What follows is one article in a series of 4 articles about ARC that I wrote in 2020 while contemplating the state of the modern Christian Church. These half formed thoughts will eventually become concepts like Symbiotic Organisation, The 3 Mindsets, The Christian’s Bill of Rights and others. At the time I shared them via Tuesday Night Discipleship and then the newly formed Ammi Ruhama Community.
ARC GUIDE LEVEL 1
Ideal for getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community
Para-Church Organizations (PCs) are often specialized organizations that are doing the thinking, processing, and training on behalf of the body but do not claim to be the church. They are upfront and honest about their status but there are some who are not so upfront and I call them Symbiotic Organisations.
Symbiotic Organisations (SOs) that surround Local Churches (LC’s) claim to be the church themselves and cause serious damage to the name of Christ because of their inflexibility and their clear organizational departure from the scriptures. They tend to be local churches that have overstepped the boundaries that constitute what a church is and have stepped ignorantly into the world of parachurch.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have ceased fulfilling some of the work of the ministry, but it means that they have left the ethos of that work and are now more business-focused than community-focused.
So, if the church generally operates without much of a bother within these organizations why call attention to it? What is the actual point of calling out these organizations that have absorbed the Christian church? What is the problem?
The problem is that we cannot outsource obedience, or spiritual maturity, or discipleship and call ourselves obedient children of the Kingdom.
Now, hold on, you say, we have a discipleship program, we hired a discipleship pastor to implement it and our success rate is 85% of people who go through our program are now certified to disciple within our church. It is quality control.
To that, I say, great! What about the rest of your church? The Apostle Paul in Ephesians exhorts the church to raise EVERYONE to full maturity in Christ Jesus. That means everyone regardless of the return on your investment.
There are teachers out there today who are teaching the leaders of tomorrow that you only have to focus on your inner circle and maybe a few outside it because if you spend your time with the masses the return for your investment will be so low that you will have nothing to show for your work.
Jesus does not care about our worldly metrics to measure return on our investments.
An SO is actively and continually redefined to plug holes where people are leaking out the backdoor. They implement coercive rules that dictate attendance, giving, and other aspects of the Christian life that are left, in the scriptures, for the individual believer to decide. They are constantly counting sheep and putting themselves to sleep to those they have left behind and instead of leaving the 99 to go after them, they justify their decision as having cut their losses.
But we know this.
We know it hurts people.
We know it isn’t how the church is supposed to act.
But as one pastor I heard put it, “what do you do? We know this isn’t how the church looks in the New Testament, but what do you do?”
The road out of separatist, institutionalized religion into the global, gospel community is not an easy one. We will want somebody else, “more qualified,” to do the work of the gospel because we have been convinced our whole lives that the work of the gospel is above our pay grade and that what we need to do is get with the program; sign the statement of faith, sign the statement of nondisclosure, etc, etc…until we are so overtaken by the symbiotic organization that it is impossible to distinguish what things are LC and what things are SO.
What do we do?
We reset to factory settings.