The Church of the future…

My last post brought some questions to the surface regarding Gods justice and the assignment we find the community of the saints gathered around.

So in this post rather than get to deeply into the history and models of this stuff I want to take a general crack at it and stir up some popular notions maybe cloud the waters even more…

I have come to the conclusion that any church that creates a “vision statement”  has essentially given themselves a “sell-by-date” because vision statements are not for living organisms they are for man made constructs such as businesses and clubs.

Do I believe that a church should have a vision? Probably not. But that’s a different discussion altogether than the one I want to suggest today.

So without a vision statement the people perish…or something to that effect, but what does the church of tomorrow look like?

Well we probably need to define some things first…

I want to look at two words we use and abuse and seldom look at very closely…”church”and “religion”…

When we say “church” it is generally going to fall into one of two categories, either a local section or fellowship that we have connection to, or something universal that we can throw words at.

I often find myself throwing words towards the church at large and its a habit I am trying to break because more often than not it generalizes things into categorical perspectives that probably do very little good.

And as far as a local fellowship that I might belong to…well I have been to “church” exactly 4 times in the last year…although I have attended 2 different conferences that were in church buildings…and I live 1/2 an hour from one of the most active revival churches in the world, Bethel in Redding and so far it has not been on the Lords agenda for me to find myself going there, you can do what you want with that statement, just let me qualify it with this observation though:

My walk with the Lord has grown exponentially in the last year…my prayer life and what is happening in my devotional time with the Lord is at a level I have never experienced in over 40 years as a Spirit filled believer…it has not been painless…and I am sure there are a lot of things that might be different had I decided to “plug-in” more…but doors are opening for me that are part of my life assignment in ways that being in a church never allowed and I am fine with the current situation.

So on to definitions…lets start with religion…

The Bible will identify what pure religion is, and I am not going to repeat it here look it up yourself, it is quite different than the pulpits will tell us with the unintended messages we are used to…

This is not the religion I want to address here…what I want to explore is the nature of religion in the heart of mankind as a whole…and the best way to define that is by looking at what religion thrives on…and its really quite simple…religion in the community of man thrives on distance and delay

And church as a religious institution spends its energy reinforcing these two metrics…

Think about it a second…almost all the energy of an average religious service is spent on creating distance to an Angry God, or delaying the inevitable pain of His anger…

I am not trying to be mean-spirited here just making an observation as though it were all a large test-tube experiment…

Think about what we do and the motive behind it…almost ALL religious activity done in the context of a church community centers around bridging the distance we find in our hearts, and explaining the delay we all know to well.

Any priest or preacher worth his salt will have an explanation as to why your brother died from cancer, even when you had a word or fasted…it might be weak and meant to appease your pain, but it will be the most logical answer to the delayed prayer and the distance you feel when God does not answer the way you thought He would.

And how many worship services have you been in that serve the purpose of closing the gap from your heart to Heavens Throne? We’ve gotten so demanding of this function that if a worship leader starts “cheer-leading” or talking to much we all say in our head “Shut up and let us worship why don’t you?”

Ain’t nobody got time for all that!

We say things like God is love, but He is “Just” and the hidden message is that today Gods love might be over-ruled by His justice and you will get slapped, but maybe tomorrow His love will over -rule his justice and you will get mercy instead…this unpredictable God is so far from us the distance is unfathomable, but we almost feel safer knowing we are different…we like the distance because we have no idea who is going to show up.

If we are really bold we will use verses like “Touch not my anointed”…I have never once heard that verse used to eliminate distance, always rather to create it…especially if the leader is insecure and pushing some empire model that does not allow for questions…Question:”What happened to the money?” Answer:”Touch not mine anointed”…ok no more questions then…

If your salvation has ANYTHING to do with other people you are screwed.

Or we create delay in other ways, suggesting that God will only come to us when we have reached a certain level of maturity, we delay the abundance of knowing His love for the really grown up ones who have walked with Him for most of their lives…

What if the really mature old saints simply figured out that His love was there all along and it took them forever to find it out?

The God created by religion is insecure, egotistical and needy, that’s why He created all of us…the God of religion needs 6 billion people to worship Him because He doesn’t feel good enough about Himself…after all “every knee will bow”…

And somehow the God who IS truth will have no problem when knees bow that are in rebellion…just so long as they bow He is fine with it…really?

