Continuing Maurice Smith’s great article – this is the encouraging part.
The Collapse of Evangelicalism
Part 2: Evangelicalism in Transition
Now I want to offer several observations regarding what I see as the outcome of that collapse.
Evangelicalism will look more like the church of the first century, and less like the church of the last (i.e., 20th) century. I’m tempted to simply allow that statement to stand without comment – forcing you to simply digest it without elaboration . . . . but what fun would that be?! When David Lehman in “The Answering Stranger” declared, “The Twentieth Century is the name of a train that no longer runs”, he could easily have been referring to the Evangelical Church. The Church of the 20th Century witnessed the rise and fall of the temperance movement in the first half of the century(culminating in the 18th amendment), and the rise of the pro-abortion movement (culminating in Roe v. Wade) in the last half of the century. The Evangelical Church has witnessed Billy Graham filling Times Square (September 2, 1957), and “gay pride” marches filling those same streets. The Evangelical Church has witnessed the rise of the mega-church and the precipitous decline in the impact of the church on American culture. We began the 20th Century with a world wide awakening of historic proportions, and we ended the century with . . . . nothing of note. I believe God is done with the Church of the 20th Century, and He is taking us back to the Church of the 1st Century.
Evangelicalism will be vastly smaller, but vastly more effective. Let’s face it. In traditional Western Christianity of the 20th Century, “success” is measured by size: the size of your congregation, the size of your budget, the size of your facility, the size of your staff, etc. Size matters . . . except in the Kingdom of God. But the day of “size matters” is quickly Continue reading “The Collapse of Evangelicalism – Part 2”
The third apostle we met on our trip to the Philippines was Molong Nacua (pronounced naquah). I met Molong on the internet whilst surfing for house churches in the Philippines. His writings connected with my spirit and we finished up spending 5 wonderful days with him and his wife Lisa and their extended family on the Central Philippines island of Cebu.
The story of Molong (or as he says, ‘Long’ for short) is one of a gradual journey through traditional style church (youth pastor, worship leader) to traditional style homechurch (doing the same but in a house) to a less structured homechurch (but still based on attending a weekly meeting), to his current passion, simply building a company of disciples for Jesus. While we were with him he coined the phrase ‘The Barkadas of Jesus’ to describe them – a barkada being a wonderful Filipino word referring to a company of friends joined in a common bond of friendship and loyalty. No set meeting times or programs but what he refers to as a life of ‘intention – relational discipleship’, mainly based on reading the Bible, learning to listen to the Spirit and learning how to disciple a friend for Jesus. We did a lot of listening and talking while we were with him but the highlight of our visit was an unintentional demonstration of the ‘barkada’.
It happened when a young recently graduated high school student, Jommie, turned up with his friend Julian, who he had recently invited to become a disciple of Jesus. Jommie had been discipled two months earlier, beginning with the same invitation, by Albert, who had been discipled by Molong. Albert had baptised Jommie the Saturday before we arrived and now Jommie was ready to baptise Julian.
So we headed down to the sea to baptise him. Two days later however, the three boys turn up at Molong’s house with a new friend, Louey Dan, a not-yet-believer who they were working on. Over lunch the Gospel was explained to Louey Dan and an invitation given to become a disciple of Jesus. He was ready, having observed his young friends for some time. An hour later Julian, baptised only two days earlier, was praying over his friend as he baptised him into Christ.
Later, as we celebrated over Dunkin Donuts, I took the opportunity to quiz the members of this growing Barkada of Jesus about what they had done and how deep was their grasp of the Gospel. Each man impressed me with his grasp of repentance and faith, one of the most articulate being Louey Dan. We finished our donuts and the boys hung around for a meal with Molong and Lisa and then headed home.
And three days later we headed back home ourselves, back to our own nation of Australia with a whole new understanding of what Jesus meant when He simply said (my paraphrase),
“Go and preach the Gospel, making disciples, baptising them and teaching them to obey me. And lo I am with you to the end … every day, not mainly on Sundays, not mainly in your meetings, not mainly via the Pastor, but moment by moment, day by day, until I come again.”
You can catch up with Molong’s writings at the new blogsite we are building together, The Barkadas of Jesus. It’s still in in the building stage but you might like to bookmark it. But be warned. It could change your thinking about the nature of church.
Here’s a Youtube of the new barkada.
Recently I attended the Australian School of Apostolic Ministry with apostle John Alley and his team and was reminded again of John’s teaching on Pentecost, i.e. that the primary anointing that came on the believers at Pentecost was the gift of COMMUNITY. Healing gifts etc were not new to the disciples (note the activities of the seventy two in Luke 10) but ‘community’ evaded them, as evidenced by the blatant ambition and self serving attitudes that they brought to the table on the very eve of Christ’s death.
However at Pentecost a sudden change. They are now ‘of one heart and mind and spirit’, a multitude of tables feasting around Christ, with the Lord happy to add to their numbers by the droves. And that ‘oneness’ did not come about because they ate together in homes, the simple church structure that many of us have been drawn into and love. That was a result of a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, an outpouring that was much more about ‘community’ than about giftings.
As John shared I thought again of the Church at Corinth, rich in giftings but poor in love for one another, their meetings centred around the display of their gifts but their love feasts having disintegrated into a sham and their city now divided into denominational factions of which they seemed proud. As a result, says Paul, many are sick and some are dead!
This weekend the churches in Yeppoon are hosting John Mellor, an evangelist with a powerful anointing for healing. Our great hope is that that anointing will stay with us long after John has left. We too have our share of the sick and the dying! As William Booth wrote in the heyday of the Salvation Army, “We need another Pentecost!”
The question then is, will God send us one if our primary hunger is for the gifts, as urgent as that may seem? Or is He seeking a deeper work, a more costly one, one that cuts across every form of competition and local church ambition in our town? Can we really ‘in honour prefer one another”? I suspect that unless we hunger after such a manifestation of God’s glory in our midst, we will be a long time waiting before we see the ‘signs that follow’.