Did a workshop last night on "The Changing Face of Church."
We discussed six hallmarks of the changes that seem to be taking place. The first was that believers are seeing themselves as "Jesus People" first. In other words, we are, first and foremost, simply God's children. We belong to Him; our allegiance is to Him; our identity is in Him; we live in Him. He is everything. This is in opposition to finding our identity first in our "church" or our ministry or our anything else. We have allowed the gathering of church, the organization of church, or even the newest form of church, to define how we live our Christian lives and what it means to be a Christian.
The church--that gathering of God's people--is secondary to just being God's people. We must be Jesus people first. Then, when we gather, church is taking place. When we go, the church is taking place missionally. When we pray, church is taking place. Church evolves naturally out of the experience of being a person of Christ--a Jesus person.
I still remember (sorry, I really am that old) the Jesus People movement of the early 70s. It was, indeed, a movement. Young people were coming to Christ on streets, meeting in coffee shops, praying in houses, worshipping at the beach. Church was happening anywhere and everywhere because the Jesus people were just doing it as a result of the lifestyle of the Spirit. "Church" took place naturally anywhere and everywhere as an outcome of Christians living Spirit-led lives.
The media came up with the term "Jesus people" because they had no other definitions to use. There was no church nor denomination to define them by... so they simply dubbed them, well, they were following Jesus, and they were people... so, "Jesus people." The impact of these young people was so apparent that it was the media, again, that called it a "movement." The church had come out of the box-- no organization, no institution... just people living for God all over the place. A movement! Hmm. Something like how church was originally expressed.
Whatever God is doing in His church today it must begin with Christians again finding their identity and life in simply being Jesus people. Belonging to one God and one church, led by the Spirit, rising up with the eagle's wings that belong to those who follow Jesus. All the rest of what "church" becomes and looks like is secondary. It will come out of people living Jesus lives.
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