I firmly believe that the church needs to do two things in the Kingdom. The first is connecting people to Jesus and other is connecting people to each other. The real question is how is business?
Connecting people to Jesus is a very important task. I recently was at a growing church-- they have doubled in size in the last six or eight months. Wow! What are they doing right? Honestly, I am not sure. It appears to me to be another "Christian Ghetto." You know, a bunch of disgruntled Christians who go to another church because they are not connecting with Jesus and/or other people at the past church (or two or three).
I have a friend that thinks it is time for a whole new church model. Me, I think we need to look at the core issues, and fix those. Once that is done, a living breathing church will always result.
John the Apostle wrote to the churches in the book of Revelation, as did Paul in all of his epistles. Each writer basically said these are the principals of doing it right, and here is what you are doing wrong. These were guys that saw Jesus doing it!
1 Corinthians says, we are a body made of many parts, and they should be present in the church in this way, and here is how to use those parts effectively. John wrote to churches that had lost their passion for Jesus, and others that had grown lukewarm. Some of that blazing fire settling down to glowing embers is good. But we also need to fan the flames of passion and love for Jesus and each other. What are we afraid of, God acting in some unusual supernatural way?
In the book of Acts (a description of an age we are still in today) people lived in a communal arrangement because: it was safer, God was very powerfully at work, and they were people of relationship and power. That's right, relationship and power. It should be at the core of all that the church does. How far off are we? Well, most of us probably don't know someone that was martyred for Christ. And that same type of person, the kind that would lay down their life for us, where are they in the church? You see, salvation is so incredible that we should be looking forward to Heaven more then we do whatever is going on here on earth. What restrains us? The love of Christ and those that need it.
We need people that will lay down their lives, not just show up and over achieve in the house of God. It has to be people that are led by the Spirit. How do we make disciples that are led by the Spirit? We play a little worship for them and give our best sermon once a week and get them to a small group on Thursday. Done. Right? That format is crazy. You might be thinking, if we can just get people to pray, show up on Sunday and read the word, we're good. Honestly, that kind of thinking is the problem. We can't do a bunch of religious acts and expect to connect to God. We need His Spirit, we needs His gifting and anointing and we need desperately to hear His voice in our lives, and for the future of the church.
We have to connect with Jesus, we need to be in His presence. Just because the word says He'll be there doesn't mean that He will automatically manifest His presence. The manifest presence of God (not the abiding presence) is essential in getting to know Him. If He doesn't show up, we're not going to get anything out our religious acts. Nothing happens apart from the presence of God. We can't know what he wants us to do unless we hear His voice. We can try, like the rich man, to obey all the commandments, but He'll never have our hearts that way. And worst of all, we won't see what the Father is doing, never mind do it!
I have been in ministry on and off for about 11 years. The thing that I find the most difficult is to NOT do that which I am good at, but to let His grace and power flow through me doing the very things that only He can. Being and effective Christian does not take talent, it takes knowing Him and learning to let His spirit manifest Him, though us.
To have an impact on those that do not know Christ we need to be Jesus for them... well at least until He can be. Without power and wisdom from Heaven we can't do anything except engage in some intellectual philosophy which is not God either. I am not saying we don't need to think, but that we need to hear God and do it. We need His word living in us, not in the dry pages of a book.
So here it is again.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. -Matthew 28:18-20
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
A gospel without power is no gospel at all, it's simply a philosophy.