Thursday, December 11, 2008

Simple Church or Simply Church - Part One

NB: This is a series I'm working on, having to do with some thoughts/ideas I've been throwing around.

I’ve been reading a lot about house churches. Some of the heavy hitters in this field come from the conservative evangelical side of the spectrum, which offers a fascinating perspective. But they seem to have a shallow reading of scripture to back up their arguments.

They say that, “the early church didn’t have buildings, why do churches today have buildings? The first churches didn’t have pastors, why do our churches have pastors? The first Christians didn’t listen to sermons, why do we listen to sermons.”

While I’m sympathetic, if not almost completely sold on the idea of simplifying the way we do church, much of the critique offered by some writers borders on blasphemy.

One dust jacket blurb proclaims, “The 1700 year nightmare is over!” suggesting that the move from a simple, house church model to the Constantinian, institutional form was a “nightmare” (which, of course it was a complete betrayal of Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God. No argument from me on this point).

However, to say that churches have been living a nightmare for the past 1700 years sounds like a charge against the Holy Spirit - who guides and directs our lives as Christians – saying that God had abandoned the Church for almost 2 millennia. I have trouble believing that God took a 1700 year vacation.

Also, they assume that there’s such a thing as a “pure” or “perfect” church, and the early church was it. And all we need do is follow the early Christians’ lead, and we’ll solve our church problems, and FINALLY be the church Jesus had intended.

I think churches DO need to simplify, but not because “the Bible said so,” but for a few other reasons.

End of Part One

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