Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Gathered Church - Pt 3

As I continue to contemplate how I feel the gathered church should function, I continually come up against issues that are less about the bible and more about culture and tradition. Such issues as having Sunday School, Youth groups and other such programs are often taken as a given even though I think there is little, if any, biblical grounds for many of these programs.

I have found that since I take more of a “Regulative Principle” view of the church it becomes more restrictive in what I see we can do in the church. I feel scripture reveals that God has the right, and does, regulate how He is to be worshipped so we are not free to do whatever it is we feel like when it comes to worship. I think it is a danger to take the stand that as long as a certain activity is not forbidden one can go ahead and do it. This is where I think many programs of the church have gone down a wrong path. We have often taken a world view, rather than a Christian view, that sees a certain way of doing things and integrated it into the church. One example is the way we often design how we teach people that says we must separate people by any number of characteristics with age being the most prevalent.

When one looks at scripture about the only criteria for separating people may be by gender but that is about it. While the bible may not explicitly restrict age segregation it does not call for it either. So I would see the desire to segregate by age or even social factors as being more of a humanistic view than a biblical one. People see it as working, or appearing to work, in the world and the pragmatic side of our brains takes over and then tries to Christianize the whole concept. This said, none of this says that people may not meet around some common issue but I think it is detrimental to do this artificially and to do this as the prime gathering point of the church.

This whole concept of segregation also appears to show itself in how churches are designed to reach certain types of people. While there may be reasons given I again do not see this concept in scripture. While Paul may have spoken differently to Jews than he did with Gentiles this is not how churches were formed. It is when we realize that it is God who changes hearts and makes the Gospel understandable that we can then see what we need to do in the gathering of the church is to be consistent in preaching the word and living out the word and leave the results to God.

So next, I think I will try and show what I would see as an example of how the gathered church should gather. In doing this I fully understand that how one changes the way the church functions in an existing church is much different than how one would do things if just starting a church. For the existing church the main way to change things is through preaching, teaching, and prayer. If the concepts that are sought after are taught and shown from scripture people will gradually see what needs to be done.

The new church needs to start with a core group that has a common vision so that they can deal with other issues while the basic structure and vision of the church does not become and area of contention. This may mean a new church may not actually function as a biblical church in its start up phase while the leadership is formed and the direction is formed.

More to come.

No comments: