Just a couple centuries after the death of the last Biblical apostle, My people started to lose sight of the true meaning of what is meant by the New Testament house of the Lord. The church I died to establish is My Body of true believers, those who are presently alive in the earth and those who are spiritually alive with Me in heaven. I dwell in the hearts of My people through faith (I Cor.3:16), and My people constitute My true temple, not some brick and mortar building. This is My true church, not some institution, not some vast organization of men. And certainly not some fancy building on the street corner funded by “tithes” and offerings.
Certainly you need a place to gather to worship Me. I don’t expect you to sit outside in the rain and the snow. But the earliest churches met in private homes (Acts 12:2; Rom.16:5; I Cor.16:19; Col.4:15). It wasn’t till later that elaborate buildings were constructed, supposedly in My honor, and with those buildings came an unscriptural hierarchy of professing believers, the so-called clergy-laity division which Christ never authorized (Matt.23:8).
With the elevated pulpit comes one man who does most of the “ministry” and a bunch of yawning spectators struggling to keep their babies quiet for a whole half hour. Sometimes the speech goes on and on. Even in so-called charismatic churches, the spiritual gifts are never actively encouraged, and sometimes the pastor, the only guy who gets to say much of anything, fills in all the little silences so I cannot get a word in edgewise. It’s all about the pastor and HIS program, while people stare at the backs of each other’s heads and dig deep to pay all the expenses of maintaining their fancy building.
I realize that it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to hold sizable gatherings in a lot of modern homes, which may be small and cramped, with both marriage partners working. But if you MUST rent, or even buy a property to hold meetings, cut corners to keep the outflow as low as possible, to minimize the burden on My sheep. My first priority is to minister to My saints. Sometimes they need to be physically fed in times of crisis (Acts 2:45), and there is always a need to give to foreign missions or other charity work as I lead.
You ought to seek Me for a deeper understanding of what I meant for church gatherings to truly be. This pattern of three songs, long repetitive choruses, announcements, sermon and brief altar call is just not enough. Study the New Testament and you will begin to see just how the early believers operated. Many zealous ministers are like a high-powered airplane forever circling the runway. They’re too embarrassed to take to the skies and trust Me to hold them up. Their craft was made to fly, not just run around in circles on earthbound wheels. So many profess to be “on fire” for Jesus and yet I see they’re ASHAMED to read the passages which deal with the operation of the spiritual gifts in the church, so they’ll usually skip over these parts or say they’re “done away”. Which begs a question: If part of Paul’s instructions to the churches are “done away”, which others might be obsolete as well? So in the absence of visible signs and wonders, preachers are forced to rely on personal charm and polished oratory skills to win folks to Christ instead of real live miracles.
The enemy’s deception about what constitutes church is very subtle. Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there I am in the midst of them (Matt.18:20). You don’t need ten or twenty thousand packing a huge stadium to have intimate fellowship in the spirit. The minute you try to package a move of My Spirit and organize it according to MAN’S definition of a proper “church service”, give the thing a name, a building, and set times for religious rituals to be held, you take the focus off the beautiful workings of My Spirit through the fellowship of the saints and focus on some program. “Church” begins to be a work of man instead of a gathering of saints who come to let Me flow through them in power. You might just as well try to confine the north wind in a box as try to turn the workings of My Spirit into a commodity which happens at a certain time and in a certain place in a predictable way. So many wonderful moves of My Spirit have fizzled out because man got his fingers on the controls of what I was doing.
It IS proper, and necessary, for godly leaders to oversee meetings to keep crazy error from creeping in. But to deliberately quench My Spirit when He would manifest some gift to edify the Body of Christ, is another matter altogether.
Beware that “church” doesn’t become some white elephant mortgage on the backs of My people, or a social club full of fun programs to entertain the young. My Body the Church is to gather together to manifest My life through the operation of the gift I have bestowed upon each member, to the glory of God the Father (I Cor.12:7).
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Hi Patricia, I was very interested in your article, simply because I agree with every word you said! Thank you very much indeed.