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Christian Living

We Need an Emergent Mindset

Seek Ways to Make Our Faith Communities Relevant to a Postmodern World

In the early 2000s there was much talk about the emergent church. The idea was to address shrinking church attendance by taking steps to be more pertinent to a younger audience, many who dismissed the religious practices of prior generations. These people weren’t turning their backs on Jesus, however, just the institutional church. Therefore, churches need an emergent mindset.

Though this need is even more pronounced now than ever, we don’t hear much about the emergent church movement anymore. But this wasn’t a fad that died out. It’s more likely that the people doing this aren’t talking or writing about it. My post, “What Happened to the Emergent Church?” addresses this.

Even so, for churches to remain pertinent to changing demographics, they need to embrace an emergent mindset. First, we need some background. In my post I wrote:

“The emergence movement seeks to reimagine church in fresh, new ways to connect with a disenfranchised society that is open to spirituality, albeit apart from the traditional church.”

What does this emergent mindset mean for today’s churches?

Avoid the Status Quo

If churches do the same things they’ve always done, they’ll get the same results. This means that for churches that want to reverse their decline in attendance will need to reverse their practices. This doesn’t mean they must change, or even should change, what they believe and teach—providing that it’s biblical. Instead, they need to reevaluate everything else they do that surrounds it.

Many churches today struggle with declining attendance and an aging congregation. For most of them, the only time they grow is when another declining church closes and those members seek another place to attend.

Advocate Change

To move away from status-quo church practices means to embrace change. Most people, however, don’t like change. This is especially true with long-time church members who have fixed expectations. They may oppose needed changes by threatening to withhold donations. They may even follow through.

In short, they use money to selfishly manipulate the church into doing what they want her to do.

To avoid this unproductive response as much as possible requires teaching about the need to adapt to meet changing societal expectations. Becoming what future generations need and will be drawn to requires an emergent mindset. This can help churches grow numerically and not shrink.

Launch New Initiatives

After about ten years of existence, churches move toward becoming institutions. As they do so, self-preservation becomes key and most other activities become secondary.

If you think your church is the exception to this truth, look at your numeric growth. If it’s stagnant, you are an institution. If you’re seeing healthy, Jesus-focused growth, you may have overcome this generalization. It’s also likely that you have an emergent mindset.

For everyone else, know that doing what’s required to attract the next generation is most difficult from inside an institution. Instead of attempting to do this from within, an alternative is to launch a new initiative that comes from your established church but is not a part of it.

Just make sure that this initiative your launching is truly something fresh and not merely repackaging what already isn’t working.

Make sure your church is around and viable to help future generations encounter Jesus in meaningful ways. Click To Tweet

Embrace the Emergent Mindset

Make sure your church is around and viable to help future generations encounter Jesus in meaningful ways. Doing so will require you to stop doing what you’re currently doing, embrace change, and start a fresh way for people to experience God.

It won’t be easy, but it is essential.

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Christian Living

Who Teaches You?

Do Sermons Belong in Church?

We go to church to learn about God, right? So sermons belong in church, right?

Who told you that? It was likely the minister at your local church. That’s who I’ve heard it from, and church is always the place where I heard it.

Isn’t that self-serving?

Think about it. A church hires a preacher. The church pays the preacher. The preacher tells us we need to be in church every Sunday to learn about God and that he is the one to teach us. One of the things he teaches us is to give money to the local church, often 10 percent of our income.

Why does the local church need money so badly? In large part, it’s to pay the preacher. The greatest expense at almost all churches is payroll, usually over half of their total budget, sometimes much more.

We don’t need preachers to teach us; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Click To Tweet

So we hire someone who tells us we need him and then asks for money so he can stick around. If we didn’t revere our preachers so much and cling to our sacrosanct practices, I’d call this a racket.

As I read about the church in the New Testament, there is plenty of preaching. But I wonder if sermons belong in church. In the Bible, the preaching is always directed at those who are not following Jesus, the folks outside the church.

Yes, there is teaching inside the church, but I’ve not yet found any passage that says it happens every Sunday or is given by paid staff. In the examples I see, missionaries do the teaching when they come to visit or the congregation instructs one another as they share with each other.

