I've been a disciple now for 12 years -- and I think I have a pretty inquisitive spirit. I always question and analyze.....to some extent this is good, and to some extent it's frustrating... Anyhow, I've always seemed to think outside the box, maybe a bit too far out there for the squeamish. Our church has recently gone through turmoil and sifting of beliefs and tradition, and I've begun to have a nagging thought: What if 'church structure' as we know it in this western culture is truly not God's design and desire for man? It just seems all wrong... I've come to question whether God is truly happy with the modern construct of "church." It seems to me that Jesus was so much more spontaneous, adventurous and free than we'd like to give him credit for. I just cannot picture him holding a Sunday service with all its frills and calculated rhythm and accentuations. The Sunday script is so old and redundant to me now. Wouldn't our Savior prefer that we be out there, like he was, in the community serving and loving or atop a mountain praying to him? The structure itself allows for and promotes (to some degree) the development of a pharisaical mentality. It's so easy to go to church, feel close to God and go home and be nothing like Christ. -- J.P.

Your concerns and thoughts resonate with me, as I am sure they do with others. I am quite sure, from my study of the scripture, that the Lord wants us to do a lot more than just attend church, or "play church." And yes, spontaneity is good. It is at one end of the spectrum, with calculation and rigid planning at the other. Yet our God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33). We need to strike a balance. Don't you agree?

Do not give up your idealism about the church. It is the answer. It is God's plan for making his wisdom known in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 3:10). And it is the church of Jesus Christ. It was his idea, not ours (Matthew 16:18). It can and should be glorious (Ephesians 3:20-21). I would encourage you to study the scriptures, rethink church, and be open to what you find. Also, remember that church is not about you singular, but about you plural. You can't please everyone all the time. Nor should that be our goal.

There will always be the tendency towards Pharisaism, legalism, the flesh. That's why we have Romans and Galatians in the Bible! No group will totally overcome this tendency. If we can eradicate the all-pervasive clergy-laity thinking, I am quite sure the Spirit will do some amazing things, as more and more brothers and sisters use their gifts for the good of the body.

How will this happen? My conviction is that if we focus on the basics--biblical teaching, fellowship, prayer, communion--the church will be awesome, vibrant, growing, sacrificial, and everything God wants it to be (Acts 2:42, 43-47). Think, dream, and live outside the box. But, again, remember that church is Jesus' plan, not ours.

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