If someone were to ask you, “What’s a church?” would you say it’s a building owned by a religious organization?
In the Bible the Greek word for church is Ekklesia. It means: people “called out” to assemble. A church is a gathering of people who believe and worship Jesus. They meet because God’s Spirit has birthed their spirit to life; by His grace they can believe Jesus is the Messiah and follow Him. This new life has birthed a supernatural love and desire to gather with other believers as God’s family.
In the western world many say they “go to church”. What they really mean is that they will meet with their church in a dedicated building, which they also call a church. For me it’s strange, and I cannot call a building a “church (especially confusing to unbelievers). I understand that in the Truth or Consequences area, there are 34 church-owned buildings.
In the Bible’s New Testament books there are many commands, and in various churches there are differing traditions. It’s important to keep in mind that traditions are optional, but commands are not. Sometimes traditions can start to seem like commands, even become more important.
My wife Peixia and I are starting a church gathering in T-or-C without a dedicated building. It’s similar to what Frances Chan has started in San Francisco called “We Are Church.” Chan is a New York Times Best Selling author of the books “Crazy Love” and “Letters to the Church,” as well as many more.
He built a mega-church in Simi Valley California until he realized he was feeding consumer Christians.” Short story: He resigned his position and started a discipleship house in the poor and homeless area of San Francisco, later starting We Are Church.
Chan teaches that a church that’s 20 or less is like a family, but a church that’s 100 or more is like an orphanage. “How many people can you be really, really close to?”
Their church gatherings are in family member’s houses and in parks. They like to keep the number of adults in each church at 20 or under. Once the church gathering reaches about 20 they split and become two churches, and so on. Nobody receives a salary and all their pastors and elders are being raised up within their individual churches. All of their giving goes to local and international causes, and everyone is called to be missional. Pastors and elders are chosen based on the most important characters: being Godly and Humble.
Please note that we are not saying what other churches are doing is wrong. We are about love and unity. Chan’s latest book is “Until Unity.”
Since 2012, I’ve done missions in Nigeria, Romania and China. It’s taught us to be intentionally simple so we can have close loving relationships with our brothers and sisters and do ministry together regularly. Ask yourself this: How many people can you successfully have close relations with, to love and disciple and serve? Jesus chose 12 disciples; however, His abilities were extraordinary. In We Are Church everyone is discipled, and everyone participates.
My wife Peixia and I just completed Chan’s Crazy Love, “Church Intensive” training. We’d like to get together with like-minded Christians in the T-or-C area to pray, to be led by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, and to break bread together.
s/Rush and Peixia Behnke
1385 Simpson St
(Over 350 words paid)