I was recently in a mall in Indianapolis, Indiana where one of the major anchor stores was remodeling a section of their main floor. The area was cordoned off and covered to the ceiling with a tarp to protect shoppers from the construction taking place. We may have all probably seen signs that read, ‘PLEASE EXCUSE OUR DUST WHILE WE ARE REMODELING’, or ‘CAUTION: THIS AREA IS UNDER CONTSTRUCTION’. The store was still open, but clearly there were improvements being made out of view of the shopping public.
The improvements this store was making were physical. Yet, often these same stores spend millions of dollars implementing new policies and procedures they believe will enhance their business. Such changes address how the employees think about the business. They are unseen because the implementation begins in what is understood over what is done. While new policies and procedures are being formulated, the store remains open using the old policies and procedures.
My ministry work at this time is spent transitioning the church my wife and I founded twenty years ago into a network of interdependent house church gatherings. The finished product will, undoubtedly, be different from what most of us have ever seen. We have been ‘under construction’ for nearly eight years, because like most, we are ingrained with the traditional church system and change is not easy. At times it has been challenging, but it has never ceased to be exciting. Like the store in the mall, we remain open in a traditional manner while the construction is going on behind the scenes.
For those who don’t understand what we are doing, I wish I could post a sign that says, PLEASE EXCUSE OUR DUST, OUR CHALLENGES, OUR ISSUES AND OUR MISTAKES – WHILE WE ARE BECOMING THE CHURCH JESUS WANTS US TO BE. For those who are trying to figure out the difference between house church gatherings and cell church, I want to post a sign that reads, CAUTION: THIS AREA IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I would like to enclose this area of our work off so that passersby and curious onlookers won’t wander into the ‘construction area’ until it is ready for view.
But the reality is we remain open to the public until the work is complete. My brother once stated our situation this way, “While we are building the unusual, we must keep the usual in order.”There are two types of renovations – the physical and the policy and procedural. We are doing both. The physical renovations are the house gatherings we are developing. It is easy to gather a few people in a living room to sing, pray, and share with each other. But the policy and procedural changes are more challenging. It is more of a challenge to teach why we are doing this, and to equip people with the purpose over the practice. I find that people tend to measure any new idea against old practices.
In each article I write, I state that Jesus is still building His Church – His Way – in the 21st Century (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus declared to His disciples that He would build His Church. He is still building His Church today with lively stones that have a revelation that He is the Christ, Son of the Living God. His building plan requires that Christ be formed in every member in His Church. When this happens, the glory of the latter house will be much greater than the former.
He is building her after the values from which she was birthed on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is leading believers to resurrect the simple methodologies that were so effective in the first century. These methods must include the ‘policy and procedural’ changes necessary to sustain our outward activities. These are expressed in the core values we embrace. That is the purpose of this article, to outline the five core values that I believe is the heart of the New Testament Church. I believe values are the foundation of sound doctrine. In our ministry, these are the ‘policies and procedures’ we are learning in our renovation project.
In my book, No Longer Church As Usual (Second Edition), I give greater detail to each of these values; but, I pray, this brief summary will give you a glimpse of the heart of our Lord’s glorious church.
This article appeared in the February issue of The American Church Magazine. Get your free subscription today!
Tim Kurtz is the founder of The Center for New Testament Church Development. The ministry was formed in 2010 with the mission to plant regional churches that reflect the values and structure of the first century church.