Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I don't want a New Testament Church!

I've had conversations with people and have read in books the need to get back to church the way it was done in the New Testament. I understand the principle, the idea behind this I think. Yesterday at the Sticky Church conference though I had a thought: I really don't want a New Testament church - I want a 21st century church! Let me explain.

To truly have church the way those in the New Testament did, the following would need to be true:
  • I can't use my guitar for worship- even the acoustic one.
  • I can't use my TNIV Bible, or even an ESV, NIV, NLT, or even a KJV. Well, maybe a KJV.
  • I can't sing any of the songs that I know - even Amazing Grace.
  • Obviously Power Point & Media Shout aren't necessary then - but regardless, I couldn't use them anyway.
  • I couldn't use my car.
  • Would need to delete my email, blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
  • Any books that I have now on ANY subject matter would have to be ditched simply because they are bound books.
  • And I'd have to tell most of the people that I know that they can't come to my church because I can't fit them in my house.
Those are just a few examples, I'm sure more can be thought of, but the point is: the NT church didn't have any of these things - so if I'm really going to have a NT church then I can't either!! Time to brush up on Greek & Hebrew, huh?

I want a 21st century church!

Let me clarify, I want a 21st century church built on New Testament principles. That distinction needs to be made. Little harder to discipher because we have to actually study and learn what God is telling us about this beautiful thing He came up with called the Church - but I think that is better than just reading and mimicking without really understanding what is being said.

Like I said, still chewing on this. Any thoughts?


amy said...

I like. I get frustrated with people looking at the Acts church as prescriptive rather than descriptive.

There are some great things happening in Acts 2, but
we forget their church is a reflection of their culture as well as the fact the Holy Spirit was poured out for the first time in human history filling mass numbers of people... people were seeing and experiencing something that had never happened before. Having no guidebook, training conference or seminary class for how to start a church let alone be a church, they just went with the flow of the Spirit.

All that to say I enjoyed the post and if we went with the flow of the Spirit today, the 21st century church could mirror that same power, presence, and passion in our communities. And that would be fun.

bryce said...

Bobby, this is great. The concept the thoughts it brings up are completely true. we preach the NT church, the Acts based church, but that'd backwards for our culture. We just have to do the same foundations of it. Lay the foundation like they did. Great stuff.

Paul Culbertson said...

We want people to know how to live out Jesus in the 21st century... In order to do so we have to be a part of the 21st century. Great thoughts Bobby, as I am leading a church now I have that same passion. I will be praying for you as God leads and directs. Our mission statement here is simple: Love Jesus. Love People. Change the World. We try and do this by being RELEVANT (which does not mean we become like the world, more so that we are willing to go to the world wherever they may be and get to know them) to our culture, but staying SOUND when it comes to Scripture. Any ways those are just my thoughts. God Bless Brother.

stephenwillcox said...

Bobby do you think your understanding and accurately portraying the New Testament Church advocates? By your argument I get the impression that your building up a straw man.

All that being said, I agree with you and New Testament Church advocates that our teaching and practice needs to be taught to the culture and time we live in.


bobby said...

I don't think it's a straw man at all Stephen - it's a response those whom I've interacted with or read. I'm simply taking those ideas to the extreme, but doing so to make a point: what do you do and what do you leave out? What is your understanding of the advocates that you're thinking of?

There aren't models of how to do church in the Bible - there are descriptions of things that occurred though. The problem I see is when we take those descriptions and make them commands (see Amy's comment first line).

The question is - how do we make the principles reflective in what we do TODAY!

stephenwillcox said...

Hey Bobby,
It seems that we both have a different concept of what the New Testament Church advocates believe. Perhaps it would help if I knew who you had in mind with your original blog post.

When I hear of N.T.C. people I think of people who are well known. But these same people by their own words and practice would not advocate that the culture that the N.T.C. was any better nor it period of time. Rather, they observe the principles and practices that were essential to it and strive to uphold those principles while contextualizing those principles to their time.

Maybe you and I have different people/teachers in mind. Could you specify what people you have in mind or perhaps some quotes? That may help clarify a lot of the confusion.

Blessings brother,

bobby said...

I'm not trying to specifically highlight any teachers/people - but more addressing an idea.

What I was saying in my original post is no different than what you said in the 2nd part of your first comment - that teachings/practices need to be taught to the culture & time we live in. The emphasis that I'm point to is that we are living and worshiping and following Jesus today - and how our faithfulness occurs must be active in the 21st century.

We can not recreate the NT church - nor do I feel that we should.

I guess I really don't know why you think we're on different pages on this other than you're looking for me to mention specific people and I'm trying to emphasize a concept. Even in my original post I was simply trying to use exaggeration to make a point - but I think a valid one.

stephenwillcox said...

Hey Bobby,
Perhaps I am misunderstanding your post. Here's what I understood you saying.

From conversations and books you read you feel that those who are proponents of a N.T.C. believe that churches should strive to mimic everything the N.T.C. did. And what you are proposing is that we should not so much strive to mimic the N.T.C. but rather examine what principles and doctrines they upheld and do that in a 21st century way.

To which I replied, I don't think what you stated N.T.C advocates believe is truly what they are proposing churches should do. And that what you suggested we do is what they have been from the beginning proposing.

My original point was, we as Christians should show grace in trying to properly understand other views so that if they are wrong we are capable of leading them in the right direction. As well as, being willing to be wrong. I felt you were being unfair, perhaps I am guilty of the same thing in these comments. please show me if that is the case.

Blessings brother,

bobby said...

The things we seem to agree on are the only point I am making. Hyperbole I used to make that point you are taking literal it seems or are taking them in a direction I didn't say.