A friend from South Africa just sent me this and I thought many of you would enjoy it too. It is an extract of an article in response to Christianity Today of August 2002:
“About the future of the Church, George Barna comments: “There are a number of high-profile pastors who have been saying that the local church is the only hope for the future. As emotionally comforting as that may feel, its just wrong. Jesuc Christ is the only hope for the future; the local church is a human institution that God may or may not work through.
“In the near future we will inevitably see new models of the local church that don’t look or behave like the congregational church we have historically fostered. Those new models – as far as they enable us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength – are just as valid and viable as existing models. The more we can place our faith in Jesus Christ and follow the teachings of the Bible rather than devote energy and resources to saving institutions and structures we created, the better off we’ll be”
Though most of you know I hate the word models when used of life in Father’s family, I think he gets it mostly right here. Perhaps a better word would be that we’ll see new expressions of local church life as we listen to the Head not try to design a better a better mousetrap to stuff people into. In fact, those new expressions are already covering the world. I’ve seen many of them in places throughout the world. But they happen not where people are looking for a way to do ‘church’, but where they are seeking to live deeply in relationship to Jesus and finding ways to care for each other as a family. Their emphasis is not on meetings and starting some ‘thing’, but on following him as the source of all life an connecting with others as God gives opportunity. Then he will make clear how to share that life together in a way that stimulates each other spiritually and makes his life available to the world around us.