The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Thirty-Four

A Century ago, carmaker Henry Ford professed his willingness to give people choice in their selection of colour for his cars. “People can have a Model T in any colour they want – as long as it’s black.” That is pretty similar to the view of many Christians regarding how people should pursue spiritual growth – through any means they want, as long as it is connected to the efforts of the local church.

The revolution we are currently seeing happen is changing the way in which people anchor and express their faith pursuits. For some revolutionaries, their local church is the foundation of their faith journey. For many others, a local church plays a minor role in their journey. And, for many others, the traditional local church is nowhere to be found on their agenda. But, let it be noted that a majority of those who are revolutionaries are involved in some form of “church.”

The church connection has to do with the new models of “church” that are being conceived, developed, explored, and embraced by many believers and non-believers in nations around the world. The congregational model, which is still the dominant form of the “church” experience today, is rapidly being joined  – and for many believers replaced – by various alternatives.

The congregational model of the Church – a definable group of people who regularly meet at the same place to engage in religious routines and programs under the guidance of a paid pastor who provides doctrinal teaching and organizational direction – has been the dominant force in people’s spiritual lives for hundreds of years. So why is it so rapidly losing ground at this moment in history?

Perhaps the major reasons are people’s insistence on choices and their desire to have customized experiences. The issue of choice is remaking many facets of modern experience. Whether you examine the changes in broadcasting, clothing, music, investing, or automobiles, producers of such consumables realize that people world-wide want control over their lives. The result has been the ‘niching’ of most areas of life – where there has been the creating of highly refined categories that serve smaller numbers of people, but can command greater loyalty. 

During the past three decades, even the local church has undergone such a ‘niching’ process, with the advent of churches designed for different generations, those offering divergent styles of worship music, congregations that emphasize ministries of interest to specialized populations, and so forth.

The Church landscape now offers these boutique churches along side the something-for-everyone megachurches. In the religious marketplace, the churches that have suffered most are those who stuck with the one-size-fits-all approach, typically proving that one-size-fits-nobody. Whether the niche-orientation of a church was designed to provide yet another alternative to choose from, to satisfy an underserved market (i.e., create a customized experience), or to address previously unmet and misunderstood needs (i.e., provide relevance), new models hit a hot button in a need-meeting culture.

But, the motivations for seeking new models do not stop there. Other drivers behind the move to new models include the preference for practical faith experiences, rather than generic, conceptual faith; a quest for spiritual depth and breath, rather than settling for one dimension or the other; a penchant for novelty and creativity, rather than predictability in religious and spiritual experiences; and the need for time-shifting, rather than inflexible scheduling of religious events. 

One outcome of the multifaceted push for new spiritual models has been the rise of unique, highly personalized church experiences. Few people now have the same faith development patterns and resources that comprise their journey. Two decades ago, typical Christians went to Sunday school at nine o’clock Sunday morning, then flowed in the worship service at eleven. They might have participated in a Bible study group or maybe a family service on Wednesday night at seven. And many believers prayed before meals and at the beginning or end of their day, and read the Bible a couple of mornings before settling into their daytime routine.

Now it is virtually impossible to craft a ‘typical’ spiritual pattern, especially among people under the age of forty. Growing numbers of young adults, teenagers, and even adolescents are piecing together spiritual elements they deem worthwhile, constituting millions of personalized “church” models. The proliferation of new elements available through the Internet, television, radio, diversified social networks, community action cooperatives, and via live arts environments is ensuring that future models of “church” will be almost impossible to categorize or market. 

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Thirty-Three

When people within traditional churches have a life-changing, life-altering, transformational encounter with the Living God, they come back to their local assembly and want to share what has happened to them. Because the local church often majors on education and not encounter (with God) the transformed person does not always find understanding nor acceptance. 

So, statistics show that people most often encounter God and thus have a transformational experience outside of the influence of the local church. And, that when they go back to their local church the experience and even the person is not welcomed. In other words, the leaders of the local church want to continue to carry out its existing slate of events and programs without attempting to alter a stable and well-planned ministry simply because one or more members of the local church have discovered distinctive ways of connecting with and being shaped by God. 

Most of these transformed people have the same attitude as Peter and John, who said to the leaders who rebuked them, “We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20). Deeply moved by their experiences, they continue to seek growth opportunities wherever they can be found. This often puts them at odds with the leadership of the local traditional church. In a deep need to be with others who share their passions, revolutionaries often end up leaving the local church and fellowshipping with other like-minded disciples in smaller groups now often called “house churches.”

The result of this move of the Spirit and the rise of many who are looking for more is that literally millions of people are being radically affected by the presence and power of God that is being manifested through the house churches. Because of the relatively small size of the house church movement as compared to the traditional church – these people and the life-changing experience and encounter with God they have experienced – are not always noticed or counted. The impact of the house church movements, however, is massive although virtually invisible. But, in my opinion, the cumulative effect is nothing sort of the redefinition of the nature and face of ministry in nations around the world. 

When we look at the lives that have been changed and transformed – most often outside of the local traditional church – we see some unique elements of these non-traditional ministries through which this transformation is realized. 

1> The house churches are generally working with people who are predisposed to focusing on their faith in God. In other words, these people are hungry for more and are willing to change. They have made a decision to prioritize their faith. Once they have made that decision, it simply becomes a matter of which connections will most readily foster transformation. The house church becomes a valid vehicle for this desired transformation. 

2> The house church movement emerges as a prime candidate for engendering such growth because it becomes an individual’s primary source of relationships. The conversations and experiences shared by people in the house church become a kind of closed circle that energizes itself to the point of multiplied returns on the investment. The level of accountability and the heightened focus on spiritual development generate very positive outcomes. 

3> The intimacy experienced within the house church facilitates a sense of exhilaration over the transformation. This is because ‘transformation’ is a clear group goal (see point 4).

4> Since the house church exists to encourage positive spiritual growth and personal transformation, their planned activities center on such results. When those results are evident, word travels fast, and there is a general feeling of joy.

5> The house church encourages a very narrow and often single focus. This focus – be it service, music, prayer, or whatever – serves primarily as an entryway into the mind and heart of the individual. Often, once the person becomes immersed in the life and activity of the house church, he or she is presented with a variety of spiritual challenges and opportunities that get blended into transformational activities.

A result of this transformation is a realization that the traditional church is not – and need not be – the epicentre of a person’s spiritual journey and adventure. This is a mind-boggling realization for many since it conflicts with the teaching they have received, sometimes since their infancy. But many report that it has been a freeing insight. It has enabled them to mature in unique ways that may not have happened had they closed themselves off the the possibility of God meeting them in other places and ways.

God is still active in the lives of those people who are wholeheartedly devoted to and searching for Him – no matter what door they enter on their journey to Christlikeness. 

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Thirty-Two

The move today in the Church that Jesus is building is away from information for the sake of information. True disciples of Jesus are not against learning more so that they can better live by the truth. As a result, what they are looking for is transformation and not just information. They want teaching that aims at the heart and not the head.

There is nothing more affirming and exciting than knowing that God is active in the lives of those who seek His truth and His touch. There is nothing more exciting than seeing the passion and enthusiasm of those people for the God who revealed Himself in such personal and restorative ways.

Let’s settle on what I mean by transformation. This is a critical issue because the revolution is so centred on the idea that each of us is called to be continually transformed through the renewing and reshaping power of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual transformation is any significant and lasting transition in your life wherein you switch from one substantial perspective or practice to something wholly different that genuinely alters you at a very basic level. 

Switching from one church to another is not transformational. Determining to live in accordance with the a biblical worldview is. Attending an adult Bible study after a lengthy absence is not transformational. Identifying one’s giftedness, grasping the call to use those gifts for the Kingdom, and initiating a lifestyle of service to other is. 

Transformational is a significant spiritual breakthrough in which you seize a new perspective or practice related to the seven passions we have been looking at (see note below) and, consequently, you are never the same again. The transformation redefines who you are at a fundamental and foundational spiritual level, and your lifestyle is realigned according to that part of your being that was finally awakened to the things of God.

