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The Church that Christ Built · The Free Believers Network
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Aug 27, 2008

The Church that Christ Built


by Darin Hufford

 

I am coming to the conclusion that the Church that Christ is building is something quite different than what we have been taught.

I can recall studying the "5 fold ministry" while in Bible collage. At the time we were taught that those five ingredients are what make up the Church. Where Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are functioning together; there is Church.

Rather than understand that particular verse to mean that these things will exist in the Body of Christ world wide, we have foolishly interpreted it to mean they must exist "underneath one roof". I've even seen Churches advertise that they have the "5 fold ministry" in an effort to draw a larger congregation. There are articles and books written on whether or not these five things are working in today's Churches. When we build a new Church great time and attention is put into making sure that all the necessary ingredients are present when the doors open. The theory is that if we have an Apostle, a Prophet, an Evangelist, a Pastor and a teacher all within our congregation, we will have everything we need to "do Church". It's very much like opening your own McDonalds or Jack in the Box. Once everyone is in place, it's time for business. You need an owner, a manager, an assistant manager, a fleet of workers and you're good to go.

About two years ago I started taking a close look at my life and the lives of people around me. Everyone I know has their own personal circle of friends they hang out with. It may consist of family members, people from work, school, internet or their neighborhood. Every person I know has their "Inner Circle". It usually consists of between 5 to 10 people. They have other friends as well, but those people wouldn't be considered "Inner Circle" friends.

To be an "Inner Circle" friend, there just has to be something that causes a mutual connection between the two of you. There is no recipe for it, and one can never predict when it's going to happen. You can't force it, plan it, cultivate it or even command it to take place; it literally blooms totally on its own. I have found that only certain people can "jell" together on a level of deepness that is not necessarily shared with others. It's almost as though they were made specifically with the other person in mind. In a realm only known to God Himself, these people fit together like pieces of a puzzle. In fact, I believe that they were brought together by the Holy Spirit. Only He sees the inner structure of each individual soul and then finds another soul to connect snug and tight. It's unexplainable and cannot be manufactured or re-created by human hands in a million years.

I have an "Inner Circle" of about 10 people. These are folks that I'm super close with. Our connection didn't happen in an effort to fulfill some Christian obligation to meet together and perform relationship once a week. We all connect because we fit. We knew it the moment we first met. I have many other friends that I absolutely adore and love spending time with. I'd even die for them. They mean the world to me; however they are not in my "Inner Circle."

My four year old daughter brought out a "Hello Kitty" 100 piece jigsaw puzzle the other day and asked me to help her put it together. The box said that it was for ages 6 and up so I knew it wasn't going to come together without my help. As we were laying out the pieces and turning them all picture side up, my daughter started screaming with excitement. She had found two pieces that fit perfectly. The problem was that though they fit, they didn't go. The picture didn't come together. As I took a closer look at all the puzzle pieces I was surprised to find that many of them were the exact same shape. This is confusing for a four year old girl. All she is thinking about is getting the pieces to fit. She is two young to understand that there is a bigger picture being formed when all the pieces are in their proper place.

When man kind sets out to "build a Church" we are very much like my 4 year old daughter. We think that "fitting pieces together" is what it's all about. It's ironic that man would even set out to build Church when Christ Himself said "I will build my Church". Only He has the blueprints and the final picture. The most we can do to build a Church is snap two pieces together that fit, but have nothing to do with each other when it come to the big picture. That is exactly what I see happening in the Institutional churches across America. They try and try with all their might to dictate and orchestrate relationship on their terms, and they do it all in the Name of Jesus. It's no wonder the Body of Christ today resembles a Mr. Potato Head that was put together by a deaf, dumb, and blind 4 year old. There's an arm sticking out of the eye socket, the lips are where the ears go and the eyes are on top of the head. It's a mess.

If a "men's accountability group" is meeting every Tuesday night at 7:00, YOU NEED TO BE THERE!!!!!! We are told that every man needs to come and connect with all the other men because they need that accountability. The problem is that the pieces don't go together just because they say so. A room full of men does not equal pieces that fit. Even if they are all Christian men who know the Lord well! You can manipulate and obligate these men to "go together" all you want, but it won't work. We have been taught if we are Christians, we should all fit together with that "Inner Circle" type of intimacy. WRONG!!! Jerry and Todd may both love the Lord and be brothers in His Name, but neither of them were made to be put together. YES they are a part of the same picture, but they were never intended to connect with an "Inner Circle" connection.

