I spent a few posts this week (Questioning the Church, Extreme Church Makeover, What if You Were God?) talking about how you and your church and figure out what God wants you to do in your community with your time, energy, and money.
Part of this process involves imagining different ways of being church, different ways of loving others, and different ways of serving our neighbors.
Some people calling this “casting vision” but in my opinion, the word “vision” is one of those overused churchy buzzwords which makes most people gag. So following the ideas presented in books by Walter Brueggemann and Greg Boyd, I invite you to imagine what the church can be and do.
Imagine new ways of being the church, living within the Kingdom of God, loving others, serving the needy, and revealing Jesus Christ to others.
Here are some great “What if” questions to move you in the right direction: (Note: So I don’t pull a Driscoll… These 18 questions for re-imagining the church originally came from a post by Kevin Bussey in 2008, but I can no longer find that post.)
What would happen if…
- Followers of Jesus concentrated on sharing their faith with a lost and dying world?
- Followers of Jesus prayed for the church across the street?
- Churches didn’t see other churches as competition but as allies?
- Churches rejoiced when another church is thriving?
- We realized our view might be wrong?
- Their church is just as important to God as yours?
- We recognized God likes variety?
- Followers of Jesus didn’t shoot their wounded?
- We acted like Grace really is amazing?
- We give Grace beyond the point of conversion?
- We realized God likes worship–no matter what the style is?
- Churches in a community partnered with each other to reach the lost and hurting people that God has given to them?
- Churches didn’t criticize other churches?
- Followers of Jesus didn’t nit-pick other believers, churches or ministries?
- Followers of Jesus became part of the solution rather than being the problem?
- We really prayed…?
- Followers of Jesus could put aside differences in order to minister to a dying world?
- Followers of Jesus really became one?
Do you have any questions to add to this list? Include them in the comments below? How do you and your church seek to find new ways to share the love of Jesus with others?
What would happen if… the institutional church sold their buildings and property, stopped paying career spiritual orators (pastors), and eliminated the need for miscellaneous staff?
Soli Deo Gloria says
Good question, and one I recently asked at my church. Just about every church I know of releases a financial disclosure at the end of the year. They’ll usually announce it and may even have a glossy portfolio for the taking. I actually took the time to run the numbers on my church’s last disclosure and found the following:
1) 75% of total income was spent on facilities and staff.
2) The Pareto Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 rule, reigns supreme – 80% of the adult congregation pay 20% of the bill and 20% pay 80% of expenses.
3) The average tithe is 3% of income, not 10%.
The big one for me is (1) above. By charity standards, paying 75% for facilities and staff gives an organization a solid D- rating.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, this is right. It is such a poor use of kingdom resources.
Of course, it is justified because it is in these facilities and with these staff where all the “Kingdom work” takes place.
Gerrie Malan says
There is a question missing that should be right at the top, for everything else emanates from the answer: What if the church would start to preach and teach the unpolluted Scriptures in their true and accurate contexts, instead of the philosophized version that the world at large has labeled man-made religious myths? And what if the church would start to preach and live the Christ of the unphilosophized Bible instead of the Christs (NB, plural) in the popular books and ‘Christian’ television programs?
As a young university student I saw, but didn’t understand at the time, that the theological students of a reformed church studied four subjects for the first three of seven years – in other words the foundation. Those subjects were Hebrew, Greek, Bible Knowledge and Philosophy. Today I realise that Philosophy was a poison that killed the simple and true Bible knowledge that should be.
Jeremy Myers says
Well,preaching and teaching from the Bible is important. that is true. But there is no pastor in the world (that I know of) that thinks they don’t they preach and teach the unadulterated Word. Everybody thinks they preach Scripture. So who gets to define who preaches Scripture clearly and who doesn’t?
What would happen if we dropped the “es” from the end of churches?
What would happen if we all were led by the Spirit to worship in spirit and in truth?
Jeremy Myers says
Oooh. I like that. Yes, it might be best to no think of “churches” but “church.” Love it!
Paul Kruger says
What I am about to say will probably cause much debate. I have been a Born Again Christian for 25 years & for 20 of those years I had many questions that Pastors failed to answer despite church hopping to at least 6-7 different denominations. In the last 5 years I have had all my questions answered. I no longer attend traditional church for the past 5 years. Let me state that It started by establishing that we Christians are the church – it’s not a building – there are 400+ Christians denominations all claiming to be right & that one should join their particular church & get with their program. The Apostle Paul stated Eph 4:4-6 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one of your calling 5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism 6. One God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” I learn that the whole Bible is FOR us but the whole Bible is NOT TO us & that we need to rightly divide the Word of Truth. i.e. Divide New from Old Testament. That Law cannot be mixed with Grace which preachers do all the time. Will send second installment later.
