What was Jesus’ Top Commission for Us?
“Then Jesus said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and share the message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved….”” (Mark 16.15-16 Message Bible).
Beyond any other task, Jesus charges us to tell people about the incredible things that God can do for anyone who puts their faith in Jesus. This was the core purpose of the fellowship of believers. The earliest followers of the Lord were utterly faithful to this commission, and the effects were staggering!
They were totally unhindered by the funding and the upkeep of a church building, or any reluctance to shut down one meeting place and move to another when it was the best strategy for getting on with the core purpose – sharing the gospel.
But didn’t the New Believers need a Church Prepared for them to go to?
For some years after the resurrection, the Jerusalem church continued to meet in the Upper Room. In Philippi, they met in Lydia’s home. In Troas they met in somebody’s flat. (Remember, Eutychus fell through a window and down several storeys) In Corinth, they probably met in the home of the caretaker of the Synagogue, Justus. The Corinthian believers planted a church a few miles to the east in Cenchreae, in the home of Phoebe. In Ephesus, the church met in a school belonging to Tyrannus. Later, they may have used the home of Priscilla and Aquila. Christians sometimes called these various venues synagogues (= meeting place) or fellowships.
There is no evidence at all that believers came together in a designated “church” building – for another 200 years!
How does this apply to Church of England Meeting Places in 2022 A. D.?
In the Anglican Church, many congregations put much of their time, energy, and resources into curating a historic building. In some, the Great Commission – sharing the gospel – is completely eclipsed – many PCC (Parochial Church Council) meetings, and often Synod and Chapter meetings are taken up with “administration” and “organisation” Lots of parishioners have never even heard of the Great Commission!
If we could time-machine Christians from the early centuries of the church into our meetings they would be shocked, and hard pressed to work out what our churches are really about.
Buildings as Assets in Gospel Sharing
As a minister in a Pentecostal church, it was hard to bring people into church, because the buildings and services were so “alien” – outsiders were wary of entering a strange building, with an unfamiliar service. Anglican buildings and traditions are old friends and memories for many non-church goers. They can be an advantage in our mission.
We must never lose sight of our real purpose – to share the gospel, and to bring people to know the love and power of Jesus. When churches stray from this core objective, they will shrink and close down. When PCCs, Synods and Clergy and congregations fail to engage with the Lord’s Great Commission, the Church turns from a rescue station to a mere cultural curiosity or local landmark.
Problems with Too Many in the Congregation in the Anglican Revival
In April 1739, Rev’d. John Wesley was sharing the gospel message with a large gathering. This is what Wesley wrote in his diary:
“At five in the afternoon, people came together in Back Lane. The weight of the people made the floor give way; so that at the beginning of my message the post which propped up the room fell down with a great noise. But the floor sank no further; so that after a little surprise at first, the congregation continued to listen to the things I was speaking”
God of mission who alone brings growth to your Church, send your Holy Spirit to give vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions, and power to our witness. Help our church to grow in numbers, in spiritual commitment to you, and in service to our local community.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Amen. Amen.