Finding the Living Church
Most Christians, at some point or another, have engaged in a “church-shopping spree” whenever they’ve moved to a new community. What, typically, do Christians look for during the “spree” that defines their choice of a “church” that they would consider their “home church”? Is it the externals – outlook of the brick and mortar, ministry programs, size and convenience of the parking lot, acoustics, music, dress style, polish of the preacher? Or is it the eternals – The Word (Matt. 24:35) and Worship (Rev. 4:10-11; 5:8-14; 7:9-11)?
If looking for externals, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, reminds us “… the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands…” (Acts 7:44, 48). The Apostle Paul tells us we “… are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you…” (Rom. 8:9-11).
If looking for eternals, John the Beloved defines that as the indwelling of the Godhead in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16-23). In Revelation he wrote, “Look! God’s dwelling place (tabernacle) is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3-8).
It’s the indwelling Incarnate Christ, The Word, and the expression of that indwelling through worship in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:23-24) among His people (Jn. 1:14) that defines His Church. The centrality of The Word and the manifestation of the power of that Word at work in the hearts of men, women, and children by the power of the Holy Spirit – in any given ethnic and/or geographical context – is the essence of God’s tabernacle. And the primary Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ is the multiplication of God’s tabernacle in the hearts of as many people as possible. You will find the true, living, and vibrant tabernacle only where The Word is presented undiluted and where that’s coupled with undeniable manifestation of transformed hearts through pure worship.
Enter a typical Church of Jesus Christ in a remote village in the desert region among the Turkana people of northwestern Kenya! The externals: the “building” – the roof is a thorny acacia tree; the “seats” – hot sand for women and children, and 6-inch tall wooden stool for men; the podium – the seat of the minister’s bicycle (if he is “fortunate” enough to have one); Sunday attire – either topless or a sarong for women and adolescent girls; a blanket for men, tattered and patched skirt and shorts for small girls and boys (many boys run around naked); musical instruments – handclaps and cow-hide drum and stick; acoustics – open air! The eternals: Sunday fellowship – simple message from The Word and incredible, spontaneous, audible individual prayers and beautiful, corporate songs of worship; offering – between $1- $5!
Share International has been used of God to plant 260 such churches in Turkanaland since 1997, churches that are characterized by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and through which simple manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit is evident in worship. These are churches that are closest to the biblical standards of truth. We intend to plant as many similar churches in Turkanaland as possible so as to reach the remaining hundreds of villages that are yet to hear the Gospel for the very first time. Your increased support will help us make that happen by 2020. Please see our Outreach & Church Planting strategy here http://shareint.net/outreach-church-planting/.
What are you looking for in a church? The externals? Are you hungry for, and pursuing the eternals that will transform you into a true worshipper in your own current context? Have you found the living Church? Are you a living “tabernacle”?
“… you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).
“O, come, let us adore Him!”