America & The Church: Facing The Challenge Of Community

 The Need For The 5 Fold – Part II

The Issue: How To Develop Community

The Black population in America cherishes community, and speaks of it boldly when talking of their corporate experience.  Their sense of community was developed through centuries of slavery and suffering, for only through their own personal bonding together did they have a corporate sense of purpose and understanding.  The Leave It To Beaver communities of the 1950’s featured neighborhoods that did social activities together, worshiped together at local corner churches, while serving and helping one another, but by the Archie Bunker All In The Family and Ray Ramano Everyone Loves Raymond eras, America experienced dysfunctional families and communities.  Families no longer sat on their porches visiting, sharing in community picnics and fairs, sitting together around band shells to be entertained but passed one another in their cars traveling to different destinations for social, religious, and business purposes. Today “personal visitations” is becoming obsolete, as Social Networking through Smart Phones enables communications and becoming “bf”, best friends, through Facebook, texting, emailing, Skyping and FaceTiming, etc. while even sitting in the same room, muting oral communications as fingers fly across their phone’s keyboards. Technology redefines community, so how should the Church adjust to redefining community.  First Century times featured breaking bread together, eating together, fellowshipping or hanging out together. Distant correspondence came through letter writing even most of the population were illiterate. With the invention of the printing press, that changed, as people could entertain themselves by reading a good book and local libraries became part of the community. By the twenty-first century with the Internet and World Wide Web one does not have to even leave their personal dwelling or living space to communicate with the world, anyone, anywhere as long as there is Internet connection.  The sense of community has gone through small towns and neighborhoods to a world wide view.

One of the challenges America and the Church faces in the 21st Century is how to define “community”, the bonding of relationships.  Several churches sensing demographic change in the late 20th Century changed their church names away from denominational traditions to “community” churches, hoping to maintain an old paradigm of past years, but now with a new generation, new mindsets, new technology, and a new way of looking at the world, the Church has to have a paradigm shift if it is to be effective in birthing, establishing, influencing, and impacting 21st Century community.  “Church” is a community of believers, and the church has to determine how to define “church” in a changing demographic world influenced by technology, redefining what “church”, “doing church” and “meeting at church” as well as what “a church service” means.  How does it do that?

At the local level, I believe doctrine of Priesthood of Believers must be again unveiled, teaching the role of every believer in their faith walk individually and corporately, called the “church”.  Are we willing to respect past history and traditions, but be willing to lay them on the altar and allow the Holy Spirit to do a new thing for this new generation?  Are we willing to provide “new wineskins”, new forms, new mindsets, and new visions and points of view for new ideas, directions, and ministries of service to be birthed, generated, and maintained by the Holy Spirit?

If there was ever a time the five fold was needed, it is today to “discern” where the Holy Spirit is leading for this generation!  By having an evangelistic, shepherding/pastoral, teaching, prophetic, and apostolic spirits come together to lay down their lives for one another, serve one another, and support one another, the Church can corporately listen to the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction.  If they seek the “voice” of God in unity, they will also hear him in unity. God does speak when we are willing to listen.  The challenge comes in what to do when he speaks, for the Holy Spirit demands “obedience” to what has been “revealed” by the Heart of the Father through the voice of the Holy Spirit.  For the Church in the 1st Century and the 21st Century, “obedience” defines “righteousness”!

When the Holy Spirit gives direction to a local church or congregation, then the evangelistic spirit among them must be “released” to birth this new sense of community; those believers who exemplify the shepherding/pastoral spirit must be “released” to minister to one another to develop and sustain that community; those with a teaching spirit need to be “released” to exhort the written, the Logos Word, the Bible, to ground them in Biblical principles defining community; those who flow in the prophetic spirit must be “released” to make this grounded Logos Word a Rhema, living word to bring “life” to this community; and those believers given the gift of the apostolic spirit, the God ordained ability to see the big picture must be “released” to “see over” what the Holy Spirit is doing amongst the group and allow them to “release” the other four passions to do “the work of service” to birth, develop, maintain, grow, and reproduce this aspect of community which the Holy Spirit defined. That is how the five fold works.

The way the Church defines and does “community”, does “church”, by the end of the 21st Century hopefully will look drastically different than it did in the 10th, 15th, 20th, and even beginning of the 21st Centuries. Jesus has empowered his Bride, the Church, to move toward change, to birth, develop, and maintain a Church without spot or wrinkle to prepare the Bride for the return of its Groom, the return of Jesus.