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Fellowship beyond our particular circle

October 9, 2011

It has been one month since this site, the church at Penticton, was begun.  We’ve had a few individuals email or comment positively (thank you!), and responses from two representatives of local churches within the greater church at Penticton (one posted an event; the other sent updated contact info for my database.  Thanks to both!).  Other than that, the response has been, well, kind of underwhelming!

Perhaps, I’m thinking, folks just “don’t get” what this site is about.  Perhaps my explanations haven’t been clear enough.  So this week I was happy to find a post at another site that expresses much of my reason for starting this Penticton church site.  It also expresses some of my disappointment at the lack (thus far) of response and participation!

In his article, “Living the Local Church Life Beyond My Little Group,” Josh Larsen writes the following:

So in the past six months or so, as the light of the local church being the fellowship of all God’s people in a given place has dawned upon me, I’ve been moved to more actively seek out fellowship with other believers beyond the “walls” of our particular circle.

Thus far, the results of this endeavor have been both rewarding and frustrating. While we have been able to connect with many brothers and sisters who have different backgrounds and emphases of truth, at the same time it’s been difficult to gain any kind of reciprocation to our reaching out. Whether they are too busy, too cautious or simply do not see the importance of it, many saints don’t seem to have much desire to really go beyond their own congregation to have fellowship with other local believers. It’s heartbreaking, really.

Even still, we press on. If the church is really one, and if the practical expression of that oneness is the local church in the city, made up of all believers who reside in a given locality, then we are obligated to go beyond our little circle to embrace fellowship with all believers….

To whatever degree possible, even as I seek to move forward with the few brothers and sisters I share life with on a day to day basis, I still have to find some way to experience and display a practical unity with all the believers in my town. Anything short of this will never come close to fulfilling God’s purpose….

It takes “all the saints” to comprehend the awesome depths of the love of God, and only together will we ever come to know Him in His fullness.

What do you think?  Do we really need to go beyond our own congregations to have fellowship with other local believers, and to serve together others in our community?  Or is it enough to stay within “our little circle”?

I would love to hear your input about these questions!  Please comment!  Thank you!

Oh! And a blessed thanksgiving to all of you!  I am so thankful that we have so many brothers and sisters in our community, and that all of us together comprise the church of Jesus Christ at Penticton, united in Him as our Head!

Does church really look like this?

September 23, 2011

 

 

In a recent post, Alan Knox, at his blog The Assembling of the Church, wrote a really intriguing story called “The Church of The Greasy Spoon.”

The story teller explains about how he met a new friend, Mike, at work.  He finds out that Mike is a Christian, so he invites Mike to his church.  Mike comes, and then he invites the story teller to come to his church in turn.  Mike requests they meet at a diner at 6:30 on a Tuesday morning.  The story teller thinks this is kind of strange, but he figures he owes it to Mike, so he goes along.

I’m not going to give you any more details.  Like a good movie, if I told you more it would be a spoiler.  This is a story you really want to read for yourself!  Why not go check it right now – and then come back and tell us what you think …

Does church really look like this?

Tell us what you think, in the comments section below.

 

what is the church – the ekklesia?

September 16, 2011

The term “church” means many things to many people.  For example, to some it might mean the building you go to on Sunday morning for “the church worship service.”  For others, it might refer to a particular denomination, for example, “the Baptist church” or “the Catholic church” and so on.  To yet others, “church” might be equated with other words like “temple” or “sanctuary” – or even bring to mind a quiet walk alone through the woods enjoying creation.  To some, sadly, the word church brings forth painful memories; and yet for others the word “church” brings forth emotions of joy in the Lord and thoughts of friends and fellowship.  For some, church is the center of their life.  And to many others in our society in this day and age, church has little if any meaning.

I suppose that if one were to walk down the streets of Penticton with a tape recorder, and ask each person they met what “church” means, the answers would be as varied as the people responding.  And yet, the word “church,” as it is used in the Bible, has some very specific meanings and connotations.  I read a really interesting article just the other day, Getting reacquainted with the ekklesia, which discusses in detail what the church – the “ekklesia” – is according to scripture.  Here are just a couple of paragraphs from that article:

Ekklesia means “calling out of” and “was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens ‘gathered’ to discuss the affairs of state.” (2) Ekklesia is also used in the Greek version of the Old Testament “to designate the ‘gathering’ of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a ‘gathering’ regarded as representative of the whole nation.” (3) “‘Church’ in the New Testament, however, renders Greek ekklesia, which mostly designates a local congregation of Christians and never a building…An ekklesia was a meeting or assembly.” (4) The ekklesia is a gathering of people together out of a society to be assembled together for a purpose. The ekklesia in the New Testament is actually pictured as the new temple, but it is a temple made up of gathered people. This new temple is being assembled, it is where we are “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22) The heart of the Father is for His ekklesia to live by the Spirit of His Son.

