Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Jesus-Centered Church

It was a year ago that I sat on my couch one evening in prayer and suddenly, my mind came alive with inspiration and started whirling with a crazy idea. I grabbed my journal and began wildly scribbling thoughts as they poured into my head. It was called Novo, and it was a church, but really it was the Church.

You see, since I first started diving into the scriptures as a young adult, I began to see something of a discrepancy. Every time I read the book of Acts, I was confronted with the reality that my churches didn't look like the Church described in this book. It shook me up as a young person and even made me question whether I wanted anything to do with going to church in our modern-world. I wrestled with questions about whether a pastor was a biblical thing and why our churches felt more like performances than Christ-centered people building each other up and taking the gospel out. Over the years, God began to show me that He loved His church - it is His betrothed after all - and that if I am of Him, I must also love His church and His people. So we got involved in a wonderful church and joined a church plant several years later and I have embraced His people with a passion and a heart to see them know Christ and make Him known.

And then one day, quiet on my couch, head bowed in prayer, this radical idea of a church that looked like the first church in Acts idea could be a real possibility. I know this isn't new. In fact, the more I dive into this idea, the more I keep seeing it being lived out around me. Home-groups and Life-groups and House-churches and Missional Communities. So many names and diverse cultures, but the heart is the same.We've been involved in many of these and my in-laws have even started a house-church movement of their own.

And I'm coming to realize, that this idea that God planted in my heart has been planted in the hearts of so many who love him across this expansive nation of ours. I'm beginning to see churches leave programs and christian culture for a more radical Christ-following life-on-life style of ministry. I'm excited to join what God is leading in the hearts of so many of my brothers and sisters. I know what we are doing isn't going to be unique to us, but rather is just a small extension of what the Spirit is doing in the lives of many believers and churches across our nation and throughout the world.

I don't know that we'll be different from so many of these beautiful churches and home-groups, but here is what we will be:

We will break bread in our homes and eat together with glad and sincere heart. Acts 2:46
We will be a people who pray. 2nd Chronicles 7:14/1 Thess 5:17-18
We will have no one who is called by a title of Pastor/Teacher/Father/Master. Matthew 23:8-10
We will be led by a group of godly men, called Elders who share in teaching, nurturing, shepherding, and discipling the spiritual lives of those who become part of our church family.
We will be Word-centered and, therefore, Christ-centered. John 1:1
We will be led by the Spirit. Romans 8:14
We will be a family of missionary servants, modeling our lives after Jesus' life and living in relationship with Him, His people, and inviting the world into the joy of knowing and following Him. 

This is a starting list of our foundations and I'm sure we will be much more than these things and we may struggle in many of these areas, but this is a starting point for our little home-church.

As I prayed a year ago, I had this beautiful picture in my mind of a church that met in homes, and businesses like coffee shops and restaurants, and was led by God's Spirit and gave space for people to grow in their spiritual gifts and be discipled in the truth. It was warm and inviting and relational and people who didn't know Jesus felt at home with us and intrigued by the love among us and the Spirit of God at work in us. It was a place where people experienced spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical healing. It was a place where people met Jesus, maybe for the first time, and constructs of religion fell away to give a place for relationship with God our Father. It was a family - growing and changing and making room for more - but it was God's family being created among us and God, our Father, instructing us, loving us, and changing us. It was centered on Jesus, and full of Jesus, and brought Jesus glory and honor on earth and made his name known.

A verse in the old testament says that the people perish for lack of vision. It may take us a lifetime to see something that looks like the above. It may cost us everything to see it happen - it certainly cost Jesus everything. But it is something worth living and even dying for. Without this vision - the vision that Jesus cast for His church - the people perish. I long to see churches revived, people revived, christians revived, the world revived by Jesus' vision for His church and I long to see His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. So we pray for that and we live for that and we let Him lead and accomplish the work in us and through us and in the church and through the church.

Will you pray with us? Pray for our little church, pray for the big Church, pray for His kingdom to come, His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven? Will you ask Him what role He would have you play in accomplishing these goals and what vision He has for your life and what purpose He has in mind for you in this grand vision of His?

He who started this work is faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Let it be.

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