Friday, July 11, 2014
The way it works is the way it works
The common purpose
WE HAVE analysed cultural differences (many) and the barrier of our own individualism to any kind of real community (profound). But there’s a way round. We have also looked at some straightforward, uncomplicated shifts in values that make that early church experience and prayer life something we could begin to bring in to 21st century church life.
Here’s something that brings it all together. Randy Frazee, in The Connecting Church 2.0 (page 55) puts it clearly and concisely like this:
“Having a common purpose is precisely what made the first-century church in Jerusalem so dynamic.
‘All the believers were together, but they all had their own ideas as to why they were there.’
“Wait a minute. That’s not what it says! The verse reads, ‘All the believers were together and had everything in common.’ Do you wonder what that means?
“Just two verses before, Luke says that the believers ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer’ – in other words, a distinct set of beliefs and practices. They did this together. They were all on the same page; they had a common purpose. Later, Luke tells us that ‘all the believers were one in heart and mind.’
“Most churches today have not been able to rally around a common purpose. Lyle Schaller, a leading church consultant, writes: ‘Rising from the debris of our lost values is the new value on the individual. The “me” generation has given way to a “me” world. The question is, how will the church, the ultimate “we” organisation, adjust?’
“Kenneth Kantzer, former Dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, made this prophetic statement based on his study of the modern church: ‘No church can be effective to bring clarity and commitment to a world when it is as ignorant of its own basic principles as is our church today.’ “
Imagine – let’s just say that, individualism conquered, we all ‘got it’. We recognise the distinct set of beliefs and practices that make us. We buy into it. From a foundation of sustained prayer and embedded, honest-love relationships, we are on God’s mission to reach the lost, bring restoration, make disciples and release them to reach some more. It’s challenging but that is part of what we share, part of what binds us together, a common experience. A common purpose.
A common purpose under God – that’s unstoppable. That spells transformation. We could do this.