Johnny and I are in Florida pioneering a new wineskin, a new model of doing church that will turn the world upside down. Did I really say that? Who are we? It’s too big.
But, someone has to do it if we are going to see the Good News of the Kingdom preached to everyone. We live in dark days. The world is sliding into hell so fast, it’s like society is going over the top on a rollercoaster, only this downhill run doesn’t have any safety features.
God has us given the world what it needs. And, He equips us with…
His Word, His Holy Spirit, His promises, His servants.
Gathering the necessary tools, a short list:
- Kingdom DNA. The existing wineskins are growing old. New wineskins need new DNA. KingdomStandards.com encapsulates the DNA we are using. Simple. Complete. Backward compatible. Doctrinally sound. But different from ‘local church model’ DNA.
- People. Jesus said to pray for workers, the harvest is always ripe.
- Funds. God planned that there would be a storehouse. Where is it?
ALERT. If you are committed to the idea that the local church is THE CHURCH and has the sole right to the tithe and the ‘para-churches’ ought to subsist on offerings… just skip this update. You won’t be happy.
But, maybe you are like me. I see things differently.
I think we have an incredible problem with language as it relates to God’s Kingdom. We see in scripture that the church is the people. We gather in many ways, including congregating for the ministry of the word and worship. But, our language is confused and that also means that our thoughts are often confused. See for yourself… The next time you are having a meal with a group of believers, casually ask them where the closest church is. Invariably you will get an answer like… a few streets over… or down that road. Seldom will you get the answer, “We are the church and we are right here.” People conflate ‘congregation’ and ‘church’. Since people equate the congregation with the church, naturally, they feel that the tithe belongs to the congregation.
My question is this… “Where is the storehouse?” The tithe was to be brought to the storehouse so that the priests would be fully provisioned. Not long ago friends of mine had an interruption between their jobs. These folks are priests, just like all Christ-followers, like you and me. We are a kingdom of priests. There should be a storehouse to provision the priests. Could my friends look to their local church to be a storehouse for provision through a job transition? I asked them if they could… My friends said, “Of course not.”
Certainly people can and should commit tithes to the congregation they worship with. And those thus committed should be faithful to that commitment because congregations provide amazing amounts of service and have financial needs.
Johnny and I had an experience that few have enjoyed. We were part of a house church for 15 years. The Church of the New Covenant laid hands on us after we had shared our vision for a home church and sent us out for the work. We learned and experienced a lot. One thing we experienced was the privilege of overseeing a storehouse. Because we had no paid ministers or buildings, we pooled our tithes as a storehouse. Our living-room sized group of people gave away thousands and thousands of dollars, for tires, for fire damage to a house, for a new roof, etc. We even paid for braces for a young lady who had terrible teeth.
I am convinced of a few things…
- Every micro-community, every group of people needs a fellowship.
Neighborhoods, the American Legion, the bowling league - groups that have a shared identity and experience regular proximity are micro-communities.
Within every micro-community there should be a fellowship of believers. Ooops. There we go again with a language problem. We tend to use the word “fellowship” to describe dinners among Christian people, LOL.
Biblically a fellowship is…
- a group of believers
- believers who are committed to each other
- believers who are committed that together they will serve the common good of others.
Square ONE - reach and serve our neighbors in the groups, the micro-communities, that we are part of
We need to awaken!
If we are not reaching and serving the neighbors in our communities, we haven’t gotten to ‘square one’. My community might be a neighborhood or your community may be a group of people at work or someone else’s community might be the group that hangs out at the local bar.
Every believer needs a fellowship within one of their key micro-communities where they are committed to serve the needs of those in that community. In other words, the fellowship needs to commit that together they will love their neighbor. Loving their neighbor includes reaching people for Christ. This needs to be said because people have been taught to believe that we need to divide our secular activities from our sacred activities. Jesus, Paul and all the others did NOT model this!
- Every believer needs a congregation
We need the different expressions of the body of Christ. People who are part of fellowships should also be part of congregations. Just like we receive different nutrients from different types of foods, we receive different types of spiritual substance from different types of Christian gatherings.
There are people who worship ONLY in small groups, there are people who worship ONLY as part of congregations and aren’t part of small groups; all these people who ONLY engage in one type of gathering are impoverished because they miss vital dimensions of worshiping and serving together.
- Congregations should be sending out and equipping. Everyone.
Congregations should send out their people to engage in fellowships in their various communities AND provide the training needed for people to do this. When should training be provided? It should be provided as people DO IT. No ‘mission school’ is needed. People should learn as they go. (Emphasis on ‘GO’) This IS the Biblical model for so many things.
Fellowships that form within communities should start storehouses to help those in the community with needs, especially believers.
We are challenging people in our network:
If your tithe is committed to your congregation, leave it there. They depend on it.
If your tithe is not committed to your congregation, consider this… give ½ of your tithe to your congregation and ½ of your tithe to the Community Storehouse. Or, give what you can.
Why should we tithe?
Because God will open the windows of heaven. The ridiculous arguments about if it is OT or NT are all set aside if we do what God has promised will cause Him to open the windows of heaven.
Do we have any exploding heads among the readers of this update?
Feedback on this update would be appreciated.