Monday 11 November 2013

Small churches of the few Christadelphians

The big difficulty we do encounter in Belgium is that when people do ask where we meet with how many, they hesitate to come to our meetings because we are not with enough people attending a service.
they all prefer to come to a church where they can hide in the massa's of people. When there are many people they can just be an unnoticed onlooker; but when there are just a handful of people present they shall be noticed by the others, and that is something what they do not like so much.

Today we also do hear about the empty Roman Catholic Churches but the growing attendance in the Pentecostal churches. On television people also can find many mega churches where enough entertainment is given to enjoy the show.

Most people have their instinctive opinions about “big church.”  Some may prefer to be a nobody in the amount of people present at a service, others may not like the feeling to be swallowed up in such a congregation.

We wonder if there are enough people who have a dislike for “big church,” because it seems so impersonal and also perhaps because in those churches the accent is not always on the right things. It is not the amount of people , the quantity in church, but should be more of the quality in church.

Those who do not want to come to our services because we are not with enough people should reconsider what they like to see in church and what would be that "Big church".

Don’t critique or judge getting big. Look the “bigness” right in the face. And ask, “What does big really mean?”
English: Jesus, followed by Simon Peter and Andrew
English: Jesus, followed by Simon Peter and Andrew (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Matthew 16:16-18 (NIV) says, “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”"
Well, if you are wanting to see a "Big Church" or going to go big, go really big!
When you accept that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God … you better also look at him as the one building his church!

Church of the Primacy of St. Peter on the Sea ...
Church of the Primacy of St. Peter on the Sea of Galilee. Traditional site where Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples after his resurrection and, according to Catholic tradition, established Peter's supreme jurisdiction over the Christian church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jesus is the one who makes church. Jesus is the church. Church is not a specific 'church-building' with a tower and a cross shape directed to the east.

It is also not the construction of people. Though we would like it, it is not us building the church. It’s not the pastor on the stage or the priest in the pulpit.  It is Jesus, the Son of the living God, who is building His Church.

The Church is a big idea. Because Jesus is a big idea. And because Jesus gives his disciples a big task.

All those who call themselves Christians, should be followers of Christ. they should not only be name Christians, but doers of the Word. In Acts, Jesus describes how big of a task he is giving the disciples.  Acts 1:7-8 (MSG) states,
 “He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
Imagine if Jesus came to us and said,
 “…you will be my witness in Leefdaal, all over Flemish Brabant and the Low countries, even to the ends of the world.”
 Yeah, that’s pretty big too.   The church is a big idea, and it will expand. It started with 12 disciples and it has grown across the world to nations with more than 100 different languages.
In Acts 2:21 (NIV), it says, ”Everyone who calls on the name of The Lord will be saved.”
That saving should we proclaim and we should bring the hearts into fire for the name of Jesus. Christians should bring forwards the Gospel of the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God.  Every person coming to believe in Jesus as the saviour send by the Most High Saviour Jehovah God, would have to become partaker of the body of Christ and as such being a member of the Church of God, which has Christ Jesus as its High priest.

All those believing individuals in their own houses, who believe in the offer Jesus made and accept him as their saviour, willing to become part of that Body of Christ, are part of the church.

Here is another example of ‘big church’ in the Bible.
  In Acts 2:41-47 is the story of the 3,000 who were baptized… imagine that in present day. How many kids rooms would we need from one week to the next? How many new greeters? How many overflow rooms? How many extra chairs? The Church basically went from meeting in a living room to needing a stadium! And that was just one day.

Now to transition just a little bit, it is one thing to agree and say, yes, we agree with you, Jesus that the church should probably be big. But what does is truly mean to be a disciple? Great question.
In John 13:34-35 (MSG) Jesus states,
 ““Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.”
Well, that sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Love one another, cool! I’ve got it. But what does it really mean to live out your love for each other?

The first part of loving one another is building relationships with one another.  The church is not just based out of a building or a temple, it is based out of homes. Faith is centered on two places: temple and homes.
To love one another in the old church knew they needed to meet and know each other in their homes. Meeting at the temple was important, but they had to eat with each other and know each other in order to love each other like Jesus loved.  This is such a critical part of today’s church as well! That is also the reason why we meet in houses, cafetaria's, parks, have something to eat or drink with each other and not sit on benches or ordered chairs in a row.

We need our small groups and relationships to truly know each other and love each other.

It’s a great first step to agree with Jesus. But how do we actually Do what Jesus said? How do we love one another despite the chaos of life? Despite our differences?
 Jesus directs us to do the following:
Submit to one another. Honor one another. Bear with one another. Forgive one another. Accept one another. Care for one another. Encourage one another. Restore one another. Love one another.
Most of this cannot happen on Sunday morning. We have to be in each other’s lives daily.
“We, the church family, want to get bigger for the sake of eternity and smaller for the value of each individual.”
We all should feel like brothers and sisters in Christ.

As brethren and sisters we do have to help each other to grow spiritually. It is by sharing ideas that we can help each other to see other things or to think about other things or to think in another way. As such we can grow and get more strength, because others share their messes, and we share our messes, yet we are still there for each other, serving one another and loving one another despite the chaos of life.
“Let’s share our messes so that we can see grace move in each other as light is shed on our mess.”
“Is big church healthy?
Size doesn’t have anything to do with health. Health has everything to do with our relationships.”

When we want to become good Christians, this shall not only become by becoming 'churchgoers'. We do need to make church, but making church happens in the own heart. It is the willingness to become part of the Body of Christ and willing to share that feeling with others, in love, by taking their bad and good elements, overlooking their peculiarities. Willing to take every person like he or she is, and considering him or her as your brother or sister.

This brotherly love is what makes the church, not the building or the presence of just material bodies in one specific place.

The Christadelphians may gather with not so many people, but the love of those people for each other and their love for God is what binds them all over the world. In one specific place they are perhaps not with many, but they do feel connected with others in many different countries, speaking many different languages, which we even not always understand. But we understand each other in the love of God, and that is what binds us forever.

Next time when you are looking for a church, question what you are looking for. Are you looking to find a place where you can find some nice entertainment? Are you looking for some enjoyable socialising? Or are you looking for the genuine love Christ has given mankind?
Are you submitting to one another? Are you letting others go first? Are we honoring one another in how we speak to each other? Are we caring for one another? 
When was the last time we went out of our way to appreciate and love on someone else? How are you loving each other as Jesus loves?
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