The Rules of Men…

RulesSo, I’ve been praying about the future and about churches in general.  I am doing some study on John 4 right now and it has taken me back to when Jesus quotes Isaiah and says “these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of RULES TAUGHT BY MEN!” (caps added by me)

The woman at the well was also caught up in what religious practices where supposed to look like (we worship on the mountain, you worship in the temple…)  As I pray about what a future church looks like I am feeling more and more trapped by the RULES I’ve been taught about what church is supposed to look like.  I mean, what we see on Sunday’s is not exactly taught in scripture, and what’s even more perplexing is that we even argue among believers which RULES are better.  Traditional, Contemporary ::  Reverent, Relaxed :: Deductive, Inductive.  The more I prepare my heart for the future, the more I see the trappings of the RULES I’ve been taught by men.

Well, this blog is about FREEDOM – so let’s imagine what freedom looks like.  I love the church, and I love the gathering of believers.  What are called to do exactly – (GATHER, TITHE, PRAY, SING, CONNECT with each other, TEACHING of the Word)  Does that happen on Sunday mornings in churches across the world – YES, but we are still trapped by the RULES that we have been told it must look like THIS??  If we could accomplish all those things, and not be trapped by the preconceptions of western church – what could that look like?

I heard a recent talk by Francis Chan from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley.  He said “If I had to do it all over again (plant a church) what would it have looked like if I had gone away for a few years and removed myself from church culture and ONLY had the scripture to go by – would it look different??”  I love to hear Francis Chan think outside the box.  So I began to wonder…

What if…
– we weren’t in rows?  pews? 
- the entire experience was participatory, and not an event to observe?
– if the sermon didn’t have to last 30-45 min? could we go shorter, could we go longer?
– we didn’t have a rigid schedule of start and end times?  could we stay as long as we want, or as short as we need to? Why the demand on time?
– if it was in a more local venue (not blocked off for “just us”).  A mall, a bar, a courtyard? inside, outside?
– if it not just once a week? or not Sunday morning?  what if you could gather at any time?
– the RULES we been taught about how church is supposed to look like – is actually leading us astray from expanding the kingdom of God?

I know – it’s a lot to ponder. Please know –  I am not a fan of chaos.  I don’t like uncontrolled things. However, the movement of God is not mine to control.  If I wasn’t so concerned as a pastor about counting the number of people (attracting them, and keeping them), and getting paid by the institution – would I be more open to a movement like this?  Not sure.

I’m not saying that all those things on the list would prove to be an effective way to gather and worship, but if a few of them worked, could we break through the RULES and see something amazing happen.  What if…

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