I just wanted to revisit a post from 2007 which I titled 'The Compulsive Minister' based on a chapter from a Henri Nouwen book. I find this post, still, very relevant as it challenges me to look deeply at the motivations behind my 'service for God.'
Today, I might name this article, "The Secularization of Ministry."
I believe in gatherings where everyone is known so that no one gets lost.
I believe in gatherings where we can learn from each other’s personal lives and stories (not just head knowledge) so that growth and discipleship takes place in the context of genuine, healthy relationship.
I believe in gatherings that are participatory because this involves and engages the entire body of Christ.
I believe in gatherings that call the body of Christ to take responsibility for its own spiritual life and stop relying on mediators, events, or someone else to “bring us the goods” because we need to grow up.
I believe in gatherings that are simple so that we are free to spend time with nonChristians and have the time to invite them into our lives.
I believe in gatherings that are easily multiplied, so that we can see people released to reach people anywhere, disciple people everywhere, and start “churches” at any time in any place.
I believe in gatherings that are inexpensive so that money is freed up for apostolic workers and the needs of the poor.
Is there one particular “model” that all of this fits into? Not necessarily. I think God will constantly challenge, stretch, and re-shape our man-made attempts to “do” church gatherings. And I think that is good. The point is to keep focusing on maximizing our life with Him, our partnership with His purposes, and our spiritual growth.
Simple church, real church, is:
Let's keep it simple, but seek His power and presence in all things! May His Kingdom come!
This is no easy task as religion offers a subtle and powerful substitute for deep relationship with God. It can be so easy to wrap our life with the externals of duty, performance, or ‘right living,’ and ignore the fundamental reality that we were made to deeply know and encounter God.
Perhaps I can best stir our hearts on this by quoting from A.W. Tozer and his landmark book, The Pursuit of God:
“The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.”
“The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition.”
“David's life was a torrent of spiritual desire, and his psalms ring with the cry of the seeker and the glad shout of the finder. Paul confessed the mainspring of his life to be his burning desire after Christ.”
“I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire.”
“If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to ‘babes’ and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and prudent… We must put away all efforts to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.”
“When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself.”
May God awaken, today, our first love for Him and Him alone.
That said, I love hearing how others are living their faith into the world they live in. Here is a short list which I hope you will add to.
The ‘church’ is meant to be a going, 24/7, unleashed expression of Jesus. Therefore this small list is only scratching the surface of what the people of God are meant to look like as we live our faith into the world.