In both of these messages I shared my thoughts on how following Jesus and making disciples is quite unlike churchianity (the form of church that we have inherited and often know and love!) My message has been that a time is coming where it will be impossible to do a lot of the church activities that we love but that actually don’t create any disciples. Many have laughed at me. I’ve pointed to the example of China where the bamboo curtain fell in the 1950’s. All foreign missionaries were sent home, churches were shut and leaders were tortured, imprisoned and killed. Satan was going from house to house in China trying to destroy the church just like He tried to do through Saul in the book of Acts. However we now can look back and see that the church in China miraculously multiplied under this hardship and persecution despite it being illegal to gather and profess faith in Christ.
I didn’t expect the curtain to fall in the UK so soon!
With the corona virus pandemic upon us – believers all over the world have had restrictions placed on them and are unable to gather for church meetings and we have yet another opportunity to let “churchianity” die in the ground. Hopefully then, something new can grow up that looks and feels more like Jesus. These imposed restrictions raise a number of issues for genuine believers and I can’t help but think about how God may lead people to “be” the Church just as he did in China and as He continues to do so in many parts of the world where it is illegal to gather for the most essential reason (The Gospel is more essential than toilet paper, healthcare and food – just a gentle reminder to us all)
In my intial post I listed a number of reasons why I believe Jesus is not a Christian. This post deals with the second reason:
Jesus taught people to be like him, Christians ask people to say a prayer and come to meetings.
For many Christians in the UK everything has been stripped away. We now have to do the things we have always talked about but never actually done. I’ve seen lots of messages on the internet from leaders and pastors encouraging their flocks to “be the church” and that “church was never just a Sunday meeting anyway” It’s all well and good to say things like that, but the reality is that very few churches have been preparing their people for this situation and in fact most leaders (even those who say they weren’t!) have been building a culture of dependance on themselves, their teachings and on the central church gathering. The reality is that all the believers in the UK have been scattered out into the world like lambs among wolves (Matthew 10:16) and most have no clue how to intentionally make disciples or even the understanding that this is what God wants them to do. It is a sad but also a hopeful situation. Just like in China – the Holy Spirit now has freedom to do His work! It’s time for the real church to please stand up!
Jesus actually told His Disciples that it was good for them that He went away (John 16:7) I haven’t seen any leaders saying anything about these kind of ideas. All I’ve seen is people scrambling around trying to recreate their sunday morning meetings online. It’s a bit weird to be honest. I can’t help but think it reveals where people really put their trust.
Anyway…around 11 years ago my wife and I stopped going to the Church we were part of. We deliberately chose not to attend meetings on a Sunday morning or on a Wednesday evening. We felt God was leading us down another path and we’re sent out from the Church to pioneer different expressions of Church. God led us to intentionally explore the kind of life that has now been forced upon all believers in the UK. I’ve never been addicted to drugs but for me during that time I felt like I was detoxing from some kind of habit. I’d wake up on a Sunday morning craving the familiarity of the church meeting where I’d get my weekly fix. Many of my closest friends found it hard that we were not “going to church” and criticised me. But as I’ve always said – following Jesus often doesn’t look anything like “churchianity” It was very hard in those early days. We had to face head on the challenge that Jesus has called us (The Taylor family) to make disciples. As we explored life outside of “churchianity” we realised that we had a serious dependancy issue on church meetings and leaders. We had to grow in the understanding that every believer in Jesus is commanded to make disciples and we realised that “churchianity” actually disempowers and often prevents believers from doing the very thing Jesus has called them to do.W
Me and my wife were recently remembering back to those early days. We had no idea what do to. We’d been used to going to sunday meetings and doing things the same way for years. Now we were at home with each other, our kids and a vision to make disciples.We had nothing else! One morning we sat on the floor in our living room with our two sons and a pile of toy blocks that had been left out. God spoke to us and reminded that we are all living stones in His house (1 Peter 2:5) and we asked God to bring more living stones to us so that we can build with them. Over time God has brought more and more living stones to the work God is building through us. But the vision has never changed – we are making disciples who make disciples and this only happens as we share our lives deeply in spiritual families and communities. It all started when we made a decision that we commit ourselves to “make disciples” rather than do loads of church stuff (You can read more about what this looks like in my book “Accidental Apostle”)
We had to learn to make disciples rather than to be dependant on “churchianity”. You have a fantastic opportunity to do the same!
As I think about all the believers I know in the UK I cannot help but think we have a fantastic opportunity to reboot to what God really wants. During this time I pray that God will help you to get back to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and help you to see that you (not a church service or organisation) are the front line for making disciples amongst your friends and family.
You don’t need anyone’s permission because the King of Kings has already commanded you to do it :
“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
If you’d like to find out how you can be a front line disciple maker then contact us today!