Tuesday, August 15, 2006



I've had to eat some crow the last few days.

So much of my attitude of late has revolved around feeling that, in general, the contemporary church has it all wrong. The solution, of course, is to go back to the beginning and to re-visit the values and the vision of the early church, before things got so corrupted.

I know that God still loves His Bride as it is today. I know that, by the Grace of God, people are still touched by Him, lives are still transformed and the Gospel is still preached, and often, even actually reflected in the lives of those who call themselves Christian.

But, I have felt frustrated, even angered and deeply disappointed by most of what is called "Christian" today. I do feel that Church has become an event that must be paid for, not a life that must be lived. I am saddened that our churches today focus more on putting butts in the seats than on actually helping people in need, discipling young Christians and putting feet to their faith.

Still, as I said at the top, I have had to eat crow.

What happened was, I was visiting one of the families in the motel this week where our Church has been ministering and I began to see the amazing fruit that has come in their lives. Granted, yes, this compassion ministry into this motel was something I had been working on for over a year, but the recent advances in their spiritual development I can mainly attribute to their involvement in the traditional church I've been part of for 3 years.

Because of the ministry through prayer that these guys received at a recent Sunday morning service, they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They sat and told me about how they had never been to a church like ours before, where people didn't look down on them because of their poverty, where people actually cared for them and shared the love of Jesus in real ways.

"We love our church," they said. "We want to have our kids baptized and we want to come every week now, no more excuses."

I was forced to admit that our church, our contemporary, traditional church, had accomplished something truly amazing in the lives of my friends.

I have to admit that God is able to do whatever He wants with whatever system of worship is available to Him. Whether it's a system that takes its cues from the big business world, or the mega-church model, or the simple, early home church version, God is able to produce fruit and transform lives, no matter what.

Of course, on one level, I 'knew' this already. I haven't ever said or felt that the over-riding methods of "doing church" were evil or bankrupt, although I do feel that changes towards a more relational, community-focused sort of gathering are more likely to impact the culture than the system we've got.

This brings up another subject I want to address. Most of the house churches that I've looked into are characterized by their common hatred of the modern Church system, and most often directly defined by how much they are not like the church they all left to form their gathering in protest.

I really don't want our group to be defined this way. In fact, Wendy and I have promised each other that we will be vigilant to cut anyone off who starts spewing out negative monologs about why we're better or why that "other church" has it all wrong.

What I want is to focus on what we're called to do and to live out the convictions we have, without defining ourselves as an "anti" church.

So, in the future, whenever I write about the failures of the modern church, or critique the methodology of American Christianity, please keep in mind that God is still at work in all of the various forms His Bride might take and that He loves, and redeems, and is completely in love with us all.


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