Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dave Black on Church Today

Dave Black - Known for his love for New Testament Greek and passion for teaching, Sun Day 16, 7:38AM Says:

"Much of what we call "church" today originated, not in the New Testament, but in post-apostolic times.
  • The Lord's Supper has changed from a celebration to a ceremony.
  • Worship has changed from participation to observation.
  • Witness has changed from relationship to salesmanship.
  • Leadership has changed from servanthood to professionalism.
  • Mission has changed from being missionaries to supporting missionaries.
  • Body life has changed from edification to entertainment.
  • Buildings have changed from functional to sacred.
  • Child care has changed from the hands of parents to the hands of strangers."
I'll add a few more:
  • Gatherings changed from spontaneous spirit lead to prescheduled.
  • Giving changed from giving to the poor to giving to the 'church'
  • Discipleship training changed from apprenticeship model to academic model
  • Gospel of Jesus' Kingdom changed to gospel of our distinct doctrines
  • Unity of all saints changed to unity within our local faction

It's easy to get grumpy about lists like this. I can point fingers at those anonymous people in history... "Look at the mess you have made with Christ's church."

But then there are still some fingers pointing back at me...

Have I been faithful with what God is calling me to do? Am I loving God and loving others with a servant heart moment by moment? Am I full of Christ's Joy? Peace? Patience? Goodness? Genteelness? Self control?

To get Christ's church back to where it needs to be we simply need to allow Christ to direct it.

Just like I need to allow Christ to direct my life. Easier said than done, but this is the part God is asking of me.

Fixing Christ's church? I can't do that, but I believe God is moving in His church, I'm excited to see what His plans are for it. (even if he doesn't fix everything in my list) :)

But mostly I'm excited (and anxious) about what his plans are for me.


Alan Knox said...


As I see it, there are three responses to lists like this:

1) Ignore them because the way we "do church" has changed and we shouldn't be concerned about differences like these.

2) Condemn those who are wrong about the church and the way they do church and turn away from everyone who refuses to recognize or do something about the problem.

3) Submit to Christ and allow him to change our own lives, trusting him to change others according to his will and his grace while living in peace with those who do not agree with us.

I'm seeking the third way, while continuing to point out the problems. (Perhaps there are other responses?)


Jonathan said...

Thanks Alan. Some days it is a challenge to not live in #2. I agree #3 is the way I want to respond.

Jonathan said...

I'll add Alan, thank you for being a role model for this type of response.

When we gather online, we must ask: what can I do to build up others towards maturity in Christ?

You've helped me recognize how this can be done. Thanks!

Like a Mustard Seed said...

I guess for me, it's been a process of realizing that virtually all of the changes that Dave Black so eloquently outlines didn't happen over the centuries simply as a result of human error or carnality (though those are certainly big factors!)...

Ultimately, I now see all these religious shackles as individual "victories" gained by the forces who have been at war with God and His gospel since the very, very beginning.

Humans do not corrupt the Body and the gospel all on their own. After all, our battle is not against flesh and blood (nor structures, concepts and traditions either), but against the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms.

I will confess, that for some time I was stuck in the mode of the second response. But now that I understand the "bigger picture" I find that on one hand it helps me be much more gracious towards those still in the grasp of such institutions, but at the same time gripped by the rather sobering reality that there are bigger issues at stake than simply "the best way to gather". The list outlined by Dave Black is really just a list of symptoms, but none of those things are the core problem. The problem is that we have, and have always had, an enemy, a deceiver, who has been very busy over the last 2,000 years, infiltrating and corrupting the Body, pulling it away from the Spirit-led, organic embodiment of Christ as seen in the N.T., towards something that is based on all the various pagan kingdoms and cults that he has dominion over. I've come to realize that the term "instituion" is basically just a word that we use to sum up all the various characteristics of how the false god of this world runs his own rebellious kingdom on earth...