It is interesting that statistics appear to show that most people who would say they have had a “transformational” experience with the Lord did so outside the local church. Although good things still do happen within the local church it has been discovered that the majority of people who would say they have encountered and experienced the Living God as found in Jesus Christ – did so outside the local church, often with the help of ministries that are not flowing from the traditional local church.

One of the key ministries where life transformation is the house church movement. Although still relatively small in numbers and so often not determined to be significant – people are having transformational moments with the Holy Spirit in these smaller, non-traditional settings. People often join house churches because they are looking for a small group of people who share their passions (again, see the list below). House church people tend to be single-minded and intently focused on God with a passion not always seen in other Christian gatherings. This focus and intensity enables the Holy Spirit to bring transformation to their lives and build them into revolutionaries. 

To Note:

A reminder of what the seven core passions for a revolutionary are (from previous blogs in this series):

1> Intimate worship

2> Faith-based conversations

3> Intentional spiritual growth

4> A place to serve (servanthood)

5> Resource investment

6> Spiritual friendships

7> Family faith

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Thirty-One

Let’s complete our look at the seven trends currently unfolding in society and in the Church as younger people begin to exert greater influence on the direction our world and the Church is taking. We have looked at six of the seven…

Trend #1: The Changing of the Guard

Trend #2: The Rise of a New View of Life

Trend #3: Dismissing the Irrelevant

Trend #4: The Impact of Technology

Trend #5: Genuine Relationships

Trend #6: Participation in Reality

Trend #7: Finding True Meaning

Our last major trend seen as a result of the world view of the younger generations is that they are seeking for true meaning. Every generation wades through the murky waters of life’s meaning. The discovery process is never easy, and the answers are often a long time coming. The eternal struggle to find meaning in life – which cannot occur without recognizing how God has designed us and how to apply that design to the context in which we live – is in full force today. 

Despite all the advances in technology and communications, our society’s complexity and fragmentation have only served to heighten the struggle to make sense of our place in the world.

One of the most startling signs of growth, though, is the younger generations accelerated openness to understanding themselves through two components that have been largely ignored for many decades: sacrifice and surrender. Granted, this commitment or pattern is not widespread at this moment, but we are seeing growing numbers of people who are considering sacrifice and surrender as the possible missing links to their maturation and fulfillment. 

Wrapping things up on this part of our journey into “The Church That Jesus Is Building”…

So we have a new spiritual landscape. Whether or nor you currently understand the implications of these trends, two things are true. First, you don’t have to like the outcomes of things you cannot change, but you do have to deal with them. Second, the more you can anticipate some of the transitions resulting from these trends, the greater will be your ability to help shape the world in ways that are likely to honour God and advance your spiritual maturity. This will impact your own life and the lives of others with whom you interact. 

What outcomes are likely in the spiritual landscape of the world as a result of these seven trends?

Perhaps the most significant relates to how increasing numbers of people will be most likely to experience and express their faith in the coming years. A radical transformation is in progress related to the means through which people’s faith is made real.

As we entered into the 21st Century, the local church was the focus of most people’s spiritual lives. About 70 percent of born again Christians relied upon some local congregation to be their dominate source of spiritual input and output. A few individuals – roughly 5 percent of the population (a North American statistic) – were engaged in a faith journey that revolved around some alternative type of faith community. A similar small percentage of people identified their family as their primary faith pod. A larger, but still minority, group (an estimated 20%) turned to various cultural sources – the media, the arts, or other institutions – as the outlets designated to satisfy their faith needs. 

The seven cultural trends described in this part of a rather long series of blogs, have unleashed a massive shift in emphasis. By the year 2025, the spiritual profile of many nations will be dramatically different. Specifically, we can expect that only about one-third of the population will rely upon a local congregation as the primary or exclusive means of experiencing and expressing their faith; one-third will do so through alternative forms of faith-based community; and one-third will realize their faith through the media, the arts, and other cultural institutions. Unfortunately, as far as anyone can determine, the family will remain a mere blip on the radar screen when it comes to serving as the conduit for faith experience and expression, remaining central to perhaps 5 percent of any given people group. 

