Saturday, July 7, 2007

Organized or Orderly?

Alan Knox from The Assembling of the Church has a post worth carefully considering. I have mentioned his blog previously. It's not that I'm enamoured with what Alan says, but I am thrilled to run across a young (compared to me) Christian, who is thinking through his faith and the teaching which supports it, rather than simply saying, "Institutional tradition says such-and-such is so, therefore it is so!" This is truly Berean.

Addressing the issue of Church Organisation, Alan says that our purpose ought to be the growing of people (edification), not the growing of the organisation. I agree! He gives an example of a small group of people who, obviously thought otherwise, and were intending to start a church in a particular place, and, to quote Alan, "The men of the family already had their titles. The group already had a vision statement and a business plan. They had completed their demographics studies and a colorful brochure. In fact, they only needed one thing: money.

You see, that small group was ready to move to another city to start a church, as long as they could come up with enough money to fund their efforts. And how much money were they looking for? (I promise, I am not making this up...) They wanted over $700,000 for two years, with almost $500,000 of that going toward salaries.from the amount of money required, your example is not so unusual. It seems to be normal for groups of people to assume "office" and "authority", and move into a community to establish their mark.

Christianity is a reasoned faith. We become Christians because we have been persuaded by the Holy Spirit, through the teaching of the Scriptures, that we have a great need. The Spirit convicts us of the fact that we are sinners whose sin eternally separates us from God. In an act of grace, He gives us the gift of faith through which He enables us to believe the truth of the Gospel claims, convincing us of our need of salvation from this eternal separation from God, repent and receive the gift of salvation accomplished in the life and work of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

No human agency can claim the credit for our trust in Christ, even though they may have been the instrument God used to draw us to Himself, nor can we take the credit ourselves; it was ALL a work of God through His Spirit. Yet, as the evidence is presented to us, the Spirit opens our minds and allowing us to receive and believe the truth. The Holy Spirit uses our mind. This is a reasoned faith.

But something seems to happen to most of us once we are Christians; we put our minds in neutral and allow them to become sponges which unquestioningly, and naively, soak up the reasoning, or teaching, and directions of others. As a result, we Christians have become so used to being told what to believe, and to do, by human agency, that we have lost the ability to think for ourselves. In fact, we vacate the privileged position of being a priest unto the King.

That is clearly seen in the secular world by the fact that Christian voices are very much dimmed by vocal minorities whom governments listen and favourably respond to (2%in one area which is highly publicized ). Sadly, the same is markedly true in the local church scene.

We have not been good Bereans, which has allowed some to persuade us that they know what is best for the community of believers. The result is that an hierarchy, official or unofficial has developed, whom we have allowed to function as priests who still go behind the veil. We have forgotten that the veil was torn from top to bottom.

This leads to the unreasoned belief that we are part of an "organisation", which is really a tradition institutionalized. The priests, who go behind the veil, know what is best for everyone, and they "head" the organization. The "sheep" don't think, they simply do as they are told.

Organisation isn't the same as orderliness!

The fruits of the indwelling Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, will lead to orderliness amongst a local assembly, that which Paul urges upon the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:40).

I have seen many a community of claimed believers where these fruits were not evident, yet, they had great organisation, smoothness of function, but no orderliness. Arguments, disputes, divisions, cliches were very evident, but the organization ran like clockwork simply pretending that all was well.

Developing a local assembly of believers begins with local discipling. Discipling begins with individuals who have Holy Spirit empowered order in their lives, discipling other individuals, who emulate their discipler and what he/she teaches and models, who, in turn disciple others, which results in people who have order in their lives.

Genuine disciplers will never cause those they disciple to become dependent upon them, but upon the Word of God (Matt.4:4).

As Alan said, "I think I am going to continue to focus on people, and I think I am going to continue to point others toward building up ourselves to people, not by growing (or starting) our organizations."

Discipling means quality time spent with individuals, and even small groups!

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