Sunday, January 08, 2006

"The Authentic Church"

Kerux has been preaching a new-year's mini-series on "the Authentic Church" from Acts 2.42-47 (you can hear this morning's sermon--#2 in the series--here). This has been particularly insightful in light of so much of the debate spurred on by those of emergent persuasion on what counts as "authenticity."


The Authentic Christian Church is one which is characterised by:

1. Devotion to doctrine.
2. Devotion to fellowship.
3. Devotion to the Lord's Supper.
4. Devotion to prayer.
5. Devotion to personal spirituality.
6. Devotion to evangelism.


While there were several points that struck me during the messages, there was one thing that I couldn't get away from: The church is people.

If the church is to be authentic, the people must be authentic. The church can only be as devoted to anything as the people that make up the church are. That's why so many churches today are Program-Driven® and inauthentic.

The program drums up some sense of purpose ("let's do this together"). People go at it like kids with their toys on Christmas morning. The problem is, of course, that the excitement was in the program, not in the gospel itself. And when the week after Boxing Day comes, the Christmas toys are just as boring as last year's... and so off to a new church they go, always looking for the next big evangelical fad.

So... emergent people are sick of inauthenticity? No more than me. And to be honest, I think they sound rather arrogant when they go around boasting about how they are the ones sick of inauthenticity.

But the answer is not experience-driven church. The answer is to become an authentic Christian, who is devoted to all these things, so that I can influence others around me. As they become devoted to these things, the gospel spreads. Then what have you got? Without even knowing it, you've got an "authentic church": rooted in delight in God, to the glory of God.

1 comment:

tomgee said...

Amen!

My former church was a fan of the Purpose-Driven stuff. Using ideas from the "Purpose-Driven Church," they put in place a set of five classes that everyone in the church was supposed to work their way through.

Each class taught some basic elements of the Christian life. The first class was on the church (both big 'C' and small 'c'), the next class on personal spiritual disciplines, the third on ministry and service, the fourth on evangelism and the fifth on worship.

While that was fine as far as it went, I always thought about the program as sort of being "catechism lite". (And I created and taught the discipleship course). How thin was the milk being fed to the people. How great was the need for much weightier spiritual meat!