The sad thing is that Jerry is told over and over by his group leader or his Pastor that he needs to connect with Todd out of Christian love. So Jerry tries with all his heart to make that connection. He secretly beats himself up and feels condemned because it's just not happening. He starts to feel rebellious, and eventually wonders if he has the Love of God in him at all. Each week he reluctantly shows up to the men's meeting and makes small talk while glancing at his watch and wishing he was somewhere else. All the while, his leader keeps complaining to the group because he doesn't see the men connecting and talking as deeply as he thinks they should. (This is the story of almost every men's meeting in America) Perhaps the most disturbing thing I've seen in institutional settings is when people do find authentic connection with certian individuals in their Church and it is excused and labeled as a "click." People are made to feel like they are doing something wrong when these real connections happen and many times the leadership does whatever they can to disolve any "Christian clicks" that have formed in their congregation. How sad.

I honestly think we try to "build the Church" because when push comes to shove; we really don't believe there is a Jesus Christ at all. We can't see Him with our eyes and we can't hear Him with our ears, so it makes it pretty difficult to just sit back and let Him build the Church. We jump in and do it because we don't believe in Him. Think about it. I am also convinced that this is why we start "Discipleship Groups" in our Churches. We honestly don't believe there is a Jesus. We feel that it's our job to disciple young Christians instead of just turning them over to Christ. I thought He wanted us to make "Disciples of Christ"? Why then are we intent on making people our disciples? Where in the Bible does it say that WE are supposed to disciple people? We do this because we don't believe there IS a Jesus.

If I disciple Jim and Jim disciples Tony and Tony disciples Greg and Greg disciples Brian; who disciples me? Who disciples the guy who disciples me?? Eventually won't it lead to Christ? Can't we just go directly to Him or do we really need another mediator? (More on this subject at another time)

So where is the Church that Christ is building???

It's your "Inner Circle" of friends. He is the one who brought you together. Not only do you "fit" with these people but you "go together" with them. You fit together in the big picture!!! Your close friends ARE the Church that Christ built. If you look within your "Inner Circle" you will find diverse personalities. One has the personality of an Apostle, one is a Prophet, one is an Evangelist, one is a Pastor and one is a Teacher. Everyone I know has the 5 fold ministry built into their "Inner Circle" of friends!

We spend hours trying to pour our hearts into fitting pieces together that have nothing to do with the original blueprints. We focus our time and attention on building the synthetic church while we neglect the actual Church that He has already built into our lives. I hear people say to me that they need to "go to Church" because they need to find Christian people to connect with. My advice to them is that they spend their time deepening the connections they already have in their life. I believe that everything we need exists within our "Inner Circle" of friends. Ironically, it's usually this same group of friends that we turn down a lunch date with because It's Sunday and we have to go to "church." Those are the relationships that came from Heaven. Those are the relationships we need to spend our time and focus on. Those relationships ARE the Church that Christ built!

 

 


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  1. Gravatar
    Teri

    Hi darin... One day I was standing by the sink after about 40 years of being a "leader". Out of the blue the Holy Spirit said something very insulting to me. " When your friends become leaders, you have one more leader, and one less friend"... That is what I experienced. And when I was a "leader', others experienced that from me. Needless to say,, I've dropped the label and I love the freedom to just be a friend.

  2. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I hear that Terri

  3. Gravatar
    June Melanson

    Wow...what a great article. This has been my heart all along, and what a joy to see others feel this way too. We cannot make things happen. When we try, it is stressful and definitely does not flow with ease, yet when God brings it together, it is just so right and feels so good.

  4. Gravatar
    George LeBlanc

    Thanks Darin I know what you mean by the circle that you connect with , You know it when you meet them and it is rich (spirit)I come more alive in Christ when we talk. Love your article

  5. Gravatar
    Will

    Darin, Very good article. Wish we could realize the value of the gifts and see how they could play out in a smaller group of believers without all the rules and regs.

