“The birth of the Church” is an appropriate metaphor of its origin, for in the Church, the Spirit did not inaugurate an organization, but birthed a living organism. Growing, adapting, without changing its essence. Throughout the book of Acts Christ-followers receive the Word and wisdom they need for each new context. In other words, the Church was built by revelation as God revealed what they were to do and how they were to accomplish it.
Because of this, the church spread; beginning at Jerusalem, to the end of their known world. They quickly learned that this new thing – the Church – through the Holy Spirit within them, conveyed its timeless message appropriate to the times in which they moved and the cultures they encountered. The message never changes but the methods we use to present the message must. Thus the ‘structure’ of the Church will obviously change as well. Otherwise, as good as the message it – and it is Good News – it will not be properly heard nor received and thus will not influence nor impact the culture.
We have a global faith for all nations, an ageless faith for all generations. And the Great Commission tells us this is true. We are commanded to “go to all the nations” and do so “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). This means that in the time that we are alive, as the pace of change accelerates and convulses culture, the Church meets it, in each context, adaptable, flexible, and ever new. If even the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church, we might imagine cultural shift can do little more than dent it.
So, as Spirit-filled believers, we need to be re-envisioning and restructuring in response to the changing culture and the resulting changing needs within that culture. We must respond to these evolving trends and thus show the world the Spirit-infused flexibility of this living, breathing, organism, the Church.