Sunday, June 20, 2010

What we do see / what we don't see in the New Testament

I shared my annual report and vision for TFC in our next fiscal year. It was a powerful day though I'm going to explain that more in my next post.
But I wanted to post a bit of what I shared in the report. I've been gripped by Colossians 3:16-17 and I shared some out of that passage. I'm particularly gripped by the two words "each other."

And then I shared some general observations from the New Testament church.
Here's that list.

Don’t see (here or rest of NT)
- Entire congregations passively expecting a paid staff member to “feed them”
- Congregations expecting pastors to do all the caring and praying
- Parents abdicating the raising and Christian education of their kids to church staff or programs
- Individuals working to perpetuate the existence of an institution
- The majority of the church’s offerings staying in house
- Many full-time pastors (though pastors received some sort of financial compensation)
- Individualism of our western culture

Do see (here and throughout NT)
- Guidance of pastoral leadership – not in the institutional model as it exists now
- Church sharing meals whenever they get together
- Church members reading the scriptures and teaching each other (with pastors guiding)
- Church members taking care of each other when there was a need (not expecting pastor – all
- Offerings being given away to serve the poor
- People sharing with each other to meet needs
“If a beggar has a coat while a Christian has two, that Christian is a thief”
- The church functioning more like a family than a business

Just because we don’t see it (on list) doesn’t automatically make it wrong – though some of that is
We don’t have to do things exactly the way the NT church did them, churches adapt to their culture. But we've placed unbiblical expectations upon the church, especially in the area of programming and the discipleship of our kids. Thankfully, TFC is making some changes in that area, the first being a class taught by two parents in our church who are serious about discipling their kids, Noel and Dawn Forrester. Other parents, myself included have a lot to learn from Noel and Dawn's intentionality in teaching their kids scripture.

Church leaders, myself included have really messed up the church in teaching people it's a place to come to to receive "religious goods and services." The very fact that people ask, "what does your church offer shows that we've failed them as leaders.
But things are changing, thankfully. I've felt it in my gut and had thoughts in my head for years. I've just started reading Missional Renaissance and it's bringing into focus what I've been thinking. And the author, Reggie McNeal has been traveling the country and speaking and not surprised that unrelated people are saying the same things. McNeal observed, "we all have the same Source."

1 comment:

David Brush said...

There too is room for the church to express itself within it's culture. While there are certainly negative influences in our indigenous western culture, there are some things that while not perhaps New Testament in culture are just as spiritually good. God can work through any culture, even ours.

While one of the reasons Alicia and I have moved on has to do with the spiritual formation of our children, it certainly wasn't because we wanted to take a break and abdicate our responsibility. In fact, quite to the opposite we were being intentional in finding a community that would help us better engage with our kids spiritually. We haven't and won't ever find the perfect church, but for a time we need to take a different path.

We truly loved attending TFC, and we still think and pray for you often. We truly loved serving, for the most part for over five years.