It is Impossible to Start a Church! -Part 2
-Making and multiplying disciples (Part 1)
In the last blogpost, I startled everyone by saying, “It is impossible to start a church!”.
Let me explain further.
We do not have to focus on gathering everybody into the same building or same community. We do not have to invite a disciple of Christ TO CHURCH. That is a misconception and creates problems in our theology and the outworking of it.
We can be and make Christ's disciples anywhere and everywhere and where God places us.
Disciples of Christ do not need events, programs or buildings to function. They are disciples everywhere, in every place where they live, work and play.
The truth is that we have made much ado about something we should not be making much ado about! It is Jesus’s job to build His church, not ours.
So then what do we DO? But that is not the right question to ask. I get that a lot in the people we meet and trainings we conduct. If we ask the wrong questions, we will seek the wrong answers.
The better question is HOW DO WE MAKE DISCIPLES? We hope to bring you on a journey to making disciples. And as we do that, Christ is building His church, His Body, whom we are.
If we focus on making disciples who make disciples, we will be focussed on releasing & empowering disciples to make other disciples. And the disciples that are made by the one you discipled, might not know you or you might not know them. And that is all fine.
We do not need to create a pyramidal structure with us at the starting point or at the top. Jesus is the starting point and He is the Head of His body. I also don’t think we should be spending most of our time managing people in a system we call "church". Let Jesus be the One who builds His church, and let us be busy about making disciples of Jesus.
So how do we make disciples?
It is interesting that Jesus made disciples for the last 3 and a half years of his life before He died on the cross. He, however did not give us 3 pointers to do it. So what we should do is follow Him and be His disciple and follow the life of Jesus, His ways and His works. In the same way Jesus discipled the 12 apostles, we are supposed to disciple others.
The way Jesus and the Holy Spirit and/or a disciple of Christ disciples you according to His ways, His word and His works, that’s how you do it unto others.
We MAKE DISCIPLES, followers of JESUS CHRIST. To explain further, we make disciples who will follow and obey Jesus as their Lord & Master at any cost. Disciples who know Jesus (not know about Jesus) and walk with Him and are radically obedient to Him.
Well, to relate to “church planters”, my husband and I have in our own right "planted quite several churches" in Singapore and also in Australia. I would prefer to say we have built communities expressing God’s kingdom values, ways, and works. In the same way the disciples formed communities as they broke bread together, shared what they had in common (in Acts 2:42) we can form these communities.
Mind you, Acts 2 is not a formula or methodology but it was an expression of what came about organically and naturally because they were disciples following Jesus and His teachings.
If you use Acts 2:42 as the starting point, this can and from experience have seen that it can end up awry. I have personally heard stories from “pastors” who tried to follow this method, bought a piece of property, thinking it is a better way of “doing church”, tried to bring the church members together to live as a community in the same house, and have ended up with a hot mess of hurt and disillusioned believers.
Let's stop asking the question of how we can "do church".
Rather we should be asking how then can we form and multiply communities for Christ?
In my next short article and blog, I will address this.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to start a church!
It is impossible, because Jesus never called us to start one. That’s because He is building the ONE and only Church for HIMSELF – THE Church - the body of Christ, His disciples from different tribes and tongues globally.
Did it occur to us that Jesus never wanted us to start or build churches, and even more so to start a church building project? If he wanted us to get into building projects, He would have specifically given us the imperative and commissioned us to do so. Yet not even once, did He command His disciples to do that.
In fact, He does not want us to start HIS church. Jesus said, “I will” do it.
Matt 16:18 (NKJV)
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Jesus does it so well, that when He builds His church, the powers of hell cannot withstand it.
How did we even get so far from the original intent and will of God and the commands of Jesus Christ?
Well, He definitely did not ask us to start and multiply churches. Neither did He even ask us to start cell groups or organisations to manage God’s people.
We can and should build community through living out His commands, to love Him and to love others, and express ourselves as His church. But never anywhere in the words of Jesus was there anything close to building a physical “house” for God, or a “house of God”.
He only gave His disciples ONE main thing to DO, the mission to MAKE DISCIPLES. Disciples of Jesus Christ, obviously. And disciples amongst all the people groups on the earth. And we have failed miserably.
Even the apostles who sought to obey Christ, preached what the prophet Isaiah said, that God “does not dwell in temples made with man’s hands” (Acts 7:48, Is 66:49). And none of them registered a church organization, or had any brand name (ABC church) or encouraged starting a faction/denomination (XYZ denomination church) with a group of people that they tried to “collect”. But today we do these things and call this “church”.
Organised church as we know today, and religious activities and programs, does not necessarily a disciple make. But it is true that disciples of Christ definitely make the church.
When you have disciples you will be His church. Church is never about what we do on a Sunday in a service, or even in a cell group (although that might have greater semblance to being His church), but it is who we are everyday, everywhere. Church is Jesus’ disciples fulfilling God’s kingdom plan and purposes on the earth.
So what should our focus be on if church is not what we should be focussed on?
That’s a better question to ask and answer. In short, it’s to make disciples of Christ.
Stay tuned for our next short blog post on making and multiplying disciples of Christ.
Group of Author/s
Karen Gan-Tay - Daughter and lover of God. Disciple of Jesus. Ambassador of the Kingdom of God. Wife. Mother.