It is always good to review the basics of church which is, by nature, organic and living. Church is the people of God organically connected to God. At Pentecost, when the Spirit breathed upon God’s people, this organic connection came to life. Thus we see terms for the church like: ‘living church,’ ‘body of Christ,’ ‘seed planted that produces fruit 30, 60, 100 fold.’
When church is understood this way, its development becomes less about planning ‘how to build’ and much more about learning to facilitate the life cycle that is already inherent within it.
The simple DNA of the living church is evident:
1. Intimacy with Christ. The abiding living relationship with God is at the core of our life with God and the life that grows out of the church (God’s people).
Jesus did not invite us to follow a religion of rules, nor did he mandate an order of service or church structure to follow. He did ask us to follow him. Out of that flows all of the life, joy, and power that we need to live fully in him and for him.
2. Reaching out with love. The experience of being loved by the God of the universe produces an outward desire to love and reach others with the same Gospel love.
This is not a project nor a program, but a way of life that involves an outbreak of Jesus’ love toward others.
3. Disciplemaking as a lifestyle. This is not about what we have to give to others, but it is about relationships in which we come alongside people while they discover that God speaks directly to them. We walk with them but the word and the Spirit of God become the teachers.
The Bible, indeed, is far more powerful than we realize. It has the power to transform hearts and lives, all by itself, through the energizing of God’s Spirit.
4. Gathering simply and in a participatory manner. Gatherings are family-based and allow every person to grow spiritually, care for one another, and exercise spiritual gifts. Healthy missional-family gatherings continue to encourage the upward, inward, outward processes of loving God, blessing one another, and reaching out to others.
What we do see in Scripture are many different types of gatherings which took place frequently, naturally, and often spontaneously… They took place in normal, everyday settings and they fit into the rhythm of everyday life.
5. Empower others to go, reach, disciple, and gather. This is the function of ‘leadership’ as it seeks to serve others who are becoming fruitful, vibrant, and reproductive.
Everything is given away: spiritual authority, recognition, encouragement, opportunities to minister and serve. This leader empowers others so well that his or her own ministry goes virtually unrecognized.
Where does one begin?
It is difficult to get away from the idea that there must be a one-two-three blueprint to follow that will allow me to facilitate the growth of ‘a church.’ But it is more about lifestyle than planning and more about listening to God than following someone else’s map.
Still, there is an intentionality that can move us forward. These five rhythms become essential to discovering how God would have us walk with him in the growth of his church. There are many tools and methods for walking out each of these rhythms (perhaps a subject for another post), but through prayer and listening, God is able to lead us to those tools and methods that will be best for our context. When we are diligent about walking out these rhythms, God will lead:
- Godward Rhythm: How can I root myself more deeply in His love?
- Missional Rhythm: What field(s) am I assigned to sow in? Where is my Calcutta? Who is my next ‘person of peace?’
- Discipleship Rhythm: Who has God provided to mentor/disciple me? Who can I invite into a discovery, encounter with God through His word to walk alongside as he/she learns to follow God for himself/herself?
- Community Rhythm: Who am I called to build one-another community with?
- Reproductive Rhythm: How am I empowering my disciples & community to do the same (#1 – #4)?
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