Neil Cole wrote in Church 3.0 that traditional Bible colleges and seminaries give a list of ingredients from the New Testament that define a church. Some lists have 5 ingredients, others go as high as “9 marks,” but they are all very similar. Here is a typical list:
1. A group of believers who gather together regularly to worship.
2. …that hear the biblical preaching of God’s word.
3. …that consider themselves a church.
4. …that have qualified elders.
5. …that practice baptism, communion and church discipline.
6. …that have an agreed upon doctrinal foundation.
7. …and have an evangelistic purpose
Is it possible that we have church and focus on building ministries and buildings, instead of being the Church and building His Kingdom? The awakening missional understanding that is being developed asks the question “What has God called us to be and do in our current cultural context?” We are in a Christian Culture War- Cultural Christianity vsThe Revelation, Restoration and Activation of the Church of Jesus Christ! It seems as if we have come to a culturalcrossroads where we must rediscover, redefine and re-present the authentic Church of Jesus Christ
In a blog by Brady Boyd he lists 4 shifts for the future Church
"In the past ten years, There have been remarkable changes in the local church, and the coming decade will usher in even more transformations. While the ancient Truths will remain, everything else is up for debate.
How we worship, when we gather, what is said, who is leading, and where the gatherings happen will all undergo scrutiny and debate.
I have four predictions for the next decade of local church.
1. The places where we gather will become smaller.
Every social and cultural trend is leaning toward the smaller, more intimate gatherings and away from the stadium worship experience. Mega churches that purposely create numerous worship settings that promote intimacy and community will see the most significant growth. There will always be a group of church people who will come to the big building, but if we want to see significant growth among skeptics and seekers, we must create less threatening venues for them to explore the issues of faith.
2. The church will be launched into real mission.
The local church is hungry to embrace the mission of the New Testament, and this will only increase in the next decade. This next generation is tired of the hype of events and is eager to give their lives to something that requires sacrifice and results in biblical justice. They want to get their hands in the dirt of humanity and see real change in the communities where they live. They will come to the church building for some of the attractional events but will get disillusioned quickly if these events do not result in real opportunities to serve their world.
3. The church will return to its ancient roots.
If it’s new, it’s probably not truth. If its truth, it’s probably not new. I believe the ancient yet simple recipe of local church will return. We will gather often, read the Scriptures, worship intently, pray fervently, be led by servants, live authentically, and honor the Sacraments. For sure, we will continue to be creative and inventive but not at the expense of the ancient structure which has transcended all generations for over 2000 years.
4. The church will return to wonder and awe.
The churches that embrace the miraculous nature of God will see the most growth and have the most influence in the coming decade. Good preaching, trendy stage sets, and clever videos will not be enough in the next ten years because people want to see God intervene more and more in the affairs of the Earth with miracles and healings. Sound theology must prevail, and we must not return to our sloppy Charismatic tendencies, but we must also embrace the mysterious and risky nature of God and not be afraid of wonder and awe. While the Holy Spirit may be unpredictable, the results are always predictable – people will find God, people will be healed, and people will discover real freedom. "
I sincerely believe that on a global scale, God is speaking simultaneously to His people and calling them to a new and fresh expression of His kingdom here on earth. It is a wonderful time to be alive. One of my favorite readsof the past 2 years has been Re -Jesus by Alan Hirsch. I believe he is asking the vital questions that we must all answer going forward and visioneering the future of the true New Testament Ecclesia.
What ongoing role does Jesus the Messiah play in shaping the ethos and self-understanding of the movement that originated in him?
How is the Christian religion, if we could legitimately call it that, informed and shaped by the Jesus that we meet in the Gospels?
How do we assess the continuity required between the life and example of Jesus and the subsequent religion called Christianity?
In how many ways do we domesticate the radical Revolutionary in “order to sustain our religion and religiosity?
And perhaps most important of all, how can a rediscovery of Jesus renew our discipleship, the Christian community, and the ongoing mission of the church?
N.T. Wright in The Challenge of Jesus urges us to be at the leading edge of our Culture
He writes "The Gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be rapt the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and petty and politics and theology... a worldview that will mount the historically Christian challenge to both modernity and post-modernity, leading the way into the post modern world and humor and gentleness and good judgement and true wisdom. I believe we face the question: if not now, then when? And if we are grasped by this vision, we may also hear the question: if not us,then who? And if the Gospel of Jesus is not he key to this task,then what is?"
I love what Erwin McManus wrote, "Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion He started, so don't ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don't think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I am convinced that even now now there are multitask of followers of Jesus Christ who aresick are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. My travels only confirm that the murmurings of revolution are everywhere. I am convinced that is an uprising in the works and thatno one less than God is behind it"
I say, YES! I sincerely believe the Ecklessia of Jesus Christ is the greatest manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven in the Earth- ever! Jesus told Peter "Upon this rock I will build my Ekklesia and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against it " The Church is the occupational force of Heaven!