If You Take Away Its Buildings And Staff
I have been taught that the Church is not its building; the Church is its people. Europe adores its cathedrals, the United States its stain glass historic churches. Today “mega churches” are building edifices so thousands of people can attend multiple services supported by huge staffs. If history repeats itself, what will these mega structures be like when its congregations is whittled down, or the people abandon it, or if a future congregation can no longer afford monetarily to maintain the building?
If you close down the church building and disbanded the staff, would the Church, the people, survive as a body or would they be disband?
History records that the Church would survive! After Judas’ famous kiss of betrayal, the twelve and all their supporters fled, disbanded. To Rome and the Sanhedrin it probably looked like this new movement disbanded because their leader had fallen, yet how wrong they were, for when their leader had risen from the grave, they faced a formable force that would change the world. Pentecost would revive a disbanded group of believers into a powerful world changing eternal force. How did the Church survive? I learned in my Survey to New Testament course with Dr. Carl Zeigler at Elizabethtown College that the “church was formed on the blood of the martyrs.” History has proven that the greater the persecution, the greater the strength of the Church.
In our lifetime we have seen the Church of China go underground due to the persecution against it, but what did God do to prepare his Church for that moment? I enjoy reading Watchman Nee and some of his teachings because they were for forerunner of the China Church going underground. He was a teacher called to teach at a crucial moment. I understand the China underground Church is a live and well, but doesn’t “look” at all like its American or Westernized counterpart. What might we learn from them?
If we were forced in American to nailed our church doors shut, closing our edifices, and if we dissembled our clergy and staff system, would the Church in America survive? Sure, because its God’s people, but what would it look like? Did America’s churches “prepare the saints for the work of the service”? There is where I begin to wonder? Do we have to face persecution before we decide to “prepare” God’s people? Are we Americans arrogant enough to believe that we will always have huge edifices, large clerical support systems, and a vibrant church life? Look at Europe today who once boasted the same!
I would like to blow the trumpet, call the universal Church of Jesus Christ to arms to prepare God’s people for the work of the service before persecution raps on its doors wanting to shut them. Shutting those doors may look tragic, but those close doors may produce new doors that will be opened to and by the Spirit of God to move among His people.
Let’s continue to dialogue on what it means to “equip the saints” and how to do it, as well as what it means to “lay down our lives for our brethren” (I John 3:16)! Only by laying them down will we be able to pick each other up!