The New (Old) Wineskin of The Church

If you’ve been following this blog or my story, you will know that since 2016 the Lord called me out of the institutional church (I see now he had been warning me of this since 2010) and told me to ‘circle the wagons’ and unlearn a few things before stepping forward. After some healing and resting, the Lord took me back to the basics of church of meeting in homes and being active on the streets.

When Covid broke out in my area in March 2020, one of my life coaching & spiritual direction clients texted me:

“Oh my goodness! Did you prophesy the home church movement?”

Interestingly 2,000 years or so ago, church began as an organic house church movement. It wasn’t until a few hundred years later that it became an institution under the Roman Emperor Constantine. It went from the priesthood of ALL believers to professionalization of pastors. Today, you will find that the majority of ‘believers’ do not know how to do what Jesus called us to do.

Matthew 28:18-20 ERV

“So he came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.”

Matthew 10:7-8 ERV

“When you go, tell them this: ‘God’s kingdom is now very near. Heal the sick. Bring the dead back to life. Heal the people who have leprosy. And force demons out of people.”

Since 2010 already while working as an institutional church pastor, the Lord poured out the phrase: “new wine” over and over for me. Here’s one of my old posts from 2010…

Then, in 2018, the Lord started partnering me with pastors, missionaries around the world who were needing coaching support. I heard their frustrations and desire for Holy Spirit to lead them. I kept my own journey to myself. When I began to ask them questions, I began to hear their hearts respond with similar statements that sounded familiar. When I shared with them what God was doing through Disciplemaking movements around the world, they were floored. In 2019 in my area, two Lead Pastors of large institutional churches admitted to their congregations that what they were doing was all off.

I continue to get pastors and missionaries asking me my perspective. Recently, a Lead Pastor sent me this:

“Hey Merri Ellen, What do you think the way forward looks like for discipleship and sharing the gospel under Covid restrictions? Just curious about your thoughts as I hear what ‘churches’ are identifying what they think is the way forward.”

It was a great question and I love that pastors are more and more hungry to find an answer in this unique season.

The beautiful thing about Covid restrictions is that it forces us to get back to the small few, the organic. One can easily meet with a few people, or use technology (in an interactive way).

I think the bigger hang up is are we willing to give up our paid pastoral positions and expensive buildings that could be keeping us from fulfilling the Great Commission? (If you’re a paid pastor, be encouraged. There’s some help below…)

But, first…

Recently, I read this article: The Death of Sunday Morning written from a perspective of what God has been doing far on the other side of my world. It forces us to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to leave an old wine skin behind in order to follow Jesus and share His Good News?”

Here’s one perspective…

Luke 14:25-27 ERV

“Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.

Matthew 19:29 NLT

“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.”

For many years, institutional church pastors have been taking this difficult road in leading their congregations into movement. If you’re a paid pastor, you need to learn about Roy. Roy Moran is one. In this post I share more about him.

What are your thoughts about where God is leading His Bride?

Please share below…

9 Changes to Make Before a Church Dies

My heart ached when I read this post from Thom Rainer… It triggered pain that I have known… I pray for churches across North America (my heart lies there)…

urgent-church-nine-changes-we-must-make-or-die

“..Many of our congregations must change. They must change or they will die.

I call these churches “the urgent church.” Time is of the essence. If changes do not happen soon, very soon, these churches will die. The pace of congregational death is accelerating.

What, then, are some of the key changes churches must make?”

Read: URGENT CHURCH: 9 Changes We Must Make or Die

Is Your Church Stuck Or Moving Forward?

I’m researching how churches get stuck and I’m learning… nothing really new. As I suspected, it starts with each of us as individuals.

Are we each transformed? Has God gotten a hold of our life and transformed us with the gospel? Have we let Him transform us? Do people notice there’s something different about us? Or do we blend right into our culture? Are we quite content to live our lives relying on our own strength and seeking fulfillment in things other than God? Do we come to church expecting to be entertained and to feel good, rather than worshiping God and thanking Him for what He has done through us the past week? Once we take our focus off of God and onto ourselves, we slowly die and dwindle. But if we allow God to transform us, every thought and action begins to change, our values and attitudes change. We start to change from living for ourselves to dying to ourselves. Soon, our life focuses solely on the mission of Christ and not on us. Amazing things happen… and not because of us, but because we rely on the Holy Spirit and let Him use us to fill in the cracks.

After we are individually transformed, the church becomes the gathering of transformed people to hear the gospel, worship, and then… scatter… to participate (key word) in God’s mission. We don’t live the rest of the week in selfish survival mode but in seeking how we can scatter and minister to those in our communities. We, the church, are God’s chosen instrument to spread the gospel. We are called to be His people engaged in His mission to carry His message into our culture and every culture.

We must individually be transformed – our thoughts, actions, attitudes, and values. This of course requires us to be open to being transformed. Then we gather together and worship… and then we go and scatter… spreading the Gospel! That’s when a church is moving forward.

(I’m reading “Transformational Church” by Ed Stetzer)