IT’S TIME TO UNCHURCH THE CHURCH

In a survey conducted in Amsterdam in the 1990’s, young people were asked two questions: Are you interested in God? Are you interested in church? 100% stated they were interested God, while 99% stated they were NOT interested in church. The pastors blamed the youth.

I believe one of the greatest barriers to effectively fulfilling the great commission could very well be the Church itself. As someone once said, “The quickest way to ‘church the un-churched’ may very well be to ‘un-church the Church’.”

After spending years as a missionary, and more time in a stateside school of ministry that was born out of one of the recent great American revivals, I can tell you this: The Church needs to be reincarnated and redefined.

Christianity has become too institutionalized where the Church is seen as an institution built on the concept of consumerism rather than an apostolic organism centered on Jesus and built on kingdom values. Today’s western Church is more an extension of our own traditions and the pop culture around us, with a growing dependence on our own ability, demographic research, and a misguided desire to be relevant in order to meet people’s needs.

Unlike the beginnings of the early Church, much of the Church today is set up like a corporation with lots of organization and structure, programs and budgets, which are useful, but often with so little emphasis on prayer and the Holy Spirit’s workings, as well as relationship with one another in the context of kingdom culture. God’s culture begins with the family, the home, making disciples through life relationships, reaching and caring for others with the gospel and the love of God.

We need to understand that the body of Christ is not primarily a corporation, or even an organization, but rather an organism, built on relationship by the Spirit, with the Lord and with each other. For a brief time the early believers met in the temple, but they also met regularly from house to house and shared meals together. I am not proposing that everyone switch to a house church model of doing church. What I am proposing is for us to rethink our collective experience as a body and a church. Why is it that many people, especially the younger generation, are interested in God, but not so much in the Church?

The second area where great change is needed is in our relationship to the world or to the lost. One of the principles that has caused great growth in the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea (a church that nearly numbers one million people) is the “oikos principle”. Oikos is the Greek word for household or house of people. Your oikos is that group of people whom you relate with on a regular basis. This would include your relatives, neighbors, fellow employees, those with whom you share common interests, and others whom you may have regular contact with. These people make up your personal sphere of influence.

Sometimes believers discover that there are only other believers in their oikos. If this is the case, then steps need to be taken to develop new circles of relationships. Throughout the years my wife Carolyn and I enrolled our son Daniel in sports leagues, not just so he could have fun, and learn sportsmanship and teamwork, but for our family to start developing relationships with the lost.

Hear the wise words of Arthur Wallis: “There is no question that God works, often powerfully, in the old structures. But it is inevitable that those very structures put serious limitations on His working. It is all too easy for the ground gained to be lost, for the situation to revert, and for the whole process to need repairing within a short space of time. Take the 1950 Lewis Awakening. Though confined to certain Presbyterian churches in the Outer Hebrides, this was a powerful movement of the Spirit that deeply affected those communities at that time. Many found faith in Christ, and some of these are now in full-time service. But the fact remains that in less than a decade you could visit those very churches where God had worked so powerfully, and never suspect that they had ever tasted revival. Without a change of structure it is virtually impossible to conserve the fruits of revival.”

When “structure” and “organization” is emphasized above relationship, concentrated prayer, and the Spirit’s workings it will produce an institution that pays their workers to love and serve people. Everything then will become event-based, performance-based, and program-driven. A lack of intimacy and true covenant relationships keeps most people under-stimulated and actually serves to harden the human spirit. Authentic New Testament Christianity has as its core John 13:35 which says, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

When Jesus cursed the fig tree (Mk. 11:13-14), it was symbolic of the cursing of Israel’s entire religious system. Today “religion” is the world’s greatest curse because it does not deal with the places of the heart. That is why people can hide in churches. There is not enough love, intimacy, accountability, and covenant.

This generation has found no relevance in the Church. They are looking for something to die for, but institutional Christianity has ripped them off. The Church needs a revolution. The Church needs an apostolic discovery of real kingdom values.

Remember, the Church did not begin with huge buildings or large organizations ruled by the appointment of men. The Church began with Jesus and the covenant relationship He modeled with the Heavenly Father and with His disciples. All relationships begin by simply being together. That is a part of the overall pattern that we must return to.

When this pattern is more fully realized and restored in the Church, we will produce true sons and daughters and not just programs and numbers. More impartation and not just information will be given and received.

What are your thoughts?