John writes to the church and tells them plainly: “You do not need anyone to teach you.” Then he clarifies: “His anointing teaches you about all things.”

So it is God’s anointing, the Holy Spirit, who reveals truth to us. Therefore, we don’t need anyone to teach us, especially a paid preacher. John says so.

I suppose, then, if we go to church to learn, what the preacher should be telling us is how to listen to the Holy Spirit. Once we’ve learned that, the preacher’s job is done; we don’t need him to teach us anymore.

God’s anointed one will teach us and reveal truth to us. Then we can spend Sunday mornings sharing with each other what we’ve learned through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

But that will never happen. Preachers need to be needed, and they need us to pay them. They would never say anything to work themselves out of a job.

They want their paychecks too badly to tell us plainly what John said and what his words truly mean for the church of Jesus: We don’t need preachers to teach us; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.

[1 John 2:27]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Don’t Be a Baby Christian

Learn How to Eat Spiritual Food and Feed Yourself

The author of Hebrews (who I suspect was Paul) warns the young church, the followers of Jesus, that they need to grow up. Though many of them should be mature enough to teach others, they still haven’t grasped the basics themselves.

They persist in drinking spiritual milk when they should have graduated to solid food.

A Baby Christian

When most people hear about this passage, they assume the baby Christians, those subsisting on milk, are other people. They reason that this verse couldn’t be a reflection on their own spiritual status—or lack thereof.

The truth is that I fear the church of Jesus is comprised of too many spiritual infants.

If you don’t believe me, let’s unpack this analogy. In the physical sense, babies drink milk and are wholly dependent on others to feed them. As babies grow they graduate to solid food and begin to feed themselves, first with help and then alone.

This is how things function with our physical bodies and how things should function with our spiritual selves.

Mature Christians can feed themselves and don’t need a sermon every Sunday. Click To Tweet

The Sunday Sermon

So when people go to church on Sunday to hear a sermon, they expect their pastor to feed them. They subsist on spiritual milk. They are a baby Christian. Instead they should feed themselves and don’t need to hear a sermon every week in order to obtain their spiritual sustenance.

When pastors feed their congregation each Sunday, they keep their people in an immature state (albeit with more head knowledge) and help justify their continued employment. Instead pastors should teach their church attendees how to feed themselves, to not need a pastor to teach them.

If ministers do this, they could work themselves out of a job. But that’s okay, because there are plenty of other churches in need of this same teaching.

Some might infer this means that the mature Christians, those who can feed themselves, don’t need to go to church. This is only half correct.

Mature Christians can feed themselves and don’t need a sermon every Sunday, but they do need to meet together and be in community with other believers.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hebrews 5-7, and today’s post is on Hebrews 5:12-14.]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Categories
Christian Living

To Be Served or to Serve Others

Consider Your Attitude toward Church and Your Motivation for Going

When I listen to people talk about church, I often hear what draws them in and what drives them away. They enthuse about programs for them and the youth group for their kids. They gush about the skill of the minister delivering inspiring sermons, the excellence of the worship team, and the size of the church. They never mention opportunities to serve others.

And when they leave a church or complain about the one they’re attending, two common phrases are “it’s not meeting my needs” and “I’m not being fed.” Never mind that it’s their job to feed themselves, and they shouldn’t expect church to do it for them. They attend church with a consumer mindset, but this is not what church is about.

To Be Served

In short, these folks desire for their church to serve them. That’s why they selected it, why they became members, and why they attend. And when the church falters in meeting their expectations, it’s also why they leave, often in a huff and complaining to anyone who will listen.

They expect something in return for their presence and for the money they give. They have a transactional perspective: “I show up and give you money so that you will give me something of greater value in return.” Seldom do they seek opportunities to serve others.

To Serve Others

Only once have I heard someone complain that their church provided no service opportunities for them. My friend quietly found a new church that provided options to serve others. The family quickly got involved and plugged in by serving others.

Jesus freely gave to serve others, and we should follow his example. Click To Tweet

Not only is this an admirable attitude, but it’s also something Jesus modeled. Jesus didn’t expect others to serve him (though some chose to do so); he looked for ways to serve them. He taught them, healed them, and pointed them to the kingdom of God, all without expecting anything in return (Mark 10:45).

