No More Building Around Attendance
“Well, how does that work? How do we start that? How do we live that way with the people we love and care for?” This may initially sound a little bit hard to grasp and understand. We’re all here and we have time to talk about these things, but I wanted to at least give you a picture of something that is not another system, not another program. We’ve all had enough of those. Most of you are nearly as old as I am, and your whole life you’ve seen programs start and fail, start and fail, start and fail…and it’s heartbreaking. So we don’t need another program. There is something fundamentally wrong with how most of us have “had church” most of our lives. There’s a different way to build our lives together where we’re helping each other to grow in Jesus every day as a priesthood of believers. And some would call that “house church” or “home church.” If you start a “home church” you’re going to have a program that will fall apart. If you live as the people of God and the family of God, and your expectations are that every single person in the church lives as the family of God daily, then you’ll be in homes, but you won’t call it a “home church” or “home church movement.” You’ll call it Christianity, where from the least to the greatest we all know Him (Hebrews 8:10-12).
We’re laying down our lives every day for each other and the world will see that. “This is how all men will know you’re My disciples, by missionary outreach?” No, that is good intentioned and good fruit can come from it, but that isn’t what Jesus said. “By preaching really good sermons, all men will know you are my disciples?” That’s not what He said. He said, “All men will know you’re My disciples (you’ll touch the world around you) by them seeing how you love one another” (John 13:35).
If you build around meetings and attendance of something, the world will never see how you love one another. The world is not there, and they can’t see it. But if your lives are totally intertwined as a big family, then the people will see and say, “Wow, this is a quality of life we’ve never seen before. They love each other, and they don’t even have the same surname. I’ve never seen that. They would give you anything, the shirt off their back. They’d give their house or car to you. It’s their house and car, they can do whatever they want, but they love each other more than they love their possessions. Wow, this is new to us.” That’s the ultimate “house church,” right? Family that is totally intertwined, Koinonia.
The word Koinonia, fellowship, means to have all things in common. You don’t have fellowship if your lives are not intertwined. Fellowship means you have my hopes and dreams and fears, and I have yours. Yeah, you can share my possessions and I can share yours, but that’s not really the meaning of fellowship. Fellowship is certainly not about eating food together, although that’s part of it. The word means that our whole lives are intertwined. The things I’m afraid of… you have your arm around me, and you’re helping me in. The gifts you have are my gifts. I don’t have to compete with you because you are part of me. We’re members of one another. That’s what the Bible says. Not members of a “church,” we’re members of one another (1Corinthians 12:12).
So, that’s what we’re here to talk about, I think, I hope. Around the world people are crying out with hunger for these things we’re talking about right now, because they’ve tried all the programs and sermon series. They’ve tried everything they can, from new structures and new forms to new buildings and new ideas, and those things are fading glory. They keep falling away, falling away… We try to pump it back up and it falls away, pump it back up again and it falls away. But ever-increasing glory is the way of Jesus, and these things are contagious.
The things we’re talking about now you don’t have to find a way to fix or make happen. You don’t have to control it and own it. It’s not about money. It’s not about buildings. It’s not about house versus no house. It’s about having the depth of love that you have for your own children for one another, and then it fixes itself. People then are a priesthood of Believers that are doing all the things with you and for you that you, even with your big heart and all of your gifts, can’t do for enough people to hold it together because you’re just individuals. But when it’s a Kingdom of Priests and all the gifts of the body are involved with each other every day, you can almost sit back and watch the church grow, and you can just do your part. You don’t have to be important anymore. You don’t have to carry the whole burden on your back anymore.
Jesus said the government was on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6), not on ours. We feel like it is on ours, and that’s what makes us old before our time, because we try so hard to make everything work. Either you don’t care, and you’re content to let everyone’s lives fall apart. Or you care so much that you bear the burdens of trying to help all the marriages and all the teenagers that you know. You can see with your eyes that they are falling away and it breaks your heart, so you try to do more programs and more preaching and you continue to watch them drift away from Jesus.
Well, there’s a solution to all that. It’s the good news. For twenty years now we’ve lived in the solution for that. It’s not any more complicated than unifying and simplifying and doing what the Bible says in the way the Bible says to do it—as a family rather than as an attendance-based program. The world has tricked us into thinking that church is attending something, but the Bible doesn’t teach that. Islam does. Hinduism does. All the world religions attend something, but Jesus didn’t start a Christianity that you attend. You won’t find that in the Bible. It is something you are, together, and it is far more powerful than something you attend. All the world religions have a “holy man,” and you attend their meetings. They are all that way, except for the one Jesus started. Nobody “attended’ Jesus. He didn’t have any regularly scheduled Bible studies on Tuesday night to study Isaiah. It’s not in the Bible. He didn’t do that.
So, we can let some oxygen re-enter the room here while we eat lunch if you want. : )
Let’s pray for the food.
Lord, we want to thank You this morning for this privilege and opportunity to be together, oh God, to fellowship with You. Thank You for Your divine presence. Thank You that we can hear from You through these fellow brothers from America. Lord, we thank You really from our hearts and right now we just pray and lift up to You this food we are about to eat. May it be nourishment to our bodies that it will make us strong so that we can really minister to people and love them more as You have loved us. Thank You, Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.