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14 thoughts on “IT’S TIME TO UNCHURCH THE CHURCH

  1. Whew! Sharonroseweatherly!!! Wow! She sounds very hurt, bitter and critical and I wish there was more grace to her contributions here! This is a Christian forum! Wow, this isn’t a war!!! Sounds like Andrew Strom!
    Well, Scripturally, “Apostolic” is a more accurate word to describe the church than “Pentecostal”, don’t you think?
    The Pentecostal is not the end of the journey. The progressive unveiling of Christ continues as we advance towards perfection, and all five of the ministry gifts are equally needed to bring us to this perfection or fullness, but the apostolic more so, just like the evangelistic was prominent in the Pentecostal seasons we have long advanced from. (Now maturity demands we advance with whatever we get in every stage of our walk with God without discarding anything as we reach new levels of maturity).
    Jesus’s movement in the days of his earthly ministry had a Judas. Moses’ movement had its Korah. Eli’s priesthood had its Nadab and Abihu. Joshua’s powerful movement had its Achan. Apostle Paul’s movement had its Demas. There was a Jezebel in leadership in one of the seven churches. The move of God in the Corinthian church was fraught with incest, adultery, fornication, abuse of spiritual gifts (yet Paul encouraged them more than any other church to pursue and desire the gifts even as they already were “greatly enriched in ALL revelation and utterance) and drunkenness. …. We can go on and on. If we throw the baby away with the water, we will be free to write off the Pentecostal movement because of all the individuals who had personal failures…

  2. Typically I like to rail on non-sense blogs that make silly claims (i.e. un-church the Church). However, I found most the thoughts in this post insightful and encouraging. I actually agree with a lot in this post, which is saying something.

    That said – prepare for rail – on a practical level most churches are not able to be less than a corporation or organization. Structurally by law, they are required to be a Corporation for taxation purposes. This process forces many corporate ideologies that must be followed, which in turns taints the general culture of the church.

    I would like some concrete examples of how the church can be more organic and less Corporate. How does a church establish and sustain a culture that embodies an organism? How are theologies and religious practices embraced in a way that is not over organized?

    • I don’t claim to have all the answers, but as I look in the New Testament I see a simpler church model and paradigm that is uncluttered with the aforementioned things. I’m not opposed to the church being a corporation to satisfy laws and regulations, but it is the emphasis of it and the culture it breeds and the outside-in approach to ministry that I have to question.

      What is common today in churches is to start a program or a ministry, embalm with some sort of structure, and then try to breathe spiritual life into it in order to produce fruit. The pattern is the NT is to find out where the life and Spirit are moving anad build just enough structure to facilitate that life. Less emphasis on structure and organization makes it easier to shut things down or move on when the Holy Spirit moves on.

      Changing outward forms, structures, worship styles, adding a new missions statement, changing the name of your church are all unproductive ways to produce spiritual life. In any organism spiritual life comes from within. A tree, a plant, a physical body all grow from within. All you have to do is feed it. It is the same spiritually. Spiritual life and health flow from within the born again, Spirit-filled saints of God.

      Thanks for your comments. I hope mine have helped bring further understanding. Future blog posts on the church will be coming soon.

  3. I had to laugh about the “want a new blog name” bit. Hehehe (laughing in a healthy way of course!) … Different strokes for different folks! I absolutely love the name! The Flaming Herald!
    On a more serious note, the church was and still is not a formal institution or organization. It’s more of a family. Mega churches will dissolve into Omega churches in the days ahead, with the Old Testament Temple-like complex organization structure giving way to loose informal, family-like constitution. ….

    • Thanks for your gracious comments. I love the name, too! Re: And yes, I believe the Church is evolving and the sense of family and community is what most believers are hungry for, and will be more critical in the days to come. Blessings to you!

  4. I am soory, but this article is blatantly false in respect to re-imaging the church. The church is a diverse organism that reaches many, many people. Furthermore, taking a survey of European youth from Amsterdam and creating universal principles for America is crazy. You are comparing apples and bananas. These are different realms of existence with different cultural and historical dynamics, particularly when faith is examined. Also, comparing Cho’s Oikos Principle to the need to deconstruct the American church is equally erroneous. Do you understand the necessity of the Oikos in Seoul Korea? The house meetings need to be a minimum of 50 people in their first year of existence, and need to achieve 200 within the third anniversary. If they do not reach this number, they are disbanded and forced into assimilation into a more successful and aggressive group. The point is, they are not small groups. They are decent size churches that have relational and communicative struggles.

    • You make a valid point although you missed the entire point of the Oikos principle, which was to enlarge your circle of unsaved relationships.

      Time will tell my brother. The nation and the Church are changing. Many things that are in an embryo stage now are for a time to come. There is an underground revolution taking place, a revolution of relationships, discipleship, and love which will eventually affect whole commnunities and even economies.

      Thanks for your comments.

  5. Just discovered your blog, and I love what you have to say in this post. ‘Church’ is not a building or an institution – it is a body of people who follow Christ. It is relational and life-giving, not a set of doctrines or religious performance.

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