Jesus said “and on this rock I will build my ekklesia.” (Matt. 16:18) Christ Jesus “loved the ekklesia and gave himself up for her.” (Eph. 5:25) This indicates that the ekklesia can represent all of God’s people who are in Christ no matter the location. In reality the Father sees every believer in Christ, gathered and assembled in Him. The apostles also wrote to the ekklesias “of the living God,” in various places around the known world. The ekklesias of God belong to God and are “in Christ.” (Gal. 1:22) The ekklesia has no name, no special people, no format, no program, no building but can be found wherever the brothers and sisters assemble or gather together. The ekklesia is not about a certain building or a house but the assembling of His people together. May we have spiritual sight to see that we are God’s assembly, His gathering. The Father already sees in His Son, His ekklesia in every place, fully expressing His life by the Spirit, even in the heavenlies!

Another wonderful picture is given to us of this assembling of those in Christ, a picture of a body with a Head. The brothers and sisters have the living God by the Spirit dwelling in them and are “hidden with Christ in God” and not only that but Christ is now our life! (Col. 3:3-4) This body, when it gathers together with Christ as Head, is in truth assembling our Lord together. “Christ is the head of the ekklesia, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Eph. 5:23) Every brother and sister must live by the life of Christ in the gathering, the ekklesia, in order for the fullness of the Lord to be assembled, for Christ to be made manifest in glory. He must be the Head, the Source, the King in her midst. The brothers and sisters “gather to eat” (1 Cor. 11:33) to feed on Christ, who is life. For “the Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:57,63) When “the whole ekklesia comes together” it is for the purpose of being “built up” to “be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (1 Cor. 14:23,26; Rom. 1:12). This is following “the way of love.” (1 Cor. 14:1) It is loving one another by the life of Christ, according to the measure of the gift given to each. Each brother and sister freely functioning by the Spirit in them to one another, through one another; that is to say through Christ in them, to Christ in them, and for Christ in them. “In all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Cor. 12:6) So like a body which is assembled and works organically, hidden as it were, by the source of its head so to the body of Christ when it assembles functions organically by the spiritual life of Christ, its Source, its Head. And what is amazing is that the Father already sees the ekklesia already assembled with the Son as Head! The Father has already “placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the ekklesia, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph. 1:22-23) So as the body assembles together we are in reality manifesting what the Father already sees assembled in His Son. As we assemble together may “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13) Brothers and sisters the Lord has an assembled body in view not a disassembled body of believers. May we have such a view of the ekkelsia, His body.

Questions:  Pretty awesome, right?  Does this sound like a church you’d want to be part of?   How does this compare with your understanding of the church, the ekklesia?  Why not share some of your insights in the comments section below, or even write an article of your own for us to post on this blog?  (see the Contact Us page for details).  Or perhaps you have read another interesting article online, or have read a book that describes the church.  Feel free to tell us a bit about it, and put a link to it in the comments below.

Read more from the quoted article:  There is lots more interesting information in the “Getting reaquainted with the ekklesia” article quoted above.  Why not go to the site and read the rest of it?

Check out the rest of this site:  Look at the various pages (listed under the picture of our beautiful city), and be sure to contact us with useful information that would fit on any of the pages.

Greetings to the church at Penticton

September 11, 2011

Greetings to all our brothers and sisters in Christ in the church at Penticton!

  This is your site.  This is your place to meet each other, to learn from each other, to serve one another and to serve others together, to share your needs, to reach out to our community together, to love the Lord together and to love others together.

So often we end up alone in our little groups, separated by certain differences in doctrine even though we all agree on the basics of what it means to be a Christian, a Christ-follower.  So often we build walls and avoid each other because we have been hurt in the past.  So often we splinter and break into sadly hostile little groups, and many simply wander away, lost and confused.  So often we make negative assumptions about our brothers and sisters outside our comfortable, safe little walls: we make assumptions that, if we only got to truly know each other, we would see how foolish those assumptions really are.  So often we struggle alone to serve, both within our local gathering, and in outreach, because we are small in numbers – and yet together, we could do so much.  So often we find ourselves sadly alone, even if we’re part of a relatively large local gathering.  Even our “unity” gatherings are, all too often, once-in-a-long-while events in which only a few of our local gatherings/churches take part.

This is not as it should be.

So this is your site.  This is your place to gather at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year, to share your heart.  To meet your brothers and sisters.  To ponder your questions, and to share and learn together.  This is also your place to talk about the ways you are learning to serve the Lord, and to find others who have the same desires to reach out – to reach out to those within the body, the family, the church – and to reach out to our community. And this is the place from which you will GO FORTH TOGETHER IN UNITY.  For if this is only a place to talk, it is wasted.  But if it is a place from which the church at Penticton steps out in love for God and for others, it will be worthwhile.  Love is the great commandment.  Love is a verb.  Love is action.  Love is unity.

Brothers and sisters, let us love God and love one another.  Together.

Question:  What is God doing in your life as He walks with you, His beloved child?  What is God doing in and through your local church gathering?  How can we, your brothers and sisters in the church at Penticton join you and be part of your walk?  We are family.  How can we put that into action?

Please write your comments in the comment space below – or if you’d like, please contact us to share your heart in a full blog post.  We’d love to hear from you.

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