Relax! Calm down, have a cup of tea!
[To make a good ‘cuppa,’ according to my Mother, steep the tea for 3+ minutes in a teapot using only boiling hot water, cover teapot with teacozy (see photo of of my Mom’s ‘cozy' at the end of ), pour milk into China teacup first and finally add hot tea. Stir, adding a little sugar to your taste. Cools you down on a hot day—say the English—and warms you when you’re cold.)
There, feel better now?
The kind of evolution we’re considering today, is not about some creature climbing up out of a gooey, murky primeval pit that eventually becomes you—or me.
It’s about the evolution of the church. What it was and what it has become.
But first, let’s get this straight. I’m no church historian, lettered theologian or expert on very much. These are merely my observations from reading the New Testament’s account of the church as it started 2000 years ago—and how I see what the church has become today (in the Western world anyway). The church is a precious body of people scattered around our planet.
That’s a fact. How we perceive the church to be, and how we actually do church, can be poles apart.
The church started out as just being a bunch of people who got together. No special buildings, no pews, no hymn books, no PowerPoint, just folks who had come to know Jesus, and who enjoyed hanging out. They’d meet pretty often in one home or another, and share their new faith and love of the Saviour, basically in four simple ways:
What bound them together was that they shared all kinds of things with each other, so that nobody was in need of food, clothing, shelter or bus fare—nor did anyone need to go begging, because everybody had enough (some radicals sold things and shared their resources with others).
Guess what? They all lived in harmony with each other and their lives oozed joy.
Sadly, it wasn’t long before Satan came along and started wrecking a good thing . . . you can read all about the good, the bad and the ugly in the early church—it’s all in Dr Luke’s book (The Acts). Actually, just keep reading the rest of the New Testament. Paul in his letters has to deal with all kinds of junk that popped up in the new church groups that he set up in different places.
Back to what the church is—and isn’t.
To be a church, there must be at least a few believers—or a church might even number in the thousands. Size doesn’t seem to matter as long as harmony and close relationships are formed and maintained.
But a church must be a family.
Each church is a unit of the worldwide Family of God, which is also known as, “The Body of Christ.” We are a ‘body’ of believers (in the same way that we refer to the ‘body politic’ as the people of a nation, state, or society).
So, this is not complicated, it simply means that you are my brother or my sister. We are family, we are one, as Jimmy & Carol Owens so profoundly and simply laid it out it in their song . . .
We are heirs of the Father
We are joint-heirs with the Son
We are children of the Kingdom
We are family—we are one
The church was never meant to be a building. Cathedrals, temples, synagogues and mosques are usually structures of some kind, designed and built for the purpose of holding religious rituals, sacraments and liturgies. Even tents, storefronts, warehouses, theaters or other sundry and diverse properties, owned or rented, are referred to as churches. But they’re not.
No! We are the church.
When I was young, on Sundays we went (several times!) to a ‘Meeting,’ or to the ‘Assembly.’ Never to ‘Church.’ If we had to describe the place we met, it was the ‘Hall.’
So, back to evolution, the evolution of the church. What have we turned into? Have we evolved into a higher state of ‘family-ness’? Hmmm.
I’m not here to knock all the hardworking servants of God who labor in our various assemblages of believers. Crowns await these faithful men and women. But they are merely custodians of what we the church, have allowed ourselves to evolve into. God bless them!
Let’s get back to being family, the Family of God. How do we do that? By starting to treat each other as loved and cherished brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties . . . and all the rest of the tribe. By being willing to be unpredictable (Jesus was), by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead our times together, rather than bowing to timetables, order of service and the clock.
But I hear you say, “We’re a mess!” So was the early church, and they had people like Paul and others to help clean up their messes. Just look at the growth of our less-than-perfect church over the last 2000 years, despite everything that could possibly be thrown at it.
The short introduction to the letter by James, that you’ll find in The Message—pretty much tells us what an average church really is. It may shock you, because Eugene Peterson’s opening volley goes like this, “When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does.”
Be sure to read the rest of the intro to the letter from James—here it is: follow this link
We choose to be born into the Family of God—the church, the Body of Christ. Kids born into a human family have no choice in the matter. The family analogy is so simple and understandable by all of us, yet over the centuries we’ve made ‘church’ so complicated.
Let’s de-evolve back into being family—and living out that ’familyness’ . . .
Let's BE the church! Read James 3:18 in The Message . . . about building community.