Jeremy Myers says
First, your view on church will probably not cause much debate on this blog! Most of us here completely agree with you! The people of God are the church, not the building, not the place, not an event on Sunday morning.
Second, you really have all your questions answered? Wow! In my experience, it seems that every question I get answered, 5 more questions crop up! But it keeps things interesting and keeps me studying!
Paul Kruger says
I learnt that for 4000 years a mystery had been kept secret & that that mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul & not to any one of the Old Testament and not to the disciples. Romans 16:25 “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel (Paul’s gospel of grace) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began”. Paul reveals that mystery in Colossians 1:26-27 “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints 27. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” the Apostle Paul was given a specific message to take to the Gentiles see Acts 28:28. Gal 1:6-9. Gal 2:20 We are no longer under law see Gal 2:16, Gal 2:21, Gal 5:1-4., Rom 6:14. We need to separate Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus in the flesh) from the Crucified and resurrected Christ for Paul says in 2Cor 5:16 “wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh (ie Jesus of Nazareth), yet now henceforth know we Him no more”.Jesus of Nazareth came to the Nation of Israel and not to the Gentiles see Matt 10:5-6 & Matt 15:24.. When we talk about tithing we most often refer to Malachi 3:7-10. Verse 9 in particular says “You are cursed with a curse. For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. That puts us under condemnation whereas Paul says in Rom 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”. In addition Paul says given as it purposes in your heart see 2 Cor 9:7. The Apostle Paul wrote more than 50% of the New Testament yet his gospel of grace is never preached as the only gospel to the Gentiles but is comingled with the other gospels which has turned Christianity into a man-made religion.
Jeremy Myers says
Many good points here! I have written some on this blog about Malachi 3 and some of the other passages you references.
I am, however, uncomfortable divorcing Jesus of Nazareth from the Crucified and resurrected Jesus. This sounds somewhat like Gnostic Dualism. Remember John’s point in 1 John about the spirit of the antichrist denying that Jesus has come in the flesh? I know you don’t deny that He did (I’m not saying that), but it seems that in Paul, John, Peter, and the rest of the NT, the incarnation of Jesus in the flesh is critical for properly understanding why Jesus came and what He did, not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles.
Wasn’t it the Gnostics who thought they were the possessors of “secret knowledge”? If Paul had mysteries revealed to him that had not been revealed to anyone else, including the other Apostles, would this not mean that he thought himself a Gnostic, which the early church decided was heresy?
May be someone out there can help me.
I have left my Church about 2 years ago and started a small home church.
I left because I think many churches are ran like businesses and it is all about the show and not about the “go”. If you know what I mean.
Also it seems that all the real ministry is done by about 1% of the people who think they have a responsibility to a personal ministry. Its like we exist to put a tip in the offering plate and sing and listen to some Bible stories.
Lastly all of my pastors that I have had have never had a “real job” and all of them were pastors kids. I love them all but it seems that they cant ever relate to the real world. Just once i would love to read a book on evangelism written by a plumber or a truck driver.
So I left and started a home church. I did not do it out of spite or anger. I believe God called me to do it so I can grow and learn somethings that you can only learn by doing. I wanted to see what would happen if 100% of our tithes went to worthy causes. I wanted to see what would happen if there were no programs and everyone would seek what God is calling them to learn and grow.
I believe we are growing spiritually. But I cant help but wonder if I knew what was going wrong in my old church, is leaving the answer? We are called to be they “body” right? Is leaving going to help the “body”? I know that sometimes it feels like beating your head against a wall trying to work with people that don’t live in the real world. I am sure that God feels like that with me all the time. Obviously I am trying to remove the “plank” from my eye before I can help others.
But there is a trend right now among Christians in America where there is no commitment and everyone church hops when ever there is something they don’t like. Or they leave the Church all together. I don’t think that those are the answers are they? We are called to fellowship with each other and encourage each other right? Warts and all.
I dont know? What do you think God is telling you?
P.S Sorry I have bad grammar. I am just an Electrician
You’re asking good questions Kevin. and there isn’t anything wrong with being “just” an electrician.