Recently I have been blind-sided by a few bible verses lately that encompass a world I had no idea was there…verses that suggest the entire problem of sin and redemption has already been handled, and was figured out before God said “Light Be”…and I’m not talking about redemption for a handful of saints who fight through the distance and overcome the delay, I am sensing a redemption that enfolds all of humanity in one moment…if one died for all then all died…and the next phrase therefore if ANYTHING be in Christ…its a new thing that has been found…not new in the sense of never existing before but new like “re-pristinated”

My entire experience with religion has created a sense that distance was the natural result of the fall of man, and frankly we use that phrase way more than God does, we imagine a fall so great that the distance to God is infinite and only eternity will ever get us back there…so the double whammy of distance and delay is what I have come to expect in ALL of my dealings with God…

If religion teaches you anything, it teaches you that God is far and a long time away from you….so you better start praying now if you need an answer in a year from now.

We use phrases like “God is to Holy to look on sin”…really? What in the world did Jesus look at for 33 years? Was Jesus some how less Holy than the Father? Did sin suddenly stop being visible for the time he was on earth? Doubtful.

The problem with this theology of distance and delay is not the obvious pain we have to live with, the real problem is it elevates sin and death to a place that intimidate God Himself…its like the Father looks at the Son in abject horror and says “What will we do now that they have eaten the tree? Oh no? Oh no?

But let me show you the subtle way we proclaim this nonsense…from the front of the church…

We assume that the people up front have somehow conquered sin, and we reinforce this notion by not letting just anyone up there…because heaven forbid our “leaders” reveal they struggle with lust, or anger, or depression, or finances…and the rest of the people in the pews resign themselves to distance and delay because they know the inward truth that no one speaks and that is we ALL struggle with our identity and it manifest as some sort of deviation from Gods design.

Here let me upset your apple cart a little…the only difference between you and Jesus is He knows His exact place in the Father and you don’t.

That’s it.

For Him, because He knows, there is no distance or delay in ALL that the Father wants for Him, and likewise there is no distance or delay in the response of love back to the Father…

What in the hell have we been doing with verses like “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory”????

Or “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit”…

He freakin lives in us now…what kind of distance or delay can there possibly be?

????

 

 

I suspect we are about to embark on a revival of basic truth so simple and profound it will make most of what we have been doing and teaching for the last 20 years meaningless and boring…it will eliminate distance and delay because God is not in either of those things and He wants His church back.

To the degree that you as a community can participate in eliminating distance or delay you can be a church…

What that means in practical ways is that as we come to understand that God is redeeming our past, becoming present and creating our future catching them all up in His eternal purposes, and there is absolutely no where that He has not already gone and been “in” the moment for us…

Where we begin to comprehend His love knows no distance…but is deeply intertwined with the very breathe we take…

As we explore these adventures…we become the church that kills man made religion and something pure emerges…

And this “ekklesia” (or “church” if you want to name it) that emerges cannot be put in a box and defined by anything other that its connection to the God who loves it…so definitions will become meaningless…

Frankly I have no idea what that looks like…but I know what it doesn’t look like…

So much more to ponder, more questions to come…

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5 thoughts on “The Church of the future…

  1. Pingback: a good one – the church of the future by mark pixley | Fire or Blackberries

  2. Mark there is so much in here. Love it. It will keep me feasting and thinking for days. So appreciate you, your love and friendship. Thank God that the cave is really a dwelling place for Light, and that the wilderness is teeming with life. So glad I discovered you wandering and wondering there too. So much connectivity even though we have never physically met. Thank you for just being, and for being you.

  3. Achggg (onomatopoeia word) Paul , you have done so much by keeping my feet in the fire, one of the few who refused to comfort the fatal wound I appreciate it so much, unless a seed fall to the ground and die and all that…you can count the seeds in an apple but its impossible to count the apples in a seed…hopefully just being me and you just being you opens up who God is…

  4. Hi Mark
    You might not know me but I am a friend of Paul Leader.
    I too love what you are saying here. I have been travelling this road of questions and answers and learning for 17 years now. It is a journey I live and enjoy!
    I think there are more questions to the answers we get. Makes me feel like a Rabbi.
    I just wanted to encourage you, Paul and many others that are seeing these things in these days.
    It is, if you notice, that God has sown a seed into the earth and quietly but surely He has watered it and it is growing in peoples hearts!
    So … church of the future? another question, but i do know there is a future for the church! and we ain’t seen nothing yet!! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this Mark. Be blessed.

    • Thanks Tony, I appreciate the feedback and it seems there are really a lot more on the journey than we know…I think it’s hard to see the current diaspora because the culture of participation suggests it does not exist if no one talks about it…but the voice of one crying in the wilderness is starting to catch the wind…”Prepare the way”… Godspell all over again…waiting for Holywood to do a remix…intentional or otherwise…

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