However, the survival of the Christian faith and believers living a society-impacting church life, historically, has not depended on professional marketing or hip adaptations of Christ’s teachings to make them more relevant. These have hurt more than helped.
God’s word has prevailed during the last 2,000 years because of its essence- spirit (John 6:63). God doesn’t need us to breathe fresh life into a failing institutional system. He wants us to breathe God in as the Spirit through His word. God gives the Spirit without measure.
“…receive the Holy Spirit” -John 20:22
John 20:19-22 describes ever so succinctly the first meeting of the church, in its infancy, before Pentecost. This was a small group of believers, without professional qualification or religious training, meeting in a non-religious building. When Jesus appeared He didn’t give an inspirational speech or hand out mission assignments. He simply breathed the Holy Spirit into them. God breathed out and they breathed in. This revolutionized them.
“…sent out by the Holy Spirit” -Acts 13:4
Fast forward to Acts 13. The church had been rooted and growing in the Jewish community for at least a decade but the Lord wanted the church to spread to the Gentile lands where Christ had not yet been named (Acts 1:8, Romans 15:19-20). Acts 13 marks a decisive turn in the spread of the church and is the initiation of Paul’s ministry journeys to the Gentiles. Those interested (which should be all of us, eh?) in the so-called missional church should take note here- the Holy Spirit is central in the spread of the church.
The note on Acts 13:2 in the Recovery Version of the Bible is insightful:
This was a great step taken by the Lord for the spread of the gospel of His kingdom to the Gentile world. It was begun from Antioch, a Gentile center in Syria, without the organizing of a mission, without the raising of funds, without human ordination, and without any human plan or method… It was absolutely a move by the Spirit, in the Spirit, and with the Spirit…
“…the manifestation of the Spirit for what is profitable” – 1 Cor. 12:7
Once the church is established in a city it needs to be built up. 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 are two indispensable chapters on the building up of the church as the Body of Christ and how every Christian can and should play a role in this. Chapter 12 emphasizes the role of the Spirit in giving gifts for what is profitable (v.7). Chapter 14 follows to reveal what is the most profitable spiritual gift for the building up of the church- prophesying.
The Spirit is vital in producing, spreading, and building up the church.
Since the Spirit is the essence and reality of the Body of Christ, if all the members of the Body of Christ are daily being filled with the Spirit then they will spontaneously live Christ who died for the church and be one with God’s heart who’s masterpiece the church is. If our Christian life and practice of church is apart from the Spirit, then we will only succeed at producing a human organization that we attend once a week called church. Focusing on experiencing Christ as life through the Spirit will produce the organic Body of Christ.