These are not ordinary times. The spiritual air is swirling. Shifting winds are presently causing uncertainty and bewilderment which is both frightening and exciting all at the same time. Some people wonder, “Why can’t things be the way they used to be?” Others whisper, “I’m so thankful things are changing!” To be certain, something is happening on a grand scale and we, as God’s people in the Christian faith tradition, have many things to ponder.
One question that must be answered: “Will we fight against the spiritual gusts that push at us from many directions, or will we allow our spirit to be carried to the place of God’s desire?” Hopefully, many souls will feel the presence of God’s Spirit and submit to the power and purpose without hesitation. For those who are willing to be carried along, God’s leading truly provides an effortless way to travel!
It is conceivable that the spiritual shift is in its early stages with much stronger winds to come. The overall period of intense change could occur over many generations. Most significant transformations take hundreds of years. When all is said and done, however, I’m inclined to think that history will look back on the present time and say, “God’s Spirit intervened in a powerful way and radical changes occurred.”
The church has undergone schisms and reformations in the past, but every previous change caused division among God’s people. This time, the winds of change seem to be drawing God’s people together to listen, see, hear, and respond to different approaches in ministry, discuss new ideas about what it means to be God’s people, and to listen to diverse perspectives regarding the ways in which human beings honor God, etc.
Hopefully the information in this book will contribute something of value to the present dialogue. The material is presented in a modest manner with user-friendly language. The information is offered as seeds to be planted in the garden of human imagination. It is a simple ‘look and see’ endeavor that is written for spiritually minded people who:
• Hold positions of leadership within the traditional church.
• Have become disillusioned with the traditional church.
• Feel called to envision something different for the church’s future.
• Sense a spiritual invitation to begin building the Church of Tomorrow.
“The Net” offers an organizational vision for the Church of Tomorrow. The main focus of the book is to study a spiritually rooted organizational model based on evidence found in Scripture. I propose the image of an egalitarian, shoulder to shoulder ‘net’ as an alternative to hierarchical structures which employ different levels of decision-making. The net is not affiliated with any particular vein in the present church body. Instead, it is a generic structure that is not attached to present church doctrine, rituals, practices, or traditions.
Because the net is generic in nature, I’ve chosen to address the traditional church from a universal perspective throughout this book. I speak of the church as the ‘bride’ of Christ, as I believe that is her spiritual identity. For this reason, I employ female pronouns when referring to the church on earth. Throughout the book, I suggest that the church’s organizational image must change in order to properly ‘dress’ the bride.
When contrasting “The Net” with the present organizational structure of the institutional church, I take a respectful yet critical view of her present image. In doing so, I fully acknowledge the fact that millions of faithful people, including myself, are actively serving God through the traditional institution. Such service is praiseworthy and necessary. Hence, my critical view of the institutional model is not intended to negate any work that God’s Spirit inspires in the hearts of God’s people. Instead, my assessment is solely for the purpose of raising organizational concerns that may not be in keeping with the image Jesus had in mind for his bride.
The content of this book spans over 3,000 years of church history beginning with the Exodus out of Egypt to our present time. I travel back in time to gather some important organizational clues from Scripture which are then applied to the Church of Today as she moves forward. It is important to look back in time in order to move forward with clarity. The larger picture provides an understanding of where the church has been, where she is today, what she must change, and where she could go if changes were made.
I begin by painting a backdrop of information against which church organizational issues are presented. Once the backdrop is in place, my focus turns to locating the image of an organizational net within the words of Scripture. After the net has been located and discussed in its Scriptural context, I examine a collection of Jesus’ teachings that relate to the topic of organization. As the discussion progresses, early organizational efforts in the book of Acts are mentioned, followed by a brief look at some visionary images in the book of Revelation. The second half of this book centers on the spiritual components of the net, how the net could function as an organizational structure, and how the church might envision using the net in the future.
Lastly, this book employs many fishing concepts. I suspect that Jesus chose a few good fishermen, as his disciples, because they possessed a skill which Jesus wanted to employ. The church cannot spread or throw a net until she organizes herself in the image of a net. Furthermore, if the church is to successfully fill her net, she must first become a net.
Yes, the spiritual air is swirling!
Yes, change can be both frightening and exhilarating!
These are exciting times, indeed!
How shall we respond?