One of the goals of the restoration movement of the early 1800’s was to restore “New Testament Christianity.” Some people of that day felt that their churches had left New Testament teaching far behind. The opinion as to how much varied from place to place. The idea of restoring “New Testament Christianity” is still evident in many of our churches today.
I am not enamored with the term “restoration”, but I am desirous of pleasing God and living according to His will. I don’t want to try and reproduce a 1st century church in the 21st century. It is not what I believe God wants. My understanding is that God’s pattern for His church and for being a Christian was designed so that it could exist in any culture or time. We do need a pattern to follow. I just believe, along with a lot of other Christians, we have been looking in the wrong place for the pattern. The pattern is Jesus and His relationship with the Father, the Spirit, and people.
Relationships are not easy to understand, there is not a step 1,2,3 plan to follow. They stand outside the physical world that is so familiar to us. When I was growing up, it seemed that everything was a five-step process.
Five steps to salvation: hear, believe, repent, confess, baptism.
Five acts of worship: sing, pray, give, teach, communion.
Five levels of leadership: God, Christ, elders, deacons, members.
This was the pattern I sought to follow. Each one of these parts is good and I still believe in them, but now they are not my primary patterns. The pattern I seek to follow now is Jesus and these tangible items above are shaped by my relationship to Jesus. I must admit the pattern I grew up with made it easier to know if I had the right pattern or not.
Relationships cannot be set on idle, at least not for long periods of time; a relationship is either growing or declining. Our relationship with Jesus follows this path. Hopefully we are continually expanding our understanding of how Jesus lived, his reaction to different people, and situations. It seems the closer I get to Jesus the more details I see in the pattern.
This is why I not interested in restoration but an improvement in my relationship with the Father, Son, Spirit, and other people. I believe the same has to happen to our church communities. We must be a growing group that changes as our understanding improves or we will become stagnant and decline.
In coming posts I want discuss the changes and challenges I believe we need to consider.