Probably you’ll never know living church ministries Hidden. Just like taking a new computer out of a box and plugging it in and you just use it until it unexpectedly doesn’t work the way you want. You go to a church for months, think you’re making lots of friends — then someone sees you buying beer at the QuickStop and tells the preacher who tells his wife who tells the women and the next time you go to church, no one speaks to you. Or someone asks you to teach a Sunday School class and you do so for three years — and when the Sunday School Superintendent moves away, you’re looking forward to stepping into that place of increased.
Responsibility because you’ve been teaching longer than anyone else; but only then do you discover the pastor’s wife is afraid the Pastor isn’t looking at you in the dispassionate, non-sexual way you always imagined; she thinks he’s enjoying your young, good looks and abruptly you find yourself not only not leading the Sunday School, but you lose your class of little tykes and the women in the church are buzzing with how you’ve been “coming on” to the Pastor (“poor man… So vulnerable to an unscrupulous woman like her…”)
Then there’s the church board which sells bonds to its members until the board members are all thrown in jail by the IRS or the congregation in which the pastor urges “his people” to buy into some multi-level sales organization until the entire church is in his “down-line” and making money for him. (THAT one was in Sacramento, California, BTW.)
If you’ve actually been in real, live churches for any length of time, you know the above illustrations hardly touch the surface of how human can treat one another within those stained-glass, religious walls. But what you might not realize is that any church that functions (mis-functions?) in a similar manner is still operating according to its internal “architecture”: every local church and every regional or international denomination cannot even exist without someone first conceiving of how that religious organization will function and the structure by which it can accomplish its design. Which means that if there’s discord, deceit or any human dysfunction that the internal design around which it was built allowed for that dysfunction.
There is a church, though, in which you can participate, whose fundamental, internal design is wholesome and safe. And this church’s “architecture” is not only visible, it’s available for you to make changes and alter its look and function. This church architecture is truly Open Source.
Who is its designer and where can you find a working model? You might jump to a wrong conclusion and assume that the “designer” of this “Open Source” church is “God”. That’s usually a safe response, but it’s wrong.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul (the apostle) calls himself the “architect” of the church being built in the ancient city of Corinth. In Greek, it’s the word “architekton” and is often translated as “Masterbuilder”. In Corinth, it was Paul who set out the fundamental plan for the Church — its structure both visible and invisible. And he did so, openly. He wanted everyone to participate in the nature and function of the Church in which they all participated.
Here’s the Key and it’s what you want to look for when trying to find an Open Source church: Paul kept the design incredibly simple.
He clarified what the foundation of the Church had to be. Simply put, the foundation of an Open Church is the Person of Jesus Christ. That is, every person in the Church in Corinth had to first be in Christ. This is a supernatural union, one that often occurs in a person without the person even realizing it. But when a person hears what Jesus (perfect and sinless) has accomplished on the Cross and has confidence that it worked, then a spark of Life is birthed within that person and that person and the Person of Jesus Christ are made One. That is, since sin inescapably results in the death of the sinner, and Jesus died, and I’m now One with Him — I’ve also died already (in Christ) and that particular effect of sin no longer applies to me.
Similarly, since Jesus removed death from my life, He’s also removed the spiritual blindness that accompanied sin, and the Evil One no longer has any hold on me. To top it all off, when Jesus was raised from the grave, since I’m in Him, I’ve also been Resurrected. I’m already eternally alive and even now am in Heaven, because that’s where Jesus is and I’m in Him.
Now, according to Paul, that experiential Reality is the Foundation of the Church. That is, if you are lonely and want others to share your religious experiences, you can gather a group of people together who share similar interests and enjoy similar religious forms — and you’ve got a “church” started out on the wrong foundation. The right church foundation isn’t culture or shared religious forms or familiar church rituals or a common enjoyment of certain kinds of worship or preaching or even a wonderful Sunday School for your children. None of those things are the starting point for building the Church. The Foundation, the only Foundation, is the Person of Jesus Christ — and the only people who can participate in that Church are those who start by sharing that Foundation.