In the end, he died for them—and for us—covering our many failures (sins) to make us right with Father God and reconcile us to him. He gave his life for us, so that we could live with him forever (Matthew 20:26-28).

Jesus freely gave to serve others, and we should follow his example.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How a Business Mindset Influences the Church

A Church and Its Congregation Shouldn’t Let a Corporate Mentality Infiltrate It’s Thinking

In “Why Business Practices Hurt the Church” we discussed how business thinking has improperly affected the big-picture perspectives of church. Yet the business mindset goes deeper than that, negatively influencing church practices and attendee attitudes.

Spiritual Outcomes Are Not Quantifiable

The business world measures everything, but when churches try to do that, they end up with a focus on finances and attendance. This is a business mindset, not a spiritual one.

Churches shouldn’t measure their success numerically. And when they do, they shift the focus from what matters to God to what matters to humans.

We can’t measure changed lives, but that’s precisely what matters most to God.

Measure What Matters

I once attended a church’s annual meeting. They spent much time talking about the 103 baptisms they did that year and the 103 people who joined their church. It was a grand celebration of their success and the marvelous manner of God at work.

However, as an addendum to the end of their meeting, they shared their beginning and ending membership numbers. The difference was not 103 but one! In a busy year with 103 baptisms and 103 new members, they had only grown by one person. That meant 102 people quit their church.

Don’t measure what makes you feel good, but count what matters.

Churn

The business world calls this loss of customers churn. If a business churns customers so fast that all their effort is spent trying to stay even, then something is wrong, seriously wrong. But this church wasn’t smart enough to realize that—or at least to admit it.

Some churches call this the back door. They grow when people come in the front door and shrink when these folks slip out the back door. Another apt term is leaking. Some churches leak people—a lot of people.

Churn is bad for both businesses and churches. It must be fixed, yet the approach to do so differs. The business mindset addresses churn by looking at customer service and product offerings. Churches should not.

Their problem goes much deeper than service and product, but until they realize this, they’ll never fix it.

The Consumer Mentality

When people feel free to leave a church, often over the smallest of slights, they view themselves as a customer shopping for the church that offers the most value. This is a consumer mindset, not a godly perspective.

We shouldn’t shop for a church that provides the services we want. Instead we should look for a faith community we can help.

We shouldn’t shop for a church that provides the services we want. Click To Tweet

Consumerism Turns the Church into a Service Provider

When people go church shopping, the church becomes a service provider. Which church offers the best services? Then the focus shifts to programs, service styles, and preaching power.

Instead of asking, “What can the church do for me?” the better question becomes “What can I do for the church?” Don’t seek to be served but to serve.

Customer Complaints

The business that wants to improve, grow, and remain viable listens to its customers. While we all like to hear good news from happy people, the real value comes from the frustrated people who still care enough to share their opinion. So the wise business leader listens.

Yet when most people apply this attitude of a business mindset to their church and share their “concerns” with their pastor or church leaders, they do so with the wrong motives. In reality they want to turn the church into their vision of an ideal congregation that fits them perfectly.

Their so-called concerns are little more than a selfish attempt to change the church into what they want for themselves.

Church is Not about the Customer Experience

Businesses talk much about the customer experience. They strive to make the experience of each customer the best they can in order to retain patrons who will continue to buy from them.

When church leaders apply this to their congregation, they begin pandering to the demands of members in order to maintain their attendance and receive their offerings each week. Yet each move in this direction is a step away from God.

Members Are Not Customers

Applying business practices to church implies that members are customers. This carries with it all sorts of negative connotations, such as a consumerism mindset and the need to maximize the lifetime value of members, that is their donations.

The best response is for churches to do away with membership. After all, it’s not biblical.

While modern business practices do much to advance the cause of capitalism and commerce, these same thoughts hurt the church. We must keep this from happening.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Church Membership Has Its Privileges

Why We Shouldn’t Join a Church

A few decades ago American Express unveiled the tagline: “Membership has its privileges.” Their ads implied that great benefits awaited those who qualified to carry one of their exclusive cards.

To start, there was a high annual fee and, as I understand, minimal annual levels of usage for their various membership tiers. The card became a status symbol, separating the fortunate few who carried it from the masses who didn’t. It generated pride and caused envy.

