Some folks are really sick of church and don't even want to go any longer. For many, it is irrelevant and life-draining. Engaging with God and his people no longer seems worth the effort.
If you are not attending church regularly, how would you answer the following question?
Church is _____________ and that is why I don't go.
A. Boring (I'd rather watch Good Morning America or Yo MTV Raps.)
B. Unfriendly and Hurtful (To hard to make meaningful friends and feel significant to leadership.)
C. Too Intellectual (All Word and no Spirit)
D. Doesn't Believe What I Believe (Not biblical, or too literal.)
E. All of the Above
Let's say you are one who has refrained from doing the Top 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do, you are pretty serious about Jesus with a strong foundation, but just can't stomach another church service for one or more of the above reasons. What do you do then? Good question.
Possibly you have weathered a desert experience and you still love Jesus, do some praying, listen to worship music, read the Word and give when you can. On the outside you say, isn't that enough? On the inside, you KNOW there's more.
Are you are looking for something refreshing and invigorating? Do you believe God for a drink of living water?
I have written a lot about what's wrong in the church, but today I am going to look forward, and try to provide a framework for what I believe God can use to dig a well - hopefully where you live.
To have a significant church that expresses the fullness of Christ, YOU need vision, perseverance, an apostolic plan (good blog outlining what that is) and some passion to reform your thinking too (I wrote about the HERE).
Let's get started with some bullet points.
- Tag, you're it! You are the church. Some churches are just 2 people and Jesus, others are big and have buildings. Your local church expression depends on you.
- If you can't find a church that God wants you at, then start a new one.
- You need to have vision. What's going to make your new church different from all the rest? (The answer has to be, by following Jesus.)
- The best foundation for a church is the one laid out in Ephesians 4. To get going you'll need prophetic revelation and some sort of apostolic plan - but without good pastoring, teaching and evangelism, you church will not grow to be healthy.
- No one needs titles and it is not necessary to select elders and deacons etc. These roles will fill themselves with prayerful consideration, right-sized egos and godly timing.
- You need to identify your role. You CANNOT be a do-it-all pastor. You will need to surround yourself with at least a few others (eventual elders) to have a balanced team. Staff for your weaknesses, don't try to clone yourself!
Remember, personal burden + previous and current revelation + God's timing = New Church Plant.
Check list for gifting - how do YOU fit in:
- If you have a heart for people's spiritual and physical needs, that's pastoral
- If you have a heart for the lost, that's evangelistic.
- If you just seem to know what God is doing, and have a proven track record, that's prophetic.
- If you have a heart for the church to be functioning on all cylinders and making disciples, that's apostolic.
- If you have a heart for the Word of God, that's teaching.
So what are the elements of the plan?
-1 Vision: A vision that comes from God, and is practical - outside the box is always good if it is God. It is best to write it down, pray over it, and look for a few individuals that feel that God is in it. If you need clearer vision, find the person that you know who always has good ideas about church, and see if they can get some folks to come together. The vision must end up relieving the personal burden, be doable, and most of all has to be God. (Apostolic)
-2 Direction: You need to identify steps that will get you moving towards the fulfillment of the vision. Some will be very practical, but others will need to be by revelation. How will you choose one location over another? How will the vision be accomplished when obstacles arise? You need supernatural wisdom and revelation. (Prophetic)
-3 Meeting Community Needs: The most important reason for a local church is so that folks in your local can experience Jesus, his love, and become His disciples; hopefully replicating the vision over and over. (Pastoral)
The church must begin to meet the personal and spiritual needs of the community - not the religious fascinations of a few.
Here is the point in which a church is established - when 2 or more come together in His name. There are lots of practical things to be done: Format for the services; 1 Corinthians is a good place to start, meeting places, buildings, tax issues, worship team etc. I am a big fan of leadership getting paid, but never by salary. Love offerings are the way to go. (Pastoral)
-4 Reaching the Lost: A new church will probably attract other Christians at first, but beware, the purpose of church is ultimately to preach the Gospel message and reach the lost. There are lots of opinions on how the first year should go in a church plant, but all the members need to be looking for opportunities to share the gospel. (Evangelism) No church is going to survive without reaching the lost. God is not looking to create another Christian Ghetto for unsatisfied believers from other churches to hop to - He wants to reap the harvest.
-5 Teaching: All disciples will need to be taught. There are some folks that are excellent teachers, and they are not always pastors. The 5-Fold ministers are mandated to equip the others, while the teachers will bring insightful teaching to many aspects of the Christian life from relationship to marriage, addiction, victory and supporting doctrine.
The 5-fold roles will initially be the elders of the church. Eventually, the prophet and apostle will be moved on to another work in another location. The maturing church will probably replace them with additional teachers, evangelists or pastors. The apostle and prophet will hopefully have built a meaningful rapport with the pastor, and his resident elder-ship of evangelist(s) and teachers(s). In the same way that Paul the apostle wrote letters, they will keep in touch, be prayerful and supportive as the Lord sees fit.
The apostolic process is exciting - well, for the apostolic types. For everyone else it is a real adventure in faith.
Are you with me? Tell me what you think! And if you don't comment, at least vote!
There is much more about this HERE.