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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