At Crossroads Bible Church, we are doing an experiment of sorts. We want to know in our culture if it is possible for a church just to be . . . well . . . a church.
CEO or Shepherd
A few years ago as a young pastor, I began asking myself, “Have I been called to lead an organization or to feed a living organism?” I had to admit that God did not call me to be a spiritualized CEO, but rather a shepherd of His flock. This led me to begin meeting with believers with only two goals in mind: feed God’s sheep and reach the lost.
How this Plays Out in Our Fellowship?
So how does this all play out. For us it means the following:
1. The main attraction for people is to be the Word of God
In a New Testament setting, the main attraction was not super energized music and programs. It was the Bible. (Acts 17:11)
Though we are happy to be busy for the Lord and we love music, we find that music and programs must be the tail behind the dog of sorts rather than the other way around.
We also love children and we keep them very busy. But, to be frank, we find that the best youth program for a child is a dad that loves the Bible. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)
Simply put, we do not pay someone else to be cooler than dad and mom. In fact, we leave it up to the parents to organize the social and spiritual lives of their own children, and, we find that it works great!
2. Our Phase A, B, and C is to know Christ and to make Him known
Jesus never condemned or applauded a church for their budget, buildings, or numerical growth, yet these seem to be such a driving force in our current church culture.
In our fellowship, we actually take our gatherings week by week. That is, our focus is on growing in Christ this week. In fact, if God chooses to scatter us, we will not consider ourselves as failures as the kingdom of God is within, and it is not to be measured by acreage, spiritualized territories, and the amount of time we met together. (Acts 8:1)
3. We will never borrow money
Though we are not against having property, we will never borrow money as once this occurs, it is too easy for the pastor and the church to serve the bank note rather than the leadership of the Spirit. (Proverbs 22:7)
4. We love simplistic church
Simplistic church seemed to be good enough for Jesus and the early church so we feel it should be suitable for us.
Our focus is not to have a hyper-controlled atmosphere where children are regarded as a disturbance. In fact, we have a saying, “If it’s too quiet at our church, we get a little nervous rather than the other way around.”
Jesus met on sea shores while Paul had people sleeping in the rafters during his sermons. Though we try not to put anyone to sleep, it’s totally okay if every part of the gathering time is not perfectly timed or orchestrated. Jesus will not get offended.
5. We desire the bride of Christ to be totally unhindered
Jesus’ bride should be unhindered to follow His leadership wherever and however that is.
6. We are not territorial
If God wants us to join with another body, we will. If they want to join with us, then we are for that also.
Time is short and we do not have time to protect salaries and positions. There is only one position that is supreme and that is the Kingship of Jesus.
I am a firm believer that job security in the pastorate is one of the greatest hinderances to revival in our day. In fact, as a pastor, I run two other businesses for this purpose. I want to remain totally unhindered in my ability to lead the flock of God.
7. There is little to complain about
If you will listen closely to people’s complaints about church, 95% of their complaints have something to do with the organization of church rather than the organism of church.
One of the reasons why I call the last few years of my ministry the greatest times of my ministry is because we have taken the objects of most people’s complaints out of the picture.
Honestly, what is there to argue about when a fellowship’s sole focus is to preach, teach, and love one another? Though we have a few people issues from time to time, it is, for the most part, a pressure-free atmosphere.
About 4 years ago we started meeting in Ft. McCoy, FL in an old library. This was a blessed time for our group as we enjoyed great fellowship and grace from Christ. In fact, here is a picture of one of our gatherings.
Last year, I asked the church body to consider moving to Ocala. Honestly, most were hesitant as we were enjoying a great fellowship in Ft. McCoy.
However, I felt led to lead the congregation to move to Ocala for this reason: We wanted to give more people the opportunity to enjoy our simplistic approach to church as we were meeting out in the country about 30 minutes from downtown Ocala.
The Jury is Still Out
Though we enjoy a great fellowship amongst ourselves, I am still asking the question: Can Americans come to church and enjoy church for the same reasons the early New Testament believers gathered? That is, can the Word of God be the main attraction for people or do they require more?
Matthew Henry said that a piece of gold does not require a coat of paint. He was saying this in regards to the Bible. But, I am not so convinced that Americans are happy with just the gold. It seems they have fallen in love with the paint more than the gold.
Once again, can a church just be a church, or do Americans require more?
Food for thought . . . Pastor Raymond