Wednesday, August 25, 2004

This Is Church, version 2.0


It’s hard to believe that we’re approaching the first anniversary of our little experiment in exploring ekklesia. How many of us thought a year ago that we’d be doing what we are today? Looking back, I’m amazed at God’s kindness, faithfulness, guidance and provision.

We’ve learned (and unlearned) a great deal in the past year. We’ve experienced trials and tribulations (and learned to rejoice in the midst of them). We’ve seen the Holy Spirit move amongst us and also had to contend with our flesh. We’ve made mistakes but also received revelation. We’ve been confronted with sin, but also with mercy, grace, compassion and forgiveness. We’ve struggled together to not be conformed to the image of the world and this present darkness. We’ve been learning forbearance, patience, simplicity and transparency as we wrestle with all of those “one-another” directives in the scriptures. Through it all, we’ve grown in Christ and have seen the fruit of discipleship within community.

For me personally, I’ve experienced an ever-increasing sense of freedom. Freedom from man’s expectations and from religious traditions that stifle bodylife. Freedom to be genuine in Christ and not play a role or put on a mask. Freedom to be flexible about what God is doing, yet firm in our faith of who He is. Now, as we move into a change of seasons, some changes in our modus operandi are at hand. I’m thinking of it as “This Is Church, version 2.0”. Here are some of the points of growth and change that are occurring:

· We are moving our “TIC” (This Is Church) gathering from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon/evening. Our starting time will be 3:30pm on Sunday. We’ll continue our tradition of eating a “pot-luck” communion meal together. The emphasis of “TIC” will continue to be the building up of one-another through sharing our Spiritual gifts. This will continue to be our primary gathering.

· “TAC” (This Ain’t Church), our time of Bible study/discussion is going to be put on hold temporarily while we adjust to the new schedule for “TIC”. We’ve been doing “TAC” on Sunday mornings, but will not be any longer. Once we’ve settled into the new Sunday afternoon “TIC”, we’ll look together at what day and time works best to resume “TAC”.

· Our studies and discussions in the Book of Acts during “TAC” have been excellent, but there is also a hunger to go beyond Bible study and get into the actual mechanics of how to study the bible. Depending on what the consensus is, we may begin “TAC” with a series on “How to study the Bible”. This would be based on Fee & Stuart’s book “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” and would include modules on Exegesis (what it is and how to do it), Hermeneutics(what it is and what the rules/guidelines are), tools (concordances, lexicons, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, etc.), translations (Literal vs. Dynamic Equivalence), etc. With the glut of bogus doctrine and sloppy theology being poured into the church these days, it is vitally important that each of us be discerning and know how to search out God’s truth in the scriptures.

· We’ve received an offer from a Christian business attorney to set us up as a 501c3 tax-exempt organization for no charge. The consensus at this point is leaning towards going ahead with this, so that tzedakah giving will be tax-deductible.

· I’ve registered the Internet domain name As time permits, I hope to set up a website ( which will include a calendar of events, teachings, links to articles, a discussion forum, blogs, etc. I suppose this means that the “official” name of our church will be “This Is Church”, but we’ll probably still affectionately refer to ourselves as “TIC/TAC”.

I’m sure the Lord has other changes in store for us that we’re not yet aware of! The key is that we keep our eyes focused on Him and our hearts open to one-another.

Friday, August 13, 2004

1 Corinthians 14 then and now...

(This is adapted from the book “ekklesia” by Steve Atkerson)

How the New Testament church met:

“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Corinthians 14:26-40)

How the church meets today:

What shall we say then, brothers? When you come together, the worship leader has hymns and the pastor has a word of instruction. Both of these things must be done for the conducting of the worship service.

If anyone besides the pastor has a word of instruction, let him keep quiet. Let him sit in the pew, and face the back of the neck of the person sitting in front of him.

Let the people keep silent in the churches; for they are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission to the pastor, as church tradition says. If they want to inquire about something, let them ask the pastor after the service, for it is disgraceful for a layperson to speak in the church. For the pastor is ordained and has a seminary degree and the layperson does not.

If anyone desires to remain a church member in good standing, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the command of the denominational headquarters. If he ignores this, he himself will be promptly escorted out the door by the ushers.

Therefore, my brothers, don’t be eager to speak in the church meeting. Let all things be done decently and in the order in which it has been written in the church bulletin.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Art Katz on community

Art Katz is a Jewish man in his 70's who travels the globe teaching on the prophetic. Although I'm not deeply familiar with him or his ministry, I was reading an interview with him and was struck by the following question and his answer:

Question: "So then, moving on to experiences, what would be some of the experiences that have brought you to where you are now and caused you to think the way you think now?"

Art: "I would say that the greatest experience has been that of community for this past quarter of a century, having to go through various ordeals and trials, as I mentioned this morning, coming into meetings that are so compacted and tense that you stop breathing when you enter the room and feel that there is no answer to the predicament, then coming out two or three hours later walking on a cloud, because the Lord has brought some transcendent answer. One of the highlights was a trial of the brother whose flesh was given over to the devil, that his soul might be saved, a three-hour actual judicial hearing that was a transcendent experience; we heard housewives speaking out of such depths of wisdom and compassion, prompted by the significance of what we were about, and performing righteous judgment. I have had a host of experiences through the community that have been very formative in my life, and I am sure that I would be something other than what I presently am if my lifestyle had been modeled more along the lines of those who live privately and comfortably. I would not have appreciated the hardships, difficulties, confrontations, and misunderstandings. In recent years, the Lord has even tempered me in giving me a bit of a father’s heart and a pastoral heart, which I have never had in all the good times and did not think I was required to have, but it has come out of the necessity of living real life."

The full interview can be read at