The Nature of “Church”

The church of our Lord is so much more significant than an organization made by men, so much more than a building or a name or a procedure manual; it is the very purpose of God in action. Yet, in this world, such an organization might well prove to be expedient; a useful tool: Fine and dandy.

Yet no denomination or brotherhood of believers that I have ever heard of has any legitimate reason to claim to be the only group of Christ-followers. The church is so much more than that.

Of course you are free to disagree, but in my view, we must train ourselves to stop thinking of church as some kind of an institution, for the reality is that church is not an institution at all; it is movement. When our Lord went through the countryside preaching the Kingdom, He spoke Truth to the people; He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk and drove out demons. The word of what was happening spread like wildfire and the crowds became larger and larger. People came from miles around to hear the Truth, to be healed, to gain sight, to walk, and to be spiritually cleansed; it was a movement that even the authorities could not stop. After His resurrection, He passed the mantle to His disciples, and they did the same, even under persecution, and the movement grew, precisely because it was God’s purpose in action to save humanity from sin and death.

We might wonder why we don’t see such a movement today, a movement that changes hearts and minds for Christ, and that is a fair question for us to ask. The answer I propose is this: Movements change hearts and minds, the movement, the Way, that was the church, changed hearts and minds for Christ, until like all other movements, it stagnated and became an institution that must maintain the status quo instead.

This is why we need a whole new way of thinking about church today; we must begin to see that church is not an institution, but a movement, a movement that changes lives for Christ.

Is church a list of programs, or a set of traditions, ceremonies and pageantry? Does it really matter what style of music you have, or whether or not the preacher (by whatever name) wears robes, a suit or jeans? Is it possible to worship without candles or a certain type of décor? Do we choose a church because of its youth group, its seniors’ ministry or its bowling league?

Ah yes, the most powerful force in the modern church: The way we’ve always done it.

Yet  church as a movement changes lives for Christ. The church as an institution maintains the status quo.

Many of the things in this category are matters of personal preference. When I am at home, what I may prefer gets some attention, but in the Body of Christ, we have a much higher calling than “self”. Our traditions are usually good; they are often the great ideas of an earlier time, but the real question we should ask is whether or not they still contribute to the building of God’s Kingdom. If they do, that’s great. If they don’t they are obsolete and out they go.

Programs are all well and good if they help build the Kingdom, but if they don’t, we need to try something else. To put it another way, we may have many excellent ministries that meet the needs of our community and bring healing and hope for many, and this is a very good thing. We also might have ministries that either never connected with the needs of the community, or that no longer reach the needs of the community, and we mustn’t keep them around for old times’ sake, for that is how a movement begins to stagnate and turn into an institution.

No doubt you can think of many other examples of how “the way we’ve always done things” has held our great movement back. I’m reminded of what John wrote:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Revelation 2:4-5

The great question is this: How do we get back to the Movement Jesus began how do we set the Church free?

6 thoughts on “The Nature of “Church”

  1. Brother, it is so awesome to see someone else step outside of the “box” and tell the children of God or at least those who claim Him as Father, see what the True Church is. I have learned that many today in the “brick and mortar” institutions do not want to hear this and be it far from anyone to actually preach or teach this from the pulpit!
    But our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit IS moving upon the hearts of many and causing them to look around, take measure and then to put aside tradition and take up our crosses and DO! It’s like what Brother Fry wrote in his article on the fields being white and ready for harvest; the church institution has known this for sometime yet it appears as if the harvest is increasing and the workers actually decreasing! With our natural eyes it could be so discouraging but with our spiritual “eyes” we can see why our Lord has gifted the Church and called them to service. The Holy Spirit truly IS gathering the workers together, empowering those who heed the call with strength and endurance and sent us out to do the necessary gleaning. AND we have to start at home, first within ourselves and then to our brothers and sisters who still live in a “box” and not seeing what is necessary to get done!!
    I love your article and I love your writing! I am so looking forward to add my voice to this wonderful endeavor for I see it as one more building block that the Holy Spirit is using to build up the Body of Christ!!!
    God bless you greatly for your service (ministry) and your heart for others!!

    Like

    • Thank you Roland for your kindness and for your service. It is an amazing journey that we are on as we follow our Lord through this life, a journey of challenges and of awesome opportunity. Yes sir, He is doing a mighty work even in our time, and to be a part of it is well worth the price of admission: Welcome aboard!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don, the “movement” as you call it has never stopped, although here in the United States we don’t often see it. It just moved from God residing inside one human body (Jesus inhabited by the Holy Spirit) to many. Believers around the world who obey him – i.e. take him where he wants to go, let him do what he wants to do – see these same activities of God on a regular basis. “When our Lord goes through the countryside preaching the Kingdom, He speaks Truth to the people; He heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, makes the lame walk and drives out demons. The word of what is happening spreads like wildfire and the crowds become larger and larger. People come from miles around to hear the Truth, to be healed, to gain sight, to walk, and to be spiritually cleansed; it is a movement that even the authorities can not stop.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “How do we… ” and “we aren’t seeing it much these days in the West…” Don, I think the HOW is contained in your question. The church is us, all those inhabited by Jesus and Holy Spirit. WE must go where Jesus tells us to go, say what he tells us to say, do what he tells us to do. I see him moving all over the place, but then I fully expect to see it. I see him moving in church services, in doctor’s offices, Burger Kings and Food Lions. Whether attending crowded revival services or conferences, I will see him moving there, performing the same signs and wonders as he always has. I went to my cardiologist’s office last month for a followup visit, arriving at 1:30. The receptionist looked up and said to me, “I couldn’t eat my lunch, my stomach hurts.” I reached out my hand, she took mine, I looked her in the eye and said, “Be healed, stomach.” And it was, at that very moment. Before I left the building, I had laid hands on and prayed for a medical tech, my doctor and his physician’s assistant, for various things. Why? Because I was looking with Jesus’ eyes, listening to his voice, and doing what he wanted to do. (I did ask permission first, as usual – I almost never have anyone say no, they don’t want me to pray for them. Even strangers.) What you didn’t say but may really mean is, how do we see more of it, hundreds and thousands of people receiving miracles, instead of one or two at a time. Well, ask Holy Spirit that question and keep your ears and eyes open for his answer to you. To YOU, yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

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