For a very long time the church has tended to focus on itself before others. It is almost as if instead of Jesus saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20), we think he said to go into all the world and make a church…! He didn’t say this. Jesus specifically said that HE would build his church (Matthew 16:18). Instead of making disciples of Jesus, have we been making disciples of the church?
This church focus is also seen in the number one question asked of a person when we want to know if they are a follower of Jesus: “Do you go to church?” I will undoubtedly revisit this nonsensical notion of “going to church”.
As long time intercessors, and leaders of intercessors, one thing Di and I have learned is that Jesus’ focus is not on the church, but on the city. Why? Jesus loves people, so clearly, it is people he is primarily interested in, and the city is where most of them live. When I say he is interested in the city, I don’t mean the large grouping of buildings, but on the community within which his church is to be planted. So this also includes rural areas which might only have villages or small towns, and also lonely outposts where only a few people might make community by whatever communication and transport facilities they might have available. The key point is that it is wherever people who do or do not know Jesus share life together.
Intercessors interested in change in the city have also been taught that the greatest amount of authority against the spiritual forces in the city only come about by a combination of the true unity of the church in the city along with the full engagement of the church in city life and the agreement and cooperation of the governing gatekeepers of the city. In other words, we will only get past a certain point if the church and the city leaders work together.
Perhaps this will give my readers a clue as to why so much of what we have done in the past is really just a lot of posturing and hot air, for all of our good intentions. I don’t recall any occasion when I could say that ANY of these conditions has been in place, let alone all three! Hopefully we can learn from these previous experiences and move on.
The point of my saying the above is not to spread condemnation. I just think some of us need to become adult and get over ourselves. I’m as much a part of it as anyone, but I refuse to stay in that place because I love my oh so good, good God, who loves me as his child, and I want to become more like Jesus, and focus on following his absolute genius of a plan outlined to us in the New Testament, modeled to us by his first churches, demonstrated by the amazing, explosive growth of that church, and evidenced by the powerful manifestations of his presence among them.
As Brian Pickering, head of the Australian Prayer Network says, what it takes is just total availability and radical obedience.
This website used to have a directory of the churches in Hobsons Bay. That directory still exists, but is now to be found withing this section where I plan to record and discuss the life of the city and how the church is part of that life.