Are We Incarnating The Life Of Christ And The Kingdom Of God To The World?
In response to the many arguments that have come to fore with regard to the death of larger, older, and denominational churches: I believe the Church universal, as an amalgam of varying styles, methods, locations, mission, vision, tribes and tongues, as long as it does not stray from the basic tenants and orthodoxy of biblical teaching, and as long as it is focused on the missio Dei (mission of God), is just fine with the One who purchased the Church with His own blood. Any church, whether it be a small house church, a larger gathering in a building, or an open air gathering, if it does not incarnate the life of Christ and the Kingdom of God, or preach Christ and Him crucified, all that they attempt to do is most certainly done in vain. Furthermore, Acts chapter 4 was clear that the Church met daily IN THE TEMPLE AND FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE. To imply that one is more approved unto God than another is in error.
It takes all manner of people, personalities, callings, and giftings to make up the Ekklesia. Certainly if we were all attending smaller house gatherings, there wouldn't be enough resources to fund much in the area of domestic or foreign missions. Furthermore, as a pastor of a smaller church community myself, I find that smaller gatherings are often times hindered in their vision and mission because quite a bit of that vision and mission requires substantial provision in order to accomplish the task. This takes many people who are willing, and called, to come along-side in order to help fund that vision and mission. This usually requires brick and mortar facilities to accommodate the gathering of the saints and to centralize operations in order to proficiently house those operations which are critical to accomplishing the God-given vision and mission. (Of course, the key phrase here is "God-given".)
No matter whether you are pro house church, or pro larger gatherings, if that body of believers has become stagnant and just holding on to the status-quo, they have become disobedient to God and are at risk of having their one "talent" taken away and given to the one who has multiplied the "talents" that were given to them. I have seen house churches and mega-churches both bury their "talents". As an example, there are at least two mega-churches in my city that exceed 20,000 members EACH! They have certainly managed to create their own "kingdoms". But if each of these churches divided into 20 churches of 1000 people each, they would total 40 churches of 1000 people spread out around the city and would have a HUGE impact in their respective neighborhoods! But they continue to follow the old, tired attractional model of church rather than become missionally and incarnationally focused. This is inefficient and being wasteful of the "talents" that were given to them.
As long as the majority of churches continue on the track of being attractional and inward focused, there will be many who join the growing anti-church movement. In the current postmodern, and post-postmodern world, we must be truly incarnational and demonstrate the love and power of Christ within the context of our local communities. When the people within our respective communities begin to see the cross working in our lives and changing us, and when they see the true power of Christ in manifestation just like they did in the book of Acts when Peter encountered the crippled man at the gate, then perhaps we will begin to see a less contentious environment towards the Church.
Priest and Vicar of The Uprising ~ Ancient:Apostolic:Anglican Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Uprising is an Incarnational and Sacramental Anglican mission community seeking the spiritual renewal of our city through the grace, love, truth, and power of Christ.