Monday, February 20, 2006

Reclaiming the Early Church Character

I just finished my series on Church: It's Not What You Think It Is. I attempted to cast a new vision for church. Over the years we've managed to reduce it to a one hour Sunday meeting. But the Bible describes something much richer -something that revealed the heart of God when people encountered it.

I offered the following suggestions as to how we can move from being independent, self-centered followers of Jesus to followers that are willing to share their lives with each other, like the early church.
  1. We can change the way we think. That is, think more corporately (we & Jesus) and less privately (me & Jesus).
  2. We can change the way we talk. We need to be less sarcastic and superficial and start being more authentic, encouraging and forgiving – attitudes that will help build trust and intimacy so we will want to share our lives with each other.
  3. We can change the way we behave. The shared life isn’t just a love fest of Jesus followers but at its core are values and ideals that we strive for as a community.
  4. We can change the way we spend our time. We need to learn to be more selfless, involving ourselves in the lives of others rather than isolating ourselves to only help ourselves.
  5. We can change the way we spend our money. The word devotion implies every part of our being. That means even our money will be devoted to our shared life.
  6. We can change the way we relate. Randy Frazee, in his book, The Connecting Church, makes five observations about how effective communities relate. They are spontaneous, available to each other, meet frequently, eat together and live in close proximity.
  7. We can change where we live. Living close to each other won't guarantee developing community, but living far away will make it hard.

Living a shallow faith is easy and it's available on every street corner in America. But claiming a transforming faith bears a cost. There's a sacrifice, even a death. But it's rewarded with a resurrection that only God can give. Let's give it a try. (Click the link at the top for an in-depth look at these points.)

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