It’s no secret that in the past few years, George Barna and people like him have given up on the local church (the flawed model they invented) and have documented a revolution of people leaving the organized church to simply go and be the church. While there are a lot of biblical problems with this statement, that’s not the purpose of this post. I received a very encouraging email from a friend yesterday who pointed me to a blog post of one who, for a long time, was critical of the local church. The post was encouraging on a number of levels:
First, it was an admission of wrong. The sincere-hearted minister honestly admitted that missions and outreach become impossibly limited without the local church. He essentially described the dead-end road he had discovered while in search of authentic ministry, and how it led him to return to a local-church focus. He recanted his previous tone toward the church and stated that he had fallen back in love with the local church!
Second, it was an affirmation of God’s truth and purpose in local-church ministry. On his own journey, this revolutionary had come full circle! I love it! He had left church and gone into a lone-ranger style of ministry, only to find out he had no body of fellowship in which to baptize, disciple, and serve with new Christians. He had discovered, by process, that the local church is still God’s purpose and the fulfillment of Christ’s full mission of life transformation.
Third, it was a validation that local-church ministry works in spite of imperfect local-church members. Some revolutionaries left the local church because they were running from spiritual authority and accountability. But not all. Many left because they were disillusioned—fed up with carnal local-church experiences. They were tired of the game that contemporary churches are playing where Christ is not preeminent, and genuine new life is not found. In knee-jerk reaction fashion, they rejected God’s very design. With sincere motivation, they did the wrong thing. This revolutionary wrote that he now realizes churches of imperfect people are a priceless treasure in God’s eyes!
I was greatly encouraged to read of one revolutionary coming back to a biblical focus for Christ-centered ministry. And I really respected his love and passion for authentic ministry. Local church is God’s plan—we don’t need to revolt, reinvent, or think out of that box. That’s God’s box, and we need to stay in it and work within it. There will always be carnal churches—and there always have been. (Read Revelation 3.) But all over the world today there are growing, Bible-believing, local churches thriving with new life, discipleship, and heart transformation. Barna’s revolutionaries need to see a few healthy churches in action. Many of them would fall back in love with God’s blueprint! There’s nothing like it, and there’s nothing better!
Perhaps the work of God’s Holy Spirit will continue to draw other revolutionaries back to loving the local church the way that Jesus does. Apart from the local church, ministry is crippled. Our best efforts to serve Christ fall far short of the true and lasting life transformation that Christ desires to create through healthy, local-church ministry!
Note: I don’t have permission to repost the article, and I’m not familiar with the man who wrote it or his ministry. I didn’t link to it because I would not want him to think I was being critical of him. I was just really glad to read how God had brought his heart around.