Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Embarking on the adventure

Okay, been a while since I posted, but recently God has really convicted me of what His plans for me and for this site are.

As part of planning and researching my book I'm going to be visiting a few churches, mainly around London but also in other areas, and seeing what values they have, how they operate, their similarities and differences and strengths and weaknesses. I hope to visit churches of different denominations and sizes in different areas as well.

As part of this I feel its right for me to visit the church that has inspired me as much as any, which is Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the USA, the church planted and pastored by Rob Bell (of Nooma fame). I hope to visit sometime next spring/early summer and have all my visits done by this time next year.

I also intend to read around the subject as much as I can and learn as much as I can, so that what I eventually write will be something fresh and new, and not simply just repeating others words.

A lot of the fruits of my research will be appearing here first, and a lot of it may be very raw and unstructured, as I try to crystallise my ideas.

I'm looking forward to it, and it will be a real adventure with God.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Whats right with church

I read a blog by a friend of mine today who was sick of all the negativity and criticism around church and what's wrong with church.

Made me think, how often do we look at what's good about church?

Its all very well me saying we need to heal a broken body, but there's no point trying to heal what doesn't need healing.

There's plenty of good things about the church today. Things to build on. Things to be positive about.

Churches who get serious with community and homeless projects.

Churches and Christian organisations who are sending teams to other countries to provide aid, build homes and preach the gospel.

Churches and Christian orgnaisations who are discipling and equipping young people in the Christian faith and helping them find their identities in Christ.

Projects where people with almost nothing to live for find Jesus and change their lives.

Churches where people are healed of sickness.

Communities who provide for each others needs in a practical way. Providing food, money, housing and facilities for those who need it.

Churches where all people are welcomed no matter what their background.

Churches where there are some really anointed preachers, teachers and leaders at work.

I won't go into specific names, because that would take the glory away from the one who deserves it. Jesus.

There is lots of good stuff going on in individual churches and Christian charities worldwide. The Kingdom of God is expanding. There are people, church communities, christian organisations, Christian leaders making huge change all over the world and impacting lives and communities for Jesus, and they are all part of the body of Christ, so its all 'doing church' as far as I can see.

Its not enough.

Its never enough.

There's lots of things wrong with the church no matter what way you look at it. The real meaning and heart of church has been lost to the general public and to many who are part of it.

There is lots to do, and on this site I intent to investigate what Jesus wanted from church, what He modelled for us, how that interprets to church today, what's wrong with the church and what we can do to make it more like the body, the community, its meant to be.

Its something that impacts us all, and we all need to be asking the same kind of questions, so that we can make our own church communities more of a reflection of the idea that Jesus talked about.

So let us begin.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

How to begin healing a broken body

This is the third post from my own blog on church, and the one which really started me thinking about both doing this site and writing the book, again from August 2008...

I have recently felt God leading me to write a book on church, partially inspired by a previous post of mine on this site, "Church - Jesus style". In order to do this I know I need to really condense and crystallise my ideas into a small package, which can then be expanded upon.

That's really the purpose of this post.

Indeed, I think that as this progresses that I'll be back here again re-visiting this as I discover and understand more, and want to crystallise my thoughts again. So get ready for a few more posts like this.I'm posting it here really so that others can be blessed by what God has already spoken to me and also to maybe get some feedback.

Hope you like it.

So what about church then?

I believe that the 'established church' in the UK and all over the world is in great peril. The establishment church has become or is in serious danger of becoming nothing like what Jesus imagined church to be and how He modelled church to be.

I believe church is not - and was never meant to be - an institution, but a community of believers. All people who profess the Christian faith are part of this on a global scale, but we all belong to smaller communities of believers, or smaller 'churches'. These communities are intended to be Jesus to their community.

I believe the church is a community of activists, a community of revolutionaries who take action against poverty, injustice and suffering and serve both their local and world communities, through their everyday lifestyle, through what they publicly stand for and against, through serving in their own communities in projects, like 'God loves Peckham' in London.

I believe that church is a place where people are mentored, disciples, healed, prayed for and prepared for works of service, and a safe place where all people should feel welcomed, accepted and loved.

A community where individuals gifts are harnessed to build the kingdom of God.

I believe that the church needs to be the community which takes the lead worldwide on major issues of injustice and poverty, without being constrained by politics.

Jesus never intended the church to be another institution, or indeed Christianity to be a religion.