I celebrate the development of new ways for people to grow and reach maturity in their faith. The relatively compromised and complacent state of faith in most nations today suggests that any new means through which people – especially younger people – can make their faith come alive and become more center stage in their lives, without conflicting with scriptural imperatives, will represent a welcome breath of fresh air in the stagnant landscape of most national and local churches. 

As I said, you don’t have to like this transition, but you must deal with it. You can approach it with a defensive, negative attitude, or you can deal with it in the hope of learning and experiencing great breakthroughs in your life and in your church. The choice is yours. 

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Thirty

We are looking at societal trends that are effecting the Church today in our world. These trends are because we are living in a post-modern society. One of the changes rising out of these trends is that many are now dissatisfied with the Church and are looking for massive change in the Church or simply leaving the institutional version of the Church. 

These people are often called revolutionaries – but really they are simply disciples of Jesus who are sensing a move of the Spirit in their hearts causing them to look for the true Church as found expressed in the New Testament.

We are looking at societal trends … So far we have examined 4 of 7 …

Trend #1: The Changing of the Guard

Trend #2: The Rise of a New View of Life

Trend #3: Dismissing the Irrelevant

Trend #4: The Impact of Technology

Trend #5: Genuine Relationships

Busters and Mosaics (today’s younger generations) place a much higher premium on genuine personal relationships than do their predecessors. They are not necessarily more adept at this process. But they certainly pursue meaningful relationships rather than passing acquaintances, and they are more likely to invest themselves in the messiness of other people’s issues than to pass along superficial advice. They devote a greater share of their time each day to keeping up those connections. They are, in the vernacular, “people people.”

As the younger generations wield their increasing influence in the development of media content, institutional behavioural, the reshaping of societal customs, and accepted notions regarding relational activity, we are becoming a society increasingly focused on personal authenticity rather than excellence in performance. As the years go by, the balance of excellence and authenticity will gradually shift to the latter. 

In ministry and other areas, we will emphasize personal stories and experiences instead of principles and commands. We will show a growing appreciation for leaders who operate within a team context rather than those who exhibit charisma and dynamism as captivating solo practitioners. Organizations that demonstrate inclusiveness will grab our allegiance over those that are perceived to be narrow or judgmental.

Trend #6: Participation in Reality

More and more young believers are becoming entrepreneurs. They are hands-on in their lifestyle and work situations. With the proliferation of technology, the rise of women in positions of marketplace leaderships, and the educational emphasis upon the practical rather than the conceptual, people expect to be active and creative participants in developing the reality of their experience. Fewer and fewer people are willing to sit back and endure what the world throws at them; rather, they are seeking the means to exert greater control over their lives. As time goes on, people are paying more attention to the outcomes their effort generate and are constantly refining their activities to generate more personally satisfying results.

The same mind-set is affecting the ministry context. There is more enthusiasm for creating personal dialogue with non-Christian friends than for bringing them to a big evangelistic event. The popularity of small groups has grown consistently as people experience the benefits of a shared experience in which their contribution matters. Short-term missions activity has exploded as growing numbers of Christians want to be a part of a ministry solution rather than merely funding it. Watch how the next few years will usher in innovative expressions of this hands-on approach to being a Christin in a non-Christian world. 

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Nine

Last time we saw that there are a number of tender we need to be aware of if the Church is to speak to the upcoming generations. We looked at several…

1> The Changing of the Guard

2> The Rise of a New View of Life

Let’s move on and look at a few more…

Trend #3: Dismissing the Irrelevant

One of the legacies of the baby Boomer generation is the unwillingness to put up with irrelevance. Boomers are also infamous for demanding excellence in everything they encounter. Entities that fail to live up to the standards set by this generation are quickly dismissed. 

The post-Boomer crowd has mutated that perspective. Excellence is less meaningful to them because it sometimes reflects the slickness of exploitation and manipulation. The pet peeve of the younger generations is irrelevance – similar to the Baby Boomers. The younger generations  quickly abandon anything that is not wholly germane to their personal passions. 

They have significantly altered expectations and lifestyles through their demand that things foster shared experience and be ‘real,’ adventuresome, and memorable. They have little patience for anything based on tradition, customs, ease, or social acceptability. If they do not immediately sense the relevance of something, they dismiss it out of hand and move on to the next alternative. 

