Church is fantastic
There have been umpteen letters in 'Omega' recently on
the hot-potato subject of problems with church.
We beg to disagree!
Church is absolutely fantastic. Church is us two, other
believers, and Him: the boss, the head, Jesus, Messiah, Saviour and Lord.
That's got to be fantastic.
(Why do folk say - or think - 'but'? We'll face the
question and expect a solid-gold answer.)
But people tend to lock themselves into organisations, into a
set way of doing something. Therefore, long past the use-by date, the system
(We could take you to a certain town in Britain.
Half-a-century ago the Railway Mission was a vibrant ministry to railway workers
and passengers at a loose end. Gave an upbeat gospel alternative to the local
pubs and prostitutes. Then Lord Beeching closed the rail link. Yet the Railway
Mission continued, and today is a ramshackle building where an ancient deacon
preaches to a sad quartet of old ladies.)
Right! Back to the slightly simplistic definition.
Church is fantastic. Church is us, you, and Him.
And we decided to put that definition to the test.
We're in a farming community, thirty minutes from
Whangarei. In a few kays radius around us there is a broad spectrum of belief.
It includes fully committed members of structured groups, dropouts from
religious organisations, people with a religious family background, pagans who
would not choose to identify with any form of Christian philosophy or
In other words: normal Kiwi society. With normal access to
the usual range of Christian options, including some quality speakers and
quality musical programmes.
So we've tried something different. Why?
Because - note the reason - because we may.
(This isn't the Middle Ages. Or some Vatican-dominated
We made a few casual phone calls. Let it be known that
Thursdays are open house. Pot luck. There'll be a bit of food - more if you
bring a plate. Starts when the first car drives in. Ends when the last lot
What do we do?
Nothing. Anything. Everything.
(If you're a neat, orderly, systematic individual - you can
do better. We're not, so we can't.)
We talk. All of us. Often at once.
Argue. Miss Z and we have this full-on, head-to-head
Donnybrook. Voices raised. Points scored. Others look on or join in. Nobody, but
nobody, is upset. But questions are posed and issues are debated because
we - all of us - genuinely want to know.
There's no hidden agenda; we're not secretly following a
syllabus. Funny thing, though, mostly conversation is focussed firmly on the
Lord and on the relevance of Him and scripture to real life.
One Thursday, no-one turned up. That was great: we had an
early night and lived on left-overs for the next two days.
The good thing about the set-up is it doesn't need a
so-called gifted leader. It's our house, so we're in charge; there can't
be any argument over that. Otherwise it's over to those who arrive. And
to the Holy Spirit. We can be happy simply clearing plates and supervising
There's nothing to perpetuate. If we overhear one couple
inviting another pair to their home for lunch - that's not a 'split'.
There's only one Church, regardless of the permutations.
Then there's the End Time factor. We're closer to the End
Times than anyone else in history. Perhaps the End Times have actually begun.
In which case - what if formal religious organisations are
taxed, rated and legislated out of existence? It'll be difficult for Big
Brother to stop neighbours dropping in for a cuppa, or to help with a crook
Plus, remember that bit in Hebrews? Many folk know how it
starts. 'Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of
Sure. Just don't stop there. Otherwise it's merely a
pew-warming exercise. The next few clauses give the how and why. 'Exhorting
one another; and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.'
It doesn't tell you to 'be exhorted'. Exhorting one
another is two-way. You exhort us. We exhort you. Reciprocal.
Teaching and lecturing situations can be valuable. However,
this is informal, conversational, kitchen table, over a coffee, eyeball to
And it becomes more and more essential the closer we get to
Crunch Time. Don't tell us you don't know if it's close or not. If you are
'of the Day' you'll see the Day approaching. It's that simple.
Look - a friend said something that rattled our cage for a
while. Ponder it in case it's important.
This bloke - doesn't live in our neck of the woods, but we've
known him for yonks - was talking about his believing friends. He said: 'You've
got to realise - we're the best there is; we're it; we're all God's
That needs footnotes. No, he didn't mean other believers
are second-class or aren't 'really saved'. He didn't mean that he and
his chums were squeaky-clean-perfect.
He meant WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get. Believers
like him are the ordinary tools that the Master Craftsman is going to use -
spectacularly - when the End Time events explode upon the world.
It's not up to Billy Graham or David Wilkerson. It's up
to us. On any one of our Thursdays we can look across the table at Trevor whose
deaf aid whistles tunes, at Gary who got his tractor stuck yet again, at Janice
whose beloved dog is the ugliest flea-bitten cur in the village, at Sid and
And so are you.