God wants to raise up a new wineskin‚ a new structure for the Holy Spirit in this generation‚ so that not only we will see Him win this generation‚ but it will have a deep impact on the generations to come.
I’m convinced we’re in the middle of the greatest change in the way we “do” “church” since the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. It will lead to redefining and in fact restoring fully what the Reformation of the Middle Ages and 500 years of Western Christendom managed to reform only half-way.
God wants to restore His Body on the earth so that He can fully demonstrate His Kingdom. Regardless of the incredible impact the Reformation of the Middle Ages had on the world‚ including the rise of the Western Civilization‚ it failed to fully restore Abrahamic‚ or covenant based‚ Spirit empowered Christianity. The model of “a holy man in a holy building on a holy day performing holy rituals” cannot sustain the Western civilization and the changes it has been experiencing in its post-modern‚ post-Christian era.
My conviction is that just modifying the same old-same old‚ simply won’t work. If dead‚ ritual based Christianity could have done it‚ we won’t be where we’re at today. If the modern‚ slick‚ super-size-me mega churches could have done it‚ we wouldn’t be where are today in terms of our spiritual‚ moral and societal irrelevancy.
A radical‚ game-changing move is in order. What will it be?
Jesus came declaring that the old temple was done away with and a new temple was coming‚ the temple of His Body. It’s been 2‚000 years of struggling to see this new body raised up as it was always meant to be. We’ve seen pockets of the glory throughout history. But we have yet to see the restoration of His ekklesia – His governing Body in the earth‚ called to transform people‚ families‚ communities‚ cities‚ nations. We continue to witness the religious world either fully compromising and becoming an extension of the state (serfdom)‚ or fully disconnecting into a parallel universe of its own‚ only preaching personal salvation‚ refusing to become engaged in the world we’re living in.
None of this was ever God’s will and He wants to [finally] do something about it. It will take people who will get on board with him.
After over a decade of waiting for this reformation to become affected from the top-down‚ I have no illusions that this will ever happen that way.
The institutional church is too vested in its socio-economic model. It will be a long time before we see it dismantling itself and pushing the reset button. Institutions don’t see anything good in a confrontation – they are the guardians of the status quo‚ the ultimate guarantor of the illusion of safety. Thus‚ the Institutional Church rejects the prophets‚ the word of Lord and the sent ones (the apostolos). We must learn how to forgive the people in that system‚ but also how not to be naive as to how rigid and unwilling to change is the core.
What I see is a completely different model – call it primitive or simple Christianity‚ the taxonomy is the not the most importnat issue here. This kind of Christianity is made up of people whose eyes have been opened to how the Institutional Church functions and how deeply inadequate it is in regards to the purpose of God.
This basic‚ simple or primitive Christianity is solidly founded on the teachings of Jesus and his apostles. It seeks zealously to preserve the original “source code” of the Truth give to us by Scripture‚ as well as confirmed by the writings of the Early Fathers and the historic doctrines of Christianity. Thus‚ the continuity of the spiritual heritage of the Church is preserved.
But to this simple‚ basic Christianity‚ the forms are completely open. This is why I call it “Open Source Christianity” – founded on the the non-negotiable Truth of Jesus in its core but extremely flexible to adapt in its forms.
I see the micro-church as the building block of Open Source Christianity. A micro-church is a small unit of believers who together make up a functional spiritual body. Its main focus is seeking Jesus Christ‚ His presence‚ power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It’s also sharing life‚ worshipping together‚ being discipled together‚ supporting each other‚ reaching out to others‚ etc.
Ideally‚ a micro-church is led by a leader who has been equipped how to form such community‚ how to lead and nurture it‚ how to build up believers and multiply the work. The leader forms a small core of 2 or 3 others‚ who assist in the work and who are being also mentored and prepared to possibly be released as leaders of their own in due time.
Integral to this paradigm is the apostolic team‚ which consists of a mature body of five-fold leaders not unlike what we see in Acts 1’. The apostolic team identifies leaders‚ equips them‚ ministers to them and releases them in their ministry and territorial assignments.
The apostolic team carries the DNA of the work and ensures the spiritual health and continuity of the work. It oversees but it doesn’t micro-manage the micro-churches. Periodically‚ all micro-churches come together for a time of common worship experience‚ as well as sharing testimonies‚ receiving teaching‚ coordinating efforts in the city‚ etc.
All micro-churches in a given region form an ekklesia‚ or one spiritual body which moves together in terms of the strategies of God on a region (city) level.
Each micro-church might have it’s own name‚ but the whole body of micro-churches can be known by a single name‚ which will consolidate the efforts of the apostolic team under the banner of a clear Kingdom vision.
This city-level ekklesia‚ with multiple micro-churches who are self-sustained spiritual bodies of their own‚ but who are part of one city-wide ekklesia‚ can become extremely healthy (due to the fact that discipleship and relationships are within the context of a smaller community) and at the same time very influential and capable to executing city and international level Kingdom strategies.
Due to the fact that the majority of leaders of micro-churches will remain bi-vocational‚ the economic advantage of such model far surpasses the institutional church model‚ which sees church buildings as its hallmark achievement and seal of success.
In fact‚ if a city-wide ekklesia made up of multiple micro-churches would pursue building projects‚ those can be targeted such buildings designed for optimal use‚ such as education‚ training‚ charity‚ cultural centers‚ coffee shops‚ etc. Anything makes more sense than a huge structure that remains empty most of the time.
Another benefit of the micro-churches is a much greater sense of ownership of the ministry. While contributing to the apostolic body‚ the ekklesia‚ the micro-churches must oversee their own finances and be able to execute its own projects‚ outreaches and charity. This could never be achieved in a conventional model‚ where money is centrally managed and the leadership works extra hard to assure the people all the time that their money is spent well‚ but in reality most people never have a sense of a direct involvement with what they give.
I have tried in the 1206 words above (and without any Scripture at this point)‚ to describe the vision the Lord has given me for his work in the earth. Inevitably‚ this May come across as over-simplified and naive. It is not.
I’ve arrive at these convictions based on what I see in the Word of God and based on my experience as someone who has both planted and help plant and nurture churches through the years. I’ve carefully observed the way church is done by different ministries around the world.
Ultimately‚ it boils down to this – the preaching of the Gospel and the work of God doesn’t end with the proclamation of His Name and when people respond to the call of salvation. In fact‚ that’s only the beginning. How someone’s life will turn out depends a lot on who influences‚ disciples and launches you in your calling. Or who doesn’t.
In fact‚ it’s fully possible for a whole generation to be lost due to the way church is done! That’s how important are these matters!
Discerning the whole Body of Christ is imperative. It’s also important to raise up healthy‚ functional churches that defy the cultural trends and like a small David‚ are willing and able to deal with the Goliaths of our post-Christian era.
Jesus wants everyone saved‚ healed‚ delivered‚ equipped for the work of ministry. Many claim they are building churches who do this‚ but when we examine what they are really are doing‚ we find out that the institutional church (be it Baptist‚ Pentecostal‚ Charismatic or of whatever denomination or non-denomination) has failed over and over again to carry out this fundamental task of what the Church was always meant to be.
It’s time we got down to ground zero of what our Christianity is all about‚ what the essence of it is and what are the forms that will accomodate and release the presence of God for maximum impact in our generation.