It was great to be with Pastor Brice Greathouse and the Everyone’s Church in Mt. Vernon yesterday. Thanks to everyone who was there. Two people invited Jesus into their hearts and it was wonderful to see fresh faith born in their hearts. Thank you God.
Sometimes we read our Bibles and think that everything in the New Testament Church was perfect, but the truth is everything was in a disaster. If we read our Scripture carefully, we will see that the New Testament church was in crisis management. People had come from centuries of an administration of law or centuries of mere human conscience, but they did not yet have fully changed hearts or changed minds to know the growing work of grace in their generations. They were receiving it by grace and it was destined to grow in the realities of the generations to follow. They were in a process of changing. Changeling was not necessary to go to heaven. People in the Old Covenant went to heaven simply because they looked to Jesus through their actions in the Law or their groping for God is some expression inspired by the internal witness of human conscience (Acts 17:29, 30). God saw their sacrifices and offerings as good as believing in Jesus, because it was all they had at the time. God wanted more than merely making a way for men and women to go to heaven. He wanted to fill the generations with a growing testimony of life.
When we look at people coming into the church from the world with different characteristic and different customs, we have to recognize that they only know what they know. Most have only had a human conscience – a human spirit convicting them to figure out this thing called life. They’ve been on the journey of life trying to figure out life. Most people are not trying to be evil or wicked. They are just trying to live life. They are only accountable for what they know, but the presence of Holy Spirit moving upon the hearts of people increases human accountability to God. As Holy Spirit convicts human hearts, people come looking to see if there is truth in the Man Jesus. Is there a truth in Christianity? We need to create welcoming environments that say come and look, come and see.We need to invite them into a relationship with Jesus, experiencing the Holy Spirit in their hearts empowering them to grow in a relationship with God that brings about supernatural changes in their hearts and minds. The result will be their actions will change. People who live together will get married. People who are pursuing things that are even forbidden in the Law will get a revelation that it is not life-giving or life-producing in the generations to come. Our objective is not to change them in the hope they will get a revelation. Our objective is to invite them into a place they can receive a revelation and then they can change. We must always remember that every individual is a person. God doesn’t look at numbers. He looks at individual people. He meets people where they are in their hearts and minds and leads them into the path of life that is unique to each one.
As pastors and leaders, we have a responsibility to lead the family of God to become good, gracious, and merciful. Someone who has been a believer for some time should have more expectations upon them than someone who is brand new in the faith. They are growing in a relationship with God and they should not be doing certain things any longer. My instructions and my admonitions to someone who has been a believer for some time is going to be different than my instructions or requirements for someone who is a new believer. We need to create communities that have an atmosphere that invites people who don’t know what to believe yet or how to act yet. We get all concerned with what should or should not happen in the church. The church is not a place we go to. The church is a living organism. The church is a living body filled with God’s presence. We’ve created these structures we call church that meets on Saturday, Sunday or some other time of the week. Those structures are not really the church. They are merely places the church gathers to experience God, connect with one another, and be activated, facilitated, and released to grow as members of the church in whatever realms of life they influence. There should be places the church can come and curious people also. The Holy Spirit may be moving upon the hearts of curious people who are feeling a conviction to seek God. They look for something that may be God. They may think a building with a cross on it is what the church is. If the church is a many-membered habitation of God’s presence seven days per week, twenty-four hours a day, we should not be afraid of structures that assist us in our journey. Our structures are not the church, they are simply tools to assist us in our development. The true church is an increasingly maturing expression of humanity for God’s purpose in the earth. We should have an expectation of the church that is different than the place of the building that includes curious people. When we establish only places the church can come, we create monasteries or isolated religious caves. I am not opposed to having a place where we gather together on Sunday as a community, gatherings in homes, gatherings in bakeries, at the park, by the river, in the café, having a meal, at the beaches or anywhere we chose to come together. We are looking to connect in relationships with people so we can give them an example of our lives as believers in Christ and invite them on that same journey. What happens in whatever facility we meet in is not necessarily the same thing that should be happening in the organism called the church, the people. When the New Testament Scriptures were written regarding what should happen in the church, there was no building called the church.
Ted J. Hanson