"So What Now? Uh, I Guess We'll Go to Church..."

posted by Jeffrey on Sunday, February 05, 2006 at 4:08 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Perhaps that is what went through the minds of the disciples shortly following Jesus' ascension into Heaven. Well actually, they wouldn't have used the phrase "go to church" they would have probably said something more like, "gather at the temple". At any rate, I've been thinking about the possibility of that conversation for several months now, and a conversation I had Saturday morning rekindled the somewhat dormant flame of that idea.

I wonder if our 21st century dependency on the weekly corporate worship gathering (or worship service, as you may call it) is nothing more than 12 Jewish guys lack of creativity and thought regarding what it means to now be the Church. What if the systems that shortly followed his ascension were in no way what Jesus had in mind for us? What if God had a more holistic idea and plan for us as the Church? What if there is more to this disciple's life that we live than to study stories of how God communicated with and moved in other people's lives and to depend on weekly "feedings" as we congregate in close proximity with (but not necessarily in unity with) other believers?

I realize these questions may not be a place you choose, or even need, to go on your spiritual journey right now, but it's just where I am at the moment...


Blogger Rick said...

What if corporate worship is the encouragement and motivation toward individual worship (presenting our bodies as living sacrafices) we receive through hearing and sharing with other believers about how you/they experienced the life of Christ recently.

February 06, 2006 12:58 PM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

What if indeed...

February 06, 2006 2:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stumbled upon your blog and this entry made do some thinking.

I would argue that the concept of a group of people gathering together on a regular basis is not a New Testament concept, but I will not go down this path at the moment.

I think it is a stretch to imply that the apostles were a bunch of clueless guys. These weren't exactly the guys that we saw in super bowl beer commercials.

I would suggest you read the book of Acts again. To me, it looks like the perfect model of how the body of Christ should operate.

Acts 1:14 - They all joined together constantly in prayer...
Acts 1:15, their leader, or pastor, speaks to the congregation.
Acts 2:14, the first revival meeting? Thousands were saved as the "evangelist" preached.
Acts 2:42, teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread,prayer, and meeting daily.
Acts 2:47 - And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

And from this local body of believers, they went out into the world and eventually brought the gospel to us.

Definately and impressive model with impressive results, not just some lack of creativity and thought.


February 07, 2006 1:00 PM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

*warning: long comment--please bare with me*

To whomever you are,

Welcome. Glad you stumbled on here and decided to post some thoughts. My intention here was not to say that the disciples were just 12 "super bowl beer commercial" guys. ha ha, that is a funny image though. I was merely offering that thought (w/ slight melo-dramatic undertones) as a hypothetical, yet possible, scenario.

Well, now that I think about it, they were a bunch of clueless guys! Much like myself many times, they never seemed to comprehend what Christ was trying to show them. He continually repeated Himself to them. As John records it late in his gospel account, Jesus even once proclaimed of the disciples, "You believe at last!".

At any rate, since you use Acts chapter 1 and 2 as examples (and very good ones, indeed), that is where I'll keep the conversation. I don't know that I would go as so far to say that this gathering was the first "revival" meeting. Did it turn into that? yes. (Well, actually i guess it was the original "viving" meeting--there was nothing to RE-vive yet, lol). But it was not a scheduled event. It was a very Jewish event actually. Why were the Twelve gathered together on Pentecost? In the Hebrew mind it may have been something like:

"'He told us not to leave the city until the counselor came.'
'It's the day of Pentecost--woah, do you think something will happen today?'
'I don't know, wouldn't that rock?!'
'Sure would, let's see what happens...'
'Oh my gosh! There's a flaming tounge over your head!'
'What the heck?!'"

To me, one of the most incredible things obout Pentecost is the fact that God used that day, a day devoted to the celebration, originally, of the giving of the Law (later it turned into a first-fruits celebration) to bring the Holy Spirit to now endwell His people. See what happens there? God yet again shows He is the same God He always has been. He fuses the Spirit into His people on the very day of the celebration of the Law--He fulfills the Old Covenant and institutes the New right there at the very same moment. And so the never ending story of redemtive history continues... How incredible!

What happens here is spontaneous community. Was there preaching, fellowship, growth (numerically), and revival? of course! but it was not programmed or planned. It was a bunch of people enjoying fellowship with each other and sharing stories of what has happened and ideas of what was to come when the Spirit of God moved...

I would love to hear your input futher on this topic...(by the way, since tone is left open to interpretation here, that last comment was genuine, not a "so how do you like that" statement)

February 07, 2006 1:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay...agreed, I guess, but I am unclear of your point. You seem to be talking about one event that took place, Pentecost.

