I remember when I was younger (and more idealistic for some silly reason), I wanted every time I got together with friends for us to have a prayer time, or a singing time – worship, basically a time where we touched the heart of the Father. Well, needless to say, it didn’t happen very often. Most people, even my strong Christian friends, weren’t interested in “getting spiritual” in normal every day contexts. But this is what Neil is saying, that church should happen whereever we are.
“Most Christians today are trying to figure out how to bring lost people to Jesus”. (p.24) Think about this phrase for a second. It sounds great, mainly because we have heard it so many times. Now consider “The key to starting churches spontaneously is to bring Jesus to lost people. We’re not interested in starting a regional church but rather making Jesus available to a whole region.” This makes more sense I believe. Cole talks about how so many of our churches go out of their way to attract people into the building, so that they can hear the message. I would dare to say that people just aren’t interested no matter what we do. They are seeking, but not enough to travel here and there. Taking Christ into their world, where life happens, is what Cole is advocating.
After many circumstances, and times where his heart broke for the young people of California in tears and prayers, he and some friends began to hang out at a local coffeehouse. “We played checkers, chess, or dominoes with the regulars who came to the coffeehouse, and we became part of the crowd. We would listen intently to people’s stories and offer compassionate prayer for those who were hurting. We did not preach at people, but they would often ask us about our spiritual lives….Before long my living room was filled with new life. Rather than move to a larger space, we sent small teams of two or three to other coffeehouses to start other churches.” (p.26)
I don’t want to get too long here, but I really want to quote Cole from page 26-27:
“These churches we were start were small (avg 16) and simple. …we valued a simple life of following our Lord and avoiding many of the complexities of the conventional church. Complex things break down and do not get passed on (to the next church), but simple things are strong and easily reproduced. Ordinary Christians were able to do the extraordinary work of starting and leading churches because the work was simple, the results powerful.
..’We want to lower the bar of how church is done and rasie the bar of what it means to be a disciple.’ If church is simple enough that everyone can do it and is made up of people who take up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be churches that empower the common Christian to do the uncommon works of God. Churches will become healthy, fertile, and reproductive.
The conventional church has become so complicated and difficult to pull off that only a rare person who is a professional can do it every week. Many people feel that to lower the bar of how church is done is close to blasphemous because the Church is Jesus’ expression of the Kingdom on earth. Because church is not a once-a-week service but the people of God’s family, what they have actually done is the opposite of their intention. When church is so complicated, its function is taken out of the hands of the common Christian and placed in the hands of a few talented professionals. This results in a passive church whose members come and act more like spectators than empowered agents of God’s kingdom.”
comment – I find we often talk about being empowered agents, but I am beginning to believe that we can talk all we want, but the very structure of NA church hinders and limits the Christian, turning them unintentionally into that “passive church”
Last quote – “The organic or simple church, more than any other, is best prepared to saturate a region because it is informal, relational, and mobile. Because it is nore financially encumbered with overhead costs and is easily planted in a variety of settings, it also reproduces faster and spreads further. Organic church can be a decentralized approach to a region, nation, or people group and is not heavily dependent upon trained clergy.”
I like it. I am not living this yet, but it sure stirs up my spirit. Lord, may you lead us and guide us into the expression of Your kingdom that is healthy and growing. Do what You need to do in us to help bring Your life to the world around.
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