What Now? The Urgent Question among Evangelical Christians...

Everywhere I meet Christians I am increasingly hearing a cry of What Now? I am not talking about lukewarm uninvolved churchgoers here. I am talking about people who really want to move ahead with the Lord. Christians who are in financial trouble and are asking, "What now?"  Christian who have been in great meetings of thousands and want to know,  "What now?".  Christians who have had years of ministry input into their lives want to know, "What now"? Christians facing crumbling marriages want to know, "What now?" And on and on...

At the heart of this question is a crisis for the Church that is now becoming more and more evident and cannot be just swept away with pious religious sounding homilies amounting to "hang on", "trust the Lord", "have faith" etc. Yes these are important truths but God's people are getting restless, they know in their hearts the Lord has more for them but right now they are being swept under a tsunami of disasters that I see everywhere I meet my fellow believers.

"Jesus is Coming!" is the most common answer from the pulpits for probably the last 70 years to the question 'What now?" and especially popular since Israel as a nation came into being in 1948.  Yes that's wonderful but what about my life now and the decades ahead if Jesus does not return in say the next 30 years?

"Seed-faith giving!".  That is the most common answer to the very urgent question of "What now about my urgent financial problems?".  And 30 years later of seed-faith teaching and giving with millions waiting for their 100 fold return you would think the church should by now be flooded with finances from a veritable proliferation of Christian millionaires....but honestly, is that the reality we see after decades of this preaching? Mind you it does seem to work for prosperity preachers on TV...the multiple mansions, private jets, luxury living.

"You need more teaching" is the catch-all answer to a multitude of "What now?" problems from crumbling marriages to successful living. And for that we have a 100,000 new Christian books each year, wall to wall 24 hour TV preaching, endless meetings, tapes, DVD's and the more "teaching" we get exposed to the more confused Christians become as to "What now?". As if the key to our problems is knowledge....

I do not mean to denigrate the good preaching done by many faithful servants of God. We need teaching, we need faithful giving and we need to have the wonderful hope in our hearts of the coming of our Lord.  But I want to be honest with and tell you why this is no longer going to be enough in the years ahead.

You've heard the old story of the mother eagle that takes the feathers out of the nest so the little one gets out and fly? Well something like that is busy happening in the world.  The tsunami of problems now coming down on our families and churches are of such a nature that the old ways of "doing church" is not going to answer these problems and God is busy taking out the feathers in our comfortable nests and forcing us to fly to new destinations, new approaches, new visions...

Let me give you an example of what I believe is the coming new church of the future...

Before 1600 AD the whole world had about the same economy regardless of where you lived and about the same standard of misery.  Then something happened in the west to propel mankind into unheard of levels of prosperity. Before this time economic production consisted of each family producing for their needs and with a little surplus to trade in town.  This was basic home production and universal poverty.

Then men realized that if we wanted to really do big things like build a ship to trade overseas or build a railroad to connect cities for trade we cannot do this by individuals doing their thing. We need to get people together to work together, we need to get capital savings together. That was the start of the first corporations and the first banking institutions, started for a specific purpose: Create a receptacle to bring people and resources together to tackle big problems that you cannot solve on a family level.

What they discovered was that by bringing people together with their labour and technical skills and combine that with their savings you can accomplish really big things that have far more value to everyone than all those people working for themselves at home.  That launched the Industrial Revolution and with it the enormous wealth creation of the last several hundred years.

Now let me apply that principle to the church and the issues and problems before us...

There is precious little that you can accomplish on your own.  God has created this world in such a way that you are continuously confronted with problems and challenges.  The vast majority of those problems He has created the world with cannot be solved by individuals, they can only be solved by people working together. God forces us to need one another so we can develop the character He wants in us for eternity. That is what you leave this earth with, your character, all the problems stay behind. He wants you to see His "fruits of the Spirit" developed in your life. For that He gives you problems in this life to tackle but He expects you to work with others otherwise they will never get solved. So He gave us families and the church...

Corporations and banks were created by men to bring labour, skills and capital together to solve problems.  Nation states were created to bring larger pools of labour and capital together to solve even bigger problems.

But here is the big problem we are now facing: While companies, banks and government were functioning reasonably well we could carry on with church as a Sunday morning meeting, get people saved and wait for the return of Jesus. But something has been happening over the last 20 years that is now becoming very urgent:  Governments, banks and corporations are no longer functioning. They are no longer solving problems. They are creating problems. The result is that massive unemployment, social dislocations, non-functioning schools, collapsing health standards...and I can go on and on....the world system of order and productivity and social standards are in an accelerating state of collapse.

This is starting to make increasing hardships for our Christians who are functioning or not functioning in these areas of life.  It is affecting our marriages, our finances, our schools, our children.  How do we as leaders of the church called by God to be shepherds of His flock to care for them, to protect them from wolves, to feed them, how do we respond to these challenges? Well I know what is not going to work in the future. More meetings, more sermons, more books, more seminars...these are not going to be the future of the church. At some point we are going to have to roll up the sleeves and get to work!  With every great challenge that faces the world we need to stand up and say. "The Church of Jesus Christ has the answer!"  And then we have to go out and do it!

The answer to "What now?".  Is the same as it has always been:  We face such enormous challenges that none of them can be solved by any of us individually. We have to find a way to bring God's people together with all the resources they possess in the form of their anointing, their labour, their skills, their love, their dedication, their capital...take all these and find a way to harness those giftings into an army of the Lord to do the work of God in the earth.

We can no longer just carry on with church as a Sunday morning meeting because at its core is a lie: We assume that if we just give that person in that meeting more knowledge, another sermon, another exhortation, he can go out on Monday and armed with faith and knowledge he can conquer the set of problems facing him and his family.  Yes some problems can be solved by a person and his faith in the Lord. But most of the challenges facing our people today can only be solved by being part of a larger group of people working together. And that is what the Church, the Body of Christ is all about. But we are not there yet...

As much as people talk about "the Body" or "the fellowship of the saints" the sad reality is that our "fellowship" revolves around meetings, talking, listening passively etc. I do not believe this is the future of the Church. I believe the Lord is going to take those comfortable feathers out of the nest and He is going to force us into a new form of fellowship - a family of believers whose fellowship is centred around the work we do together and not the talking we do together. 

And that means to me that the future of the Church organization is communities of believers.  We are going to come together with our skills, our savings, our anointings, our visions and we are going to tackle the big problems of this world together as a witness to the world. We are going to feed the hungry (farms!), we are going to heal the sick (hospitals and clinics where we can, miracle healings where we need to), we are going to have good news for the poor (in our communities there is abundance for all), we are going to save the lost.

"What now?" : I don't know about you but I have had enough meetings, sermons, books, talks to last several life times. I want to get on with the work of God and I need to find others of God's family who want to work. Work while it is day, work because God condemns slothful lazy servants, work because we are liable to Him for our talents that must produce for His kingdom, work because there is world to win for Christ and as always the labourers are few.  But I cannot do any real lasting work for God on my own...I need to be a part of a larger group of believers who want to work together to get things done. I am looking for those who can see this vision...

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