Remember, in a culture where the individual is king and there are no absolute moral truths, exercising choice without limitations is a cherished right.

Trend #4: The Impact of Technology

Few of our daily experiences have remained outside the influence of the technologies  introduced in the past 20 years. Communications, medicine, information dissemination and storage, education, farming, athletics, music and art – you name it and the chances are high that it has been seriously affected by technology in recent years. And that includes the faith dimension, too.

Among the most overt effects on church life have been applications such as the widespread embrace of large-screen projection systems for worship and teaching events; the use of video technology for multisite ministry; satellite delivery of ministry training; the ubiquity of religious conversation in the media (including the Internet); congregations’ reliance on Web sites for disseminating ministry information; the use of computers, the Internet, and e-mail for gathering facts that are woven into religious teaching; the enhanced visual design evident in church publications and presentations; and the superior musical experiences provided through the use of downloadable files and performances using “smart” instruments.

The implications of this advanced technology in relation to ministry include the reshaping of the marketplace, the reorientation of community into new forms and relationships, the expectation of finding ministry resources that respond directly to both the felt and real needs, a heightened awareness of global faith conditions and opportunities, and the desire to be a part of a worldwide Church with localized applications.

The Church in general needs to be aware of these and the other changes we will speak about in the next few blogs. But, more than aware of these changes, the Church must respond to them and alter the way we live as believers; the way we interact with the community and the world; and the ways in which we express the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Failure to recognize these changes and new trends will mean the demise of local churches and the decrease influence of the Church in general worldwide. We will be viewed as a dinosaur that is no longer relevant nor useful in our post-modern society and technological world. 

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Eight

As we continue to look at the Church that Jesus is building and the current call to be ‘revolutionaries’ we need to understand that change is happening. There are major changes in our world, the society (cultural group) we live in, and in the Church in general. We are in the midst of a series of spiritual transitions. Change is a natural, positive, and irreplaceable part of growth as well as necessary to enable us to continue to exist.

Leaders often remind us that what got us where we are is not the same stuff that will get us where we want to go, so we must change. Psychologists remind us that repeating the same behaviours merely generates the same outcomes, and therefore precludes rather than produces positive change. In other words, to grow we must purposefully alter our routines and approaches. And the Bible is equally clear in telling us that God did not send Jesus to die so we might be comfortable and complacent, but so we might die to self, pick up our cross, and follow the way of the Master. This involves constant change.

The spiritual revolution that is gathering momentum and influence in many nations provides evidence of sweeping changes that are taking place today. Some of the most important trends that are reshaping our society relate to the shift in worldview, lifestyle, and expectations that characterize our younger generations – the Baby Busters, the Mosaics, the Xennals (Gen X), Millennials, Generation Y (Gen Next), iGen (Gen Z), Gen Alpha. In fact, researchers have determined seven particular trends in these generations that are leading to the new church that will facilitate the moral and spiritual revolution that millions of us have been praying for over the past several decades. (see chart below…)

Generation Name Births





Age Today*

Oldest Age


The Lost Generation

The Generation of 1914

1890 1915 103 128
The Interbellum Generation 1901 1913 105 117
The Greatest Generation 1910 1924 94 108
The Silent Generation 1925 1945 73 93
Baby Boomer Generation 1946 1964 54 72
Generation X (Baby Bust) 1965 1979 39 53
Xennials 1975 1985 33 43

Generation Y, Gen Next

1980 1994 24 38
iGen / Gen Z 1995 2012 6 23
Gen Alpha 2013 2025 1 5

(*age if still alive today)

These seven trends …. 

Trend #1: The Changing of the Guard

The two generations that contain people in their forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies – the Baby Boomers and the Builders – are slowly and painstakingly losing their grip on power in society. It is the two younger generations (and soon the even younger ones) – the Baby Busters and the Mosaics – who inject energy into the economy, social institutions, and even the Church because they understand and embrace constant change and innovation. Over the coming decades, increasing numbers of these younger adults will ascend to positions of power and influence. In fact, we are already seeing this change moving forward rapidly.

