Plumbline Faith

Simple Faith, Simple Virtue, Simple Church

Simple Church — June 23, 2017

Simple Church

“Assembly” is probably the closest English word to “ekklesia”, which is commonly mistranslated as “church” in our English Bibles.

But even “assembly” falls short.

When the NT was written, “ekklesia” almost always – in the common usage of the day – referred to a participatory assembly of local citizens appointed as the governing authority, under Rome, in a city or region.

In Israel during Jesus’ time on Earth, the local ekklesia under Roman rule was the Sanhedrin.

Each city or provence had their own local ekklesia, which oversaw local affairs under Roman authority through local citizens selected by the emperor.

The internal function of each ekklesia, in their own locale, was democratic – with full participation and say by each member – just like a State assembly or town council today.

The idea of Christ building His ekklesia, therefore, was subversive to Roman ears, but fully in line with His further teachings on His Kingdom.

Unfortunately, “church” today has little to do – either as to form or function – with what “ekklesia” actually meant when the New Testament was written.

To really understand the Bible, we need to learn what it actually said when written, based on the meaning and context of the words used, rather than reading back into those words our conflicting post-New Testament meanings.

Simple Faith — June 21, 2017

Simple Faith

Most of what we call “worship” today …

Is so contrived and manipulative as to be an affront to God.

Most are so unwilling to submit their concept of “worship” to what the New Testament actually says is worship …

That they don’t even care.

Simple Church — June 20, 2017
Simple Church — June 19, 2017

Simple Church

The phrase “simple church” means:

Smaller, intentional fellowships which relate together in their own home towns as the local Body of Christ, with throughout-the-week community.

In those fellowships, people regularly gather together in homes (and other places where life naturally happens) to motivate and encourage each other toward love and good works by ministering one to another in open, participatory meetings.

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Simple Faith — June 18, 2017

Simple Faith

A true encounter with God often invokes intense emotion.

Unfortunately, many “churches” today try to invoke intense emotion and call it a true encounter with God.

It’s not.

It’s just fleshly manipulation masquerading as “worship”.

Simple Truth — June 16, 2017

Simple Truth

When the “Gospel” is reduced to a “decision” devoid of repentance and submission to Christ’s Lordship and Kingdom …

It, and anything that promotes it, is a lie.

Including “church”.

Simple Truth — June 14, 2017
Simple Church — June 9, 2017

Simple Church

When the world does a better job dealing with and responding to sexual abuse within its ranks than does the “church” …

Isn’t it time to confront the fact that what is called “church” these days really isn’t?

Simple Church — June 1, 2017

Simple Church

Worship.

People keep using that word.

But what they mean …

Isn’t what the New Testament means.

Which means they elevate their own understanding over God’s own revelation …

And worship “worship” more than God Himself.

Simple Discipleship — May 29, 2017

Simple Discipleship

If Christians today started giving how the New Testament says we should give …

To what the New Testament says we should give …

Its doubtful that what we call “church” today would survive.

Simple Church — May 27, 2017
Simple Church — May 25, 2017
Simple Church — May 18, 2017
Simple Faith — May 16, 2017

Simple Faith

I may have an ability or perspective that you lack. 

But I have yet to meet anyone – and I mean anyone – who does not also exceed me in some aspect of their own abilities and perspectives. 

Likewise, no church, ministry or movement will be healthy if it pulls into itself or thinks itself beyond everyone else.

This is true also with our different sub-cultures, theological “tribes”, and the often unexamined presumptions and sensibilities of our own community of like-minded friends.

Unity in diversity through humility, not uniformity through hierarchy, is God’s intent among those who love Him and heed His Word.

Simple Church — May 12, 2017
Simple Discipleship — May 8, 2017

Simple Discipleship

I routinely ask men I mentored in the jail, who give their lives to the Lord there, why it’s so hard for them to become part of a church when they get out. 

I then follow up by asking whether, after being released, they were ever invited into someone’s home for a meal and fellowship from any church they visited. 

The answer? Never.

I’ve asked this hundreds of times, not just of men trying to put their lives back together after jail, but also of others living in the woods or in homeless shelters.

The answer is always the same.

In twenty years, I’ve seen no exceptions.

We all love arms-length “ministries” and “programs” that make us feel good about helping “those people”, so long as it’s not too close and personal.

