Kevin has a fire lit underneath him and you can start to follow his series here and here. Basically some authors have made the claim that the way the modern church operates is completely unbiblical. While I would not argue that many churches handle themselves in an unbiblical way, to make such a wide accusation shows how little we have learned and how many of us in church leadership roles still think we know everything. And that is why I am writing this post; because with all that the first century church didn’t have, they did have a few advantages. Here are my observations.
1. They were the first.
The first century church really was clueless. They didn’t have experts telling them how to “do” church. There were no books to read or seminars on the subject. There were no other churches to emulate. There was just a group of people that knew they had to tell as many people as possible about this Jesus and learn how to serve him the best they could. They were uncluttered by the 10,000 ways to “do” church and therefore could explore any that they wanted. For some reason we have lost that liberty.
I do believe that there are a lot of great people teaching some great things about church planting and I strive to learn all I can but at times we can get so caught up on the right “way” to do things that we lose focus on the right reason to do things…which leads me to my next point.
2. They were learning motive over method.
As I stated in an earlier comment, Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian church was that they were not properly considering the “why” of their gatherings. He didn’t tell them they were not taking communion in the wrong way but with a wrong focus. They were not wrong in using their spiritual gifts when they got together but they were wrong in excluding the outsider from the experience. Paul really didn’t care about “how“ they “did” church or their methods in gathering. He did care, however, in the purpose of their gatherings. He didn’t want to see the church become a social club where people tried to be better than each other but a community of missional believers that wanted to reach others with the gospel message. Motives can be a powerful force.
3. They cared more about Theology than Methodology.
And thank God that they did. Who knows where we would be if the majority of their time was spent trying to create the “right” way to “do” church. The divinity of Jesus…who cares about that if we don’t know whether we should meet in houses or larger owned facilities? Atonement, grace, the Holy Spirit…none of those things matter if we can’t figure out whether we should sing hymns or rock songs.
The first century church and a few centuries after were more concerned about understanding the nature and heart of God and getting that message out than the method that we use to share it. In fact it was their theology that drove their methodology and not the other way around but that’s the subject of another post.
What I take away from the first century church.
I want my motives to be God’s motives and my methods to be whatever reaches people for Christ…everything else is just smoke and mirrors distracting me from the real mission. What say you?