Church does the same thing when it touts membership. To become a church member, there are hoops to jump through: attend classes, agree to certain teachings, follow specific rules, and commit to donate money, possibly even at a certain annual level.

Once we do so, the church accepts us as one of its own. We are fully embraced and become one of the flock. We are elite, and, even if we won’t admit it, we swell with pride over our special status. Now the church and her paid staff will care for us.

To everyone else, they offer tolerance but withhold full acceptance. After all, church membership has its privileges.

There’s one problem.

Church membership separates attendees into two groups. Click To Tweet

Church Membership Is Not Biblical

We made it up.

Having members separates church attendees between those on the inside and everyone else; it pushes away seekers. Membership splits the church of Jesus, separating people into two groups, offering privileges to one and instilling resentment in the other.

It is a most modern concept, consumerism at its finest.

To my shame, I have been a church member. Never again.

Although perhaps well intended, membership divides the church that Jesus wanted to function as one. Jesus accepted and loved everyone, not just those who followed him or offered money.

Paul never gave instructions about church membership, Peter never commanded we join a church, and John never held a new membership class.

I confess my sin of being sucked into this unholy institutional practice of church membership, at both the local and denominational level. I stand in horror over my role in promoting division among the followers of Jesus. Father, forgive me.

Though I will never again join a church as an official member, I am open to attend one, to immerse myself in community, to engage in corporate worship, and to serve others.

This is what church should be. This is what the early church did. This is what Jesus wanted when he prayed for unity. And this is what I will do.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

What is Church?

The Church of Jesus Needs to Focus on Three Things and Master Them All

In our normal usage, church is a building, a place we go to—often on Sunday mornings. I’ll be there later today. Other definitions for church include a religious service, organized religion, and professional clergy.

Yet a more correct understanding is that we are church, both individually and collectively. We, the church, are an organic body, not an institution, religious service, or profession. If we are the church, we can’t go there; we take church with us everywhere we go—or at least we should.

As the people who comprise the church of Jesus—his followers—I see three things we ought to be about, three things that warrant our focus:

Worship

Life isn’t about us; it’s all about him. Or at least it should be. As individuals and as a group we should worship him, our reason for being. Though God doesn’t need our praise and adoration, we should need to give it to him. We worship God by thanking him for who he is and what he does.

We worship him by praising him for his omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent greatness. This can happen in word, in attitude, in action—and in song.

Singing to God about him is a common form of worship. Yet at too many church services this musical expression of faith has turned into a concert. While this is not necessarily bad if the concert connects us with God, it is bad if all it seeks to do is entertain us.

By the way, when we say we don’t like the music at church, we’ve just turned the focus away from God and back to us, to our desire for entertainment over worship.

Beyond this we can also worship God in silence and through solitude, two pursuits that most people in our culture fail to comprehend. In fact, in our always on, always connected existence, even a few seconds of silence makes most people squirm, whereas solitude drives them crazy.

Yet we can worship God in both.

In addition we also worship God by getting along with other believers and serving those outside our group.

Worship is about God, and community is about our fellow believers. Click To Tweet

Community

The church as a group of people should major on community, on getting along and experiencing life together. Community should happen during our Sunday gatherings, as well as before and after, just hanging out.

Community is following all of the Bible’s one another commands, which teach us how to get along in a God-honoring way.

At some church services people scurry in at the exact starting time (or a few minutes late) and flee with intention at the final “amen.” They miss the community part of church; they miss a key reason for going. Remember, it’s not about us.

If we don’t like spending time with the people we see for an hour each Sunday morning, then something’s wrong: not with them, but with us. So, before we point fingers at others, we need to realize that the problem of why we shun spiritual community lies within.

Help Others

Worship is about God, and community is about our fellow believers. What about others? If we only focus on God and our local faith gathering, we stop too soon and fail to function as the church Jesus intended.

Jesus served others, so should we. And we shouldn’t serve with any motives other than the pure intent to show them the love of Jesus. Loving others through our actions may be the most powerful witness we can offer.

History is full of examples where this indeed happened, when the world saw Jesus through the tangible love of his followers.

