Summary: If it is still the Old Rugged Cross and the Blood why be looking for every new thing?
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) KJV
I am convinced that much of what is called the Evangelical Church are modern Athenians. I cannot even keep up with all the new things crop because Christians are apparently bored with the manna God has given them and must seek leeks and garlic to be happy.
The abuse of the gifts is nothing new as Corinth had a corner on that fiasco. Now we must find some new program, fad or buzz word to stimulate the growth of the Church. Really? I don’t see things like purpose driven, seeker, emerging, radical or missional programs in the Word. The Christians were doing the seeking as they went into the world, not figuring out how to make Church a Burger King where folks can have it their way.
Indeed, what really stimulated the Church was more often than not martyrdom. Don’t see anyone suggesting 40 days of martyrdom, emerging martyrdom or even missional martyrdom though many of our brethren around the world are participating in martyrdom without a brand or mission statement. Certainly without all the digital paraphernalia and dramatics we have. Indeed some have been branded with the marks of Christ and Paul, but they are not wearing the latest t-shirt with a logo or a wristband saying, Martyrdom Now! or DyingforChrist.org.
It is amazing how the Church grew so well in the fist century with no mass media to podcast and youtube or praise bands to follow around. There was no pre-campaign sweeps of the neighborhood or full page ads in The Daily Scroll or Athens Weekly.
One lady once told me that it was hard to go to a church where nothing was going on. Hmm, we had prayer, singing, preaching. outreach local and abroad and sometimes meals together. The ordinances were being offered and practiced. That is pretty much all they had in the 1st Century, I am not picking on her for she is a product of the times, I know what she meant, but it really is not what Church is to be.
There were no marriage retreats, 12 step programs, yoga, weight loss classes, Mother’s Day out, etc. etc. They met together to eat everyday and prayed until power came upon them and at times endured an Apostle preaching to midnight after having put in a normal 12 hour day. We want their power from maybe one hour a week with 45 minutes of music and a 15 minute message so we can get to Luby’s on time or make it home before game time. Fat chance of that happening.
You’ve seen the bumper stickers that say, “Life is ____! Everything else is details.” That is the problem. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” When we get to life is Christ and the rest is details we might start to see something happen in the Church in spite of our buzz words and new things.
We don’t need to try and model their format. My DIL told me of a church that does house church most of the time and corporate worship according to their philosophy. That was not what made the Church grow, That format is not sacred any more than meeting in multi-million dollar buildings that will be gone in an instant when this world is burned up. Bad stewardship is never good, but no style is the key to winning souls.
New colleges spring up all the time and everyone has a new slant on one doctrine or another and yet it is usually just a change of clothes for an old teaching be it true or false.
We love education to the point of near idolatry and we snub people who did not go to our school or have our advanced degree much like James warned about greeting the rich person and shoving the poor man to a corner in the room so the rich man can be front row center. Yet, the bulk of men chosen by Christ never finished high school and many of the churches in the West were founded by men with eighth grade educations because the highly trained men wanted the plush parishes and popular pulpits. That may also be part of our bane and blame for a palsied church.
If you really want to see a 1st Century church then grasp the 1st Century spirit. Let’s get back to a daily meeting, not because the form is powerful but because the commitment to the next life is powerful. Daily fellowshipping in prayer would keep the brain trained and focused on the main thing. Daily study of the Word and exhortation would also do the same.