My point is relating to the entire early church movement vs the way we do "church" today.

I would say it is (then and now) an organized community in which spontaneous things happen, as the Holy Spirit moves.

Anyway, we can change details to meet specific needs, but I will stick with the model outlined in Acts. If it was good enough for the Apostles, I think it is good enough for us today.


February 08, 2006 12:44 PM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

Sorry for the confusion. I merely kept the conversation around the day of Pentecost since that was the allusion you made in your original comment. My apologies if I missed your point.

You said:
"I would say it is (then and now) an organized community in which spontaneous things happen, as the Holy Spirit moves."

I agree. However, I would suggest that even in the Acts account, there was a varying level of organization. As I read it, some communities gathered in the synagogue, some in other public places, some in homes, and more. So I am not so sure there is such a concrete "model" of the Acts church.

That isn't a bad thing. Learning what it means to be a follower of Christ has always been something that is struggled over and wrestled with as God continually paints new details into the masterpiece of His Church--ever refining it into His image.

By the way, let me here say that I'm not trying to intellectually or emotionally sway you to agree with or share in my opinion or way of thinking. As we experience community even here in this cyber world, I am confident that we learn from and are spurred on by each other--even in differing viewpoints.

February 08, 2006 1:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who was Paul writing to in his letters? A loose nit group of strangers who bumped into each other every once in awhile at the synagogue? The model laid out in the New Testament has been pretty successful for the last 2000 years.

Anyway, not trying to be argumentative. You inspired me to re-read the book of Acts and frankly, think about this topic more than I ever have.

Good luck...

February 08, 2006 4:32 PM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

No no no! Paul was by no means "writing to a group of strangers who bumped into each other every once in awhile at the synagogue". Actually, I would think that, indeed, is a better description of western Christians today.

And if we're still discussing the book of Acts here, it is unclear who the author was. Though the author never names himself, extra-scriptural information would strongly suggest that it was Luke who wrote Acts. Just as another tidbit of trivia, many scholars believe that Luke's gospel account and the book of Acts were originally the same letter.

Who did Paul write to? He wrote his letters to the Church at Corinth, the Church at Galtia, the Church at Thessolonica, etc. What did Paul mean when he said, "to the Church at..."? He meant to the followers of Jesus in that city. The writing of Paul's first letter is speculated to be around AD 48/49 at the earliest--and that would have been to the Church at Galatia. The majority of the letters would have been written after this, during the period when Nero was emporer of Rome (AD 54-68). Nero is famous for his terribly brutal persecution of the Church (ironically, generating it's most explosive growth). I did a post on this a while back.

What's my point? Christians at that time most likely did not meet together publicly in large groups due to the threat of persecution. Compare it to the Church in China today. So Paul's letters weren't, again, "written to a group of strangers who bumped into each other every once in awhile at the synagogue", but instead circulated among smaller communities of faith who were connected with each other in the most sacred and intimate of ways (not to imply sexual connectedness by the use of the word intimate, lol).

I personally choose not to attempt to replicate "models" of the past (or present, for that matter) based on the measure that, "it worked for them". The people of God in the first century did what they had to for their time. They followed the Spirit's moving and guidance as they discerned it. I hope, oh how I hope, that the Spirit would move and lead us differently for what the world needs in our time.

Thank you for making me take a 2nd look (or maybe it's a 4th or 5th look, lol) at this line of thinking. This is what community is about. I look forward to further discussion with you, whoever you are.


February 09, 2006 8:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffrey, I have come across your post and couldn't help but make a comment. However, my comments involve questions. I appreciate this journey you are on to redefine the church simply because I think it is in trouble and in need of reforem. However, I don't believe the neglect of organization is the answer. Before I can even comment further I was curious how you deal with the clear organization of church in the Pastoral Epistles. Furthermore, do you honestly think that true community can come about by individuals just pursuing Christ on our own and getting together to discuss this. I know that this is not technically what you have proposed but you are unclear. For true, authentic community of believers to take place there must be elements of baptism, Lord's Supper, church disipline, and others that can only be truly carried out within the context of the organized church. I do not say that out of opinion but out of a conviction as I read the Scriptures. This was one of the very reasons the church was organized. I sound aloud along with you the Church is in trouble as we have succomed to the corporate model of catering to our own needs and becoming driven my money and power (and I'm not talking about Joel Osteen, for this is seen in SBC churches as well...I guess that gave away my association). Anyway, there is a need for people to think about this because this is the institution God ordained to exalt His Son. we must take it seriously. Thanks for your thoughts but I hope you reconsider your direction. I look forward to your comments. ---andyp

February 22, 2006 9:00 AM


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