Acting on God’s word
Are there other ways of ‘doing Church’?
Of course, this should not be just about special events and conferences. I would suggest that ideally we should be moving towards making Freedom in the Spirit a natural way of life for you and those whom you fellowship with. How can we get this to work?
Well it’s quite easy really for those who embrace Hebraic thinking. If you agree with our three principles of honouring God, reflecting Jesus and engaging the Holy Spirit then you would want to both live your lives according to these principles but also to worship and fellowship in an environment that encourages this as the normal Christian life.
The challenge is to be an agent for change in the environment in which you find yourself. So let us look at the possibilities:
For whatever reason you may be a lone worshipper. Perhaps you are housebound or a new believer who hasn’t yet taken the plunge of ‘other people’ or perhaps you have left your church? The one missing element for you is the absence of others, which makes it hard to be transactional, unless you are part of a ‘virtual’ community on the web. The absence of others can be a mixed blessing, the lack of encouragement and engagement with the real world on the one hand, but perhaps the lack of distraction on the other. You can most usefully deal with this period of your life by developing your relationship with God, through prayer and study of His Word. Freedom in the Spirit still applies through your own created environment and the only issue is your own self-discipline.
Perhaps the only fellowship you get is with a small group of people in a living room. Some would call this a house church, but labels aren’t really necessary, you are simply a church (called out ones) meeting in a house. If you are truly on a shared journey then there are some real benefits in taking on some of the elements of Freedom in the Spirit. You undoubtedly study the Word and pray together and get the opportunity to debate your findings and share testimonies. One aspect that you may not have already considered is the exercising of the creative arts. For creative people, a shared exercise, whether just doodling, or painting, pottery or writing, can stimulate your faith and take you into unexpected areas. God is in all these things, we must not exclude Him from any aspect of our lives and our worship derives from all parts of us that we give back to Him, not just the exercising of our vocal chords. Even if just one of the group has a ‘creative bent’, there is no reason why he or she can’t contribute to proceedings through the written word or art. At our last conference a lady was given a vision for Monica and me and, rather than just explain it in words, she painted it there and then, providing us with something we will cherish forever.
Most of us are in some form of formal fellowship. The 64 million dollar question is how we can introduce these new ideas in the most effective way. The first observation on this is that the Church in general is quite reactionary, suspicious of ‘new ways’; we’ve done it this way for hundreds of years, why on earth should we change? It is right to want to protect something precious, but it’s not right if there is a clear leading from the Holy Spirit that is being ignored. This is the responsibility of the leadership and it’s an awesome responsibility. And this brings me to a very important point …
Are you a gatekeeper or do you have any influence with the gatekeeper? This is a strong term to use and perhaps not applicable in your case, but gatekeepers and their keys have often been a scourge of the Church. These are not the keys to the Kingdom but rather the keys to their kingdom. They are the clergy. If you have read my book, How the Church Lost the Way you will see how the clergy/laity divide is an artificial construct brought about through the influence of Platonism in the early Church. Some are, of course, called to leadership, but some in leadership are not fulfilling a calling, but often something else – perhaps an ambition, the need for power or recognition perhaps. These are the gatekeepers I speak about. They will often want to preserve the ‘status quo’ and could react strongly to any strange ideas from the ‘laity’, particularly if there’s a hint of unacceptable change i.e. anything that could take the church into an uncomfortable new direction. Often it is church structure that has created this situation, rather than the gatekeepers themselves, through strict guidelines and work practices, enforced by the security of a salary, a pension and/or a tied house. But is this what God had in mind when He told Simon Peter He was going to build His Church?
This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp