[anzac] 15 THESES toward REFORMATION

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 15:57:01 -0500
- by Wolfgang Simson.

God is changing the Church, and that, in turn, will change the 
world. Millions of Christians around the world are aware of an 
imminent reformation of global proportions. They say, in effect: 
"Church as we know it is preventing Church as God wants it." A 
growing number of them are surprisingly hearing God say the very 
same things. There is a collective new awareness of age-old 
revelations, a corporate spiritual echo. In the following "15 Theses" 
I will summarize a part of this, and I am convinced that it reflects a 
part of what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church today. For 
some, it might be the proverbial fist-sized cloud on Elijah's sky. 
Others already feel the pouring rain. 

Fifteen Theses towards a Re-Incarnation of Church

1. Church is a Way of Life, not a series of religious meetings. 

Before they where called Christians, followers of Christ have been
called "The Way". One of the reasons was that they have literally 
found "the way to live." The nature of Church is not reflected in a 
constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy 
in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the 
prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritual 
extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, 
at the place where it counts most: in their homes.  

2. Time to change the system. 

In aligning itself to the religious patterns of the day, the historic
Orthodox Church after Constantine in the 4th century AD adopted 
a religious system which was in essence Old Testament, complete 
with priests, altar, a Christian temple (cathedral), frankincense and 
a Jewish, synagogue-style worship pattern. The Roman Catholic 
Church went on to canonize the system. Luther did reform the 
content of the gospel, but left the outer forms of "church" 
remarkably untouched; the Free-Churches freed the system from 
the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, 
the Salvation Army put it into a uniform, the Pentecostals anointed 
it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has
really changed the superstructure. It is about time to do just that.  

3. The Third Reformation. 

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone,
Luther started to reform the Church through a reformation of theology. 
In the 18th century through movements like the Moravians there 
was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a 
reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is 
touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, 
a reformation of structure.  

4. From Church-Houses to house-churches. 

Since New Testament times, there is no such thing as "a house of
God". At the cost of his life, Stephen reminded unequivocally: God 
does not live in temples made by human hands. The Church is the 
people of God. The Church, therefore, was and is at home where 
people are at home: in ordinary houses. There, the people of God: 
share their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, have "meatings," 
that is, they eat when they meet; they often do not even hesitate 
to sell private property and share material and spiritual blessings, 
teach each other in real-life situations how to obey God's word-
dialogue- and not professor-style, pray and prophesy with each 
other, baptize, 'lose their face' and their ego by confessing their 
sins, regaining a new corporate identity by experiencing love, 
acceptance and forgiveness.  

5. The church has to become small in order to grow big. 

Most churches of today are simply too big to provide real fellowship.
They have too often become "fellowships without fellowship." The 
New Testament Church was a mass of small groups, typically 
between 10 and 15 people. It grew not upward into big congregations 
between 20 and 300 people filling a cathedral and making real, 
mutual communication improbable. Instead, it multiplied "sideward"
-like organic cells-once these groups reached around 15-20 people. 
Then, if possible, it drew all the Christians together into citywide 
celebrations, as with Solomon's Temple court in Jerusalem. The 
traditional congregational church as we know it is, statistically 
speaking, neither big nor beautiful, but rather a sad compromise, 
an overgrown house-church and an under-grown celebration, often 
missing the dynamics of both.  

6. No church is led by a Pastor alone.

The local church is not lead by a Pastor, but fathered by an Elder, 
a local person of wisdom and reality. The local house-churches are 
then networked into a movement by the combination of elders and 
members of the so-called five-fold ministries (Apostles, Prophets, 
Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers) circulating "from house to 
house," whereby there is a special foundational role to play for the 
apostolic and prophetic ministries (Eph. 2:20, and 4:11.12). A 
Pastor (shepherd) is a very necessary part of the whole team, but 
he cannot fulfill more than a part of  the whole task of "equipping 
the saints for the ministry," and has to be complemented 
synergistically by the other four ministries in order to function properly.  

7. The right pieces - fitted together in the wrong way.

In doing a puzzle, we need to have the right original for the pieces,
otherwise the final product, the whole picture, turns out wrong, and 
the individual pieces do not make much sense. This has happened 
to large parts of the Christian world: we have all the right pieces, 
but have fitted them together wrong, because of fear, tradition, 
religious jealousy and a power-and-control mentality. As water is 
found in three forms-ice, water and steam-the five ministries 
mentioned in Eph. 4:11-12, the Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, 
Teachers and Evangelists are also found today, but not always in 
the right forms and in the right places: they are often frozen to ice 
in the rigid system of institutionalized Christianity; they sometimes 
exist as clear water; or they have vanished like steam into the thin 
air of free-flying ministries and "independent" churches, accountable 
to no-one. As it is best to water flowers with the fluid version of 
water, these five equipping ministries will have to be transformed 
back into new-and at the same time age-old-forms, so that the 
whole spiritual organism can flourish and the individual "ministers" 
can find their proper role and place in the whole. That is one more 
reason why we need to return back to the Maker's original and 
blueprint for the Church.  

8. God does not leave the Church in the hands of bureaucratic clergy.

No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one
professional "holy man" doing the business of communicating with 
God and then feeding some relatively passive religious consumers 
Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan 
religions, or at best from the  Old Testament. The heavy 
professionalisation of the church since Constantine has now been 
a pervasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God 
artificially into laity and clergy. According to the New Testament 
(1 Tim. 2:5), "there is one God, and one mediator also between
God and men, the man Christ Jesus." God simply does not bless 
religious professionals to force themselves in-between people and 
God forever. The veil is torn, and God is allowing people to access 
Himself directly through Jesus Christ, the only Way. To enable the 
priesthood of all believers, the present system will have to change 
completely. Bureaucracy is the most dubious of all administrative 
systems, because it basically asks only two questions: yes or no. 
There is no room for spontaneity and humanity, no room for real 
life. This may be OK for politics and companies, but not the Church. 
God seems to be in the business of delivering His Church from a 
Babylonian captivity of religious bureaucrats and controlling spirits 
into the public domain, the hands of ordinary people made 
extraordinary by God, who, like in the old days, may still smell of 
fish, perfume and revolution.  

9. Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity.

The "Body of Christ" is a vivid description of an organic, not an
organized, being. Church consists on its local level of a multitude 
of spiritual families, which are organically related to each other as 
a network, where the way the pieces are functioning together is an 
integral part of the message of the whole. What has become a 
maximum of organization with a minimum of organism has to be 
changed into a minimum of organization to allow a maximum of 
organism. Too much organization has, like a straightjacket; often 
choked the organism for fear that something might go wrong. Fear 
is the opposite of faith, and not exactly a Christian virtue. Fear 
wants to control, faith can trust. Control, therefore, may be good, 
but trust is better. The Body of Christ is entrusted by God into the
hands of steward-minded people with a supernatural charismatic 
gift to believe God that He is still in control, even if they are not. A
development of trust-related regional and national networks, not a 
new arrangement of political ecumenism is necessary for organic 
forms of Christianity to reemerge.  

10. From worshipping our worship to worshipping God.

The image of much of contemporary Christianity can be summarized, 
a bit euphemistically, as holy people coming regularly to a holy 
place at a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual lead 
by a holy man dressed in holy clothes against a holy fee. Since 
this regular performance-oriented enterprise called "worship service" 
requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy 
to keep going, formalized and institutionalized patterns developed 
quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional 1-2 hour 
"worship service" is very resource-hungry but actually produces 
very little fruit in terms of discipling people, that is, in changed lives. 
Economically speaking, it might be a "high input and low output" 
structure. Traditionally, the desire to "worship in the right way" has 
led to much denominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. 
This not only ignores that Christians are called to "worship in truth 
and in spirit," not in cathedrals holding songbooks, but also ignores 
that most of life is informal, and so is Christianity as "the Way of 
Life." Do we need to change from being powerful actors to start 
"acting powerfully?"  

11. Stop bringing people to church and start bringing the church to 
the people.

The church is changing back from being a Come-structure to being
again a Go-structure. As one result, the Church needs to stop trying 
to bring people "into the church," and start bringing the Church to 
the people. The mission of the Church will never be accomplished 
just by adding to the existing structure; it will take nothing less 
than a mushrooming of the church through spontaneous 
multiplication of itself into areas of the population of the world, 
where Christ is not yet known. 

12. Rediscovering the "Lord's Supper" to be a real supper with real

Church tradition has managed to "celebrate the Lord's Supper" in 
a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a 
few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the 
"Lord's Supper" was actually more a substantial supper with a 
symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial 
meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.  

13. From Denominations to city-wide celebrations.

Jesus called a universal movement, and what came was a series 
of religious companies with global chains marketing their special 
brands of Christianity and competing with each other. Through this 
branding of Christianity most of Protestantism has, therefore, 
become politically insignificant and often more concerned with 
traditional specialties and religious infighting than with developing 
a collective testimony before the world. Jesus simply never asked 
people to organize themselves into denominations. In the early 
days of the Church, Christians had a dual identity: they were truly 
His church and vertically converted to God, and then organized 
themselves according to geography, that is, converting also
horizontally to each other on earth. This means not only Christian
neighbors organizing themselves into neighborhood- or house-
churches, where they share their lives locally, but Christians 
coming together as a collective identity as much as they can for 
citywide or regional celebrations expressing the corporateness of 
the Church of the city or region. Authenticity in the neighborhoods 
connected with a regional or citywide corporate identity will make 
the Church not only politically significant and spiritually convincing, 
but will allow a return to the biblical model of the City-Church.  

14. Developing a persecution-proof spirit.

They crucified Jesus, the Boss of all the Christians. Today, his
followers are often more into titles, medals and social respectability,
or, worst of all, they remain silent and are not worth being noticed 
at all. "Blessed are you when you are persecuted", says Jesus. 
Biblical Christianity is a healthy threat to pagan godlessness and 
sinfulness, a world overcome by greed, materialism, jealousy and 
any amount of demonic standards of ethics, sex, money and power. 
Contemporary Christianity in many countries is simply too harmless 
and polite to be worth persecuting. But as Christians again live out 
New Testament standards of life and, for example, call sin as sin, 
conversion or persecution has been, is and will be  the natural 
reaction of the world. Instead of nesting comfortably in temporary 
zones of religious liberty, Christians will have to prepare to
be again discovered as the main culprits against global humanism, 
the modern slavery of having to have fun and the outright worship 
of Self, the wrong centre of the universe. That is why Christians will 
and must feel the "repressive tolerance" of a world which has lost 
any absolutes and therefore refuses to recognize and obey its 
creator God with his absolute standards. Coupled with the growing 
ideologisation, privatization and spiritualization of politics and 
economics, Christians will-sooner than most think-have their 
chance to stand happily accused in the company of Jesus. They 
need to prepare now for the future by developing a persecution-
proof spirit and an even more persecution-proof structure.  

15. The Church comes home.

Where is the easiest place, say, for a man to be spiritual? Maybe
again, is it hiding behind a big pulpit, dressed up in holy robes,
preaching holy words to a faceless crowd and then disappearing 
into an office? And what is the most difficult-and therefore most 
meaningful-place for a man to be spiritual? At home, in the presence 
of his wife and children, where everything he does and says is 
automatically put through a spiritual litmus test against reality, 
where hypocrisy can be effectively weeded out and authenticity 
can grow. Much of Christianity has fled the family, often as a 
place of its own spiritual defeat, and then has organized artificial 
performances in sacred buildings far from the atmosphere of real 
life. As God is in the business of recapturing the homes, the 
church turns back to its roots-back to where it came from. It
literally comes home, completing the circle of Church history at 
the end of world history.