Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bileziken on the emerging church

assistnews has some interesting comments by Gilbert Bilezikan, who was very influential in Bill Hybels approach to starting WillowCreek.

Gilbert Bilezikian, says,
the biggest challenge the church in the West is facing is extinction. He says it has become so “denatured” that it has drifted far away from the original definition and purpose of church.
Speaking at a summer camp in Christchurch, NZ, he said:
"Christ did not die just to save us from our sins, but to bring us together into community. After coming to Christ, our next step is to be involved in community. A church that does not experience community is a parody, a sham.

But the church in the West is being overtaken by individualism, which entails increased material pursuits, so you can afford to be self-sufficient. Strong anti-community forces are at work. Family life is practically non-existent as we are pulled away in different directions...

The bane of the church is that it becomes worldly. Instead of imparting the Word and becoming an agent of change, it adopts the values of the world and integrates them into its structures and life....

“Instead of being a movement, it becomes an establishment. This is not new, of course - it started when the Roman Emperor Constantine established Christianity as the state religion.””
Bilezikian is right in seeing the church becoming irrelevant to both the purposes of God and to the needs of the world. His criticisms apply to churches of all sizes.
“The church becomes dominated by little bosses and instead of developing leadership they hog it for themselves and run the congregation like tyrants.”
While raising warning flags, he is not without hope. He points to a community movement which, he says, appeared at the end of the 20th century and has taken hold. These are churches in which lay people and clergy are raising basic questions about the identity of the Church, and about the definition of its workings.
“It seems the Holy Spirit is operating a kind of quiet revival which is primarily aimed at recovering the dynamics of the Church of the Book of Acts, which results in renewed incentives for outreach in a pagan world.”
Anything less than Acts dynamics is less than what we long for and what God wants to do in his people.
Anything less than touching the world around us is less than what God's purposes are.

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