A church body that looks only to God and at each other is selfish. A church that only gazes heavenward or internally is a church that is dying. We need to let our light shine so that the world can see (Matthew 5:14-16 and Luke 11:33).

The world watches us; they hope we’ll come through; they want to see Jesus in us.

That’s what church is. We worship and we build community so we can love others in his name.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Three Church Priorities: Butts, Bucks, and Buildings

The Things Religious Leaders Focus on May Not Matter to God at All

Modern church priorities look at attendance, offerings, and facility size. Perhaps this is because the world measures success by the number of people, amount of money, and size of buildings. We’re more like the world than we care to admit.

More people showing up for church each week is good. A larger campus impresses. Bigger offerings allow for more of the same. After all, churches with a sizeable attendance garner attention. They receive media coverage. Books celebrate them and elevate their leaders to lofty pedestals.

This is how the Western world defines success. And the church buys into it without hesitation. These measures of success become the focus. But this focus is off, even looking in the wrong direction.

The triple aim of most churches—attendance, offerings, and facility size—doesn’t matter nearly as much as most people think.

Said more bluntly, most church leaders focus on the three B’s: butts, bucks, and buildings. These become their church priorities.

Butts

The greater the attendance, the more popular the church and, most assuredly, the more God has blessed it. Really?

Look at Jesus. After performing a miracle to feed over five thousand people, the multitude want to make him their king, by force if needed (John 6:10-15). Jesus could let them, but he doesn’t.

Instead of playing to the masses to further his ministry and advance an agenda, he launches into a hard teaching that offends them, and most turn away (John 6:60-66). It seems Jesus is more concerned with the quality of his followers then the quantity. Maybe we should follow his example.

Bucks

The church institution needs money to operate. Ministers need their paycheck. Mortgage payments have monthly due dates. If the offering sags, the church leadership panics. Boards instruct their teaching pastor to preach more about money. Yes, it happens. I’ve seen it.

Yet Jesus says not to worry about the future (Matthew 6:34). This includes money. Although Jesus had people who financially supported him, he never took an offering. He never gave a plea for money. He trusted his Father to provide. So should we.

The church of Jesus should be about changed lives, community, and commitment. Click To Tweet

Buildings

Churches need a lot of people to give a lot of money to pay for staff, which is well over half of most churches budgets. Next up is their buildings, which is their second greatest expense.

Together, salaries and facilities account for 80 to 90 percent of most church expenses, sometimes up to 100 percent. Imagine using all that money instead to help people and address both their spiritual and physical needs.

When Jesus said, “I will build my church (Matthew 16:18), he wasn’t talking about a building but a following.

Jesus never said, “Go build me a grand building for worship, a multimillion dollar monument.” But he did say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). That’s hard to do if we’re stuck inside a church building.

The Right Church Priorities

Instead of an unhealthy, unbiblical focus on the three B’s, what if we and our churches instead looked to the three C’s of changed lives, community, and commitment?

  • Jesus wants changed lives. He says, “Repent and follow me,” so that he can reorder our priorities. In fact, most all he says is about changing our perspectives of how we live.
  • Jesus wants to build a community. He calls it the kingdom of God, but we made it into a church. Shame on us.
  • Jesus expects our commitment. He desires people who are all in. He wants us to follow him, to serve him, and to be with him (John 12:26). That’s commitment, and that’s what Jesus wants.

If Jesus focuses on changed lives, community, and commitment, so should we. These should be our church priorities. Let’s push aside butts, bucks, and buildings, because these things just get in the way of what Jesus wants for his followers.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Why Should We Go to Church on Sunday?

Discover What to Do on the Sabbath

Most Christians have a practice of going to church on Sunday. Some people even go twice. Why do we do that? Why do we go to church every Sunday?

The quick answer that most people would give is that’s what the Bible says to go. But I don’t see that in the Bible. Yes, it does say that we should not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25), but this says nothing about church or Sunday. It just says to pursue spiritual community.

Why Sunday?

It’s always perplexed me why we meet on Sunday and not Saturday. Granted, Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, on Sunday. And his followers happened to be together on that day, but they were hiding out of fear, least they too be captured and crucified (John 20:19).

And Paul did tell the people in Corinth to set money aside on the first day of each week for a special collection for the people in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:2). But this was a command to one church for a short-term initiative.

