Over the years I’ve been part of many different expressions of the Body of Christ. From small conservative churches to Vineyard church plants; from large corporate churches to small home groups; from spirit-filled ecumenical groups to expat missio groups in foreign lands. They have all had one thing in common: to the extent that they lifted up Christ and loved one another, they were able to be a vital expression of Jesus to their community.
Through these many experiences planting faith communities in diverse lands and populations, it has become clear to me that what God is after is planting “ecclesia” in the earth. Ecclesia is the life of Christ incarnated among a group of His people, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” Matthew 18:20.
This is a very simple concept, but very different from the activity and purpose of most churches. Of course ecclesia can be experienced within churches, but it seems strangely rare. It seems that as groups get larger, the busy-ness of serving all the needs with more services and more programs push out any mindful cultivation of the life of Christ in the midst of all the meetings and special events going on. This is what we must change, if we are to be the witnesses that God intends us to be in the earth.
So it seems that ecclesia can best be cultivated when a good part of the life of the church is given over to smaller, less formal, more open gatherings where real life can be more readily shared. Even more to the point, in a smaller group with a more flexible agenda the actual Spirit of Christ, or the Holy Spirit, can have more room to move and work more freely. My years of experience have led me to the conclusion that this kind of embodiment of the Holy Spirit is what ecclesia is all about.
Building kingdom community IS so that we will love God together, and love one another, but that’s just a start — to get us to the place where we can reach out with that love to the world around us. The Body of Christ isn’t a bless-me club. It’s the vehicle that Jesus is building in the earth in order to walk out the fulfillment of His great commission: “…go and make disciples of all nations…” ALL NATIONS! Every nation, tongue and tribe will worship Him at the end of the age! Let’s stop playing church and build ecclesia! You can do it in your living room… in a coffee shop… even in a church! Build ecclesia where you are. Come, Lord Jesus!
- Building Organic Church (jscotthusted.wordpress.com)