As a result of the passing of the torch, Busters and Mosaics are altering the ways in which people relate to each other, the types of outcomes deemed desirable, the procedures used to achieve meaningful results, the values and beliefs that underlie critical decisions, and the role of technology in our lives. These same transitions are radically affecting how people perceive and practice the Christian faith.

Trend #2: The Rise of a New View of Life

Most developed countries are now what is called a ‘postmodern’ society. Postmodernism claims that are no moral absolutes – that is, truth is whatever you believe it to be. That kind of thinking suggests that good citizenship requires tolerance of all points of view and behavioural preferences. The postmodern philosophy also proclaims that the most important element in life in your relationships; that the processes you engage in are more significant than the product of those procedures, which is a ‘means justify the ends’ perspective; and that the most appropriate route to influence is through dialogue, not monologue or the imposition of one’s beliefs or approaches upon others. 

The shift into a live-and-let-live philosophy affects every dimension of our lives, including the ways in which we understand and practice Christianity. Obviously, some of the central elements of this spreading philosophy and way of life – such as its rejection of absolute moral truth – are at odds with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Other core principles, such as the emphasis on relationships, are consistent with the teaching os the Lord. The threat to the Church lies in the fact that surprisingly few believers are sufficiently reflective about the implications of this shift to critically assess its pros and cons – to know when it is important to take a stand against the encroachment of unbiblical principles. 

Regretfully, as well, a large number of Christians are not even aware that there is a change in the way people are viewing life. They are not aware that they are now living in and relating to a ‘postmodern’ society. Thus, they are still using old thinking and old ways to reach people and are not yet recognizing that they are failing miserable in the attempt. 

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Seven

As we continue our look at the Church relating it to what people are looking for in a local church fellowship we are discovering that the Lord is moving in the hearts of people of all ages causing a serious inner discontent and thus a disconnect from the church as it is today. Those who are responding to this spiritual discomfort are often referred to as revolutionaries.

This is not to bash the Church. Christian churches have an incredible 2,000 year legacy of pursuing God and faithfully doing His work. An extraordinary repository of life-changing results emanates from the Church. The Church is not a perfect group of people or a perfect institution; it is populated by sinners – like you and me – whom God dearly loves, despite our debased nature. And despite its faults and flaws, a spiritually healthy church will always have a valid and valuable role within God’s Kingdom on earth.

The point is simply to recognize that there are some basic and foundational things that need to change within the local church if it is to actually be healthy and if we are to continue to speak to the people of today about Jesus and His Kingdom. 

Also, if we place all our hope in the local church, it is a misplaced hope. Many well-intentioned pastors promote this perspective by proclaiming, “the local church is the hope of the world.” Like most advertising slogans, this notion is emotionally appealing. The trouble is, the sentiment is not biblical. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the hope of the world. The local church is one mechanism that can be instrumental in bringing us closer to Him and helping us to be more like Him. But, as research data shows, churches are not doing the job. If the local church is the hope of the world, then the world has no hope.

Again, the point we have been making is simply to recognize that there are some basic and foundational things that need to change within the local church if we are to continue to speak to the people of today about Jesus and His Kingdom and if the Church is to, once again, function biblically. Some very big changes.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being involved in a local church. But realize that being a part of a group that calls itself a ‘church’ does not make you saved, holy, righteous, or godly any more than being in a baseball stadium makes you a professional baseball player. Participating in church-based activities does not necessarily draw you closer to God or prepare you for a life that satisfies Him or enhances your existence. Being a member of a congregation does not make you spiritually righteous. 

Being in a right relationship with God and His people is what matters. Scripture teaches us that devoting your life to loving God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul is what honours Him. Being part of a local church may facilitate that. Or it might not.

Sadly, many people will label this view “blasphemy.’ However, you should realize that the Bible neither describes nor promotes the local church as we know it today. Many centuries ago religious leaders created the prevalent form of ‘church’ that is so widespread in our society to help people be better followers of Christ. But the local church we have come to know and cherish – the services, offices (sacraments), programs, buildings, ceremonies – is neither biblical nor unbiblical. It is aBiblical – that is, such an organization is not addressed in the Bible. 