He called us to a way of life, to do community together and to be like Him to the rest of the world.

He stood publicly against injustice, oppression, suffering and poverty and it got Him in trouble.

The church should not be afraid to publicly stand against these issues in the world, even if it means saying we don't agree with government.

I believe the best way to grow a church community is not to just go and 'do evangelism', but to actually do what Jesus said. Go and serve the community.

Provide for needs in the local community in whatever way that means. Model and show them a different set of values and way of life.

Show people how valued and loved they are, how accepted they are by God by accepting, loving and valuing them.

I believe that there are basic principles behind how we do church, but that often how we do church depends on the type of community we live in. Prosperous communities need to be reached but in different methods than you would use to serve and poor and run down area. They have the same needs, but they need different keys to open their eyes to see them, and their resources can enable a church to do more for other areas which have great need.

I believe also that consumerism and the culture we now live in and what so many people orientate their lives now, and what is spoken to us by media and culture, has diluted what the church is all about and hinders us from truly living out our faith, both as Christians and therefore also as a church.

Indeed, I think that what being a real christian and real church are is closely linked. I think if we're truly living as Jesus intended and modelled for us, we end up with what real church is almost by accident.

Even more than that, I think what Jesus models in the Bible shows us that He expects and desires us to be in community, that being a christian to the full can only really be done in a community - church - context.

Maybe I need to write a book not only on how to do church, but on what a real christian looks like.

They seem so tightly joined.

Yet they are also two distinct things.

Being a Christian means living the way of Jesus in community, and that community is both local, national and global. The community just happens to be called church. It doesn't make it 'the church' as western culture defines it.

Its just church - Jesus style.

The church is together the body of Christ, which is meant to act like Jesus and be Jesus to the world. It means it needs to be working together to function properly. It means that individuals and churches from top to bottom need to be living the radical life Jesus calls us to.We're like a broken, disjointed body which isn't working properly.

The circulation isn't right.

The brain isn't quite right either.

We're trying to pull it apart with our own agendas, through capitalism and consumer culture, through the politics of the established church and through fear of being radical.

Healing a broken body.

A story of what's wrong with the church, what church should be and how living like Jesus (being a christian) is at the heart of it.

There is hope for Christianity and the church - if we start putting Jesus back at the centre.

The body of Christ has hope and has a future.

We just need to start doing something about it.

God's entrusted us with building His kingdom on earth and we are the body of Jesus here now.

Its time we started acting like one.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Healing a broken body

To continue my introduction to this subject, here is another article from my other blog, which inspired the name of this site. This too is from August 2008...

This week yet again I have been reading with despair about more potential splits in the Church of England, more comments by Rowan Williams which are dividing the church.

But its worse than that.

Its worse because it damages the what the general public outside the church perceive as church, so detracting and damaging for what real church actually is.

You see we don't just need to get back to what 'real church' actually is, but we need to show the world and tell the world what real church is. That its not the 'established church' as perceived by so many.Church at its best is a community of people living out their faith individually and together.

When everyone in the body is truly following the way of Jesus, then the body of Christ becomes more powerful. While there are Christians, or people who claim to be Christians, who don't love, forgive, serve sacrificially, give, and orientate their entire lives around God's values, while there are people who are religious but not radical, legalistic rather than full of grace, prefer the establishment to the revolutionary life Jesus calls us to, who would rather appease people than stand up for truth, then the church will always be a poor reflection of Christ.

Christ's body will always be crippled as long as this goes on.

Jesus challenged the establishment.

Jesus was radical.

Jesus was revolutionary.

Jesus stood against the authorities of His day and proclaimed a different kingdom.

Jesus stood up for the values of God, but showed grace and mercy instead of judgement.

Jesus was controversial and stood against the 'established religious authorities'.

Jesus was not legalistic, but proclaimed a living faith.

Jesus was not religious.

Jesus was willing to be treated as a criminal for His faith.

Jesus said it wasn't about what we said, but how we lived and the posture of our hearts, which showed how much we loved God.

This is the life Jesus calls us to today.

Who are the 'established religious authorities' today? Who is legalistic today? Who is religious today? Who judges people today?

I think you could answer 'Christians' or 'the church' to all of those questions couldn't you? I'm certain I could.

We need to change how we think, and what our definition of what a 'Christian' and 'church' is.

The real meaning has been lost for a long time now, its time we reclaimed it.

