We need a radical change in our understanding of the church. If the church is to fulfil its potential, radical changes will have to be made to the way it functions. Because many Christians are attached to their buildings and institutions, this will be a very painful process. In view of this, some may feel that the changes I describe are too costly. However, there are good reasons why changes have to be made.

  1. Obedience to Christ demands radical change in the shape of the church. We can all point to things in the church that are contrary to the Word of God. Yet we are content to live with them, because they have always been part of the church. We should remember that Jesus had very strong words for those who compromised the Word of God for the sake of human tradition. (Mark 7:5-8). His strongest condemnation came upon those who were controlled by the traditions of men. If we want to avoid the condemnation of our Lord, we must be prepared to make changes in line with his Word.

  2. Modern structures cannot contain the blessings that God wants to pour out on the church. Jesus said that you cannot put new wine into old wineskins, because the wineskins will burst, and the wine will be lost. A good example of this is the charismatic renewal. Although many people have been blessed through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the movement had only a limited impact on the world. This is because the Holy Spirit was choked by structures of the churches. A lot of good wine was spilt on the ground. We need structures that allow the Holy Spirits unlimited freedom to work.

  3. We are going into an age when the church will face persecution. It is important to develop structures that can cope with this. The experience of the church in China gives a very good example. The Communists were able to paralyse the Roman Catholic church simply by locking the church doors and arresting the priests. This would happen to any church that depends on buildings and professional ministers.

In contrast, the House Churches survived and grew, despite the best efforts of the Communists to suppress them. If the authorities closed one house, the people moved to another. If they arrested one elder, others took over. Because the Chinese House Churches are based on a biblical model, they were able to survive a terrible persecution. This is a warning to the modern churches.

For these three reasons, change in the church is essential, but it will not come easily. God may have to force it upon us. Jesus promised that he would build his church, and nothing will stop him. He will certainly accomplish his purposes. Eventually, the Church will be perfected. A holy and beautiful bride, without spot or blemish will be prepared for our Lord.

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