IN-CHURCH, OUT-of-CHURCH, FUTURE CHURCH -by Andrew Strom. I have met and fellowshipped with many wonderful Christian people over the years - from all kinds of backgrounds. But I just need to comment on this "In-church/ Out-of-church" thing - because it keeps cropping up. Let me be clear about this. I meet wonderful "In-church" people all the time that I absolutely love - and I meet lovely "Out-of-church" people too that I absolutely love. One of the biggest problems is that often these two groups do not understand each other at all. And neither do they necessarily see the need for a "future church" that is beyond anything that any of us are seeing - a church that is literally just like the Book of Acts. That is supposed to be our goal - but too often we are satisfied basically where we are. CHALLENGES FOR the "IN-CHURCH" Many of the Christians who are totally "in" the church system truly see the need for "change". They are not wanting to sit still. They see there has been a great "decline" in Christianity away from the old paths - and they are praying that God will move to restore and purify His Bride. I have met many godly, warm-hearted people like this who care passionately about God's kingdom and His true gospel. I usually get on very well with such ones because we share a common desire to see things "righted" - especially the gospel message that has become so diluted and lost. I guess the biggest challenge that I see in these settings is that I believe God is about to move "outside the box" in such a drastic way that if we allow ourselves to be too attached to the current "system" or "way of church" - then we can easily get left behind. To get us back to true "Book of Acts" Christianity will take such a leap - and such change - that I wonder if we truly have it in us to go with Him where He wants to go. How "loosely" do we hold all these things - our buildings, our "meeting formats", our labels, titles and ways of doing things? When these things are shaken or challenged, it is sometimes surprising to discover what a hold they have on us - even if we think they don't. This is the biggest challenge that the "system"-type people face, I believe. But our love of the true gospel and true "Bible" Christianity will take us a long way. CHALLENGES FOR the "OUT-Of-CHURCH" I have moved amongst many 'House-church' and "Out-of-church" type Christians (which are not the same thing) over the years. In fact I have been part of these circles myself at times. One of the biggest problems I have seen is that some of us really thought we had the major "answer" to the church's problems. Those of us in the 'House church' movement would think, "If only the church would get out of buildings and into houses and become more 'relational' - most of our problems would be solved!" We truly thought that simply by "changing boxes" we could get back the Book of Acts church! What we ended up with, of course, was simply the same people in a different "shell" - slightly more 'relational' - but hardly anything like the power and purity of the early Christians. We had changed the outward "form" but the POWER of Jesus Christ was still mostly lacking. I can remember having arguments over "plurality of eldership", the precise "correct" way of taking the Lord's Supper, and all kinds of things. None of it seemed to make the slightest bit of difference. That is because the "outward" things and the 'form' of things are all "secondary". This is not where the power is. But it took such a long time to learn this lesson. The "Out-of-church" people are even more radical. They often fellowship with almost no-one - and many of them will tell you that the organized church is the "whore of babylon", etc. A lot of them are lovely people with a real heart for people and for TRUTH. But some can be very judgmental and harsh. They will often "write off" church people as being totally bound by "religion". But I found many of us in that circle had our own "anti-religion" religion going on! We despised having "leaders" or "organized" things of any kind. We said we believed in the "5 fold" ministries but we couldn't stand to have any actual "leaders" - even godly ones. And we were secretly filled with PRIDE - because we could see everything that was wrong with the "system". Man - did I have a "humbling" coming when I got into this mindset! I was so "religiously" anti- religious. I was so filled with arrogance and looked down my nose at so many "system" people! I "judged" them just because they went to a "building" on Sunday! God forgive me. Of course, none of this is the answer either. I had to repent. I had to RENOUNCE very deeply this harsh "anti-religion" religion that made me so proud and arrogant towards people. I found that many of them loved Jesus just as much as I did. And many of them prayed more and were kinder, more loving and more godly than I'd ever been. I had been kidding myself. When it boiled right down, we "out-of-church" types were no closer to the Book of Acts than many of the "system" people that we judged so harshly. We just knew more "stuff" (supposedly). But clearly it wasn't the stuff that mattered. It was only when I deeply repented and RENOUNCED this whole prideful mindset that God gradually began to show me what was really important. And it was not the "outward" stuff - though of course there is some importance to structure, etc. Each of these things (below) I believe will be a crucial part of the FUTURE CHURCH that God wants to bring about. You could literally write a book about each one - they are so important. It was these very things that meant the early church SHONE FORTH the GLORY OF JESUS every day. Here they are- We must have- (1) An APOSTOLIC gospel being preached with Apostolic-type anointing and authority. (Whenever this has happened down through history there has been real Revival). -SO CRUCIAL. (2) The powerful moving of the HOLY SPIRIT - filling people, healing people, convicting people, transforming people. (3) REAL LOVE and an emphasis on ministering to the POOR. (-Just like the early church). (3) REAL DISCIPLES who actually "forsake all" to follow Jesus. (4) REAL PRAYER - in the Holy Spirit. -And lots of it!! (5) THE WHOLE BODY MINISTERING - Starting with the "5-fold" ministries - whose goal is to release the whole body into ministry. (6) MIRACLES and HEALINGS. -These are a must! Of course, we could go on and on. But let me just conclude by saying this:- It doesn't matter if we are "In-church", Out-of-church, Over-churched or under-churched. If we don't have the above things (which the early church had in abundance) then we really don't have ANYTHING. It doesn't matter what we "know" or whether we meet in houses, barns, on the streets or in sun-porches. If we don't have these crucial things that the early church majored on, then we really have NOTHING that matters. So I don't really care if you are "out" churched, "over" churched, "thru" churched or "half" churched. We need to pursue and pursue until we GET REAL CHRISTIANITY BACK!! And none of us have got it - so we had all better repent of our pride and start seeking that which is lost! A glorious Bride beckons. What price are we willing to pay to see her glory restored? -Please comment on this article at the website below- http://www.johnthebaptisttv.com/ God bless you all. Andrew Strom.