When it comes to Sunday, that’s about it. By the way, the word Sunday doesn’t appear in the Bible. So meeting on Sunday seems more of a tradition than anything else. I certainly don’t see this commanded in scripture.

What about the Sabbath?

The word Sabbath occurs 150 times in the Old Testament. God gives a lot of instructions about the Sabbath. Two themes reoccur.

Rest: First, the Sabbath is a day of rest (Deuteronomy 5:14 and about fifteen more places). God tells his people to do no work on the Sabbath. The other six days of the week are for work and the seventh, the Sabbath, our Saturday, is for rest.

This is what God did when he created us. Six days of work followed by a day of rest. There’s a nice rhythm to this. Work and then rest. Our rest on the seventh day gives us a break from our work. This prepares us to work more effectively for the next six days.

Holy: The second key element of the Sabbath is that it’s holy (Exodus 20:8 and about twenty more places). The Sabbath is set apart. The Bible also says to execute anyone desecrating the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14). That’s some serious stuff.

But what does it mean to keep the Sabbath holy? Though we can find some guidelines in the Bible, it’s up to us to determine what this means for us today and how to apply it.

Supporting Thoughts: Here are some secondary biblical versus about the Sabbath.

Yet to Isaiah, God also says, “I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.” This includes their Sabbaths (Isaiah 1:13). And in Hosea, God says he will stop the Sabbath celebrations (Hosea 2:11). This certainly gives us something to contemplate.

We must pursue intentional spiritual community. Click To Tweet

What Should We Do?

Interestingly, just as I’ve found no command in the Bible to meet every Sunday, I’ve yet to find a verse that tells us to meet every Sabbath.

Though some of the Old Testament’s celebrations did fall on the Sabbath, which required the people to have special observances on those days, this certainly wasn’t an every-week occurrence.

If we’re going to do things according to the Bible, the one essential command is that we must not give up meeting together. This doesn’t necessarily mean church, Sunday, or weekly.

It simply means pursuing intentional spiritual community, and though Sunday church may be one way to accomplish this, it’s not necessarily the best way.

Next, if we want to factor the Old Testament into our thinking, we should set aside one day for rest and keep it holy. That’s about it.

How we do this seems up to us to determine.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Are You an Outsider at Church?

Heed the Call to Rebel Against Status Quo Religion

All my life I’ve attended church, and throughout that time I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Although participating in a faith community, I never truly felt part of it. For the first years of my life this was because those on the inside effectively kept me at a distance, all while offering some degree of acceptance.

(I’ve covered this in my not-yet-published memoir God I Don’t Want to Go to Church. Though I’ve written the book, I’m not ready to send it out into the world. It’s been through two developmental edits, but it still needs polish.)

More recently I’ve been an outsider at church because of my own doing. It’s a character flaw, of sorts.

Questioning the Status Quo

I have this insatiable desire to constantly ask, “Why?” I’m always questioning church practices and challenging traditions that I don’t find rooted in Scripture. The common response—either directly or indirectly—is “But we’ve always done it this way.” This causes my spiritual angst to boil.

As I do this, I contest status quo religion, seeking a better way—a more biblical way. Though I often say I desire to worship God and serve him in a fresh, new way, the reality is that I seek to worship God and serve him in an old, scripturally sound way.

My spiritual impertinence makes people uncomfortable. They don’t like someone who confronts what they hold dear, even if their affection for it comes out of an unexamined, lifelong habit that has little or no biblical basis for truth.

I make them uncomfortable, and they keep me an arm’s length away.

Religious Rebellion

In this way, I’m a religious rebel at heart. I always have been. My role model for this quest is Jesus. May I be more like him.

I celebrate him as he continually confronts status quo religion; as he frequently attacks the religious leaders of the day for their hypocrisy; and most comforting of all, as he embraces those on the outside—like me—as he sharply criticizes those on the inside. Oh, how his acceptance warms my soul.

No Longer an Outsider at Church

Because of Jesus, we’re not on the outside at church looking in. Instead, we’re with him, and that’s all that matters. Click To Tweet

With Jesus, and through Jesus, I’m no longer an outsider at church looking in. Instead, I’m with him. And that’s all that matters.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.