|For those of you who who do
not care to take the time to weave together the strands of thought in
the spiritual essays, it may be easier to piece them together this way.
There are four major steps in dealing with a decadent society wallowing
in amorality and materialism such as we have in America and many other
countries of the semi-pagan world. They will be taken up here.
But first it is necessary to face the fact that not everyone will be converted or transformed into Christians, although that of course should be the goal. As the Apostles found in the New Testament, when they went down to the different people "to give them Christ," not all responded. The important thing is a few did. The "elect," the spiritual creative minority, the "salt" or "yeast of the community" were touched by grace.
Of course it is not up to us making the effort to determine who shall be able to see and feel by grace the enlightenment of God. Those carrying the message may have hopes as to which of the blind shall see invisible spiritual secrets in the many materialistic, corrupt, amoral and obscene (check the television) societies of today. There are many of those in different geographical locations.
The first step is that the churches today need "tent maker" ministers. Paul, The Apostle, was a tent maker minister, not a perfect person (nobody is) but obviously in a higher state of grace. He was to be used by God. He paid his own way and made his own salary as a maker of
excellent tents wherever he went to preach. (We know they were excellent as Christian work is done to glorify God and not just make money.)
There is nothing inherently wrong in any minister whose salary is paid by a church. However, these ministers and prophets, men or women (Deborah was a prophetess in the Old Testament), are able to do things those employed by the churches cannot. For one thing, they are not held hostages to fortune and dependent upon money from the churches. It is a truism that often (though not in all cases) those who pay the piper call the tune.
Also we should also face the fact churches do not have the money to hire all the ministers that are needed. We should also face the fact many needs are filled by those having "special callings," laid upon their consciences by God.
Education as ministers such as some conventional churches require or encourage is often too liberal, absolutely lacking in common sense and without any intense personal dedication. Many have met these half baked products of too liberal seminaries in different but often Main Line denominations.
Over the long run it is simply best to have many tent maker ministers who may or may not be schooled as many liberals would wish. The well schooled should not be excluded but those largely lacking schooling should not be excluded either. After all, the disciples of Jesus were often simply fishermen. We should not let intellectual snobbery debase the churches. (The idea of Jesus wanting a degree from those serving him, a degree from a too liberal brand seminary or college as a need to spread the Gospel is ludicrous.)
The second of the four steps is that we need house churches in which many of the tent-maker ministers may witness by their lives, evangelize others, and introduce new warmth into the many moribund bureaucratic denominations of today. Such house churches do not need a fine building (as meeting is in homes or small houses) or have a great need for money.
It is probably best that the house churches do not meet on the regular Sunday mornings of some denominational churches, but that they attend the larger churches to help them in their greater ministry. It is my guess in many cases over time the house churches will prove to be the real home roots of the bigger and more impersonal churches.
We should not forget that in the old days before Industrialization set in, large families were often the equivalent of house churches. They had prayers together and shared in a small community religious life. It is my opinion that one is better exposed to true spiritual religion in a family or in a small and warm house church group that is much like a family.
With the modern industrial "nuclear" family of today, religion is not as effective as it should be. The larger denominational churches with a budget and bureaucrats paid to love you often lacks a certain sincerity and warmth. A house church possibly made from people of several different denominations in the same neighborhood can be a good community spiritual substitute for the old line "big family" which prayed together and spiritually stayed together.
The house church brings up the spiritual family. It used to be that the
biological family worked as a spiritual family. Today the biological family
is often smaller (and in many case ) simply not working as it ought. The family is not a spiritually nourishing family group as it used to be. One reason is that the modern family often lacks enough family members to furnish the involvement of others in family life that is needed to rear children successfully. (For example, a one parent family simply cannot supply the need of other supportive family members usually needed to rear children properly.)
All around us today are "nuclear" families of a few, or simply individuals in need of the support of others. A house church should be that basic social unit based on spiritual ties as well as biological ties that a true family needs.
Frankly, if we do not learn to make "spiritual" families without having biological connections, then I fear for the future of society. Sons need fathers and uncles. Children need grandparents. Grandparents need grandchildren. Mothers need sisters. Since small biological families often cannot furnish these, spiritual families need to be created out of them that are based on spiritual or" heavenly" ties and serve each other.
Many people can join together in house churches and other spiritual family groups to help nurture and sustain each other in a very basic, warm and comforting group. This is a good and fine way for children to learn religion and how to practice faith in a small intertwined community.
Lastly, we need to rediscover not only some ministry for every person in the house church, and the secret of forming family-like warm house churches, but also to rediscover and reemphasize individual Christians glorifying God in their work. (I overheard someone say to a worker endeavoring very hard in his work when the boss was absent, "You are working too hard for a man whose boss is absent." The worker replied only, "Jesus is still here.")
Around us in the decadent, amoral and secular materialistic life led today by most people we see shoddy work. Too many people do a very poor quality of work for their employers. If serving as bureaucrats they may do insensitive and rude work. It should be a sign of spiritual people that they are glorifying God through their work or the job they do.
Let us now recall our basic four steps in working to maintain and further the faith and in helping to restore these decadent, amoral and obscene societies such as ours to higher spiritual values. The four steps are serving as tent maker ministers, forming house churches, making the house churches into spiritual units and families, and using your job and work in society to witness to the glory of God.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.