Church on the Outside
We are not outside of the church.
We are not outside of God’s power
What is the point?
nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
ME: There’s been lots of times in my life that I’ve had to go without.
One of my absolute favourite worship songs is a song called ‘Here Now (Madness)’ by Hillsong United. I’ll post it on the facebook page shortly after service, if you’re interested in hearing it. It’s this idea that, no matter what, no matter where - we know that God is here now. And that’s enough for me.
WE: We’re all feeling very isolated from the church. From each other. What relationships do you miss that you realize you really needed? What people were integral to your daily mental health?
And going to church is no different. For so many of us, that’s been an integral part of our lives. I know some people in our church have been going to church longer than I’ve been alive. And we’re in an unprecedented time. Not in any of our lifetimes can we remember a time like this. We feel like we’re on the outside of everything. Outside of church. Outside of our relationships. It’s absolutely amazing that we somehow feel so locked out when we’ve all been locked in. Well, I think God has a few things to say about that.
GOD: Some pharisees were having a conversation with Jesus. They asked him a simple question - ‘When is the kingdom of God coming?’
And you need to understand, to them - worship of God, their entire frame of reference of their connection with God, it was founded on two things.
First, the physical space of God on earth, the temple.
The second, was this system of doing things, exact patterns and representations of their spiritual life that they followed faithfully.
So these pharisees, they were asking Jesus - What’s the place and pattern of the kingdom that’s coming, something i can see and quantify?
And Jesus responded really curiously to them. See, Jesus always has a habit of giving what the person needs, not what the person asked for.
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
So I have a question to ask first - how much is our concept of church defined by a place we go?
Because Jesus’ concept of the kingdom was never a place you pointed at and said ‘Man, I need to be over there’.
We are a church on the outside - we are not outside a church
Being completely honest - our church services aren’t going to be the first thing that’s allowed to open up. We exist as a unique entity - an organization that functions by gathering large groups of people together. And gathering people together isn’t in the game plan for the world just yet.
But our church doesn’t have to be waiting for a place to open up. In fact, our church SHOULDN’T be waiting for a place to open up. That’s Jesus’ entire point.
We don’t have to go to a place with walls to be in church. We can create the kingdom right where we are.
What I can tell you is this - one of the first things that IS going to start opening up is small gatherings in our homes. Our friends, our family.
So if we can create the kingdom right where we are - that is what we are going to do as a church.
Church on the outside means this: We are going to do church on the outside.
Our vision for the next little while is this - when we’re allowed to, we are going to open up our homes, and start building small churches.
We as the church structure and leadership are going to support and equip you as much as we can. But you all already have the biggest, greatest thing on your side - and that is God. And that is a great reason to hope.
And I’ll tell you this much - you also share a great experience with a lot of other people from the past. This is how the early church functioned. This is how the pentecostal movement in the 20th century started - with people like William J. Seymour meeting in homes.
We are seeing circumstances like the early church saw - a great difficulty to our way of understanding how things are done. But that’s exactly where God works best. Because remember what happened with the early church - it started in homes, and exploded across the world.
So this is where we’re going to start as a church - by opening our own homes. Because we know that God is with us, and we know we’re walking in the footsteps of spiritual giants.
I said on facebook that things were going to be a bit different with this series. And they will be - because it’s not going to be about just me. We’ve all got work to do here.
So i want to pitch a vision of what church on the outside looks like. Church on the outside looks like getting together in our homes. It looks like praying for each other. It looks like studying the bible together, or watching a video. It looks like doing worship together before a church service. It looks like seeing our friends and neighbours as our congregation and bringing them to God. It looks like intentionally building a group that actually loves and looks after each other, and wants to desperately see God move and make a difference intheir lives.
It looks like a whole bunch of other great ideas and it doesn’t look like any one pattern because that’s the point. It looks like refusing to let the church be known as just a place or a pattern, and showing the world how God is bigger and greater than any problem we can face.
So here’s where you come in. I’m going to chunk out 10 minutes at the end of this service, and you have homework, and no, you do not have my permission to turn this off. Here’s a question I want you to tackle, and I think this is going to be an easier question because it’s certainly one we’ve been thinking about lately - just for other reasons.
God wants us to do church on the outside - who am I going to do church with?
I want you to go get a piece of paper, a pen, or if you’re like me and your handwriting is terrible, jot it down on your phone. Don’t try and figure out how, or what you’ll do, or where, or anything like that. Right now, we’re just on the who. Who am I going to do church with? We’ll put a timer on the screen just so you understand when you’re allowed to go. But this is on all of us, not just me. And if you’re in this boat with me, i want to hear about it. Because we said we’re going to give you resources and training, we’re going to equip you any way we can.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on our facebookpage or on the youtube video. Send me a message if you have me on facebook. Whatever.
But this is what God is doing and if we want to see God do amazing things, we need to get in this boat. (PETER STORY JESUS) Because until you’re in the boat, you’re not going to have the opportunity to see yourself get out of the boat and walk on water towards Jesus.
PRAY BEFORE WE START TIMER
Here is the reality of where we are and what we expect to happen in the future
Here’s where I think the church is going to be moving towards in the immediate future
Here’s why this is a reason to hope
This is the way the early church did things. Jesus did a lot of his ministry walking around and meeting in homes. And we should never say, ‘Man, we have to do things the way Jesus did...’
I’m not trying to minimize any of our problems, or any of the difficulties we’ve faced the last few weeks. Right now, we’re a generation that’s been moved outside of our church buildings. We’ve had everything we’re familiar with upended. And the same kind of thing happened to the early believers as well
A persecution hit in Jerusalem, and many of the early believers had to flee the town. They were scattered across the country, and abroad. And I bet to them, it certainly felt like a real blow.
But you know what happened after that? The church exploded in growth.
The church thrives when people stop, look at their surroundings, and say ‘Ok, great, so, what’s next for me to do?’. It’s not tied to skill level, to ‘ministry giftings’ as we understand them, or to how many people you can fit in pews.
Church growth has always been intimately tied to the lives of people who are willing to step up and do something where they are.
Here’s what we do next.
What are we trying to communicate to people?
The scope of Church ministry needs to be focused on us ministering to our friends, family, and neighbours
The next major movement of the church is going to be home based.
We as a church are going to respond in kind - we’re going to shift our organizational focus towards enabling, equipping and empowering you to be able to do ministry in your context. Whatever that may look like.
The movers of church ministry needs to be all of us - not just a select few with the best gifts
Church was never meant to just be run by those with the best gifts. The church was meant to operate by every single one of us saying, ‘OK, this is what I myself can do. So let’s do that’.
If we’re forced to restrict church activity to what we can do in our homes and other homes in smaller groups, we need to understand something: that is the way Jesus and the early disciples did ministry.
And i’m not willing to say that doing something like Jesus did it is a bad thing!
We’re going to be doing things a little bit differently for the next few weeks.
This series isn’t just about imparting some hopeful message. My goal isn’t to get a pat on the back and a ‘good sermon, pastor!’. I want us to walk away from this saying, ‘OK, I’ve got some work to do.’