If you read through the New Testament you will find no allusions to or descriptions of a specific type of religious organization or spiritual form for the church. The Bible does not rigidly define the corporate practices, rituals, or structures that must be embraced in order to have a proper church. It does, however, offer direction regarding the importance and integration of fundamental spiritual disciplines into one’s life. 

Sometimes we forget that the current form of religious practice and community were developed hundreds of years ago, long after the Bible was written, in an attempt to help believers live more fulfilling Christian lives. We should keep in mind that what we call ‘church’ is just one interpretation of how to develop and live a faith-centred life. We made it up. It may be healthy or helpful, but it is not sacrosanct.

The current move of the Spirit, the revolution, is not about eliminating, dismissing, or disparaging the local church. It is about building relationships, commitments, processes, and tools that enable us to be the God-lovers we were intended to be from the beginning of creation.

Revolutionaries realize – sometimes very reluctantly – that the core issue isn’t whether or not one is involved in a local church, but whether or not one is connected to the body of believers in the pursuit of godliness and worship. Consequently, the revolution involves the remnant of believers who are obsessed with practicing the same seven passions that defined the early church, in order to be agents of transformation in this world.

A reminder of what the seven core passions for a revolutionary are (from previous blogs in this series):

1> Intimate worship

2> Faith-based conversations

3> Intentional spiritual growth

4> A place to serve (servanthood)

5> Resource investment

6> Spiritual friendships

7> Family faith

You see, it is not about the church. It’s about the Church – that is, the people who actively participate in the intentional advancement of God’s Kingdom in partnership with the Holy Spirit and other believers. (note the difference between church and Church)

The revolutionary mind-set is simple: Do whatever it takes to get closer to God and to help others to do the same. Obliterate any obstacle that prevents you from honouring God with every breath you take. Be such an outstanding example of the Christian faith that no one will question your heart or lifestyle – except those who see institutional survival as equally or more important than the alleged influence of the institution they defend.

Or, put more bluntly, the revolution is about recognizing that we are not called to go to church. We are called to be the Church.

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Six

As we continue our look at the Church in the book of Acts, what revolutionary believers today are looking for in the Church, and what the current state of the Church is…

5> Regarding Servanthood…

Surveys indicate that in a typical week, only one of every four believers will allocate some time to serving other people. Most of that time is dedicated to volunteering in church programs that serve the believers who attend a local church – and not touching the lives of those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Seriously little effort is invested in serving needy people in their community.

Most churched Christians admit to having seen homeless or hurting people in their community or travels during the past year; a very small percentage says they interacted with any of those disadvantaged individuals.

The typical believer would rather give money to an organization to allow it to do good deeds in society than personally assist in alleviating the needs of disadvantaged people.

A reminder of the early church and what revolutionaries are looking for as seen earlier in this series…

Love is more than a feeling; it is a tangible reality when it is shared with other people through acts of selfless service. The early Church fostered the notion that serving the people was the best means of demonstrating the example that Jesus had set for them. Servanthood also showed the transformation that their faith had wrought within them. Like Christ, they lived to serve rather than to be served.

6> Regarding Spiritual Friendships…

Fewer than one out of every six churched believers has a relationship with another believer through which spiritual accountability is provided.

The most significant influence on the choices of churched believers is neither the teachings from the pulpit nor advice gleaned from fellow believers; it is messages absorbed from the media, the law, and family members.

Let’s compare that to the early church and what it is revolutionaries are looking for…

The Church was all about relationships. These friends of Jesus became friends with each other and revelled in their mutual admiration of Christ in their frequent get-togethers. The friendships they formed provided not only encouragement but also loving accountability for spiritual integrity.

7> Regarding Family Faith…

A large majority of churched believers rely upon their church, rather than their family, to train their children to become spiritually mature.

In an average month, fewer than one out of every ten churched families worships together outside of a church service; just as few pray together, other than at mealtimes; and the same minimal numbers study the Bible together at home or work together to address the needs of disadvantaged people in their community.

