....and what is it saying?
James Thwaites is the director of the Biblical Studies Faculty of Hillsong, (Australian megachurch). He has written a not-easy-to-read book entitled, “The Church Beyond the Congregation.” The title of the book fascinated me, knowing as I do the culture of Hillsong where the emphasis is fairly and squarely on the congregation and the multiplicity of “designer services “ that take place within their large buildings every weekend. (I must add that Hillsong has impressive community programmes, reaching out to hurting, deprived and lonely people).
Being involved in such a strategic position at Hillsong , and writing a book under such a title is encouraging. As the writer of the insightful book, “The McDonaldization of the Church” boldly points out, even the most tightly controlled church can change.
Thwaites quotes a young megachurch leader thus, “In my spirit I am hearing a sound that I know is calling for radical change to the way we do church. I cannot yet work out what it’s calling for, but I do know that what we will be doing and saying in the future will not be the same as what we said and did in the past. Much of the change will happen for us outside the walls of our church and our one-and-a-half hour Sunday meetings. p.4.
“...beyond the congregation...” “...outside the walls of our church...” This “sound” has been reverberating in many of our spirits for some time. Readers of Simple/Organic/House churches literature will recognise the sound. The Wind blowing...you hear the sound...the Spirit blowing where He wills...
But is all of this an unfathomable mystery? Can’t we see light at the end of our confusing tunnels – and it’s not the light of another “programme-train” rumbling toward us!
Let me tell you what I believe the ‘sound’, the ‘light’ is NOT, and what I believe it WILL BE. (And the NOT is clearer than the WILL BE!)
· NOT more complicated church bureaucracy WILL BE - uncomplicated simplicity
· NOT more schemes from the mind of man WILL BE- more of the strategic mind of God
· NOT more hierarchical domination WILL BE - release of ordinary believers
· NOT more “begging” for money WILL BE - living in the abundance of God’s provision
· NOT church centred WILL BE - Kingdom of God centred
· NOT church in circumscribed walls WILL BE - church in the world of suffering, loneliness, addictions, despair
· NOT mega-sized gatherings WILL BE - small, active,caring, missional, multiplying cells
· NOT featuring Christian super-stars WILL BE - equipped saints doing the work of the ministry
· NOT focussed on attendance at meetings WILL BE - focussed on Godly influence in every sphere of world activity
Now, what have I missed?
Let’s have your thoughts/revelations. They will be appreciated and acknowledged!