Just read an article passed on by a friend entitled “Create a Contrast Culture in Your Church.” Harmless enough, right? Within the article were these 12 points on “Ways to Cultivate Such a Culture.”
1. Train and equip one another for being Christians.
2. Center the church’s weekly gathering around the gospel.
3. Preach all of Scripture.
4. Apply sermons and small group lessons corporately.
5. Encourage church members to build their lives into one another’s.
6. De-clutter the church calendar.
7. Provide tools for evangelism and discipleship.
8. Pray together about evangelism and good works.
9. Highlight the saints by practicing church membership and fencing the table.
10. Practice church discipline.
11. Live near the church.
12. Commit for the long-term.
I know some of you are already chomping at the bit, but make sure you read the whole article in its context before going any further.
Now that you’re back, Permit me to rewrite the title and the 12 points:
Create a Kingdom Culture as the Church.
1. Teach them to obey all that Christ commanded by walking with them as you follow Him.
Teaching someone to be Christian sounds, so… how shall we say it… WRONG! I can remember asking a team of missionaries what their purpose was on their next upcoming mission trip and they responded, “we’ve evangelized them, and now we’re going to go back and teach them how to be good christians.” Ack!
2. Center your life around the Gospel.
Putting all of your gospel eggs into the week end meeting is tantamount to servants burying the money so as not to anger the business man when he returns. Matthew 25:14-30 Living the Gospel, loving the Gospel, and planting yourself in community with the gospel doesn’t require centering a “meeting” around the gospel. That kind of thinking insinuates that outside of the meeting, the gospel doesn’t have to be center.
3. Proclaim the entirety of scripture.
I have little disagreement with this point as such, but the manner in which scripture is delivered from behind a pulpit without open participatory engagement serves better to lecture about the gospel rather than to preach and demonstrate it.
4. Limit sermons and lessons.
First of all, there are no sermons in the scripture as we commonly know them today. Again the presupposition is that these sermons and lessons can only happen from within hallowed walls. The gospel must be set free from this constricting environment. Preach! Yes! But, do it less from “the front” and more from within and among the people who you’re trying to show this Kingdom culture.
5. Encourage life in community as the church.
Be the church in your community and the gathering will happen naturally. I know this to be true. Become intricate and engaged in your immediate surroundings. Evangelism (relaying the gospel message) doesn’t happen by inviting people to your church. It happens by inviting others to follow Christ as you are hopefully already doing.
6. De-clutter the church.
You can minimize your schedule, but the system chugs along. We must de-clutter our church systems and the calendar will take care of itself.
7. Be the tools for evangelism in discipleship.
Read that again. Anyone can provide tools for evangelism and discipleship. Just go to the nearest christian book store and weigh the materials (tools) there. People gifts (Ephesians 4:11,12,13) were given to equip the church and to bring unity. You are the tools! :-p Be them.
8. Pray always and without ceasing.
If you’re praying without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and others are doing likewise, then all we have to do is pray together when we come together. Isn’t “prayer meeting” somewhat artificial?
9. Highlight Christ.
Church membership? A discussion for another time. How about bearing one another’s burdens, esteeming others higher than yourself, blessing those that curse you, and praying for those that spitefully use you? You don’t need a building to do any of those things, do you?
10. Practice Church Discipling
Disciples of Christ are made in community and by community. Individual discipleship can and should happen within corporate structures (not buildings) but each of us has something to offer to others. Instead of looking for moments to separate one from another, we should dwell more on opportunities for inclusion while maintaining orthodoxy.
11. Live near one another.
Proximity and community are crucial to gospel furtherance. Authenticity is demonstrated up close and personal. Plant yourself with the gospel in a central location and then move outward towards Samaria and the utter most parts of the world.
12. Commit for the Lord’s term.
There is always someone who wants to tell you that you are or have been in a lace too long or too short. Be open, available, and ready to go wherever and whenever the Lord directs.
All of these revisions are somewhat reactionary. Forgive me. I don’t want to be one of those who complains about how you gather. I am very concerned about any form of church or church functions that impedes the gospel. One of the ways the church does that is by trying to create culture in church rather than as the church.