Saturday, March 31, 2012

My views on Churchianity

Over the past month I have listened to some discussion as well as contributed my own views to the discussion. I have heard a discussion where believers were opposed to the idea of a small group ministry substituting 'traditional church'. I have also heard persons talking about traditional church services and attending these services as being very important as if these were the highest pinnacles of God's command. Participating and listening to these discussions grieve my spirit, as I know that what Christianity in the West is today, is inherited man-made traditions from which we need to break away and experience reformation.

I believe that the Christians in the West in general, and Jamaican Christians in particular, have a view of church that is different from that in the Bible. Our focus is so much on the building and programs (the so-called ministries), that we lose sight of the fact that the church is really the community of believers and that the early believers did not have a building for themselves from which they attended and conducted services.

Believers in the early church age went to the synagogues (clearly evident in the Acts of the Apostles) and gathered outside of the synagogues in houses and borrowed rooms or court yards/other land spaces to conduct their services and activities. There were more street meetings and house meetings than being within the four walls of a building called 'church' in the early church age. These services had no standardised rituals and liturgy has we have today. The believers did not go to a building at a set time each week to perform or carry out rituals. 'Christian' ceremonies today are man-made and not God-ordained, except for communion (which is another story) and baptism. Baby blessings, infant dedication, christening, funeral and wedding rites are all just cultural imports and adaptations of Jewish rites and traditions.

We must remember that Jesus warns that our traditions can come in the way of the commandments of God and in the way of true worship (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7). He states that true worshippers need not a place to worship God (John 4:23). We do a disservice to God, by erecting our own worship traditions and then insisting that these are how people must worship and to use these standards to judge others by. May I also remind you that Jesus went to the synagogues as a 'custom', but did his ministry both within the synagogue as well as outside and every day of the week. He needed not a set day to minister to the people, teach the people or heal them. But everyday to him was a day to do ministerial work. Jesus met the people where they were, and so the did the apostles, going into their market places, workplaces and their homes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Immigration and Globalisation in the Bible: Part 5

One of the major themes in the Bible is that of immigration. G-d though creating the earth gave it to human beings to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). However human beings through Adam failed to live up to their responsibilities and had aliens, Satan and the fallen angels establish control over the earth. However, despite the wrecked earth, Jesus migrated from heaven to spend time here in order to reverse the rule of Satan and establish a revived worldwide mission to reinstate diplomatic ties between heaven and earth. Eventually, G-d and his son Jesus are going to move in and live on earth among human beings which would be the greatest immigration of all time.

It is on that latter point that I must spend some time emphasizing, as most Christians I know have an inverted view. Many songs are sung about Christians going to heaven, when there are so many passages of scripture that declare that God wants to live among us on the earth. It is not God's plan to have a exodus of the righteous people from earth to live in heaven. As Isaiah 45:18 declares, God's plan is not for a desolate and forsaken earth. In Genesis 1:28, God's explicit mission or mandate for humanity is to subdue, rule over, govern and take charge of the affairs on earth. That mission and mandate has not changed, though God has at least once repented about making man (Genesis 6:6).

However, God longs to once again have man fulfilling the mandate of keeping his garden on earth for him as he once did (Genesis 2:15). G-d wants to put his feet on earth, or more specifically, he wants to put up his feet on earth (Isaiah 66:1Matthew 5:35). He wants a resting place here on earth with human beings. A vacation spot. A get away and resort with human beings who love and want to wait on him.

In Zechariah 14:4, the prophet declares that God's feet will be on Mount Olives, east of Jerusalem. He plans to establish a dwelling in Zion, with headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel.  Jesus tells us to pray that God's plan for earth be fulfilled as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). God wants to make earth like heaven or rather, wants to bring a piece of heaven to earth. While God has built his new city in heaven, he wants to take it down to earth. This is why John saw the vision of the new Jerusalem coming down out from heaven (Revelation 21:2).

God wants to re-establish diplomatic ties between heaven and earth. That's what the entire Scriptures are about. They are about God's attempt to re-establish diplomatic ties and access that human beings had to heaven before they fell. How much is this promise throughout the scriptures. Jacob in his dream saw a ladder stretching from heaven to earth with angels descending and ascending the ladder (Genesis 28:12).

In Psalm 84, the psalmist talks about how lovely it will be to be in God's getaway resort on earth, and about all the pilgrims/tourists that will want to voyage to God's city to hear from him, just as how the people from all Galilee and Judea flocked to hear Jesus. In Zechariah 14:16-19, all the nations of the earth will have an annual appointment to meet at God's headquarters.

Throughout the history, the Bible details the migration of so many persons. But the greatest migration is yet to take place. The migration of the Holy God to earth to live in the midst of human beings. May we be ready and look forward for that great day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Contemplating church library ministry

Been contemplating the church library ministry for some time now. While I have always been considering the issue (in the back of my mind), two recent events brought this thought to the fore:
  • pastor asked me to consider it
  • recently missing Children DVDs from the Children's ministry room
 Is this where I must serve? Should I apply my secular calling to my current fellowship's library? How different it is from a regular library?

Googled and found some good resources online that discuss the considerations of church library such as:

    • DeMattia, Robin F. (1998, March/April). "Church Library Makeover: Get the assets of that special room back in circulation." Christianity Today.
    • Maness, Ron. (2005) "Starting a Church Library."

    • Towns, Elmer L. and Cyril J. Barber (1974). Successful Church Libraries. BAKER BOOK HOUSE ! Grand Rapids, Michigan

I know that they are good sources and are very useful in indicating how I can apply what I have learned from library school to establishing and running a church library. I browsed the material and its all familiar and based on what I've learned or seen in practice.

What would it mean for me though?

I am more a manager rather than a doer or technician. I know the work that ought to be done, but do not enjoy doing it. I prefer to interact with people or technology rather than the actual information sources.

I would also have to join/become a member of Church library associations such as:
  • National Church Library Association
  • Evangelical Church Library Assoication
I would need to meet with other church librarians to network and discuss the issues that are specific to church library development. Are these issues similar to the other challenges faced by the librarians of secular collections and services?