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Church Paradigm Shift


Paradigm from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: EXAMPLE, PATTERN especially: an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype

Shift from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: to exchange for or replace by another : CHANGE

A paradigm shift is an act of changing an established activity, custom, or notion. This custom could be a type of organizational structure, a certain methodology, a historic practice, a rite, a scientific methodology, a style of suit or clothing, a family tradition, or how something should be understood or thought about.

As a young pastor in his first church, I got a backlash because I messed with a paradigm. I moved the singing of the hymn called the Doxology from after the ushers took the offering and had set the collection plates on the Lord's Supper Table. I took it away from that spot in the "Liturgy" or "Order of Service." It created such an uproar--almost a panic in one particular woman (I thought she was going to have a heart attack)--that we reinstated singing the Doxology after the offering. This lady and the church did not deal well with the paradigm shift. They had elevated the practice to the level of Holy Scripture. This was their paradigm.

We operate in a world of paradigms. There is a right way to wash dishes. There is a right way to make a bed. And there is a right way to do and think about church.

When we stop washing dishes in the sink and begin using a dishwashing machine, that is a paradigm shift. When we stop tucking the end of the sheet under the mattress by hand and, instead, sew seams on the corners and put an elastic band on each of them, that is a paradigm shift, small and beneficial though it is. And when a church changes its way of meeting to online or to multiple weekdays, or to one big meeting a month and several small group meetings the rest of the time, now that's a paradigm shift!

When something changes we go through a little mourning process. Yes, any loss produces grief and mourning, no matter how short the mourning period might be. Change is difficult even when we get used to changing. And big change, especially if we have lifted the object of change to the level of immutable biblical truth, it becomes panic time. Have you ever experienced being part of a church, a family, or a nation that is grieving?

Now a huge change is most likely taking place as I write this. It is something that has not changed much in centuries and, now, is either beginning to change or is on the verge of change.

We have not met in church during most of 2020 in the same way we met in 2019 (and on back through the last few centuries). And some of the things we have been forced to do are expected by many to become permanent.

The Church has faced changes throughout the centuries. The Church with a capital "C", as we call the collective Body of Christ, has seen much change over the last 20 Centuries. Not all of this change was biblical. Nevertheless, those who grew up with the changes did not know anything else and thought that it was the way it had always been.

The Western Worlds' first "free churches" emigrated to America during the Reformation period in Church history. This took place in the 16th and early 17th centuries. The free church took root and flourished in the New World. The Early Church, sometimes called The Primitive Church (meaning the first and original church model of the first three centuries A.D.), that was hijacked by the Roman Empire ceased to be the doctrinal model of the church. Later, the Reformation changed much (not all) of the Roman Catholic doctrine but not the part about church polity--how it was organized and how it functioned. So the church polity during the Reformation was kept in place for the most part. Each country in Europe had their state churches. Every citizen was a member or was ordered to be. The free churches changed the doctrine and saw that the doctrine taught about a free local church that also saw itself as part of the larger "Body of Christ."

If you want to go to the biblical model, then you are free to meet in homes, rented halls, down by the riverside, and down by the old mill stream. Archeologists have not found one church building built before 325 A.D. when Rome hijacked those primitive assemblies of the Body of Christ. The Roman Church claims that the Roman Empire had simply torn down the old church buildings and built new ones on top of the ruins. Archeologists have not found any remains of old church debris or foundations under any ancient Roman Catholic Church buildings. I will admit, however, that the Early Church was illegal and persecuted. Therefore, they might have built buildings were they allowed to do so. But remember, the Lord chose to inspire the writing of the inerrant Bible during this time of History.

All that to say that we are not bound by recent tradition (in this instance, recent means a few centuries). We are bound by the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the basics we see the assemblies (churches) practicing in the New Testament.

Neither are we Old Testament Christians. No such Christian exists nor should they exist. The Old Testament Tabernacle, later the Temple, is not the pattern for the New Testament assembly of Christians. Churches that do this are aberrant. Our pattern is the New Testament.

The important thing is to have a basic organization of pastors, deacons, as well as ministries to each other and the community. The picture in the Bible is the church meeting together often, sometimes daily, and favoring the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead as the favorite meeting day.

The redeemed are to love and serve one another. We are to live life and share the Good News. We are to help each other as well as our neighbors. We are to pray together as well as privately. And today, we can meet online through the internet at any time convenient.

We are not Old Testament Christians. That is an oxymoron. We are New Testament Christians. What Christ did fulfills the Law for us. Christians have a Sabbath Rest because they are in Christ Jesus, united spiritually to Him. They rest from their works of the Law in Jesus Christ who satisfied the Law for us! Jesus is our Sabbath Rest! We let Him guide and keep us. This is our reasonable worship. The Spirit-filled life is our Sabbath Day.

Jesus is our Manna from Heaven. Like manna, Christ Jesus must be "eaten" each day. Manna that was carried over to the next day rotted and was uneatable the next day. We must recommit ourselves to the Spirit-filled Life daily, if not hourly. You are experiencing the real Sabbath in Jesus! Your sins are forgiven. You belong to Jesus.

In conclusion, be the church, that is, be Jesus in your assigned living-space. Do His work. Love your neighbor. Tell the Good News in Word and in Deed. And meet together in an organized assembly often, even if it's in a barn, a back yard, or online through the internet. ##

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