Many have acknowledged a calling from God from their childhood, and pursued that calling within the only context they knew. Their only frames of reference embody beliefs and practices that may have no New Covenant Scripture basis. Some practices are of little consequence, while others severely hinder the ultimate intention of God.
Not since the first-century church has there been a viable option commonly known and practiced on a significant enough scale to be noticed. This present-day traditional and most recognized model has its roots in Old Covenant temple worship, has made its way through centuries of Catholicism, and has been the prevailing church system ever since—including post reformation—among Catholic churches and Protestant mainline denominations, evangelical and fundamentalist churches, and also non-denominational fellowships and mega-churches. While there are many significant variations, the basic system is the same.
This institutional model for Christianity has been globalized through the missionary efforts of many devoted people. Yet, the pattern that has been in place and exported globally cannot usher in the fullness of the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
- There is a higher calling, to the one church in our city/region.
- There is a higher way that acknowledges and equips all saints for the work of the ministry.
- There is a higher objective, to embrace and maintain the simplicity that is in Christ, and be His body where we live.
Some things that are being done may not interfere with these higher purposes. Those things that detract or distract from these priorities will need to change if we are to be God’s answer to Creation’s Cry[i] in our generation. I am one of a multitude who must ask for forgiveness from those whom I have influenced in the context of traditional and institutional settings. Within those walls we copied or created systemic orders that translate into levels of financial security for an elite few. Much of what we see is patterned after worldly consumerism through the exercise of methodologies learned from Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and Wall Street. I don’t apologize for my heart—God had given me a new heart and placed a new spirit within me. However, I still had old mindsets and habits. Speaking plainly, I didn’t know better! I didn’t see anything else. Moreover, the consumers/enablers who attended our programs and events had their wants and expectations habitually formed by what they had always known. They could simply go down the street to any variety of consumer-driven options if we didn’t meet their expectations. There is competition for the same dollars! That’s how consumerism works! Revelation is costly.
Wisdom for the Newly Called
Receiving it demands a response. And such responses can totally upset our spiritual apple carts, sending religious people in search of another provider of program-based, consumer-driven Churchianity, and us to the bottom from where we can only look up. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”[ii] Jehovah Jireh is standing by, awaiting our obedience of faith, and is more than able to meet our need in the midst of every season. We will not truly progress until we are willing to progress together—the elders in every location need to come together and embrace one another. Repentance from critical and judgmental attitudes must precede our genuine participation in any group progress toward growing into the unity of the faith. We can learn to love and respect one another because we know that it is the right thing to do. The vast majority of today’s church leaders have honorable motives, genuine and passionate hearts to serve God and His people. We find such men and women in many different and differing venues. We should not brand our brothers on the basis of their building formats alone.
We must find a way to sincerely and wholly embrace the body of Christ, maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,[iii] and pursue the kingdom together. Remember, most of us came upon our concepts of ministerial success innocently by observing the only models available to us.
If we hope to enjoy God’s blessing, we must be careful to not judge motives, methods, modes, models, or venues.
Editors Note; May the Lord impart wisdom as we seek to fulfill His calling in our lives! p.s. “It doesn’t look at all like the old.”
[i] “Creation’s Cry” is available at www.DonAtkin.com