  6. Gravatar
    Angela Davenport

    Wow, How freeing to know the people in our lives that God wants us to become intimately connected with are brought in my Him! Takes all the performance out of life! All I need is in the people who I relate to on a weekly basis! Building deeper relationships instead of finding new ones. It blows my mind how simple being a believer really is, and how complicated I allowed it to become. Thank You Father for freeing me to become a believer with new eyes!

  7. Gravatar
    Jonjon Bonso

    Thanks for writing this GREAT Article! I'm Jon from the Philippines and I can 100% relate to what you've wrote. I came from a church that just forces pieces to fit. And that really makes me weary, feeling too institutionalize. The walls of the church seems like a prison to me. Last July, I met a group of wonderful people here led by an american missionary. And man, I really had a totally new experience of "Church" with them. Everything just flows from our gatherings, fellowships, hangouts and specially to our baptism day. They are in my "inner circle"; bonded not because of a Church-Obligation but of Love to one another. We always say, "We are the Church!", we really are! I am forever grateful with our pastor (which is also my precious friend), Josh for this. www.joshuatongol.com

  8. Gravatar
    Josh McDowell

    I rated the article a five star... thanks for sharing. What would you say if someone answered your question with Matthew 28:19? We are certainly to be making disciples, just not disciples of Josh - but disciples of Jesus.

  9. Gravatar
    Diana Strader

    Wow... this is what the Holy Spirit has been showing me this past few weeks. Thankyou. You have brought it to a solidified understanding. This article has freedom in it and my husband thanks you. I will stop whining about him not being in church more often...

  10. Gravatar
    Heidi

    I experienced this in the "church" I left over 15 years ago. I was spiritually "abused" there. There was one older woman who honestly hated me, and had someone else in the church who supposedly had discernment of spirits, shake my hand and then tell her I was possessed of Satan. I was told I had to make this woman like me. Another woman who was my age I was told I was to have nothing at all to do with even though we got along well together. I am so scarred from this "church" experience that I haven't been back to this day. I have really been enjoying the posting of Revival or Riots b/c they make me think about all the "doctrine" I was raised with and how it doesn't really sound like God is in it at all. I have been searching for something for a long time now, and I have been raised in "church" since birth. I am a preacher's daughter, condemned by "saints", but loved by God, covered by the blood of Christ, and determined to make my way to heaven regardless of anyone! Thank You!

  11. Gravatar
    John Bridge

    It's happening in Australia too! There's a SHIFTING going on... out of the large church and into the home group... of YOUR choice! My wife and I left the church 6 months ago, after first stopping tithing... after religiously doing this for 40 years! After that stopped, the rest came tumbling like a pack of cards... wahooo! FREEDOM! All the ideas expressed in one of your articles happened exactly the same with us. One day, just after the close of 'church' under the conviction of HS, I started attempting to raise a member from a wheelchair. This was quickly shut down by the "executive" and I was escorted away! How dare just anyone attempt this! In CHURCH, too! Ha ha lol. Well, they have their wish... there will not be any repeat THERE! Found a local group are very enthusiastic in BEING the church in the Perth city night-life precinct, with all miracles and ministry happening. Thank you God for showing us YOUR church!

  12. Gravatar
    Jim

    Interesting! Two comments. 1. A "church" is an "organism" as are all groups like boy scouts and chamber of commerce. The first concern of any organism is its own survival. Anything PERCEIVED as possibly threatening the life of the organism will bring immediate rejection even if its intent is to bring improvement. The tighter one's involvement in the organism, the more likely they are to participate in the rejection. 2. Most "churches" like the "Great Commission" from Mat. 28 rather than the one in Mark, but even then they do not do what it says. Have you checked the Gospels for what comes after such phrases as "and He called unto Him the twelve" and commanded them saying - - - ? THAT is certainly not being done in any experience of mine or anyone I know. According to the dictionary, "observe" means to take note of and do among other things.

