her to accept their authority over her & to give and obey. Its time for the chains to be broken. Its time for the Spirit that is within her to be unfettered. It is time for her to reclaim her freedom.
As a Christian have you ever questioned why your church is the way it is? Specifically, I mean the form. Why is the sermon the centerpiece of the the Sunday gathering? And why for the most part does one man give it week after week? We could even get into the architecture, why is there a stage, and all the pews/chairs facing it? It reminds me of a cinema. Is that what church is? A show? What I'm getting at is I don't believe "church is done right" and hasn't been for about 1800 years. My belief is that the early churches function and form was completely different than what the churches function and form is today, and that the early churches form and function is what God really desired for his bride.
The meetings I am concerned with here are believers meetings, when the church gathers together on the Lords Day, I'm not referring to evangelistic outreaches, seminars, prayer meetings ministry meetings or apostolic meetings.
Why do we gather? Ask most Christians and the likely answers are going to be:
2.listening to a message or a sermon
None of those is correct. While those things might be present they are not the primary reason for the believers to gather. The bible makes clear that the "church meeting" (believers meeting) is for MUTUAL EDIFICATION. "And let us consider HOW TO STIMULATE ONE ANOTHER to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER, and all the more, as you see that day drawing near." Heb 10:24-25. 1 Cor 14:26 says "What shall we say,brothers? When you come together, EVERYONE has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All these must be done for the STRENGTHENING of the church." See also Heb 3:13,
Rom 14:19 and 1 Thess 5:11. There can be no doubt that mutual edification was the church meetings primary goal, this leads us to the MUTUAL part. How does MUTUAL edification happen if there is one pastor and a passive congregation? How does MUTUAL edification happen from a one way flow of conversation? MONOLOGUE (i.e. a sermon) is NOT conducive to MUTUAL edification, but a dialogue is. Notice in the quote from 1 Cor 14:26, that Everyone had something to bring a hymn. a revelation, a teaching, a tongue an interpretation, it is called every member participation, it was a believers right and duty to contribute something to the meeting. The early Christians also didn't have a "sit and soak mentality" which is so prevalent in Christianity today because of this fact. They weren't expected to be passive little pew sitters but to actually participate in the meetings. Many a pastor has lamented the fact that no matter how hard they try they cant seem to break their congregations out of the sit and soak syndrome, unfortunately most of those pastors never trace the problem back to their profession. The mentality creeps in of "He's the paid professional, let him do it." There were no professional pulpiteers, in the early church there was no clergy. That was another distinctive mark of early Christianity, especially being surrounded by many other religions who all had professional clergy while they had none. To be Continued............ I got a lot o more.