November 9, 2006
Oh, Father God, please help us to be open to Your will, Your truth, Your leading, Your "structure" for the church (not just for "our church" but for Your church, locally and eternally through time and place).
I keep thinking, wow, if we had been truly a church of small churches, if there had been a bit less "control" and our life groups/ home churches had had the freedom to truly be churches (and if the people had "caught the vision" and had been really determined to seek scripture to discover Your plan for the church universal (and the "churches" at the local level) - what might have been possible? What might still be possible? If we didn't do the "building" thing at all - except to maybe rent a large hall for group gatherings once every month or two or three, and instead put our free-will offerings, as God leads us and provides for us, in the area of giving, into the work of small home churches where people can really get to know each other, care for each other, bring their friends into a close caring group that loves and serves, where Jesus is clearly seen - without the costs of "overhead" (building, heat, office costs, phone bills, program costs, etc etc etc) we could so easily afford to pay a true pastor/ shepherd/ overseer who could move among the groups, encouraging, teaching, building up (edifying), bringing unity even in our separateness... and still have money left for every group to do the ministries God calls them to. Each group to truly be a "family of God" not divided by age or gender or any such human construct of division, but brought together in the love of Jesus, in the family of God, in His Kingdom, and always for His glory.
Lord, I still cannot believe that You brought our church a great vision of outreach to our community, and of edification and ministry among and setting free of Your people in our midst, and of a church pattern that seems far more faithful to the example of Your Word (even though we got off-track because we still tried to hang onto our "traditions" - and our control - at the same time) - I can't believe You brought Your people together in this way, and then want them to just drop the whole thing to just go back to a "safer, more comfortable, more traditional" way of doing things.
Lord, I wonder exactly where in "our church" the "greatest" - most spiritual edifying, growing, evangelistic - things are happening? I have an idea it is in the situation where some small groups of Your people - even individuals or ones or twos - are meeting to bow before You, even daily (!) to pour out their hearts before You, and seek You with all their beings. Lord, when I look to see where the "difficulties" lie, I see it in the "big ticket" traditions - building, land, professional paid clergy in the "traditional" sense, "programs" that can't attract enough workers, etc. Lord, instead of trying to "fix" these things - and get ourselves even "deeper" into them, could it be that You want us to look instead to You, our Head, our true pastor/ shepherd/ leader/ guide; to bow before You; to seek to be filled every day with Your Spirit; to search Your Word for the truth You would teach us about Your church (its purpose, direction - yes, even its "structure") - to seek first for transformed lives, individually, yes, but also a transformed church, crated and led and filled by the Spirit of God, washed in the blood of Jesus, beloved of the Father - the true Kingdom of God, the true church.
Lord, do we perhaps (surely) need to cast aside our customs, traditions, worldly influences, personal preferences - and be willing to totally change our whole approach, if necessary, to be in line with Your Word, to be in "sync" with Your Spirit, to be truly the body of Christ under Your Headship and shepherding, Lord Jesus, to be truly children of God, members of His family, ministers of His Word, messengers of the gospel... all those things we "believe" and yet seem to struggle so hard to achieve in even the smallest degree?!
This struggling is not what You intend for Your church! We are to be the "church militant," advancing the Kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit! We are to be the family of God, united in the love of our Heavenly Father, brothers and sisters all, in the example and salvation and regeneration and holy life given us by Jesus, our first and elder brother, and our Lord and King.
Perhaps we are getting it all wrong, worrying about land and buildings and income and how we can afford a pastor -- when we have perhaps not yet sought to listen to what God really has in His will and purpose for us, His church. God is doing a great work in us, a great spiritual work. That must come first. And as it does, He can, if we will only open our hearts and minds and personal and corporate wills totally to Him, lead us into what He desires, into the true vision He has for us, a vision that is led by God Himself, that lines up perfectly with His revealed Word, and is proven by the outpouring of true Godly love that is the mark of the true church, and the real building of the Kingdom to which God Himself has entrusted and commanded us, His family, the body of the church under the Headship of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
I believe this new "committee" for the "church structure" is of God. I believe He is working a spiritual renewal in our midst. I believe our "old vision" - at least in its pure, Word and Spirit-based tenets - was given by God. I believe He will bring many to Himself in our community, and will use us in that process. I even believe "the land" is a part of God's purpose. I don't know how or why, but I do believe He granted it to us when He did, and that He will show us His purposes regarding it if we will only listen and seek His face.
We're having "building problems." Maybe God is giving us a message here. Let's listen, seek His face, find out. Let's remember that the church is not about buildings and programs, but about God calling His people, predestined and foreknown before the creation of time, into relationship with Him, and for glory of Him, and for the building of His eternal kingdom. We are seeking a pastor, a shepherd, an overseer. That is biblical, I think? But not all the things we are seeking and doing and assuming come from a scriptural basis. And we must remember that scripture is God's Word, God revealing Himself and His purposes to His people and to the world, and is knowable, understandable, workable - as we, His people, truly and totally crucify ourselves, our own desires, our favored thoughts and ideas (many of which come straight out of the world even though we most often do not even recognize it); even our "traditions" which we have come to accept just because they've been used for so long, and seem to be somewhat efficient (though rarely truly effective in really reaching the goals and purposes of God for His church).
Oh dear God, open our hearts to what You will for us, Your people, Your priesthood of believers, Your children, Your family, people of Your kingdom - Your church, universal and local.
Guide our new committee, Lord. And guide all of us, every committee, life group, congregation, program, individual -- all the "forms" we take within Your body. Bring us together into uniy in You, instead of being fractured into our own little ideas, our own little sub-groups, our own little pre-conceived traditions.
Help us, dear Jesus! Father! Holy Spirit!
"For I'm building a people of power/ And I'm making a people of praise [and prayer!]/ That will move through this land by My Spirit/ And will glorify My precious Name/ Build Your church, Lord,/ Make us strong, Lord, / Join our hearts, Lord, through Your Son/ Make us one, Lord, in Your body/ In the Kingdom of Your Son."