Throughout the New Testament we read how the church was formed under that covenant and we are able to see what Jesus taught. He started with twelve. These 12 men were the beginning of a fire that is still spreading today, however, that fire seems to be diminished. What began through 12 became thousands in a few short years. What was the distance between Jesus and 12 men, became thousands of miles instead of just inches. The Gospel spread and was contagious.
What has happened between the time of the 12 to today? What has changed? Has God changed? Has the Word changed? Or has the message been changed?
Many of us desire to see the power of the book of Acts in our lives. We want to see miracles both of the physical and of the spiritual. We want to see the ‘many’ come to Christ. Where have we fallen short of this great story?
Let’s go back to some of the final words of Jesus himself and what He told us to do. He had a commission, a command if you will, of what the believer is to do. We are to reach the whole world with the Gospel. But how does one person do this? Do we go to church regularly, tithe regularly, go to bible studies and fellowship regularly? (None of those things are wrong.) How do those things spread the Gospel of Christ? What then, do we invite people to church so they can hear the pastor talk about who Jesus is? Do we tell the pastor or deacons who is sick in a hospital or who is in prison who needs to be visited?
I believe the whole church is backwards or inside out in its current structure.
Before you think I am going to condemn churches as a whole, or say pastors are at fault, please hear me out.
What is the pastor’s role according to the Bible?
Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (NAS)
Pastors are to be shepherds of the flock, teachers of the Word. They should be building up and teaching the flock, equipping them to go. The equipped flock will go out and tell others about Jesus, but not to stop there, what was the command Jesus gave His followers? To “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28-19a) – make disciples! How do you make a disciple? Well, what did Jesus do? He said to follow Him. We may not necessarily say it the same way, but if we are following Christ and we can then point to Him and say “follow Him” by my example.
Our discipling should not stop there, it should be on going. We need to teach the new believer how to do the same thing, equip them with the Word, walk with them in the life and stand by them in battle. This may be a weekly time set aside, it could be talking on the phone, it can be showing up when they want to tell someone about Jesus and helping them speak the truth of the Word.
So, if we were to take the church and reverse the flow of thought, instead of people going to church to see the pastor and hear a message that could change you – how about go to church to be equipped to take the Word out to the world? Can we see how 12 men (11 who remained) touched thousands of lives by discipling others? Can we see the multiplication that took place? How about the reverse – can we see the duplication of the pastor being the “go to guy” who may touch and transform a few a year? Which way will actually even keep up with the population growth?
Can we change?
Who needs to change?
Let me suggest that it isn’t necessarily your pastor. (Even though his view of the church may need to be adjusted.) How about I suggest it is me? It is I. The one who needs to go and make disciples of all the nations is me. I need to widen my world view!! I need to think how Christ wanted me to think, bigger than I ever could be! Why? Because then He will do what I can not! Through making disciples I can touch the world!
How big is your vision?
Making disciples is a big part of the work of the church, but I fear that many well intentioned, people that want to serve the Lord, have no idea of what the church is or the purpose of the church is or how it is to function. We have in the church, just as the jewish folk did, begin to follow the traditions of men, well meaning men, and not the the word of the Lord or the clear instructions he has given us, particularly in 1 Cor. 12-15. There are things that MUST be done when the body gathers, or as Paul says, we do more harm than good when we meet. The Lord Almighty has poured out his spirit and gifts to all believers!!! We have left the model set in the 1st four centuries and followed after mens ways and traditions even though the clear admonishment and instructions are right there in front of all believers and elders in the body of Christ. What is the purpose of church…if we are honest with how we live and what we practice we have to answer that it is to hear a sermon, the Sermon has become the only gift apparently given when the body meets….that and the “gift” of song leaders. No wonder the church is so weak and dry and believers are looking for more….I am not talking about more false gifts and pseudo sensational fillings…I’m talking about the clear things that are to be done…. the priesthood of believers, using the gifts to build up, edify, encourage, instruction, rebuke and glorify the Lord who gave these gifts to all believers to be used….
You claim you want to see Jesus…. look to his body…. but I guess all Jesus is a a preacher! Nay, may it never be so… let the teacherS teach, and preachers preach, and healers heal, and prophets proclaim, and hymns be song by all, and words of instruction and encouragement from all believers for the edifying to HIS GLORIOUS BODY…. but let us end this idea that PASTORS alone have all the gifts and they alone lead and use all the gifts….
Let us look to the Holy Spirit to lead all the meetings…
EVERYONE has a word, a song, a testimony…..
ALL These Things MUST BE DONE….
ALL THESE THINGS ARE NOT DONE because we only have the tradition of churches and men and have not followed the word of the Lord….
Until then…. nothing wrong with a sermon…. but that ain’t church folks!
When the Word has clear teachings I see no way we can pretend that our traditions override what the Lord Says!
Amen Lord Jesus… be glorified in your body through all your gifts and the pouring out of your SPIRIT for the CHURCH!
Let the church and elders arise…and let pastors oversee instead of thinking they alone, like Moses, have the WORD OF GOD for THEIR Congregation. Let them trust the HOLY SPIRIT to lead each gather of the church.
A great resource for any that doubt…. read Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola.