painting a new picture 2
In my last post I started to paint a picture of a life focused on prayer and intimacy with Jesus. From here I want to continue to sketch what Christianity could look like, Imagine homes all over the world being meeting places for believers who pray, worship and study scripture together, eat together, share life together, and mission together , where we develop a faith / risk environment, nurturing all the gifts of the Spirit then learning to put into practice the things that are discovered? Imagine being so consumed with the presence of God that everywhere we go there is something different about us that people ask us what is it with you? Imagine what resources would be released if we were not consumed with the preservation of a central organisational structure? So rather than serving the “local church” and getting consumed with meetings and church politics, we could be going into the streets, doing the school run, working at the office, healing the sick, being peace makers and demonstrating the kingdom of God with signs and wonders and living radically differently.
I do think for the main part, decentralisation has to be important. We are not trying to build an alternative empire. We want to see people released, empowered. We are called to demonstrate the kingdom of God by making disciples that are like salt and light, yeast through dough in every sphere of life. One of the greatest advantages we have now in the 21st century is the ability to communicate easily, the underground rave movement of the 90′s demonstrated the ability to gather hundreds of people to a certain place at a certain time without the massive infrastructure of an administration center! Within a few minutes at the keyboard (almost all of us) can e-mail / text / message and communicate with hundreds of people to inform them of events and gatherings of Gods people and release the thousands of pounds of finances that are tied up in “administration” to the poor and needy, both within our culture and beyond.
I struggle to see the centralisation of finances in scripture for any other purpose than for redistributing to the poor and for the benefit of the community (see acts 4 v 32) yet it seems to me that “tithing” is used as a tool to underpin the functionality (mechanics) of the congregational model of church we have inherited (since the Constantinian era?) But is this the model St Paul calls for and demonstrates? Is tithing just a continuation of the temple tax system? For me personally I try to live with the understanding that all I have is Gods, everything, my home, my time, my gifts and talents and especially my money. And I personally try hard to be faithful to that principle.
I suppose I just don’t know how fruitful our inherited models are and I’m constantly challenged to think differently, more simply? I think history speaks for itself where there has been movement it’s been a simple reproducible formula with the DNA of the creator surging through it, Christ at the Center consumed by the Spirit and fuelled by outrageous faith.