Monday, May 12, 2008

WE'RE THE CHURCH WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR

This weekend I had an opportunity to encourage someone from a church in New Mexico that is undergoing a transformation. At this point it's either a transformation into a brand new community of faith, or it's a transformation into scattered individuals who no longer call themselves a church.

The church where Charles attends has collapsed under the weight of trying to operate according to a corporate business model. At one time they were a large church of hundreds of people. Today, for various reasons, they are a mere handful of families and individuals left wondering what to do next.

FOR LOVE OR MONEY?
Because of the severely reduced weekly offering at the church the pastoral staff had to resign and seek employment elsewhere. Now Charles and his friend are trying, as lay-leaders, to re-envision a remnant about what it means to be the Church.

I can't help but wonder if we want leaders who cease to serve and teach and pastor when we stop paying them to do so. What if we had pastors who couldn't help but love and teach and serve and encourage the Body? What if it had nothing to do with a salary or status?

WHAT REALLY MATTERS
My friend Charles and I talked quite a bit over the phone about things like non-profit status, questions of spiritual covering and how to handle children in a smaller house church setting. I shared my opinions and provided some examples of how our house church has resolved these various issues and concerns.

The most amazing thing was at the end of the phone call when I asked if we could pray together for the future of this Church. As I prayed I felt the Holy Spirit begin to speak through my feeble intellect and encourage us both in the process we were undertaking.

Basically the prayer was that the people who comprise this failed venture in New Mexico would give up on the idea of building a Church so that God could build His Church using them as the materials.

1 Peter 2:5 "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

NOTHING NEW
That idea isn't a new one to me. I know I'm constantly saying that God is teaching us to "Be the Church" rather than attend one. But for some reason, after sharing my limited wisdom with Charles over the phone on Saturday, the simplicity of this prayer and the revelation from God to both of us as to what this is all about was very humbling and encouraging to me.

At the core I believe that God is in the process of removing the structures that we have put in place in order to re-ignite His Bride. I believe God is trying to get us to see that He is not in the structure. He is not in the man-made building or in the programs that separate us from Him. He wants His Bride back and He is willing to knock down anything that comes in His way- even if it's something we've built in His name.

So, I would ask you to take a second and breathe a short prayer for my friend Charles and this Church in New Mexico that is standing now on the edge of a wonderful transformation into what could be the most exciting stage of their entire spiritual journey: Being the Church!

Amen.
-kg

1 comment:

abraham's bosom said...

rev keef,
i wanted to thank you for the wonderful conversation we had this weekend.
i was in san francisco performing the book of mark at a theater called "the garage". even though i was spending a few hours a day mingling with the text, and in heavy prayer,
it was hard for me to be away from my church during this crucial period of crisis.
you discussed many things with me, but i wanted you to know how lifted i was by your prayer. some strength and goodness poured out of the phone and into my spirit.
i realized how much i love and need to be in the company of others
in the act of prayer.
i felt a significant buzz as i hung up the phone, truly energized, and knowing that prayer is a dish best enjoyed with others.
i am home in new mexico at the moment, and my bible study class will be here soon. i will be sharing our conversation. tomorrow i again head out for the bay and wrestle with God and mark somewhere on market street, but my heart will be much lighter on this trip out.
thank you again,
grace and peace.
chas