I’ve been musing on the similarities between the apostolic movement in Australia and the movement that I was a part of in the UK during the 70s and 80s.
Back in ’74 I found myself, at the end of a long period of backsliding, thrust into a new thing that was emerging in the UK – a house church. House churches flourished in the 70s in the UK, born out of the Charismatic Movement and expressing a dissatisfaction with the existing expressions of Christianity and a desire to get back to ‘simple’ church. Those in more traditional structures dismissed them or criticised them as being theologically shallow, dangerously independent or ‘fly by night’ but they never the less flourished and many of the most mature and influential churches and networks in the UK today trace their beginnings back to homechurch.
Alongside this movement however was another important move of God that embraced these pioneers and gave them the foundations they needed in order to stay on track and grow. This was the Restoration Movement, a move of God to restore the foundational ministries of apostles and prophets to the church. Men like Terry Virgo, Bryn Jones, Arthur Wallace and Gerald Coates emerged as fathers and mentors to these fledgling churches and brought stability, orthodoxy and vision. Under their ministry there was a restoration to the church of such concepts as true community, discipleship, the true nature of the Church, the oneness of the Body of Christ, the power of grace, and the true destiny of the Church. It was an exciting time.
Consequently the churches that embraced the apostolic began to grow. Many grew too big to meet in a home but, instead of multiplying into a network of home churches, they followed the conventional wisdom of the day and moved out of their homes into a hired hall. And then out of a hired hall into a purpose built building. Then out of a smaller building into a larger one. And on the way, of course, out of jeans into suits, out of simple acoustic worship into a worship band and out of song sheets into overhead projectors, and out of OHPs into Digital Projectors etc etc….. And, in the process, out of ‘simple’ church into ‘sophisticated’ church – Sunday morning ‘event’ church. I did it myself and loved.
The problem was however, that although we loved the new songs, the bigger crowds and the you-beaut technology, our churches in fact often looked very similar to the ones that many had left in the 60s/70s except that the buildings were newer, the songs more contemporary, the technology more up to date and the preaching more entertaining. Sometimes though, if we were honest, we would find ourselves travelling home from ‘church’ wondering whether we had actually touched the throne of God or simply been caught up in the ‘event’. Bit like the effects of a good concert or movie. The trouble is that it is not easy to see that when you are a musician or preacher, caught up in the program of producing the Sunday morning event (and making sure that it is a better event than the one offered up the road). Sometimes you have to leave the thing to see what it has actually become.
IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN
And that, I believe, is where we are right now. Deja vu. It’s happening again. There is an exodus taking place in the Western nations of people who feel that they have for a long time been mere spectators in a system that is geared towards producing the Sunday event, as if it were meant to be the main expression of church. People who are looking for Continue reading “Deja Vu”