The likelihood of a married couple who are born again churchgoers getting divorced is the same as couples who are not disciples of Jesus.

Apart from church-based programs, the typical Christian family spends less than three hours per month in endeavours designed to jointly develop or apply their faith.

Most Christian parents do not believe they are doing a good job at facilitating the spiritual development of their children. 

Again, a reminder of the early church’s life in this area and what revolutionaries are looking for today…

Christian families taught the ways of God in their homes every day. Parents were expected to model a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led lifestyle for their children, and families were to make their home a sanctuary for God. In a very real sense, the home was the early church – supplemented by larger gatherings in the Temple and elsewhere, but never replaced by what took place in the homes of the believers.

It is time for the existing local churches to take a look at their corporate lives and make some serious changes and adjustments to what they are doing. It is simply no longer working.

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Five

We are looking at the Church as it is today and seeing how it relates to the seven passions of those who are looking for much more than they see and experience in the local church today – the revolutionaries.

We saw that the revolutionaries have a number of passions – elements of spiritual life that they are desiring and looking for in the local church …

1> Intimate worship

2> Faith-based conversations

3> Intentional spiritual growth

4> A place to serve (servanthood)

5> Resource investment

6> Spiritual friendships

7> Family faith

Last time we looked at the first two. Let’s move forward from there and look at several more.

3> Regarding Intentional Spiritual Growth…

Only 9 percent of all born again adults have a biblical worldview – meaning that less than one out of every ten Christians eighteen or older believes that absolute moral truth exists, believes that such truth is contained in the Bible, and possesses a handful of core beliefs that reflect such truth. 

Those beliefs include a certainty that the Bible is accurate in its teachings; Jesus lived a sinless life on this earth; Satan is real, not symbolic; all believers are responsible for sharing their faith in Christ with others; the only means to salvation is through God’s grace as revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator of the universe who still rules it today. 

The other 91% of born again adults possess a patchwork of theological views and rarely rely upon those perspectives to inform their daily decisions. 

Although the typical believer contends that the Bible is accurate in what it teaches, he or she spends less time reading the Bible in a year than watching television, listening to music, reading other books and publications, or conversing about personal hobbies and leisure interests.

When asked what constitutes success in life, few believers define success in spiritual terms. Most describe outcomes related to professional achievements, family solidarity, physical accomplishments, or resource acquisitions.

When given the opportunity to state how they want to be known by others, fewer than one out of ten believers mentioned descriptions that reflect their relationship with God. 

A reminder from a previous blog of what revolutionaries are looking for in this regard and what the early church in the book of Acts exhibited regarding spiritual growth:

The Church in Jerusalem endeavoured to learn more about the Christian faith and employ the principles of Jesus’ teachings. Believers exhibited a remarkable attitude toward life and people and acknowledged the presence of the supernatural in their everyday adventures. They placed their faith at the center of their lives and derived their sense of meaning, purpose, and direction from their connection to God and His commands.

It is obvious that born again believers today are falling short of the biblical model when it comes to intentional spiritual growth. And, that the revolutionaries, in many cases, are not finding what they are looking for in the church as we currently see it working today. 

4> Regarding Resource Investment…

Churched Christians give away an average of about 3 percent of their income in a typical year – and feel pleased with their “sacrificial” generosity. Fewer than one out of every ten churched Christians donate at least 10 percent of their income to churches and other nonprofit organizations. More than one-third claim to do so and thus are either self-deceived or lying.

When asked to explain their understanding of biblical stewardship, less than one out of every twenty includes resources such as time, relationships, ideas, or skills in their assessment. And, most believers are unable to identify anything specific they have ever donated money to that they would describe as producing life-changing outcomes.

Again, a reminder of the early church’s understanding of resource investment which is also what revolutionaries are looking for in the church today…

Because we own nothing in this life, it is best to wisely invest the resources we manage for the One who is the true owner of all things. The first Christians defined communal living through their sacrificial sharing of everything they had. Note that the Scriptures specifically tell us that they shared “everything” with those in need, and that they used the variety of resources at their disposal – money, food, clothing, housing, relationships, influence, skills, time – for the benefit of all believers. 

More next time…