The biblical picture of the church at its most basic level, is a community, not a hierarchy, business, or organization. It is structured like the human body – on the basis of life. Wow, it is so wonderful and refreshing to see churches across this country returning to this first century church model.
Yes, there is a ground swell of believers; apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers who are not satisfied with doing church as usual, but want to be part of a revolution, a movement that helps us to return to the first century church model. These Christ followers have shifted their paradigm and have begun to think more in these directions:
- from (my) kingdom to (God's) Kingdom
- from doing ministry for to equipping others to do ministry
- from closing the church's back door to opening the door and sending people out
- from controlling and maintaining to unleashing and releasing
- from growing a church to starting churches that multiply churches
- from seating capacity to sending capacity
- from loving people like me, to loving all of our neighbors
- from programs to organic ministry
- from mega to many mini
- from serving the church to impacting the world
- from carbon copies to unique expressions
- from competition and division to unity and collaboration.
This change has been slow to evolve because a church body that is willing to change must overcome several barriers, including tradition and culture. But throughout history, when the church has veered off course, someone has stepped up to challenge, to provide the fuel to spark a change and that is happening today.
There are plenty of examples of this movement today, including major conferences like Verge and Exponential networks and the Perspectives Bible course that are fueling this change. Here in central Texas, individual churches have started to focus much more on missions, like Grace Point Church in San Antonio. Grace Point encourages and expects every member to go local once a year and global once every five years as a way to build a missional culture.
Austin Christian Fellowship gives 50 percent of their budget to missions! When there is a fifth Sunday in the month, the church and all of its church plants do not meet for worship, but serve their community that weekend on Saturday and Sunday with various mission projects.
The Park Community Church in San Antonio is cultivating and training church planters, not for the fast growing suburban areas but to send back into city neighborhoods. The church planters must move into the neighborhood in which they are planting.
Alex Fleming resisted the urge to plant in the suburbs and instead planted Life Restored Church in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of San Antonio. He is now working with other churches to develop an urban church planting movement.
The San Antonio Baptist Association has broken away from just planting the traditional attractional church to also planting and multiplying house churches. SABA helped start 150 house churches in the past three years, which are multiplying rapidly.
Both Austin and San Antonio churches are working together in unprecedented ways to impact their cities for Christ. Over 350 Austin churches of various denominations worked in a coordinated effort to reach the lost for Christ through Explore God curriculum and all collaborated to help schools across Austin improve third grade reading levels. This year the churches are meeting once a month to pray together and to see how they can better serve the city. The Christ Together movement has spread to San Antonio where churches of all denominations are meeting there on an on going basis to determine how best they can impact the city for Christ.
I pray that the movement grows. I hear wonderful reports from all over the United States and the world! I'd love to hear how your church is making a difference for Christ in unique ways.
Let's Do This Together!