I received permission from a friend of mine to repost this. Incredible thoughts, and something I’ve been really thinking about lately. It’s a lengthy read, but she puts it so eloquently.
If you aren’t familiar with the Greek myth of Pandora the curious who out of curiosity opened the box the deities said not to open and thus released all Evil upon the earth, well, perhaps you ought to familiarize yourself with the tale before embarking upon this opening of many boxes.
Not that it is my intention to release any demons. But perhaps I may be confronting them? Perhaps I am daring them to come wreak havoc?
But that I don’t want. So I proceed with caution. (In fact, in spite of the fact that this post has been in the possible post file for quite some time, I write this evening because my husband encouraged me to.)
This post is not a call to battle. All over the world today there are good flesh and blood people serving the Lord in the way they best know how. These people ought not to be trampled in my search for Truth.
But we need to ask these questions. We need to at least ASK. At least consider why we are where are today. And if we’re really in as good a place as we might think we are.
First the facts. Once upon a time, a long time ago, we read in the Bible that the Christians met in the synagogue or house to house. The synagogues were already there. Built and standing. They studied together, house to house. Sang together, house to house. They met on the Lord’s day, but they met other days as well and it wasn’t just for an hour on Wednesday.
Those are the facts.
We’ve heard the phrase “If you have to have a Law to make you be there Sunday night and Wednesday night, something is wrong.”
Well, yes. Something is wrong. Here’s what’s wrong.
What’s wrong is that those are the only two days a week we have committed to gathering together. What’s wrong is that for years upon centuries we have focused on those two exclusively to the blatant dismissal altogether of God’s commands to in house hospitality.
We gather on Sunday, our best dressed and best behaved version of ourselves. We sit on pews and we sing facing forward. We sit silently and passively as our preacher delivers the lesson. Then we visit.
But since we only visit on Sundays and Wednesdays, some of us, the less socially gifted of us, feel awkward and afraid and out of place. There are too many people. We don’t know all of them. We know it is our fault, that we should stretch and grow and mature and reach out to people anyway.
And I try. Lord knows, and I use that phrase in all reverence, that I try. But let’s face it. Sundays and Wednesdays don’t make for deep heart to heart fellowship. There’s no way that they can if we haven’t met and encouraged each-other in small groups in our own homes throughout the rest of the week.
And we must, oh how we must, be OURSELVES when we meet each-other in our homes. If your house is clean, God bless you for that. If your house is a mess, open it up anyway and God bless you for that.
I’m not talking about airing dirty laundry. I’m talking about Family. If you don’t dust for your immediate blood family, don’t dust for God’s family. If you dust for your blood family, then dust for God’s family.
Just be family. Jeans and a sweater, if that’s you. Skirt and cute jacket, if that’s you. Be family. All week long.
You think I’m done? Honey, I’m just getting started.
Is it possible that this modern convenience we call a building actually enslaved us?
I pause. I don’t even know where to start.
Maintenance, indoors and out. Electricity, plumbing. Building cleaning. Bathroom supplies. Legal issues. Fire-proofing. Insurance. Grounds upkeep. Snow removal. Parking. Parking lots. Speaking equipment. Technology. Phone bills. The list goes on and on and on and those of us who may not do as much as others in those areas are often criticized (though I am blessed to be in a Family where the Spirit of the place is golden and not critical, and it is the Spirit that matters more than anything) for our lack of “service.” For our lack of “working for the Lord.”
Where in the Bible does God give us a command to get a building of our own and keep it up? It isn’t there. Does that mean it is wrong? I’m not saying that.
I’m just asking Questions. How much more energy could the Body have for benevolence, evangelism, serving and encouraging each-other if we didn’t have to pour so much of Ourselves into a physical building that will burn when all is said and done?
You’re asking other questions. You’re asking “Where will we fit 300 people into one home?”
First of all, the Lord fed 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two small fish. Second of all, be brutally honest with yourself. How many congregations of that size do you know where each individual member has a meaningful relationship with all of the other 299 anyway? It is the nature of the beast to break into small groups in a situation like that no matter where you’re meeting.
Creative solutions abound. In good weather, we could meet outdoors. In bad weather, there are public shelters, meeting rooms, community houses, etc.
Once upon a time the nation of Israel asked for a king, in spite of God’s dire warnings. The nation of Israel got their king and never seemed to even notice how much damage their kings did.
Once upon a time the body of God met in homes. God never gave us specific instructions not to gather in buildings, and therefore I cannot conclude that it is wrong. It is true that God told the nation of Israel to build tabernacles and a temple, but we were given a promise that the day would come when the Lord’s own would worship “in spirit and in truth.” Not in buildings made with hands.
We read of elders being appointed, we read of evangelism and benevolence. But nowhere do we read God instructing the leadership of the time to begin preparations to build and/or own a building.
But we built them anyway, sometime long ago and we never seem to think about how much damage they might do that we take for granted.
We bicker with our brethren over them. Should there be a kitchen? Should we eat them in at all?