  13. Gravatar
    Jennifer

    Awesome article! I did leave my "institutional church" after my pastor used the pull pit to attack my way of ministering the Gospel. I love my Papa and hear very clearly from Him, but the church did not agree with me healing the sick in Walmart or the oval ER rooms. He told the congregations that eventually I would be rejected and would not see them healed. After I left he preached against me to the congregation that I would be cursed because of "the way I left the church", and would go as far as God could take me with such disobedience to the leaders of the church. To this day that has not affected God's ability or plan. I lay hands on the sick everywhere I go and see ALL healed and preach the kingdom has come. People everywhere are coming into identity of who they are and what fullness their GREAT FATHER has given them. Fully equipped to go and listen to His voice, and in that obedience preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cast of devils, raise the dead, and set people free!

  14. Gravatar
    Diana Ward

    ***** Congratulations on having the nerve to talk about this subject. Keep on telling the truth!

  15. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    :-)

  16. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    :-)

  17. Gravatar
    jim

    Darrin, Great article, made a lot of sense to me. It is freeing to trust God to bring the people He wants you to walk more deeply with . I guess we just need to be kind, loving , friendly , and open to people and the Lord will lead us to people who He wants to connect with us. When you've tried time and again to befriend someone and there is no response, I guess you just have to trust that God wasn't drawing you to walk closely together and know He will bring someone else in His time.

  18. Gravatar
    Ruth

    Great article...I believe this is the heart beat of the Gospel of grace in true Christian love with right /with correct fellowship. I've been a believer in Christ going on 43 years and love Jesus more each passing day. I've Brenda a part of just about every denomination / Christian instituheard tion out there; even worked in a Mega church. About 3 years ago I quit. You're articles are wonderful confirmations to me from the Lord that I'm on the right path...the Lord's path which always leads to freedom & life! Blessings to you for speaking out for others that are the journey for true intimacy with God.

  19. Gravatar
    Karin

    This is the problem with the mega Institutional Church - a bunch of pieces that don't fit. After 37 years of frustration we finally got the 'big picture' and left. Great article!

  20. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Karin. Hey, some of us just take a little longer than others. In my case it was after about 8 generations. As long as we finally get it:) Glad you enjoyed the article.

  21. Gravatar
    Joy

    This kind of thinking can also lead to selfishness; ie, I don't "gel" with that person, so I won't even try to reach out the way Jesus did. He didn't seek out people who were only the type he could get along with- he accepted everyone. We all have people who become like family to us, but that doesn't give us the right to make other people feel unwelcome, especially in a church setting. Time spent together is bonding time and most of the time the reasons diverse groups cannot work together is a lack of common experiences.

  22. Gravatar
    Patricia Backora

    . They split up into little cliques and only like those who are EXACTLY like themselves (self-love)The church is something you ARE, not something you go to. Christians sometimes can't stand each other. If they can't even love each other, how will they ever bring others to Christ and do mightier works than He did?

  23. Gravatar
    Brian

    Wow. My wife and I (former church leaders) have just been coming into all of this. Your words echo what we have talked about for nearly 3 years now. We finally told our church last month that we were taking a sabbatical until sept 1st, not really expecting to return as usual, but to at least revist things after our 90 days. I too feel like your church experience could be your circle of friends. Unfortunately here in the region we have lived for the past 5 years, making close friendships seems close to an impossibility wiht the culture difference and the transient nature of this city. Our one desire is to find 2 other like-minded couples and experience real life together. -Brian

  24. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    What if you don't find those people Brian? Will you still leave? I totally understand where you're at in all this. I will however warn you that the chances that you'll find "fellowship" between here and the place you are headed are very rare. Trust me in this: it's still worth it:)

  25. Gravatar
    joseph

    hello, may ask you a question, from Jesus Christ till now what is the of that church that Jesus has built.... when the time he told peter upon this rock i will build my church... what is that now?

  26. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    It's the same thing it was when he talked to Peter. Remember he said that Peter's revelation came from God and not man. THAT'S the rock that He is building His church upon. Pure unadulterated revelation from the Holy Spirit. Not traditional church teachings of men. Today's churches are built on traditions and belief systems. Peter's revelation was not given to him by man. It came from God. That's the rock the church is built on.

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