So yes, I started out on what I felt was akin to ‘churchy detox’ back in 2010…maybe before that. At the height of it I think I was almost an iconoclast 100%. I came to feel that the thing I was in no real way resembled the movement that Jesus began. I still think that, to be honest, but having got some things out of my system I’ve been holding the reins lightly on a whole range of things and issues in an attempt to explore something of the essence of the true essentials. Here are some of the things I’m picking up and running with these days:
1. The Lordship of Jesus. Fundamental to those essentials is the Lordship of Jesus over everything, especially over the movement he began. Thats easy to say, but not so easy to work out in the context of the ‘stuff’ of denominations. This means a determination to seek to build everything on his life, teaching and example. The source and inspiration for mission, discipleship, worship and ministry.
2. The radical call to discipleship. It flows that if Jesus is Lord, then discipleship is the only natural consequence. He demands our all, he will not be compartmentalised. The call to follow is a call to the cross. Its a call to follow the extravagant God of grace so wonderfully expressed in Jesus…the live we are called to live should be stunning, astounding even.
3. The coherency of the movement. Whilst I believe that the movement that Jesus started is radically inclusive, I do believe there are central things to be build on. For example, I believe ministry should be build on the Ephesians 4 ministries resulting in a more fully rounded ministry and that no one gift should be valued above another because all are necessary. These are the foundations that Jesus himself laid and we need to explore how that works itself out. ‘True doctrine’ comes out of this apostolically based context…and there are key things that are central to coherent faith.
4. Commitment to mission. I believe that 1 – 3 will make this so much more natural than it currently is. A people on mission will always have a ministry. Mission always leads to ministry because we work in a broken world with broken people. Christendom model of ‘church’ has marginalised mission. Astoundingly, God is like the landowner who continues to go to the market place to look for new workers….I am sure that he wants us to join him in that.
5. Commitment to community. Now, community is not the end result. Community is a means to an end, but its a crucial means. Jesus following is a team sport. We’re family. Community is the prophetic antedote to our Western consumeristic, ‘I-centred’ society. ‘None of us lives for ourselves’ declares Paul writing to the Roman church. I believe, however, that I’ve never really experienced community properly in ‘church’…not to the extent that it has began to resemble communitas (communitas being the description of the new dimension communities take on when consumed by a particular task or mission).
Those, for me, are the essentials.