x489........So How would it work?
If--we operated a church without one person exercising authority over another
If ---we operated a church within all the homes of Christians--the NT "house of God"
If---we recognized the ministry which God has given to every Christian
If--we repented of all our traditional--Roman--Old Covenant ideas about operating the church and decide to operate and believe for a real New Covenant church
If--we understood that we are released--made apostles--at the time of conversion--at the time when we meet Jesus
If---we followed the rules of meeting together as layed out in 1 Corinthians (specifically chapter 12-14)--in which "everyone" has the right to speak (prophecy)--teach--and in which the Holy Spirit speaks through all the members of the body.
If---we operated a church by Spirit-lead giving--giving which is to "the saints"--to everyman as he has need.
If---we operated a church with the goals of preaching the Gospel to the lost-- feeding the poor--healing the sick--bringing deliverance to the captives--and freely releasing people to serve God (see Luke 4:18)
If---we operated a church in which Christ truly was the Head--(Christ the Head of the church--and the Head of every man).
If--we realized that the Gospel, healing, deliverance and ministry are gifts from God for all those who meet Jesus with faith.
If we recognzed the operational principal of the New Covenant is to release every Christian to their ministry--to their priesthood--to be a servant of God--to be kings in the earth to be servants to God--to have authority to preach the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out the devil--but NOT authority one over another,
Well--what would it look like?--How would it work??
Simple--yet incredibly effective.
Christians meeting together in small groups
consider this example: We have a small group of Christians--perhaps only a dozen people.
Step 1: discern what God has given you--so you may sow it.
With 12 Christians you would have potentially 12 houses of God to operate the church from. Now, we must use the rules which God has set forth in 1Timothy 3 v 1-15---to decide who can qualify to be a "deacon"--(minister--servant)--which are the people who can hold meetings within their homes. The qualifications are quite simple--is the person's house in order--Do they have unruly children?--Do they drink?--Are they interested in being servants of God for money's sake? Certainly most of the 12 Christians in our example would fit--perhaps some would not--perhaps some have difficulty with their homes--etc. We all pass through seasons when this might be the case.
rule: the church is a heart organization--we are bound together by love--NOT by rules or commitments--we do not put unrealistic or comparative expectations on one another within the the church. What one person can do at any given time to serve God is between them and God--we don't need overambitious over-achievers in the church--we need people who will steadily run the race--and we need love and understanding for one another's situations.
So now our first step is to establish our churches--our houses of God. The very first goal should be for meetings to be held as often as possible. With only 12 people it would be very possible to have meeting every day--perhaps more than one a day (mornings or evenings--God is ready to work anytime we are)
Undoing a ridiculous rule: there is absolutely no need for all the people to attend all the meetings every day! Yes, occasionally--as the Spirit leads--we should have an "assembly"--inviting everyone to gather together--but in the day to day functioning of the church it is only necessary for 2 or 3 to be present for Christ to be in he midst--right? Sometimes God wants to operate through small groups--we need to allow Him to decide who attends when and where.
Our meetings are to be lead by the Spirit of God--not by any one person--we are to be equals with Christ as our ruler--we are to be brothers and sisters in Christ--not under the authority of one man.
At our meetings, we must follow the rules set forth in the Bible as stated in 1Corinthians 14--everyone has the right to teach and prophecy--this is how God is going to speak to us--and give us instructions. But--we must be ready and willing to act out on His instructions. If the Lord spoke for us to go to a specific place on a certain day and witness the Gospel to a certain persons--we must be ready and willing to obey.
the houses of God within our group are the key meetings places--they are what we already have--and they must be willingly sown for God's use and purposes.
Step 2: discern the gifts God has given which must be sown.
We must look carefully at the gifts of ministry--at the categories of ministry which are given to us by God as outlined in Ephesians 4. These gifts are for all of us to have and function in--they are NOT titles of ruler ship or authority over one another--however they are God's functions of authority--they are God's authority to be used to rule over the devil--over all types of sickness--and over sin by bringing the Gospel to the lost.
We must discern and trust the gifts within one another. At times in our lives we might function in differing gifts--we are not all teachers or apostles or prophets--not all at once--not permenantly one thing or another. These are anointings which we operate under when the Lord works inside of us. They will operate outwardly in different ways in all of us. "Prophecying" is not just speaking in tongues--nor preaching the world (although it is certainly these things) it is also the written word and literally every expression that proclaims God--(performance--art--etc).
Priority 1---Find the apostles! Jesus first priority in His ministry was to find the apostles--to find those who will go out to the world--who will work together in a group--who will go out and bring His ministry to the world--(Gospel--healing--deliverance--to the poor--broken hearted--captives --see Luke 4:18). first we must find those among us who have the gift ---who have the heart--- who have the love toward those in the world--to go out and witness the Gospel--to pray for the sick and those who are oppressed.
