Do you know what an expert is? Well, listen to the word and you hear 2 words. The first word is “ex”–“ex” means former, or once was. The second word is (sounds like) “spurt”–a “spurt” is water under pressure. Therefore, an expert is a has been who is under pressure. So know that I am not an expert. But I can see, think for myself and analyze with something rarely seen in our culture called common sense.
As established churches continue for the most part to be in a continued state of decline, many alleged experts (see the first paragraph) have offered a lot of ideas as to the causes of this direful situation. I divide these alleged experts into two distinct categories. I am sure you might could think of other categories. But for the sake of this blog, let’s break it down into simple terms.
First there are the “Noobs“. It has been a long time since some of these has beens under pressure, excuse me, “experts”, have served for any length of time in a local church, which leaves their inchoate input somewhat lacking at times in substance. I once served under a bishop who had more time in the hollow halls (this is not a misprint, I said “hollow” not “hallow”; I said what I meant and I meant what I said) of academia than in the “field” of service in local churches.
The other group is the “Kabitzers“. Unlike the Noobs who have only a little experience in the workings of The Kingdom, these have virtually none, zilch, nada! They are the ones who believe their spiritual gift is to be a buttinsky. They take great glee and find deep personal contentment in pointing out what others should be doing and what they aren’t doing right. So let me share with you want I see is a serious malady in the 21st Century church in the good old U.S. of A.
Ultracrepidarianism has imbued itself, Nay! Entrenched, Nay! Built underground bunkers designed to survive a 500 kiloton nuclear blast, Aye! Ultracrepidarians have built permanent bunkers beneath church basements with the intent of doing away with church as it should be, even though they say it is not their purpose. Sneaky Ultracrepidarians!
I believe that the church, the body of Christ embedded in local communities, needs to make the conscious decision to step into a much bigger story, a deeper narrative, an epic journey that extends beyond their 911 location. We need to clear out that path that is cluttered and obscured with our designs of what church should look like and embrace our Original Design. What is that original design? Oh, you precious soul, I’m so glad you asked.
It is to be a Kingdom of Servants. Jesus only mentions the translated term “church” twice as He taught about the bigger picture: The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is about invading the territory of The Enemy, Satan; a territory He stole long, long ago. It is about taking back what rightfully belongs to The Creator. And the way God has chosen to fight The Enemy is through servants who are willing to sacrifice pride, comfort, and preferences in order to bring the One Thing that is missing in so many people: Life As God Intends! That’s what Jesus said in John 10:10 and see how different translations describe this Life:
I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. (CEV)
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (NKJV)
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (NLT)
(and my personal favorite) I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (The Message)
Jesus did not come to set up a Kingdom of Rules, Rituals and Traditions. He came to bring back what was lost in Eden–Life in its fullest, more abundantly, rich and satisfying, more and better than you can dream of. Life as God intends is a life of relationships with Him and each other. To bring this life back to His Image Bearers, Jesus chose the form of a servant. Servants serve–they serve The King in order to bring about the King’s purposes and desires. And our King’s desire is for people to have “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
And to help those under the domain and dominion of the Enemy, we need to know them, I mean, really know them. It begins when we accept them unconditionally. Ultracrepidarians want to change them to be people like them. Servants want to see them transformed into the Image Bearers of The King. And they will be, they are, when we know them and help them find The Life. The ways we help them find The Life are as numerous as human needs.
If they are illiterate or functionally illiterate, we teach them to read. If they are hungry, we feed them. If they are unemployed, we help them develop skills for employment. If they are fatherless or motherless, we become fathers and mothers to them. If they are in prison, we go to them with unconditional love and no judgment; after all, they’ve already been judged or they would not be there.
And if they need a Savior (and who doesn’t?), we show them the Savior by letting them see what The Savior means to us and what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do in us, for us and through us. When a locally embedded Kingdom Cell (otherwise known as a local church) decides they are tired of a church-centered story and moves into the Saga Of The Kingdom, the Ultracrepidarians will not be happy and will try to make others unhappy with such a move. But we need to push through this and hope they will shred and burn their Ultracrepidarian Membership Card. But if they do not, then we need to persist. We will probably lose some church member for doing so, but we will gain Kingdom Servants. And after all, isn’t this what we should be doing?
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the Glory goes to Him. Oh, and Ultracrepidarians, we know who you are but we also know The King!