The modern day church in many cases (not all) seems to have shifted its focus from the original concept of the church. Now we have a person out the front who gives us God's message each week, while the majority of the congregation sit passively in their pews ready to "absorb" the message God has for them.
The original church was a bunch of believers who got together in someone's home and sang, prayed and talked together. God's Holy Spirit would speak through one or more people so that all would be blessed by His message. No ONE person was the leader or Pastor.
Today's church would have us believe in a bunch of rules and regulations about what a church is, what is expected of its Pastors and the Pastoral team while the congregation as a whole is expected simply to be a sponge. The church is expected to have a building and in many cases, have an enormous building loan to pay off.
The concept has become so ingrained that the thought of just getting a group together and holding a home-church horrifies many who have grown up with the established church as it is today. When I first began reading about returning to the original concept of the church as set out in the New Testament, I talked to God about it and it took my mind a day or so to come to terms with it. Now I'm all for it!
Personally I consider my Bible Study group as my home church. We are a group of less than a dozen people. Some of us meet earlier and share a meal before we start. We have gotten to know each other quite well and pray for each other and encourage and uplift each other. To my mind, that's what a church should be about. We aren't exactly like the original concept - we talk about that week's Bible passage and go through the questions and share with each other.
We are growing more each week and have expanded our understanding through hearing of the experiences of others. It's quite interesting to hear about others and their relationship with God.
I don't attend a regular church which causes many Christians to question why. I explain about my home Bible Study group and this leaves many of them puzzled. Through my home group, I am learning far more than I would in a church environment.
The Christian walk is fluid - we should always be moving forward and changing and growing. We cannot stay the same. We must grow or we die in our relationship with God. I'm not saying that we should be so open-minded that our brains fall out, but we cannot become so fixated on a bunch of rules and regulations that we miss out on what potentially can be a wonderful home church experience, and a wonderful experience of growth with a group of close Christian friends.
When non-Christians talk about Christianity, many of them focus on the rules and regulations as if that is all a Christian is, a follower of rules. A Christian is instead, a follower of God. Unfortunately, many only see the rules because what else is there? The concept that a Christian may in fact have a relationship with an invisible person seems inconceivable. But the reality is that God is not invisible - He is evident in many areas of our lives, in the artistic and beautiful creations of this world and in His ongoing love and concern for His children.
God is not an absent God who made the world and just let everything run on its own. Instead He continues to care for His creation, overseeing the plan that He has for mankind. Reaching out with His compassionate heart, He continues to interact with us individually, not as a massed crowd, but one-on-one.
I have had many experiences in my walk with God, with prophecies that have come true, with many loving touches from God, with many answers to prayer. It is through my experiences and understanding of God that I know without a doubt that He is real. This is not something I can share with a non-Christian. I can try to explain with words, but as one cannot truly share a past experience with someone, so it is with trying to explain my knowledge to a Non-Christian. It is a deep knowledge that the other person cannot truly know. They have to experience that relationship with God, those kinds of experiences, of God's loving touch and answers to prayer etc, before they can really know what a relationship with God is.
In the past I have read about trying to explain the concept of colour to someone who has been blind all of their lives, or the smell of a rose to someone without a sense of smell. The person may think they understand it, but they can never really know it unless they gain the particular sense they are missing.
This is similar to our walk with God. Simply put, non-Christians do not have a sense in which they can understand God unless they really desire it. If they seek to know and experience God with all their heart, then God can give them the 'God-sense' they need to understand and experience Him.
The foundations of the Christian faith were based on the old Jewish ten commandments. These were and are a wonderful concept today, but have been simplified further with the coming of Christ:
- First love God with all your heart;
- Then love your neighbour as yourself; and
- Finally love yourself.
If we could all do this, than what a world it would be.
I enjoy reading the following Christian blog which challenges our ideas about the Church and Christianity: http://flanderson.blogspot.com/