Unmuzzling a revolutionary

I found the post below on Monday Morning Insight, a website targeted at evangelical church leaders, with a strong and uncritical bias towards the big box and multi-site folks. In the midst of all the cheerleading that goes on at MMI for strategic leadership culture, someone will post an occasional gem from an opposing voice. These gems stand out like diamonds set in charcoal.

The post below is one of those gems. I tried to find its orginal source on the web, but was unable to do so. I have a couple of observations about Choudhrie’s list at the conclusion of this post.

*Victor Choudhrie’s 15 essential steps for changing traditional churches into New Testament churches.

1. Replace professional clergy with Priesthood of all Believers with authority to baptize, break bread and equip fishers of men. (1 Peter 2:9)

2. Replace Church building with “House of Peace.” (Luke 10:5-9; Matt. 10:11-13)

3. Replace programmed Sunday service with daily informal gatherings. The Bride of Christ must have intimacy with her Lord every day and not just for a couple of hours a week lest she become unfaithful. (Acts 2:46-47; Hebrew 3:13)

4. Replace tithing with sharing the enormous financial resources and goodwill available in Christian homes. (Deut. 8:17-18; Acts 5:32-34)

5. Replace the “Crumb and Sip” Holy Communion with simple “Community meals” eaten together with gladness from house to house. (Acts 2:46; 1 Cor 11:20-23)

6. Replace loud music with speaking to each other in psalms and spiritual songs making melody in your heart. (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16)

7. Replace the spectator church to participatory, interactive, prophetic and Missionary sending church. (1 Cor 14:26-31; Acts 13:13)

8. Replace organizational and denominational churches with citywide network of house churches. (Romans 16:3-15)

9. Replace barren church with multiplication. The Bride must not remain barren, but reproduce and fill the earth. (Acts 1: 8; 1 Cor 9: 19-30)

10. Replace submitting to one man – by submitting to each other. We must encourage, comfort, exhort, edify and serve one another. (Galatians 5: 13; Eph. 4: 2, 15)

11. Replace purposeless church with a goal oriented mandate to disciple nations. (Romans 15: 20; Matt. 28: 19)

12. Replace powerless and fruitless church with militants who heal the sick, raise the dead, expel the demons, bind the ‘strongman’ and plunder his possessions. (Matt 11:12, 12:29)

13. Replace all presidents, directors, chairman, secretaries and all the other non-biblical titles with apostles, prophets, and the fivefold ministry gifted elders. Change from a dead organization to living organism. (Eph 4:11; Titus 1:5-9)

14. Replace all Sunday schools, Bible schools, and prayer cells and cottage meetings and call them full-fledged churches. So that they can disciple, baptize, break bread, equip and send missionaries. (1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15)

15. Replace all selfish goats who are members for hatching, matching and dispatching with sheep who take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, strangers, sick and the prisoners. (Matt. 25:31-46)

*Victor Choudhrie is a cancer surgeon by profession. He is a senior Fellow of the American and British colleges of surgeons. He quit his job as the Director (CEO) of the Christian Medical college, Ludhiana in Punjab, India in 1992 to take up full time Church planting ministry in central India. His wife Bindu is also in full time church planting ministry, equipping women to be house church leaders and trainers. God has blessed this ministry abundantly. Large numbers of grassroots level leaders have been trained who have planted thousands of house churches all over India as a result.

My first response to this post was “This is what I signed up for over three decades ago!” As a young Christ-follower, I read my Bible and dreamed of being a part of a revolution that looked like this list. You know what? I still have the dream, though its been tempered by the reality that getting from here to there isn’t all that simple. Even those who lived closest to the spiritual Ground Zero of the church – those in the Upper Room at Pentecost/Shavuot in Jerusalem a week and a half after Christ’s ascension – struggled (quite clumsily, at times) with questions a-plenty about how to function as a waiting Bride in their new kingdom reality.

I imagine most churches would like to believe they’re following a first-century model. Bill and I have been a part of churches across the theological and ecclesiological spectrum, including a valiant year and a half attempt at house churching. Each congregation claimed to have at least some of the items above as their own core values and practices. And, perhaps they have, though the values and practices have often been de-fanged and tamed. (See #12.)

But though I have a hearty “amen” to the list, I wonder how to get from here to there, especially when it comes to items like #3, #8 and #15. (And honestly, I think we can do #6 amped.) I have lots of questions, and the uneasy awareness that many of us here aren’t really interested in going there at all.

And I have to ask myself if I’m really, really willing to pay the price to move from here to there. True confession: I’ve sort of acclimated to here and learned to muzzle that 15 year-old revolutionary inside of me. Every time I pray, “Your kingdom come”, it yanks the muzzle off of her.

But if I keep it off…what happens next?

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2 thoughts on “Unmuzzling a revolutionary”

  1. A month or two ago, I was tracking with these types of changes, but I'm rethinking some of that. Here is why. Nowhere on this list is "Jesus Christ." I want to say "replace a focus on anything else with a focus on Christ." If you're in a large traditional setting, Christ. If you're meeting with a few believers in your home, Christ. If there is a big choir or big amps, Christ. If you sing a cappella, Christ. If you have Sunday school, Christ. If you have "crumb and sip" to remember Him, Christ.

    At least for today, here is where I am. It's not about "how" — it's about "who." It's a simple re-arrangment of the letters h-o-w into w-h-o.

    Thanks for opening the discussion!

  2. I agree with you, Mar. The WHO always trumps the HOW.

    The question for me is that if there's a focus on WHO, some of those dearly-held religious traditions must be questioned. WHO sometimes generates other questions…like WHY. For example, if Christ is the center, foundation and goal of all, then WHY do we do church the way we do?

    I have a feeling that the author of the list would agree that focusing on mechanics of how we do church isn't the point. But is it possible that we build a structure and format for church and miss Christ as a result?

    This was illustrated for me when we were in Israel. Shrines have been ereced on most every site in which Christ lived, died and was resurrected. It required super-powered spiritual imagination to see beyond the elaborate shrines (built out of devotion to God, for sure) in order to discover, for example, the rock inside the shrine along the seashore where Jesus ate a fish meal with his friends.

    Might our shrine-like church practices add unnecessary hurdles to simply encountering Christ?

    (And I'm asking this question as someone attending an Anglican congregation using a formal liturgy!)

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