5 priorities of a worship church Alternate
It is common nowadays that people long for a quick return to normal. The crisis caused by COVID-19 has shaken and disoriented many Christian leaders. "When can we get back to what it used to be?" This question implies the assumption that the old normal was perfectly good.
But what if the normal thing we once experienced was inadequate and God uses this moment to keep us from complacency? What if our "good old" days didn't remind us of "original normality" at all?
Our previous normalcy was certainly practical – for most of us, it only took an hour or two on a Sunday. And it was entertaining when we evaluated weekly whether we enjoyed the worship we had or not. And it was easy – for most, it just meant sitting and listening for an hour (or at least looking like we were listening).
But my question remains: "Is this the normal thing we really need to go back to?" Is that what God meant to us?
Let us consider the first paragraph of Luke's testimony about the Church in Antioch:
Now in the church in Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon, who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they worshiped and fasted the Lord, the Holy Spirit said, "Use Barnabas and Saul for me for the work that I called them to do." Then, after fasting and praying, they put their hands on them and sent them away. (Acts 13: 1-3)
This scene testifies to the original normality of the church. It's a picture of how the church should work. It offers insight into the poverty of our former normality and should arouse the desire to see a more biblical version of the Church in our reopening.
There seem to be five treasures of an original normal New Testament church that are too often lacking in the earlier normality that we have just left.
A worship church will praise the agility of the mission
Antiochia was the third largest city in the Roman Empire with over half a million inhabitants. It was a diverse trading center that quickly became the epicenter of the early Christian movement. We are introduced to the founding of the Church of Antioch in Acts 11 when some nameless disciples from Cyprus and Cyrene came to the region to preach the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before that moment, the Church's mission focused on fellow Jews, but early believers who immigrated to this region developed a heart for the Hellenistic people. They soon became effective in the evangelization of this previously undeveloped ethnic group.
The Holy Spirit gave this Church of Adoration a passion for people, which led them to preach the gospel to all who wanted to listen. A passion that would continue to shape the Church in Antioch throughout Acts.
Today, in our distraction, God can give birth to a passion for people who would not otherwise associate with our “normal” gatherings and events in the Church. As in the first century, missionary agility requires that a church understand “sentility” as the normal behavior of a student.
A worship church will be characterized by a holistic strategy
Until we get to Acts 13, the church in Antioch is just over a year old. Luke mentions that there were “prophets and teachers” in the Church who serve to advance the mission.
The prophets were gifted to speak the will of God while the teachers taught people how to apply this message in practice. Together they led the Church to understand and take on the tasks of God's will.
But there was more. The Church also had the voices of Barnabas and Paul speaking in their mission. They were not just a teaching church, they were a mission church because of the catalytic pastoral gifts of leaders like Barnabas and the apostolic gifts of leaders like Paul.
Together, this guidance embodied the functions Paul mentions in Ephesians 4: 11-13, which are necessary for the building of the body of Christ.
Today, God can uncover our unhealthy addiction to teachers while raising awareness of the biblical need for a holistic strategy, including other complementary functions, to further Christ's mission.
A worship church will reward cultural diversity
It is exciting to see the composition of the church in Antioch. We have Barnabas – a generous, encouraging, catalytic shepherd who got Saul / Paul on the move. We have black men, Simeon and Lucius from North Africa.
There is also manaen who grew up with Herod Antipas and was a rich, older man or a high social standing. Finally, we have Saul, a Roman citizen from Tarsus – a leading Pharisee who was dramatically converted on the way to Damascus. Diversity was the homogeneous principle of this city and the church leadership.
Diversity today should characterize the leadership of the Church of Jesus in North America more than ever. As our communities diversify, our churches should play a pioneering role in integrating this diversity. Not for the sake of political correctness, but for the fact that the combination of different cultural perspectives and expressions of following Christ creates a much more robust and holistic student.
Splintered silos of equality that exist side by side ensure the maintenance of a simple but unobtrusive church.
A worship church will praise spiritual sensitivity
Note in verse 2 that the by-product of worship was spiritual sensitivity to invent the concept of missionary mission. They were not satisfied with staying and enjoying the experience of worship; They were forced to send themselves so that others could worship. Their worship should recalibrate their spirits on Christ and His mission in the world.
It seems that the truer our worship becomes, the more our priorities reflect those we worship. For many of us, worship has long been about ourselves. My personal relationship.
My worship experience. My sacred preferences. But what if our worship was about Christ? What if it costs us something? What if the way we worshiped reflects the way we worshiped? Would we discover that we could hear God's voice again?
A worship church will praise the kingdom's generosity
The missionary heart forced this new church to send 2/5 of its leadership team on a variety of occasions to hear the gospel. Their corporate priorities reflected their individual priorities regarding pagan evangelism.
This motivation led the church to a culture of generosity when it invested together in sending missionaries – the first record of such a sending church that was recorded in Scripture.
Only a community of worship that generously offers itself as a living sacrifice to God would ever take such a risk. Has God stopped calling on His church to do a courageous job that naturally releases its best people and resources to help the Kingdom advance in the world? Unlikely.
God is still speaking. The Kingdom's generosity is still our calling.
But what will be our answer? Open again to our old, earlier normal? Or let our worship bring our hearts back to Christ's original intentions for His Church.
Jeff Christopherson is a church planter, pastor, author, and missiologist at the Send Institute – an interdenominational think tank for church planting and evangelism. The Exchange team contributed to this article.