December 16, 2007 Matthew

The Latest Reformation

To accomplish the Great Commission, the church must disciple all the nations and peoples. But how is this done? Can we finish the task if we are limiting ourselves to building traditional church halls and then praying that people enter therein, and not only people, but Jesus himself as well? The fact is, this method has not discipled nations very well. Does that mean then, that Jesus has failed in building his church like he said he would? Surely not.
Jesus is, in fact, building his church. But how? When we read with open eyes the New Testament, we can see those terms very clearly. For many centuries Christians have worked very hard in many ways in seeking the discipling of the nations. Often, however, it gets caught up in a politicized and dysfunctional mess of methods and plans of trying to do that. The plans never seem to work, and the methods always seem to fall short. It has seen it’s share of power hungry church leaders and disillusioned ‘church-starters’. Many ask, “maybe we’re doing something wrong?” If we were to see what Jesus has been blessing and building himself, maybe we would we be more apt to reconsider our ways.

In a number of missionary movements and organizations around the world the key term used is saturation church-planting, or church planting movements. You’ll be pleased to know it was not the invention of any man or organization. It was Christ’s doing from the beginning. It is a method that seems to work very well without the need for being controlled or administered by man. Christ builds his own church. Sounds pretty good so far, but that’s only the beginning.

Man is very capable of pouring lots of energy and resources into things to make things work, but he cannot build the church, no matter how hard he tries. So why are we pushing Jesus out of the picture and trying to take over his job? In a powerful statement by our brother Ezekiel, found in chapter 16 of his book, we see a faithless Bride forsaking God and trying to do things on her own—and the result is a mess.

In my personal observations, study, and travels around the world, where I have experienced the church in its many diverse facets as well as movements, and the presence of God, I feel I have come to be slightly aware of where God is not moving, and not manifestly present—despite what a lot of us would like to think. Sacrifices and oblations do not automatically mean God shows up. It is obedience. Obedience. To obey is better than sacrifice!
It is in this obedience that we find Christ moving and building his church.

Saturation church planting is church growth sidewards rather than upwards. What sense does it make to stack people up on top of each other and call it church? It is simply not natural. Instead what is natural is spreading the church. This means the simplest and most effective way of discipling nations is by the ‘multiplication’ of the Holy Spirit through the home.

[pullthis]What is being called the “next reformation” is a movement of God in bringing the church back into the home. Not taking it away from the pulpit or auditorium, just bringing it back to the home.[/pullthis] In other words, he is turning the church right side up. You will notice that when we read in Acts about the Christians gathering on Solomon’s Porch in great numbers and elsewhere that it happens in the homes, and, on the porch. In the last 60 years this reformation has been happening around the world. In the last 10 years it has been happening all over America.

In our backward ways we have tried to expand the Kingdom of God by making through then homes will somehow naturally follow. But there is nothing natural about a plan like that. Who in their right mind starts a kingdom by building a castle or city hall first? It doesn’t work, nor can it work. The home is where the heart is, right? Once the homes are established, and grow to be many, then you have a Kingdom. Not the other way around. But since the time of Constantine, this movement of the Holy Spirit appears to have been undermined when it was all turned upside down—when the church was confined into an over-institutionalized and politicized civic form taking after paganism and some of the elements of the Old Testament.

The paganistic taint of this backwardness is interesting. If our prayer life in the closet or our home, it is greatly rewarded by God. However if it is limited to public gatherings, we’ve received our reward have we not?

Consider the pagan ways of man (including the Jews who didn’t understand the temporality and shadow of the Old Testament mandate) since the beginning of the world, with the revolutionary religion that Jesus proclaimed with the coming of his Kingdom:

Paganism/Ritual: religion is sanctioned in temples, ritual and ceremony exclusive to temples; begins and ends with the temple. Little more than a show.

Religion of Jesus: religion is in the home and closet; begins in a private place; not for show. Matthew 6:6

Paganism/Ritual: Set-apart hours or days, places and objects, separation between sacred and secular

Religion of Jesus: set-apart lives (the Way of life), no dichotomy of sacred and secular

This “religion” of Jesus was to be rooted in the private life.