Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Wineskins For 2016

I heard a preacher once say, “God started the church the way He wanted it, now He wants the church the way He started it.”

What did the church look like in its early form? First of all, church buildings were not existent in the Book of Acts. Only the Jewish Temple was in use at that time. Christians did not begin to build church buildings until about 200 A.D.

There were two qualities that produced the greatest period of vitality and growth during the first two centuries up until recent times. The first quality was their worship. The second quality was their fellowship (koinonia). It was in homes that early Christians met for worship, but worship without fellowship would become something cold and divorced from reality.

The church of Acts is described in Acts 2:42 - “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (vs 46) “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” In Acts 5:42, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

Let me say that I am not against church buildings as long as they don’t limit our mobility to get out and “seek the lost” and share the good news of Christ. Also, as long as the church building does not limit our fellowship and ability to communicate our faith, prayers, and love for one another.

Several years ago I read about Juan Carolos Ortiz who pastored a very large church in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He told of how he shut down the church building for a month to see if the church could survive under persecution conditions. What happened? The church continued to function normally. Why? Because it was structured like a body, made up of a whole network of informed contacts and small home groups. During the month financial contributions were handled through the small groups. Says Ortiz, “More money came in during that month than ever before!”

I ask myself, “Would we be ready to take such a risk?” I do believe that we are a church that does not attach our time, money, and life only to the church building that we attend. Over half of our church budget annually is given to foreign missions, social ministries, evangelism, and helping the needs of others.

Small groups that begin this month will be something essential to our Christian experience and growth. You can experience true, rich, deep Christian soul-fellowship, or “Koinonia.”  Join us today and become a part!