What if we get food on the pews? On the carpet?
But what if we didn’t have the pews or the carpet, because we didn’t have a building? Instead we met as family meets, in our own homes? Would we be free to love each-other in more unity than we do now?
I’m just asking.
What about Bible class? We have separate rooms for our separate classes, requiring even more space and more electricity and more funding. We pour our energy, our time, and money into organizing teachers, being teachers, buying curriculum, preparing classes, looking for teachers, begging for teachers and urging those who don’t teach to be more of a “servant for the Lord.”
The Lord didn’t create Bible classes. We did. Every time in Scripture that the Bible teaching and training of children is referred to, it is in the context of Christian living in the home.
Does that mean it is wrong? No. I say all this as someone who will be teaching at least four classes for the 2 to 3 yr. old class before the end of the year.
But is our energy perhaps misdirected?
What if we were freed of those duties and obligations such as class-teaching, building-cleaning, maintenance and all the baggage that comes with the system as we’ve set it up today? Would we have more energy to love and train our own children at home? To open our homes to others? For small group studies? Would we find ourselves feeling more individual responsibility for one-on-one evangelism? Instead of “inviting them to church”, would our time and energy be more free to invite them into our own homes for a meal?
Does it have to be an either/or? No. Many of us can well do both, because we are organized and efficient and energetic. But for those of us who aren’t? The pressures and the burdens seem almost Pharisaical at times and the sense of discouragement is real.
And even for those of us who can do both, I have to wonder if even you could still do more if we could let go of some of our cherished conveniences.
I have heard and understand the arguments that all of these are just “tools.” That they make our work more “effective.”
But I’m asking you dear ones, I’m asking you. Where in the Bible do we get the idea that God needs our ideas to make HIS work more effective? At what point do all of our tools become nothing more than us thinking God’s plan needs improving?
First century Christians turned the world upside down. They did it without a building. They did it without Bible class on Sunday mornings and services on Wednesday night. They did it without Gospel meetings. They did it without budgets.
They did it by preaching and living Christ crucified. House to house, all week long.
I am young I know, and as such I am idealistic. Let us therefore reiterate what this post is not.
It is not a call for a mad dash back to the beginning. We are so far gone from the beginning that I don’t think we could find our way, and even if we could we would leave a trail of bodies broken in our wake.
I don’t want that. I don’t want good and real people sacrificed on the altar of my young passion for theoretical perfection.
But I have prayed and prayed and prayed. Prayed with tears. And I think these are good questions to ask. So I’m asking them.
If you’ve asked them as well, take comfort that you’re not alone and that perhaps we can all baby-step our blind way back to a place of greater liberty and unity. If you haven’t asked them, please ask them for me. If you come up with different answers, I want to hear them. To talk about them. I could be wrong.
I’m just asking.
And then a comment that also applies:
"Assembly is not for visitors — it’s for believers. There is a Biblical reference to “if” an unbeliever is present — so why would they be? Because a Christian brought them. No building or sign is required. And in this day/age, you only need to post some contact info on a Facebook or webpage page. But we ought not be inviting people to church/gospel meetings — we ought to be inviting them into our homes, our lives, so that they can see Christ there; we should be inviting them to meet Jesus through us.
I am more and more convicted that Sun/Wed Bible classes can only be described as something we have added and are adding to the Bible, and it is a wretched substitute for what God commanded. FATHERS are supposed to be leading at home, discipling their own wives and children. Families, other Christians, are supposed to be meeting together daily from house to house. Widows and fatherless children are to be adopted by strong families. A friend and I were imagining how beautiful this picture would be, how effective we would be at evangelism, if only we would follow it.”
I just got back from the first legit meeting for Seven Needs. Caleb ran over some basics, told us what he and Lauren were thinking about. He spoke about the “Insert Coin: Start A Movement” that’s about to happen, about how we’re looking at a block party, asked for connections. To anyone else, we didn’t do a whole lot, but for me, it was groundbreaking.
It’s like there’s this second sense inside of me that’s screaming, “This is going to be big! You wanted to get involved in something bigger than yourself, you support the idea, so get ON IT before it’s too big for you to make a difference!”
One of my biggest fears is being forgotten. It kind of ties into the fear of being alone, but it goes past that. I want to do something to make an impact, and I want to help serve people, and I want to BE Christ, not just TELL about Him. So when I can throw a couple contacts for Japan, South Africa, or Belize out there, I feel useful. Or when they ask about anyone with organizational skills, I think, “I can help!” I can keep this and that tied together; and I can put contacts here, and ooh look, their number; and I can make phone calls and be passionate — because I believe in Seven Needs. And I didn’t even think I’d be able to get in on it. I figured that there were too many other people willing to help for one more to make a difference…but I was in that meeting. I’m pumped.
I believe Seven Needs will make a difference like I believe that water can save a man dying from thirst. Seven Needs will not die, because there are too many people who believe in it. Even if it dwindles down to one or two people, Seven Needs won’t die.