Lots of people feel the Spirit has led them out of the institutional church. My wife and I are among that group. Listening to people sing songs we don’t care for and that have no meaning for us, hearing announcements, a sermon almost no one remembers more than a day or two and standing around eating a donut afterwards while the cliques make plans for their next party don’t seem to us to be why Jesus came, walked among us and died.
Church for us is much different than all that. It involves spending time with neighbors near and far, loving them with Jesus’ love. We spend a fair amount of time with our friends on the street, many of whom are homeless. We find Jesus walking there, and so do they. The church, the body of Christ is where you find it. Some people don’t find it inside buildings that say “Church” on the front, but among the people.
Each day you can think in terms of “being” the church wherever you are, and most likely you’ll discover that you’re not alone. You might also think in terms of “taking church”
to wherever you go.
Jeremy Myers says
Great, great questions. I am not necessarily certain that you needed to start a church of your own, but “leaving” your other church was not wrong either. Remember that as a follower of Jesus, you are part of the Body of Christ no matter where you go or what you do. Even as you go about your day performing your job as an Electrician, you are acting as part of the Body of Christ.
I personally thing that once we understand the church, we will see that there is no such thing as “church hopping” or leaving church or attending church. If all believers are part of the Body of Christ, then we are all the church. Therefore, we don’t go to church; church goes with us. So if people want to move around from one church building to another, that’s fine. If people want to meet in their homes with other believers, that’s fine too. If people simply want to love their neighbors and serve each other in community, that looks like Jesus as well.
I would encourage you. People will criticize the choice you made, but keep following Jesus, as it sounds to me like He is leading you somewhere …
I think I need to clarify somethings.
I know their is nothing wrong with being an electrician actually I am proud of it. I do have a Bible Theo degree but I never felt comfortable with making an income from ministry. I know there is nothing wrong with it either, I just don’t think that it is my calling. And I don’t know if what I am doing is starting a church, but rather reading Gods word and encouraging and discipling a small group of brothers and sisters. Believe me it is far from an organized church. And I know that church is way more than a two hour thing we do Sunday morning but rather a way of life. I also know that church is not about me. Its about bringing glory to God.
The fact of the mater is is that more institutional churches close their doors everyday than that are being opened. So should we abandon them? Just let them fade away? I ask because I have been going through the Gospels and I noticed that Jesus was in the synagogue every week teaching. There is no one who is more annoyed with organized religion than Jesus right? But there He was pleading with them to have a relationship with God. Could it be the ministry field in America is right in the middle of our churches? Or should we just let them fade away or become even more like a business model rather than a Jesus model? Maybe we should let them fail so the real Christians would please stand up? What do you think?
I would also like to encourage anyone who has left their church to do a heart check and make sure they have not left for selfish reasons. Such as not liking the music or programs. The music and the programs should not be about you but about bringing glory to God. I bring that up because I need to remind my self all the time that its not about me but God.
Jeremy Myers says
Thank you, Kevin. I have often wondered the same thing myself. I think there is a place for Christians to stay within institutional Christianity to try to help reform it from within. I applaud those who try to do this. But it is not for everyone to try to do.
Interesting that Paul (Kruger) writes about separating Jesus in the flesh from the resurrected Christ, and Jeremy responds that he is uncomfortable divorcing the two.
Both are right! They need a separation (Jesus and the Christ, not Paul and Jeremy!), but cannot be divorced. The two are interrelated, but they are not identical.
As I see it, Jesus in the flesh was the first complete incarnation of the Christ. I wrote “complete incarnation” because that incarnation began to happen gradually with the first human. The phrase, “only-begotten son” is inadequate, but it was probably the only expression of the concept that could emerge from the Mediterranean culture of two thousand years ago. Rather, the Christ was the spiritual “offspring” in space and time of God Who is beyond, and subsumes, space and time. From the beginning of time the Christ has been yearning and striving to incarnate fully in us, living within us though we knew (the Christ) not, finally accomplishing that completeness in the physical Jesus.
I wrote “the first”, because now, each of us can manifest the fully incarnated Christ. That’s what entering the Kingdom of God means. That’s what Jesus called us to do, and that’s what, at least in occasional moments, each of us is doing.
I’m convinced that was the secret mystery revealed to Paul the Apostle, though it was misunderstood and changed as the New Testament developed.