A few weeks ago, I was reading a post in a pastor’s blog who mentioned the book “Mere Churchianity” by Michael Spencer, known as the Internet Monk. Before reading that post, I knew nothing about this man, his ministry or his message. Sadly, he has recently passed away, but behind he leaves an inspiring journey of self-discovery and countless messages of truth, rebuke and prophetic encouragement which have certainly got me stirred up and uplifted, as I recognise myself in much of what he says and where the Spirit of God was leading him and countless others.
I had planned to purchase the book and then take it away on our three-week holiday to read whilst away, but last night as I lied in bed, I took a glance at it and something in me felt powerfully drawn to the book and to the revelation that I anticipate lies within it. On the back cover, I saw a sentence which reads: “Have you left the church in search of Jesus?” The moment I read that, I just knew the right book had just landed on the right person’s lap and it was no accident.
I have only read the first chapter, but even reading the last paragraph in that chapter, I realise I have not been going mad in these last few years in thinking that church as it stands today has lost its power, its meaning, its anointing, its purpose, its authenticity and worse still its Christlikeness, and as a direct result of that, people are jumping ship as if they knew that The Church, as we understand it today, is heading for impending disaster and extinction. For years now I have been sharing this kind of message with many Christian friends and acquaintances, but I have often encountered much disagreement and rejection for thinking this way. The truth is that in saying these things, people perceive you as rejecting Jesus, but nothing can be further from the truth. Declaring that the church has lost its way stems not from a heart that despises the Bride of Christ, Christian Brothers and Sisters or even God, but from a heart which is trying to silence all the voices around it except the voice of the Lord, a heart that strives to be true to itself and a heart which refuses to conform to men’s dictates for the sake of keeping the status quo, because there is just too much at stake and because the time is so, so short.
Let me show you that very last paragraph in the first chapter of this book. On reading that, I felt such freedom, such a personal touch from God, such relief that someone would feel what I am feeling, seeing what I am seeing and describing what myself and thousands of others are feeling right now with regards to the Western Church, its ways and its self-serving mechanisms.
“Mere Churchianity is written for people who have come to the end of the road with the church but who can’t entirely walk away from Jesus. In the wreckage of a church-shaped religious faith, the reality of Jesus of Nazareth persists and calls out to them. I am talking to those who have left, those who will leave, those who might as well leave, and those who don’t know why they are still hanging around.
I am writing to the outsiders who might be drawn to God, if it weren’t for Christians.”
I am planning to continue to read the book, and as I am touched deeply by some of the things which Michael denounces in today’s church and today’s church-shaped spirituality, I will write posts to express my views on those particular issues.
I hope you can join me in this exciting journey and that I can be blessed by your insights and feedback. I know many out there share the views expressed in this book and they feel overwhelmed by those feelings, just as I was. But please know you are not alone. The Church and those at its helm try to silence these cries within the Body, but I believe they stem from the Spirit of God breathing a new thing in the hearts of those who listen to the still small voice daily, and no one and nothing will ever be able to deter the passion in God’s heart for His Bride or the cries of his watchmen and women.
Yesterday I listened to a sermon by Max Lucado which spoke of man’s tendency to put people and God in a box. Max said that once we put a person, a group of people, the Church or even God in a box, we like to leave them there, because to allow them out, demands energy on our part and admitting that we were so wrong in the first place. It is my belief that this is exactly what is happening in the Church today. Not only many who are leaving, but even pastors and people in church leadership are fully aware that the church is marching on in its own strength at present, following its own voices and vision. However, admitting that God may be done with the old and is bringing in a new thing actually means effort on their part and accepting the scary prospect of the need for a radical change and maybe even the loss of their job and a meaningful ministry which gave sense and a purpose to their life, not to mention financial support for them and their families.
I leave you with another thought from Michael: More church does not equal more of Jesus in us. In fact, the evidence very much testifies to the contrary.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2