[For Henry Nouwen’s view of church community, see . . . and Finally below]
"The church used to confess its sin, now it confesses its right.” David Wilkerson
"The Holy Spirit did not come to make them of one accord, He came because they were of one accord. It is not the music that tunes your piano, it's the tuned piano that makes your music.” A.W. Tozer
"Do not let us imagine that we can take into our fellowship and enlist under one banner men who simply affirm truth about Jesus, unless in their own lives there is an absolute loyalty to the Lord Christ.” G. Campbell Morgan
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”
"The world doesn’t believe the Bible, Christians don’t obey the Bible."
"Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne!”
“If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water’s edge.” Napoleon Hill
Lastly, we need to practice John Milton’s challenge to us for today . . .
“Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows.”
Trouble is we live in a culture where the reverse is the norm . . .
Bad, the more communicated, more abundant grows.
“The Lord is so good and so kind. Even though life is hard and I am desperate to see something that looks like fruit, I have the Holy Spirit within me to comfort and encourage. I read something today that went something like, ‘Be especially kind to everyone you meet because each one is fighting a very difficult battle.’ How true it is, but it is so easy to believe the lie that I am all alone in the struggle and that nobody understands. When I think this way, I isolate myself and fail to connect with others. But I need to remember that we are all in this together, nobody is exempt from trouble, God doesn’t play favorites, and His faithfulness endures forever, no matter what the circumstances say.”
Cecily Willard, missionary in Eastern Europe (we think)
Thank you so much for the parable (of the thistles) in the last eTouch, spot on for me. Seeing all that’s going on around me I often feel quite overwhelmed with the prayer needs. But your inspired parable takes the pressure off. I’m not released from praying, but the parable shows that the weeds are not all going to be prayed away. What I need is more discernment in my praying.
Carol Hall, England
Sep 21-26: The Netherlands, YWAM Heidebeek, “Destiny by Design” Seminar (UofN credit) with Gwen Bergquist. Click here for more information .
Dear Associates Family,
I’m writing this from an inTouch Camp in Romania, where I was invited to speak at a church in the city of Sighishoara. I asked the Lord what was on His heart for the people and He said, "I want them to be family, and have unity. Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother." [Mark 3:35]
We were warmly welcomed and the pastor’s wife who is a YWAMer, was sitting in front of us with many children around her. One son she gave birth to, a little one in a baby seat that they were in the process of adopting, and the other four were foster children. She showed love to each one in such a caring way, according to each of their needs.
On a beautiful Sunday morning, in this lovely nation, many made Jesus Lord and King of their lives. The only way we’re going to see His Kingdom come is when He becomes our King.
Being a family is not a project, it is a heart commitment. Jesus' last prayer is that we would have unity like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so that the world would know we belong to Jesus. As we abide in Jesus we become one with them. [John 17:13-26] It’s by our love and unity the world will know that we belong to Him.
His presence is the only thing that will distinguish us from other people on the face of the earth. [Ex 33:14-15] His presence will be greater than His power. In the New Testament Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. We have unity, when we are at the foot of the cross with our brothers and sisters, laying down our agendas, asking our Father what is on His heart.
The hand of God was on them, to give them unity of mind following the word of the Lord. [2 Chron.30:12]
The Lord is now calling the nations to come together to worship Him in Spirit and in truth—leaders of nations, who have one heart to see His Kingdom come and His will being done. There’s never been a day like it. God is going to deal with the apathy and mocking in the church. We must have the fear of the Lord to have family unity.
Hate what He hates and love what He loves. Be a people of revelation not just information. He will give His church authority. No more competing and comparing.
As individuals, we are all part of the beautiful family that God is calling together, those who have Him as Lord and King.
One amazing expression of this family will be found at a Gathering in Israel in November. For more information click here. This is not a YWAM event, but a time when families of nations come together to worship Him.
Love and Blessings,
Sept 4-5: Singapore: Associates' Renewal Gathering at Changi Beach Club
with Dean Fujishima and Peter & Donna Jordan. Click here to email for info
Aug 03-09: France, YWAM Champagne, speaker Edwin Fillies
Aug 17-23: Switzerland, YWAM Châtel, speaker Dan Baumann
Aug 24-30: Italian Alps, Piemonte, with Dave Alexander, YWAM Turin
There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame.
Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability, Henry Nouwen
Some people have asked me about getting a tattoo. My response, "Have you seen a Rolls Royce with bumper stickers?” Dale Harrison, on facebook
Till next time,
The Small Print
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