I guess most “churches” are look-alike religious social clubs for cookie-cutter “believers” rather than real Christian communities. 

How tragic.

In the meantime, our house remains a place of hospitality, friendship and fellowship …

And our lives continue to be enriched beyond measure because of it.

Simple Church — May 7, 2017
Simple Church — May 1, 2017

Simple Church

The New Testament says God distributes different gifts and functions among us to advance His Kingdom …

As we minister one to another and a waiting world.

Today, we use those gifts and functions to advance our own kingdoms …

As we create titles, hierarchies and “ministries” over one another before a disgusted world.

Simple Church — April 26, 2017

Simple Church

We need more elders sharing lives among us …

And less “preachers” on podiums above us.

Unfortunately, few are willing to give up the recognition and privileges of the latter …

For the humility and sacrifices of the former.

Simple Church — April 20, 2017

Simple Church

“Church” too often means expecting others to fit our own molds, in order to support the sensibilities and biases of our own cultural perspectives.

In contrast, I have learned to allow “church” to emerge in all its splendid diversity by letting the life of Christ take root in the rich soil of different cultures and communities.

Could that be why the Great Commission says “go”, rather than “come”?

Simple Church — April 12, 2017

Simple Church

Slowly but surely, God is shifting the paradigm of church and leadership. 

It is becoming organic, simple and participatory, with healthy fellowships beginning to emerge. 

All I can say is forget the buzz words by past advocates like Viola, Dale, Zens, Rodriguez, Giles, Rohde and their buddies …

With their failed attempts to impose their own existential, cookie-cutter visions of Christ and the Church on God’s people through books and blogs that never lined up with reality in their own lives and home towns.

Instead, go and let the Lord express Himself as He sees fit, building on the foundation already apostolically laid through Scripture as His authoritative written Word, in the unique context of diverse communities … 

Where He still sends us today to make disciples among the lost and redeem nations.

That, my friends, is real “organic” church and leadership.

Simple Church — April 7, 2017

Simple Church

In Hebrews 13:17, some translations tell us to “obey” those who “rule over” us in the church. This is a very unfortunate translation. 

In the Greek, the verb translated “obey” is in the middle voice and means to “be persuaded”. Yet it is often wrongly translated in the active voice as “obey”, which has an entirely different meaning.

The verb phrase “rule over” also is a misleading translation. 

In the Greek, it does not mean having authority or being “over” anyone, but rather earned esteem by those who have given thought to and walked farther along the same path.

If they can’t persuade or earn your respect by having actually thought through and lived what they’re saying, then we are under no obligation to accord them any influence in our lives.

Bottom line: 

There is NO command in the New Testament to blindly obey or follow anyone – and no mandate for authoritarianism, “cover” or control over others – in the church.

Church leadership in the New Testament is straightforward: 

Be persuaded by those who thoughtfully walk the walk and are further along in their faith and life experience, yielding to their example as we submit one to another.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Simple Church — April 5, 2017

Simple Church

The New Testament says we should sing God’s praises together to encourage one another …

Not to somehow persuade God to show up.

Since He’s already present in those who know Him – and thus among us when we gather as His church – anyone claiming some special status to “lead” us into His presence is committing spiritual fraud …

By peddling counterfeit “worship”.

Simple Church — April 2, 2017

Simple Church

For many, “church” has become a circus – a staged show where they go to be entertained, amazed, awed and sent home feeling good. 

This perversion is sustained by convincing folks that the more they are entertained, amazed, awed and feel good …

The more “God moved” and the service was “anointed” and “inspired”.  

It is collective narcissism at its worst.

Among those who thrive on the show, to question what “church” has become initially invokes blank stares …

Then an incredulous disconnect as the direction of the conversation is quickly changed. 

They will avoid at all cost having to consider the very idea that the Body of Christ is suppose to be something very different – and so much more significant.

Simple Truth — March 29, 2017

Simple Truth

It’s amazing how much huff, puff and indignation arise when you simply ask those pushing their books, blogs and conferences on how to “be the church” or otherwise function as a church …

If they actually are part of one in their own lives and home towns like they keep peddling to others.

Hypocrisy is not a Biblical virtue …

Nor should it be tolerated in those who presume to be teachers among us.