I have been struggling with how church is done. What's new about that?
In my desire to operate in Christ's Kingdom community (ya know, actually becoming a disciple-following Jesus into his work and will in the earth), I have had some offensive discussions within the church at large.
Everybody seems to have figured out individually different Christs that they follow.
The "teaching church" believes that dispensing information in a classroom setting is who Jesus is; the "worshiping church" thinks that contemporary songs and remaking hymns in a sheltered subculture is what Jesus was building; the "administrative church" thinks that moving money into programs to "minister" from a distance is Jesus' "Way;" and the "Business Model" church encounters Jesus as a CEO, his managers are the clergy, his supervisors are deacons, and his employees are the laity. (I know this is not thorough, but please let's not get sidetracked.)
The trouble being (I think) that there is only One Jesus... Right? I think that I have encountered him in the scriptures, and have seen lots of examples of what is important to him, as well as what isn't. (I am not talking about gifts at this time (different people serving in different ways), although they are important to the total church).
I am a church planter. I've started a church under, not the most ideal circumstances from a "Church Business" standpoint, and have been told such things as Still Waters is not a church, "[we] only do ministry." Also things like, "losers don't make for a healthy church."
As we started out, our mission was to follow Christ into his work in the world; connecting with the undesirables in our area in genuine friendship, and helping the more affluent community (church folk) into their lives and service. As Christ's disciples, we find him doing this throughout the gospels.
There is one thing that I am sure of; that Jesus befriended and identified with those who were struggling on the margins, and had little respect for the comfortable, affluent religious types who thought that they were better, more educated, clever and religiously right.
I've been told to "pastor" building a church. I sense that the clergy has no room for actually touching the undesirable personally and to the point of inconvenience. We have heard that we are helping the wrong people, and in the wrong way. Again, I've been told that this is not a church.
We have applied for a grant within our own fellowship of churches, beginning communication with them in October 2004, and still have had no answers to probably one of the most thorough applications that many professional grant writers have witnessed, let alone unanswered emails, and unanswered questions. Could it be that they fear that we will waist the funding on helping the wrong people? I don't know...
I would like some dialog to help me figure this out...
Beginning with this question: Is Jesus a pastor? And, did Jesus plant a church? Careful now...
Looking forward to hearing your answers.