Over the past few weeks we’ve been searching the Scriptures and discussing what it means to:

– Be a Christian

– Follow Christ

– Be a disciple of Christ

– Reproduce spiritually

Starting from John 6:60-68, we’ve had some great input about what or who a “follower of Jesus” is or does.  How do they act?  What do they say?  How, when, and where do they relate to those who don’t yet know the Lord Jesus?  Why?  What’s their worldview?  What are their core beliefs, values, perspectives, priorities?  Is being a “follower” of Christ different from being a “disciple”?  How?

Here’s an interesting perspective  from Haggai and Matthew 28:18-20 posted by Don Davis.  It’s titled Simple Discipleship – Where to Start.

The author of this intriguing post asserts that what most Christians consider “discipleship” or “disciple training” = “ministry training” = developing a set of skills and abilities.  He writes:

The problem with skill based discipleship is that the Church is filled with people whose value is determined by what they do rather than who they are. Their identity is determined by a position in ministry rather than their position in Christ. Therefore you have a highly skilled church that has very little interaction with God and are susceptible to moral failure, chronic disappointment, and an inflated ego that serves self (“my ministry”) rather than others.

Something to think about, huh?  He continues:

The solution is to make disciples through relationships rather than academics; using their life experiences, tragedies, and victories of life. Life itself would serve as the lessons and the curriculum would be provided by searching the scriptures and determining what the Lord says regarding what is happening from day to day. By teaching the disciple to relate their situations to the Word of God and in the context of the gospel of the Kingdom, the disciple’s relationship to the Lord grows deeper and they are able to withstand life in this fallen world in victory and be an example of a disciple of Jesus. …

Training and preparing disciples in ministry skills is important and should not be neglected, but it should never be considered the goal of discipleship. Discipleship’s goal is to transform our lives so that we are like Jesus, imitators of Him, obedient to Him. This must be in the area of how we live, our character and how we respond to life and apply the truth of His Word to those situations. Therefore we must be able to hear the voice of our Lord.

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Is “simple church” a “cop-out”?  Is it a place where disgruntled ex-parishioners meet to whine and complain about their last church experience?  Is simple church for people who don’t want to “take responsibility” for their church and relationships?  Is it a place to hide, be anonymous and flakey?

See: “Simple Church Responsibility” with Floyd McClung.

I visited a local church web site the other day.   “The web site has been recently updated” Lois enthused.  “Lots of cool stuff here.  XYZ Church is one happenin’ place!”

 

And that may be so.  But I had to wonder, based on what the web site communicated, perhaps inadvertently.

 

The home page featured one slide after another of … the building.  Four walls and a roof.  Now, it’s a beautiful building, no question.  Vaunted ceilings.  Stained-glass windows.  Professional landscaping.  Photos of the interior showed more of the same.  Plush carpet.  Color-coordinated decor.  A state-of-the-art sound system.

 

This outfit had obviously spent considerable thought and no small sum of money to look good.  The home page also listed service times, upcoming events and a welcome message.

 

What struck me, however, was the lack of people.  I mean, not a single face appeared on the entire home page.   Not one.  Every single photo pictured a building from various angles, inside and out.

 

Is that what we’ve settled for, “church” as four walls and a roof?  How does that square with the New Testament model?

Some “church” contexts have gotten some complicated and flashy that it takes a “professional” – sometimes a team of “professionals” to ‘do church.’

Is that the biblical model?  Did Jesus say, “Professionals only need apply.”  Have we gotten some comfortable in our Sunday morning “holy huddles” that we’ve missed the heart of His message?

“The arrangement and mood of the building conditions the congregation toward passivity.  The pulpit platform acts like a stage, and the congregation occupies the theater.  In short, Christian architecture has stalemated the functioning of God’s people since it was born in the fourth century.” – Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity

Have we become so used to tending the “shoreline” that we’ve missed the deep water of walking with Jesus?

How about “church” in a family-type setting rather than an “institutionalized” one?  How about meeting in homes, living rooms, coffee shops, parks, or wherever the people are?  How about “lowering the bar of how we ‘do church’ and raising the bar of what it means to be a disciple?  How about being Jesus’ “hands and feet” wherever we are, instead of for an hour a week inside a building with a steeple on top?

“I love Jesus, I can’t keep on doing church the way I always have.”

 

Is there something more?

 

What about sharing life, rather than 90 minutes a week?

What about room for everyone to serve, not just an elite few?

How about “church” that isn’t a building with a steeple on top, but real people meeting real needs, mixing and mingling in their communities, to the glory of God?

 

A perceptive post by Frank Viola, Rethinking Christian Unity, includes this line:

“I have often said that sectarianism, elitism, and exclusiveness are like body odor. Everyone else can smell it except those who have it.’

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