As parents we were recently delighted by a mobile phone message from our son and daughter-in-law, in their mid-thirties, who wrote “Hey Dad, we had church last night (a weekday night), we had thirteen people around without inviting anyone. When we checked our watches it was four hours later and no-one was bored! Jesus literally led the meeting from start to finish! I am so excited because it’s the first time I have experienced what I have read in books by Frank Viola and co” (see e.g. Viola’s Pagan Christianity and Re-Imagining Church).
God had brought them back to South Africa from a three-year ‘cell church’ plant in Southern California under a great cell church mentor. Initially they were disappointed to leave the USA because they had just been invited to be ‘pastor of worship’ in a thriving congregation in Sacramento, further north, BUT had been refused an extension of their three-year religious workers visa.
After much job-hunting, my son secured work as a computer science teacher at a Christian school in Port Elizabeth. One weekend he and I took a few days’ break, in beautiful St. Francis Bay, for listening for God’s voice. Immediately God began to speak, and my son realised that God was busy weaning them from institutional church/Christianity and preparing them for another more biblical way of being church.
As he and his wife often tell us these days, they are in no rush – they want to spend a year or so trying to shed the ‘religious spirit’ traditional churches fall into and take on a truly biblical family lifestyle that becomes the foundation for the church plant. One reason why they left their very relaxed charismatic congregation was God’s convincing them of the disastrous results of the ‘pastor-led’ church (‘pastor’ is mentioned only once in the NT, and then in the context of other ministry gifts: see Eph. 4:11ff) plus the disastrous clergy-laity divide of the past 1700 years of church history! Small wonder most Christians are lulled into a deathly passivity in so many churches, leaving the work to the ‘minister.’
And so the revelation continues…