What did the early Church do with converts?
How can the Church return to the original model?
Christian history is full of new initiatives of getting “back to basics” or “doing what the Acts church would have done”. As a rule these initiatives may have been birthed with the best of intentions, but few (if any) have managed in the long term to recreate the excitement and power of the good ol’ days. In the 1970s and 1980s there was a sudden birth of various house church groupings, taking people out of the traditional denominations to create something new and authentic, based on the model of the early Church. Where are these groups now? They have mostly died out or become denominations themselves, with structures, hierarchies and marketing campaigns.
The reason for their failure is because doing things differently can’t be sustained unless there is an inward passion for change, for thinking differently. There’s no way we can take a Hebraic model (the early Church) and get it to work in a 21st Century culture where the Greek model still reigns supreme. The only way there is any chance of it working is if we take the effort to retrain ourselves as far as it is possible to think Hebraically, to think like the First Century Church, before the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle took hold. We have 1,900 years of conditioning to deal with. Who said this was going to be easy?!
Hebraic Church is an attempt to make a difference. It doesn’t claim to be the answer, but it might be an answer. It might be the first stumbling steps towards something new and lasting, or it might just be a catalyst for others to take the Church to something new and lasting.
The Church may be a corporate entity like a human body (1 Corinthians 12:12), but it’s made up of individuals. That’s you and me, and it is we who need to be thinking differently. The change must initially be with us as individuals. We must move forwards prayerfully and connect with those on the same journey. Then it’s a case of seeing what God does next. But, before we do so, let me take you back to the start of it all.
We are Simon, John or James. Take your pick. We are a cross-section of 1st Century Jewish society. There’s nothing special about us individually, apart from the fact that we are part of a group selected by God to be the first of a new breed, communicators of a new message for mankind. We are typical Jews, forged by the beliefs of that day. Most importantly, we have not yet been touched by the pagan virus of Greek thinking that will start to do its damage in the next generation of believers, something that Paul was soon to warn us about:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8)
My contention is that, as a result of this hollow and deceptive philosophy, there are seven main differences in the way these first believers thought and acted, compared to the majority of us in the Western Church today. And these are the seven main thoughts discussed in the previous few chapters of this book. We will now bring things together.
Starting next week …
This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp