Transform your church – permanently

Hands making a circle

I have said before (Church as a community of people) that I am a great fan of the blog Church in a circle.

Their latest post, 10 principles which could transform your church practices – permanently is well worth checking out, as it summarises some of the ‘big ideas’ they have been learning and blogging about.

The pick of the ten?

It is best you read the post for yourself, but here as an appetiser is my pick of the ten principles.

One leader, many teachers, no professors

Stop performing, start empowering

Get people talking – unlock them early

Discovery is the best teacher

Whole body learning (head, heart & hands)

There are lots more goodies in the text and the other five principles. Recommended, not just for reading but for doing.

Trouble is ….

The trouble is, many of these ideas (certainly not all) are more difficult in large church congregations. That’s just one more argument for smaller churches.

But if we are in a larger congregation, that shouldn’t stop us doing what we can (if we are leaders) and asking for change (if we are not). And modelling these principles where we can.

Watch this space for some more blogs on changing the church from the bottom up (coming soon).

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. Eric,
    It appears the Lord is moving and working to bring back a genuine expression of the Body of Christ, although I do feel that organized church as we have known and experienced it for ages is more of a hindrance than a facilitator.
    If you get a chance, take a look at my site.
    Many people take my views and stance as harsh and critical, but I truly see it as reality that needs to be honestly looked at and addressed, simply because the Father is after a people who express, corporately, the life, ways and nature of His Son, and Lord help us, we have been light-years removed from giving that to Him.

  2. Hi Geno, thanks for visiting and commenting. I visited your website and we are agreed about many things. We might differ in that I probably wouldn’t express some matters as strongly as you do, and I feel critiquing the church is a means to the greater end of doing the mission the church has been given by Jesus.

  3. I agree, Eric, and I guess I believe the church is so far off target that direct, hard-core honesty is the only way to go.
    I’m convinced there are people within the churches that know things are amiss, and I also feel people like that have to start coming together in real ways, and giving the Lord room and place to move and operate as the head.

  4. Hi Geno,
    I definitely understand how you feel, for I have, and generally still do, feel the same way. I think it may be worth discussing this further.
    My feeling has long been that the church continues on without changing as much as it should, partly because individual christians feel it would be disloyal to get out and leave them to it. But if we leave and try to do something independent, I think we need to be very clear about a few things, for example:
    1. We have prayed and are very sure God is leading us to take this action.
    2. There are at least a few others who have decided the same, to avoid it being a “one man band” that has its own problems.
    3. We know how to be moderate in what we say, welcoming of new people even if they think a little different, and open to modifying our views.
    4. We deal with the established churches in love.
    5. We don’t have any ego in this.
    6. We have genuine gifts of leadership.
    I personally would have difficulties with some of those.
    How do you feel about the requirements to take steps to separate from the established churches?

  5. I’ll start by saying I am already separated from the established churches. Now, I’ll address your points.
    1. We have prayed and are very sure God is leading us to take this action.
    Serious prayer is utterly essential, but I’m not certain we could be absolutely sure that it is God’s will for us to move and do before starting to move and do.
    As believers, one of the guides we have is God’s word. Daniel’s awesome prayer of confession and repentance in Daniel 9 began with him coming to understand his current reality through the Word of God.
    2. There are at least a few others who have decided the same, to avoid it being a “one man band” that has its own problems.
    Ideally, it would start out with at least 4-6, but, I believe even if it’s only 2 or 3, God would be able to move and work.
    I agree that the “one man band” syndrome is a massive blight on the Body of Christ, whether it’s inside or outside the church “system”.
    3. We know how to be moderate in what we say, welcoming of new people even if they think a little different, and open to modifying our views.
    I basically agree, but I will say there would need to be agreement on a foundational level. For instance, if and when someone suggests to me that it would be best to work from WITHIN the system, and seek to facilitate positive change through “acceptable” hierarchical channels, I would have to stand and say “No, that’s not going to work.” If we remain at odds, we are still brothers, not enemies, but it would be very tough to work together.
    4. We deal with the established churches in love.
    I totally agree, but we need to be clear about what this “love” consists of. If it requires me to think or say that church as it now exists and functions fits in with God’s design and purposes, then I don’t see it as love, but as compromise. If this love forces me to take a soft, wishy-washy stance with what I passionately see as reality, then it’s not love. God loves us with a PERFECT love, but He clearly says he rebukes and chastens those He loves.
    I believe it can be clearly demonstrated that “church” as we see, know and experience it is seriously off target. That is not, for most, a pleasant or enjoyable truth to face, and many or most will see those who speak along these lines as unloving or divisive.
    5. We don’t have any ego in this.
    I agree whole-heartedly. Ego and/or ambition is probably THE most deadly thing within the realm of functioning as the Body. It is a horrible, festering cancer that must be utterly crucified.
    6. We have genuine gifts of leadership.
    I have discovered, or at least I believe I have, that God tends to give gifts on an “as-needed” basis. I may not, at the moment, have leadership gifting, but that doesn’t mean God can’t equip me with it when necessary. Gideon and Jeremiah didn’t appear to be gifted leaders when God first called them.
    Eric, I believe I’m a mess and that NOTHING of substance or value will be accomplished by ME apart from the Lord moving and being the head, willing and doing as HE sees fit. If He sees fit, in one way or another, to work in and through me, then praise His name. I simply find it more and more difficult to sit, wishing and wondering when He will sovereignly move to bring “revival”.

  6. Hi Geno, thanks for those comments. It would seem we are largely in agreement, which is good. I would never think the suggestions I made were anything like rules, just a few ideas, so I think we can both feel happy with this level of agreement.
    By the way, I should say here that nothing I say here is personally directed at you and your choices. I have no way of know if what you have chosen is “right” or not. I am speaking generally.
    Re certainty, I agree we can’t be “absolutely” sure here, or anywhere else for that matter. (We are all fallible.) I guess my only concern is that people have prayed and considered if this is indeed how God is leading them. There are all sorts of principles in scripture, and while I agree with you that the modern western church has drifted alarmingly, I don’t know if I can see a clear scriptural principle that we must therefore leave. Some others see the opposite principle there (I think wrongly). I think this ambivalence in scriptural interpretation makes prayer and Spirit guidance (however we understand that to occur) to be essential.
    My only other comment is that I think God sometimes calls people to stay in the institutional church as “missionaries”. My conviction and inclination is to want to be part of something I can fully endorse, not something I feel is compromised. But I am currently in a church I am not fully in agreement with because we have many opportunities to help individuals and to make positive changes (albeit small, though growing).
    Again, it shows the importance of prayer and Holy Spirit guidance on how to apply scriptures to each one’s situation.
    Thanks for sharing where you and your group is at. I hope God indeed blesses what you are doing.

  7. One leader, many teachers, no professors

    My issue with this is that it is impossible to clarify a difficult Biblical text in this egalitarian way. Some texts cannot be unambiguously interpreted with access to the needed languages, methods and sources, let alone without. Such texts can then only stay unclear (preferable) or become an echo chamber for preconceived notions. The latter even happens with quite clear passages.
    However for sharing and consolidating the practical side of life, it could well be a very good model.

  8. Hi ignorantianescia,
    I don’t see that as a major problem. I don’t think we need to delve much into difficult passages for day-to-day living, and there are commentaries for that, and in most groups somebody has the gift and interest to check up on difficult passages. I think most of the NT teachings we need are pretty clear. Of course, we will sometimes get something wrong, but even the experts can’t always agree.

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