Jesus commanded the Apostles to go and make disciples. They instinctively went and planted churches. Church life is the key to discipleship and creates an alternative culture where heavenly values can be formed on earth. Getting the church right is therefore a vital issue and one which should constantly stir and motivate us.
The purpose of Paul’s letters was not to teach theology but to mould behaviour in and through churches that lived in the light of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and enthronement, and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is possible to be objectively orthodox, but fail to live the life that God wants. So, although we do not undervalue doctrine, we emphasise the kind of church life that good doctrine properly observed and embraced should produce.
You’ll never walk alone
It is virtually impossible to live the Christian life alone. It was always God’s purpose that we should work out our discipleship corporately. The good health of the local church is, therefore, imperative, and we have tried to develop local churches living inter-dependently and focussed on world mission.
It is important for the local church, cared for correctly by its own elders, to embrace its own autonomy. Free from denominational constraints, it must nevertheless be aware of its inter-dependence on other churches and the vital role of trans-local ministries working among the churches in ongoing relationship.
This lack of independence has helped to establish the strong ‘family feel’ associated with Newfrontiers. When recently in South Africa we met people from Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Dubai, the UK, Australia and the USA – just a sample of our Newfrontiers international community. Evan Rogers’ infectious worship-leading resulted in a surge of shared joy, soon followed by intense corporate intercession. Enjoying fun (ie rejoicing!) before the Lord doesn’t inhibit our ability to cry to him in zealous prayer together. Laughter and longing happily combine. Love, joy and zeal easily co-habit.
God-centredness must characterise our churches. So much modern religion is man-centred, celebrating man’s skills, insights and personality. Although church planters can by nature be entrepreneurs, seeing openings where others see only problems, they must beware the danger of self-sufficiency and overcome the tendency to despise team work, finishing up as loners. Even the most faith-filled leaders need close friends and companions. The powerfully anointed David was so encouraged by Jonathan and supported by phenomenally gifted lieutenants.
To be continued …