Over the last few years, I’ve encountered many people who long (on some level) to give their lives to Christ and live as He did, do life together, and experience church as Christ intended it… but have a hundred reasons why it’s impossible or unlikely. It could be that the culture would never accept it, or that people would leave the church if it looked like what’s in the Bible, or that they could never do it due to their own failings. In truth, I often think it’s a crazy idea myself.
Yet still I find myself asking… what if?
I am by no means claiming to have all the answers. This is just an idea… a vision, if you prefer more grandiose terms. You will undoubtedly read this and disagree with some of it, or think it impossible or highly unlikely.
Certainly it is, except through profound dependence on Him.
It is also my intent to write more specially on each of these things in the future, but I just wanted to throw a rough “napkin sketch” of the building out there before I start talking about the individual bricks. So bear with me:
What if a small group of people started from scratch? What if we wiped away all our ideas, preconceptions, and traditions regarding church and Christian life, and just started with the Bible? What if we resolved simply and audaciously to live according to what it describes and prescribes? What would our lives and our gatherings look like if our lives were truly wrapped around Him first, with everything else in our lives submitted to and conducted according to that? How often would we gather? What would those gatherings look like?
What if members of that gathering held each other accountable to centering everything on Him, and not just living life with church/Christianity as an add-on? What if the church culture had that expectation, and told people up front: We desperately want you here with us, but know that we are resolved to give Christ everything? Everything is on the altar, because this is the treasure in the field. What if complacency was no longer our expectation?
What if making disciples of all nations became our central activity and mission, even within our own jobs? What if we dedicated ourselves to it the way an olympic athlete does? What if we conducted ministry through that lens? For example: a men’s ministry that helps men learn what their role is in the Great Commission and how they can shepherd their family to value God and His mission above everything?
What if we dedicatedly worked toward sending and supporting those who go to unreached peoples, refusing to accept complacency in regards to the millions of people going to Hell without hearing the name of Jesus? What would our activities and announcements look like then?
What if we committed to being closer than blood relatives to each other? What if we truly took care of each other’s needs, and did life together on a daily (or almost daily) basis? Could we really do that only meeting once a week?
What if we gathered several times a week in order to worship, evangelize, and do ministry together? What if serving God and furthering His Kingdom were the top priorities, and other things like sports, hobbies, relaxation time, TV shows, games, and whatever else fell in the “if we have time” category instead of vice versa?
What if the church was familiar with gangsters, prostitutes, addicts, orphans, widows, the sick, and outcasts? What if we spent a lot of time focusing on the ones that no one wants to focus on, simply because that’s what Jesus did? What if we simply followed His example and apparent heart displayed throughout the Bible regarding the “least of these”?
What if each person was expected to play a part in discipleship of new believers and each other? What if we didn’t need a youth group because the whole church took raising the next generation seriously and personally, even if that meant learning how to speak their language and spending time at their level? What if the generations were expected to respect, love, and work together so that the whole Body of Christ worked and worshipped together instead of just accepting generational divides as “natural” (as if “natural” could be an acceptable thing in a fallen world)?
What if meeting in each other’s houses was natural because of our regular involvement in each other’s lives, and so we never had to worry about buildings or facilities?
What if our worship services were truly centered around God? What if we listened to the Spirit for how long gatherings should last, what we would do during them, and what songs to sing? What if each person came ready to bring a song or word or prophecy or encouragement? What if we were singly focused on what pleases Him the most in our gatherings instead of pursuing our own preferences and comforts?
What if we created an internal culture of vulnerability, mercy, forgiveness, and courage instead of a group of guarded people who all put on a facade in order to look holy?
What if we worshipped like we meant it, prayed like we needed it, and studied the Word as if our lives depended on it?
Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? Even if your flesh cringes at the idea of such a commitment, doesn’t your soul thirst for such radical dedication? Doesn’t your redeemed spirit desperately crave such single-minded devotion? Is there not incomparable freedom to be found in letting all else go?
Again, I am not naive to how difficult it would be, nor am I ignorant to the seeming impossibility of it. Even if it were attempted, there would be a thousand details yet to be worked out.
Yet in order to decide the best route to get somewhere, we have to know the destination first… and this destination sounds fantastic to me. What about you?