Recently I spoke to a group of Christian ‘business persons’ in one of their offices, surrounded by their typical business accompaniments. There were 25 ‘business types’ present in their typical business type garb. We began the our time together with the usual ways of beginning such meetings… you know… prayer… a song or two… then you get to teach.Now in the United States, where I was born, the above description would conjure up certain mental pictures of what that meeting might have looked like… well dressed people, high tech computers, suits, ties, desk and chairs etc. .
But this was not the United States. This was Kenya.Their place of business was in the middle of the ‘town market place’ and their ‘office’ was the slaughtering room where they processed chickens. Except for two of them, all people present wore clothes that were stained by their ‘professions’ and full of holes from years of hard work. There were a few broken chairs and the only light came from one small ‘window’ and the 'door'. The whole room smelled distinctively of chicken guts and was filled with stains from the killing and ‘gutting’ of those poor unfortunate creatures. Although, I might add, there are never any remains of the chickens left lying around because the Kenyans eat everything … head, feet, claws and bones … everything. Nothing is left but the feathers.
Here is an actual picture of our meeting place.
Now don’t misunderstand me; we love teaching these people where they work … because unlike so many other meetings we've been to, these people actually come to learn.
The reason we are telling you this is… we want to challenge your perceptions as well and stir you to biblical thinking. If we succeed… you might become ‘dangerous’ too.I began by asking them if there were any new Christians present to which everyone replied no. The average Christian in the room had been following Christ from ten to fifteen years. There were even two ‘pastors’ present who seemed to be eagerly awaiting for some stimulating revelation from the scriptures. I then told everyone that since there was no ‘infants’ present I would not be offering them ‘milk’ today but rather… ‘meat’. They seemed excited.
I began by asking two questions.
The first was… had any of them ever been to a biblical church? Their eyes grew wide. This question was somewhat confusing, as all of them do the ‘Sunday thing’ every week. When they all nodded yes, I asked the second question… ‘How do you know it was a real church?’ Or more specifically, by what or whose definition was it a biblical church? If the first question confused them a little, the second left them quite perplexed. They had never ever really considered such a question and I highly suspect not many Christians do.As they struggled to answer the second question, their answers ranged from … “That’s where people go to worship!’, or “The pastor said it was a church” to “Everyone just knows it’s a church”. Sad to say none of their answers ever mentioned anything from the scriptures. Not one of them used any scriptures to validate their perceptions or describe, biblically, what the church is.
So I began to describe a biblical church as portrayed by a few scriptural pictures.A biblical church consists of a people who have been brought together and given up their individual way of thinking to having their thoughts conformed to the corporate mind of Jesus Christ. (Rom 12:16), (2 Cor. 13:11), (Php. 1:27, 2:2), (1 Pet. 3:8)
A biblical church is made up of people who joyfully share their food, possessions, even selling their possessions to meet the needs of the people they were with. (Acts 2: 44-45) Because of this wonderful sharing… everyone’s needs were met. (Acts 4:34,35)They felt each other’s pain and shared each other’s joy. (1Cor. 12:25-26), (1 Cor. 12:21)
They were one heart, one mind and intent on one thing. That one thing being; going deeper into the fellowship of God and revealing the Life of His Son to the world. (Acts 4:32), (2 Cor. 3:18)Their Life together made them like Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 12:12)
All of them were misunderstood, persecuted, and viewed by the world as fools.But because of this Abundant Life they were living together, the apostles were filled with power in their preaching of the resurrection and the church was filled with extraordinary empowerment (great grace). With only a few exceptions they all were filled with the Holy Spirit and were continually experiencing His provision and joy. (Acts 4:33)
(2 Tim. 3:12), (1 Cor.1:27-29)
(2 Tim. 3:12), (1 Cor.1:27-29)
Some of our slaughter house bible study members began looking a little depressed, some member's eyes grew a bit misty and one even smiled.So I asked them again… by these scriptural snapshots of a biblical church … had any of them ever been in a church? Most in the room just hung their heads and some even shook their heads no.
I then went a little further and asked if any of them knew a biblical pastor? That was met with the same response as when I asked if any had been to biblical church. They anticipated something was coming. The only exceptions to that response were the two pastors who began visibly squirming.I then began to describe a shepherd as revealed in the scriptures.
A shepherd is a man called of God from the midst of the congregation to lead by example the people of God. (1Tim. 5:15) (1 Tim. 3:2) (Titus 1:6) In the scriptures they are called Elders, Bishops, Overseers or sometimes even pastors. They will lay down their lives, everyday, for the people they lead.They make mistakes but repent when they are confronted. The church holds them to a higher degree of accountability than anyone else in the church. (1 Tim. 5:20)
They do this with other men of the same calling. They work in unity with other shepherds so as to be an example of mutual accountability. (1 Pet. 5:1) Almost every time the word elder is used it’s used in the plural. (Acts 14:23, 15:4, 6, 23, 20:17, 21:18 etc.)They're motivation for this work is not income or a profitable career, for to do so would be to become a hireling … they lay down their lives, hopes and dreams for the sake of the sheep because they love them. They personally know who their sheep are and the sheep know them. (John 12:10,13)
They protect the flock with their lives and would rather die than see harm come to the flock. (John 10:11) They work hard to see the flock prosper and take care of them even at their own expense.They will become the servant and slave of all they lead and are not afraid of doing any job that enables him to help the church. The Apostles first job was being a waiter for the people of God. (Acts 6:2)
So I asked them again… did anyone of you in this room know a biblical pastor? Their response, again, was the same as their response to the first question I asked about the church… even the pastors. One of those pastors was visibly uncomfortable and bordering on being angry.Everyday prominent Christian leaders spout their opinions on how bad things are in Christianity and how we need to return to the bible. Yet, most only mean to return to whatever their brand of Christianity believes in. Or worse, they give answers that demand no real sacrificial change. If we really believe the scriptures are the rule and precedent of our Faith, then perhaps we need to return to the scriptures and start practicing what they actually say.
There are questions that need answering. Have you ever been to a biblical church or ever known a biblical pastor are two questions needing biblical answers.My last question, dear reader, is directed to you and it is this…. What would be your biblical response to those two questions?
StoneHouse Ministries International