Unity? On what basis?
I believe it is clear that God desires a new expression of Church today. The tired, man-made, tradition-bound system of “church” buildings, committees, clergy, ritualistic Sunday gatherings, etc., is just too far removed from His written Word, and too far out of touch with the needs of people today.
I am a die-hard optimist. By nature, I usually see the best in people, I sympathize with and overlook their shortcomings, and I tend to put hope in them long after others write them off as hopeless. Where it comes to the possibility that the leaders of “churchianity” can lead our institutions to change from the inside-out, my hope is fast fading.
My pastors have always been my heroes. But for the intervention of God, I nearly followed their footsteps to seminary and professional pulpiteering. I have great respect for the giftedness, passion and sincerity of most “church” leaders I know. I am thankful for my Sunday School and confirmation experiences. Many old hymns, modern praise songs, liturgical prayers, and fiery sermons can still stir me to spiritual euphoria.
But I realize now that my fondness for these things is borne from tradition, and that not one of these things has any relation whatsoever to that which God calls Church. From pastors to pews, from steeples to “services,” and from committees to pre-fab curriculums, every single thing we know as “church” is manmade, and virtually all of it comes from our forefathers’ efforts to emulate the practices of paganism.
As the Lord has brought me on a long-term journey of gradual understanding of these things, I’ve had great hope that my friends and heroes who are stuck in churchianity would be similarly motivated to pursue God’s truth, and would allow Him to lead us together to make the changes He desires in how we relate and function as His Body.
I’ve patiently and passionately sought to speak cautiously when called upon, bite my tongue when necessary, encourage, edify, and gently correct at the appropriate times. I’ve sat quietly, sung along, and prayed much. I don’t know, maybe God has led me down this trail so I could see that there indeed is no point in hoping for true reformation and revival to come from within the “churchianity industrial complex.”
What I’ve consistently seen is this: Even the most “non-traditional” leaders in “church” today are so personally invested in the status quo that they believe “unity” is found in everyone agreeing to do things “the pastor’s way.” This is something they just can’t seem to let go of. If we could all just act like we enjoy the music, his sermons and the flow of the “service,” then everything would be peaches and cream. If folks would come to their senses and sign up to give their time to the committee positions he deems necessary, then the work of the “ministry” could finally get some traction. If we all grew up and put ten percent of our income in his offering plate, then God could really get something done around here.
In this setting, it’s perceived as “divisive” for “church members,” outside of his earshot, to discuss any alternative ways of functioning. (“If you don’t like the way we do things, then you should just leave…,” is the general mantra. Does this attitude please God?) In this setting, activities not sanctioned by the Central Coordinating Committee (by whatever formal title it goes by) are rarely considered to be true ministry.
And sadly, in this setting, the headship of Christ is a foreign concept.
When the Apostle Paul spoke about unity, he talked about unity of the Spirit, and unity of the faith. He did not talk about nor seek to establish unity in the gathering format, or music styles, or committee structure, or the “clergy’s” way of organizing things. He knew that we can only grow together when we are each – individually and communally – growing into the headship of Christ.
If we take Jesus as our model – the Man who said that He came to bring not peace but a sword – then we get a glimpse of what Paul meant. The only unity Jesus practiced was grounded upon the truth of God’s Kingdom. He spoke vehemently against the Pharisees who sought “unity” through religious practices.
We should seek unity in truth, and nothing less. If the truth threatens the “church,” then maybe that “church” needs to be threatened!
I say it’s time we all spoke openly about the status quo, and whether it is indeed the best way we can honor God with our time, talents and treasures. Questioning the “order of service,” or the style of music, or the organizational structure, or committee decisions, or how the “church board” was selected or put in charge in the first place, is not a personal attack on anyone, so why should it be taken as such? Why should truth-seeking people who are hungry to please God be wrongly maligned as divisive gossips?
If this truly is God’s work, then let God’s people talk about it. Let’s get it out in the open! Let’s let the Spirit move! Let’s search for the truth together, so that we can unify around it! What are we afraid of?
If enough of us engage in productive, healthy, God-pleasing (yet possibly tradition-threatening) dialogue, then something’s gotta give. If “they” kick us out of their “church,” then fine; we must trust God has a better way for us to get together, and trust His Spirit to lead us there.
What we can’t do is wait indefinitely for them to “get it.” Because, as history shows, they’re just not gonna. They’d rather crucify us first.
– You are the salt of the world. Stay salty, my friends!
Posted on July 12, 2012, in Churchianity, Ministry Uprising, The Living God and tagged church, churchianity, heresy, holy spirit, ministry, organic church, religion. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.