Point:--this is not as difficult as we might think! WE must repent of our ideas of other "big minstries" which we have seen. Are you willing to go out with others and hand out tracts at the mall?--You are doing an apostolic work. Are you willing to work with others and cook some meals for the homeless? You are doing an apostolic work. How hard is that?
Again, using the basis of our houses of God we organize--we work together--at the Lords instruction--and begin to reach out to the community--perhaps visiting and praying for the sick at hospitals and nursing homes. Perhaps in street witnessing in groups.
Remember--bring your gifts with you! If there is a group of people who like to play music together within the church--why not bring that gift out to the world in whatever way you can? We have many wonderful and gifted musicians within our churches--it's an incredible shame that we keep them hidden within the format of our church "service"!! (testimony time: I was a part of cool little music ministry in a church--we played fun-fast paced modern Christian music. Right next door to the church was a bar. We had a word from the Lord in prayer that we ought to go to that bar and get a gig--try to see if they world let us play our music in the bar!---never got done because the pastor didn't approve) but what an important idea--the music ministry--a type of ministry which the world can relate to very easily (there is Christian music today which fits almost any type of ear--it is rather unfortunate that most of it only gets sold to Chrsitians--another idea--how about a Christian CD store in the mall--but give away stuff for free!!) music is a huge unused apostolic ministry in the church--we simply do not consider the outreach to the community our first priority--we are too consumed with building a nice building having nice praise music for our own use--and our goal in this whether we want to admit it or not is to steal other Christians from other churches--yipes! This whole idea really comes to us in history from the dark ages--when the church ruled everyone--and proclaimed enveryone a "church-member" at baptismal birth. Since everyone was a Christian, (at least according to the rules the church had set up!) there was no real need to be apostolic--to reach out to the lost--so music was strictly used within the church--as well as all the other outreaching gifts. Unfortunatley, this tradition still clings to us in our "Roman" formatted church services to this day!
First: find the apostles--equip them--take up collections for their ministry if needed--send them out--this is the basis for the growth of the church and the first priority.
Step 2: Set up teaching and pastoral ministry within the church.
What are we gong to do with the people that the apostles bring into he church? We need teaching within he church--but real quick effective teaching. We need to find the people who know how to teach the word right within the church--and allow them to work freely with the rest--especially the new converts. Now, their is certainly a vast amount of teaching available in Christianity today--and much of it is very good and helpful. But we must filter out what is not necessary--and what is especially not necesary is our 'format" of one person doing all the teaching within he church! People sit for years in church waiting for the message that will change their lives--it is a shame that the person siting right next to them has the answer they need--but we have the unreal--traditional-(pagan!) concept that all the words come from the pulpit!
Teaching should be directly to the need of the student. Teaching is ministry--that serves another person (definetely NOT rulership over others!!)--teaching that meets the needs of the individual. Questions are a must--people need to be free and encouraged to ask questions about the Bible about God about their Christianity--etc. We should not be afraid of questions--they are necesary for true growth--and for honest teaching to truly take place. WE should believe that God the holy ghost is the one who truly teaches us--and that it is the Christ within us that teaches another--NOT our head knowledge. (again--therefore--we must must understand that these gifts are for every one of us--and are given "even to the rebellious--psa 68:18---yes a person who is brand new in the Lord can be a teacher--it is God who teaches --NOT our experience or our knowledge!). We should not be afraid of questions--with today's computer Bibles answers are only clicks away--and we must trust God that He will supply all the answers we need--there is always someone else who knows the answer within the church--this one of the reasons we have difficulties with questions in our churches--since expect that all the answers come from one man we are therefore limited by that one man's understanding and gift. In a church of equals--there will always be support for all from other members.
Step 3: we need pastors!! We all need a pastor--all of us! (huh? I though you guys were against pastors--what do you mean!!) We need real pastoral ministry--when we define the pastoral ministry according to the Bible--It is the ministry of leading people to release--it is the ministry of leading people to be ministers themselves--what an important ministry!! But it is a personal ministry a ministry of prayer and leading and helpfulness toward another Christian--with the intent of releasing them--of seeing them do greater things than you can----of making them into apostles.
The New covenant church was based upon apostleship. The operation of the church as well as Jesus' own ministry was that of the "setting at liberty" of those who were saved to freely serve God. Apostleship was the first goal, and the absolute necessity for God to operate in the earth. The ministry of all was recognized. The Bible tells us that this his how people are saved (Romans 10) it tells us that ministry to all is the way that God will "dwell among men" (psalm 68:18) and it tells us that ministry in all the body is crucial for the operational plan of God to be brought into the earth--He speaks through "every man" (1 Cor 14:20-26)--not through specific people who are "in authority" over the rest.