Is it time? Time for something different? Something different personally. Something different globally.
Global Shake-up – Personal Wake-up
If you can give me some latitude in sharing a small slice of Church history, I think there is something for us today… from yesterday.
Definition: “Priesthood of all believers” A doctrine of the Protestant Christian Church proclaiming that every individual has direct access to God without ecclesiastical mediation and each individual shares the responsibility of ministering to the other members of the community of believers. It surfaced as one of the heart cries of the Reformation.
In the 16th century, Martin Luther was deeply concerned that the people of the Church were being held captive. For him, corrections needed to be made to the sacred call of being the Church. Freeing the people of the Church was the driving force behind the Reformation.
There were several presenting issues that he and men like Calvin and Zwingli sought to address, one being the errant view of the priesthood. For Luther, the entirety of the Christian people was a spiritual people, all having being been made priests at their baptism. “Therefore,” he wrote, “we are all priests, as many of us as who are Christians. Every Christian had a duty to fulfill their priestly service to others, especially those within their home.
To paraphrase Martin Luther, the work of the milkmaid is just as important to God as the work of the priest. And Calvin added that all work can serve to love and glorify God, not just the work of the clergy.
A little more than a century after Luther’s ministry, Philip Jacob Spener—a German Pietist, famous for his book Pia Desideria—sought to continue the work that Luther began at the Reformation. Spener also believed that every Christian had a duty to fulfill their priestly service to others, especially those within their home. He sought to correct the common misconception of his day that the ordained clergyman was the only one who did the work of ministry. He believed that any complacency in the work of ministry amongst the laity was due to this misconception about the pastoral office. He charged every Christian to fulfill their priestly duty! This exhortation was based upon Paul’s encouragement to the Ephesians that every member of the church had their part, in order for the body of Christ to mature (Eph. 4:7-16).
In the early 1970s, Francis Schaffer signaled the eventual coming of a “defining moment” and the need for the radical re-missioning of the local church. In his book, “The Church at end of the 20th Century,” Schaffer could see the declining influence and institutionalism of the church. We are there.
Schaffer states that: “One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary. To be conservative is to miss the whole point for conservatism means adopting the status quo. The status quo no longer belongs to us. We must teach the young to be revolutionaries, revolutionaries against that which causes the church to not be the church.”
In our day, Os Guinness, and his book “The Call,” was a prophetic challenge to return to the Puritan’s approach to life in Christ where each of us is called into “full-time ministry” on the day we surrendered to Christ. Guinness states that our primary calling is “to become disciples of Christ.” Our primary calling is “to be” and our secondary calling is “to do”—representing God’s desire for life in Christ “to be” fully integrated into all areas of life.
The Church is in transition.
Each of us within the Church is participating in this transition. It has happened on our watch. The prophetic picture from COVID-19 was seeing all the church buildings “empty” as we the church did not cease to be the church. As my friend Dan Nold says, “We must become a church with no walls.” A Gospel that is need of being incarnated. Local. Home. Parish. Smaller. Neighborhood.
Its time for a different kind of Church. Its time to complete the Reformation. So, what if each person who belongs to the local expression of the church was/is an apprentice of Jesus on assignment? What if we only did Sunday (again) if it has a direct impact on Monday. What if Sunday only happened, in the future, because it was strategic and needed to do Monday? That’s revolutionary. What if we returned back to what is most important, in order to move forward?
I have spent most of my adult life working, resourcing, training, and coaching those involved in the local Church. I have sought to help renew and revitalize her work. All the while, I could see a storm coming. I have watched new models come and go. From attractional to emergent to missional. All led by passionate Christ-followers who wanted something more; who wanted the sleeping giant to awake. Yet the day has changed as we each watch our world fragment.
The truth is that for many years the expressions of the local church have been faltering. It’s not actually hard to see and admit that truth. What has been hard is our refusal to look beyond the Sunday worship service and to NOT our refusal to prioritize our mandate. It has cost us dearly. Jesus did not come to begin a worship service. His is a church with no walls. Each of us disciples, apprentices of Jesus. All ministers of the Gospel engaged in front year mission. A church of those learning how to live like Jesus. Who refuse to hear more sermons we are not living out. That’s all he ever wanted, and all he ever asked us to do.
Ministers in our homes, at the local supermarket, in the bakery, as a professor on campus, on the assembly line, as a student, as a doctor, as a teacher, as a driver of a bus, a graphic designer, a mother, a farmer, and more.
Let’s break free.