What follows is one article in a series of 5 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
Most believers have never experienced church without a certain degree of Symbiotic Organisation (SO) and so don’t even know what to expect if all a sudden their chosen SO doesn’t exist or they move and have to adjust to a new SO. They will have been discipled into an SO and without that safety net they will be lost and in need to be retrained in the current SO. They will sign new contracts of belief, new nondisclosure agreements, new membership paperwork.
Some of our symbiotic organizations go back hundreds if not thousands of years and have little distinction between the LC they grew alongside and their own identities. Some traditions are a little newer but no less affected as they are far more concerned with opening the next franchise and campus than raising up each one to full maturity. I say this because new is not always better than old. Each SO will claim to be the best manifestation of Christianity and yet be in diametric opposition to all other SOs.
SOs are not new and it’s important to recognize the extent that an SO can go beyond what constitutes the Local Church (LC). During the Reformation protestants were martyred for their beliefs, protestant city-states were then established where Catholics and heretics were murdered for their beliefs. A little closer to today and we have Westborough Baptist parading the streets with hate speech against people who need the gospel (unrebuked by the majority of Christian leaders I might add). Senior pastors periodically “falling from grace,” because of the SO they allowed to grow within their church, and what do we do? We replace it with a “nicer,” SO; read “younger”.
Wouldn’t it be nice to reset to factory settings?
I hate “imagine if,” statements.
The LC lives in just about every SO but it is a markedly lower number than the membership of any SO. Some SOs have only one and they are all that is keeping the LC alive within that organization. They are the one making disciples in everyday life, not because they are trained to do it, but despite it. They invite the homeless poor into their homes and give them the shirt off their back, they give the gospel as the answer for everything they do; they are fluent in the gospel. They are the ones using their gifts to further the kingdom of God oftentimes in direct contrast to the SO.
We need a reset; to identify the systems of decay that have set into our churches.
I have 3 questions to ask ourselves to start to root out the SO from our midst.
1. Where have we outsourced obedience?
2. Where have we systematically acted out of fear and self-preservation where we could have acted out of faith and love?
3. Where have we traded the simplicity of our calling from the Spirit for the convoluted callings of the world?
One of the most famous resets that I am aware of produced the song “heart of worship,” from Matt Redman. In an interview with BBC Radio 2 he posited the question about his motives for leading worship, “Am I doing this as a service or am I trying to build my own little thing?”
Paul Tripp in his book, “A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You,” touches on the idea of SOs, he calls them building personal ‘little k,’ kingdoms that sometimes work against the big K kingdom. He writes,
“It’s not just that we all tend to build our own claustrophobic little kingdoms, but we want the people who are around us to keep the rules of our kingdoms as well.”Paul Tripp, A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You
When this happens to a church leader it becomes pandemic throughout the LC and the SO takes precedent over the LC.
Now, let’s be honest. That people have idols and build little kingdoms is not news, but that it is systematic within every LC should alarm us into action.
We need to systematically and organisationally get back to the scriptures for how we ought to conduct ourselves as the people of God.