The way of Jesus is the heart of our faith, its the heart of Christianity and the heart of church. Living like Him, with His values, attitudes, lifestyle and treatment of people. We do it individually and we start to become real Christians, real followers of Jesus.

We do it corporately, we might just have the church Jesus talked about, for all the world to see. And it might just appeal more to people than the perception of the church as it is now.

But it only works if we all do it.

If we heal this broken body.

It can be done.

If we work together and we truly put Jesus at the core of our beings and our lifestyle.

Its not easy. I find it very hard. But all of us trying will make a difference.

We first need to change the posture of our hearts, then the change will start to come.Once your heart is turned, then the change becomes easier and easier. It is still a challenge, but one we will meet with more and more joy.

So let us change the posture of our hearts, and work towards healing a broken body.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Church - Jesus style

To begin with on this blog, I'll be publishing some of the other posts I've already written on church on my other blog, sort of as a beginning. Here is the first one, from July 2008...

I read today with despair but little surprise that the Church of England is on the verge of splitting over women priests and gay ordination.

More despair than anything.

What kind of message does this send out?

The established church dividing again. Wow, what a surprise.It just strikes me that none of this is what Jesus had in mind when he asked Peter to build His church. Ask people what 'the church' means to most people now and they mention the institutions of church, the establishment church.

They usually mean the Church of England or the Catholic church, which despite whatever they believe appear to a lot of people now as part of the established order, part of tradition, part of culture, even part of politics and royalty.Jesus didn't come to become part of the establishment, He came to show them what they were doing wrong, and to take them on and re-define his culture.Jesus didn't come to bring more legalism and tradition, He came to shame those who were very religious and legalistic, and to show them there is more to being a follower of God than following rules and regulations, or knowing the scriptures off by heart.

Jesus didn't come to start a religion, but to show us a new way to live.

Church as Jesus orginially intented, church 'Jesus style', is not a religion, its not establishment, its not legalistic, it doesn't get caught up in single issues and doesn't argue about being right or wrong.

Its a community trying to follow the way of Jesus, to stand for the values He stood for, taking a lead in fighting injustice, taking action where Jesus would take action, making choices daily for God, serving each other, giving to each other, blessing each other, living at peace and don't falling out over 'disputable matters', and showing love and grace to all people, welcoming everyone no matter who they are.

Its a way of life, an organism.Its constantly changing, growing, learning, developing, nurturing and evolving.

Churches are outwardly different in how they put their faith in to practice, depending on the circumstances, location, culture, need and type of people where its located.

But at their heart they should have the same values, desires, passion, and inspiration. They should all have the way of Jesus at their heart.

Churches shouldn't be political or be used as political tools but, as individuals and as a collective, should be activists, taking the lead in global and local issues where God's values aren't being upheld, and setting the agenda locally, nationally and internationally.

They should be leading the way. United, together, as a body and a family and focused on the same thing.

What is happening to the established church today saddens me.

Because that name we give it isn't what it really is.

I don't want to give it the name church anymore, because its beginning not to deserve it anymore.

Its giving Jesus and His church - His people, that is - a bad name, a wrong name.

Its certainly not the church Jesus had in mind.

Its not church, 'Jesus style.'

Thursday, 21 August 2008

An Introduction

So, welcome to the site. This is a new site focussing on the issue of church.

For a long time now I've had a real passion for Church and Jesus has really been beginning to give me a vision of what church should be, can be and the issues facing the church today.

I feel called to write a book on this subject, and part of this will also be examining what it means to be a Christian as well, as that I beleive impacts how we do church.

This blog will be focussed on church and will discuss the issues facing the church, what I beleive is wrong with the church and trying to impart and visualise what I beleive Jesus wants church to be and how we put that into practice. It will try to ask the difficult questions about church and try to look at what church as Jesus envisioned it really means.

It will allow me to crystallise my own thoughts on the subject in more focussed posts as I try to write my book over the coming years.

This will go alongside my other blog which will continue to ask and discuss the big issues facing us as Christians and will have more about the things God is speaking to me about in other areas.

I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I hope that this site can be a blessing and resource, and stimulation for discussion as we try to move the church forward and together try to discover just what church really is.

The church is the body of Christ, and in my opinion its currently broken, hence the title of the blog.

Together and with Jesus at the centre I beleive we can start to heal it. So lets begin...