I shared this as a series of small posts on a social media platform. I realize it is something that many of us need to know, so I gathered them together and made them into a single post. Please read with an open mind.
... Real intimacy between the members, a kind of intimacy that would lead to one's life being fused into the other, to where they become one. “That they all may be one;” (John 17:21), this is the wish and prayer of Jesus.
This kind of oneness cannot be achieved in the church setting where you are seated to face the back-head of the person in front of you. It requires eyes to eyes contact, where you interact with the other person, enter into the person's life and become a part of him/her.
Ecclesia is practiced in a casual setting where the members feel at home and are able to express their true self, rather than the masks they wear when they are in an organized setting. Casual and intimate interaction in a setting that feels like home, that is what would lead to oneness.
Another result that church has failed to produce is having each member express their spiritual gifts, edifying each other. The church setting is designed for only a few people to express their gifts. These few are allowed to actively engage Christ and grow while the rest watch and are entertained or as they would call it—edified.
The problem with that kind of edifying is that life (spiritual life/Christ) is like a river, it must be allowed to flow out in order for it to truly grow. If you are constantly edifying somebody, you are giving that person life. But if that life does not find an avenue to flow out, it will die inside of that person. So these people are sitting in church every Sunday, receiving life only to go and kill the life. Can that be called edification (edification means to build up)?
For someone to be truly edified, that life he is receiving must be allowed to grow, and it can would grow when it is given an avenue to flow out. Simply put, the person you are edifying must be given an opportunity to edify another. As such what is needed is mutual edification, yes a setting where everyone is edifying everyone as see in 1Cor 14:26.
Church is not designed for mutual edification, it is only the people at the altar edifying those seated. This kind of setting does not allow the flow of life, and when life is not flowing then it is not growing, as such the whole church remain stagnant, even the pastor is stagnant because little or no one is ministering to him. Life must be allowed to flow in and out through everyone present.
Ecclesia not only allows mutual edification it organizes every member to actively engage Christ, drawing riches from him that they will share with the rest of the members. And as they share life they are getting more and more richer with life, till the whole group becomes exceedingly rich in the fullness of Christ.
Another aspect that flawed the church system is welfare and the distribution of financial resources. In the book of Acts we see how that the early Christians “met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold all their properties and possessions, pooled their resources together so that each person’s need was met.” (Acts 2:44-45).
When offering giving started in Christianity it wasn’t for church building, it was for welfare. The early Christians didn’t have a church building and they didn’t worry about that, they never contribute for that. But when there was feminine among the Jews the whole Ecclesia of God all over the world started contributing money to send to the brethren in Jerusalem. That was how offering started.
Today offering is for running church and the issue of welfare have been given little or no attention. Church is expensive to run, the demand is just too much. You have to pay for the building, for the equipment, for each service miscellaneous expenses, and then the pastors must also be paid, sometimes you have to pay the instrumentalists and the technical crew. All of this money must come from the people, and people don’t easily release their money.
So the pastor is pressured to find a way of getting this money out of the people, then he begins to preach about giving, trying to convince the people to release their money. In this kind of setting, no matter how much revelation the pastor has to share, he would have to put it all aside and focus on messages that would get people to drop their money just so the church expenses can be met.
The whole system is design to result to the neglect of the spiritual needs and the welfare of the people. So much energy put into running the system and it is not really helping the people, it is only helping the ministering to grow and have a big name.
Ecclesia is an assembly where the people meet to discuss issues concerning their welfare. So if a brother losses his job or his business collapses the money contributed is used to quickly get the brother up his feet. Every money contributed is mainly for welfare, every other thing comes secondary. Moreover, ecclesia does not suffer accommodation expenses, equipment, and all the other expenses present in running a church, because the meetings are held in the homes of the members.
Another thing in church system is that the pastor faces too much pressure. George Barna did a research and interviewed a lot of pastors that retired and many of them said they retire because of burn-out. They felt drained, but how won’t you feel drained when you are the one ministering every Sunday plus weekend service?
You will never understand if you have not been put in that position. It is not easy to come up with a new sermon every Sunday, the pressure is too much on your spiritual life. Couple with that is the stress of management, and then there is counseling. So much eyes on you and your family, you have to appear perfect even when things are not going well in your home.
There are just so many flaws found in the church system that are absent when we are practicing the ecclesia that Jesus said he would build. Man just gave themselves wahala in the name of religion. God has made this thing easy for us, why do we need to go complicate everything?
Once ecclesia is mentioned people begin to worry about ministry, “God has called me to be a minister, how can I do the ministry considering how small an ecclesia group is?” Ministry is not meant to be done inside ecclesia, it is supposed to exist independently from the ecclesia.
If God called you to teach, preach, lead worship, etc. then go get a hall, invite people from various ecclesia group. They come, sit under your ministry, and be edified to go back to their ecclesia to distribute the life they have received from you so that all may grow in the riches of that life.
The body of Christ is designed in a way that God gives each man a unique ministry. But because of this thing called church this diversity has become a cause for division. The Holiness preacher starts his own church, stamps his brand on every of his members and they begin to separate themselves from the rest of the body of Christ, calling themselves 'deeper life members'.
The faith preacher has his own church, with his brand on his people, who would now calls themselves Living Faith members. Then there is the 'fire prayer' preacher with his own church, brand and people. The body of Christ divided. Everybody pledging allegiance to one brand name or another rather than to the name (Jesus) into which they were baptized.
You are a Mounting Of Fire member growing and learn to tap into the riches of fire fire prayer, but you are lacking in the riches of faith that God is dispensing though the faith preacher, you lack the riches of financial stewardship, holiness, grace, spiritual gifts, revelation (knowledge of Christ), etc. all of which is dispensed through other members of the body. And you are now lacking all these things in the name of, “I am a MFM member”.
We are called to grow in all the riches of Christ and not just one aspect. This problem is not found in practicing ecclesia. Because in an ecclesia system, each member of the ecclesia is allowed to go sit under other ministries and draw from whatever riches God is dispensing through those ministries. Then they all assemble in the ecclesia meeting and begin to share the riches they have received from the other ministries.
As such in my ecclesia meeting I would receive from someone who has sat under the ministry of holiness, of faith, fire prayer, grace, word, spiritual gifts, healing, financial stewardship etc. I am drawing from all these riches and growing in all the fullness of God.
The Ecclesia system eliminates the problem of division as no ministry owns anybody. People are allowed to sit under your ministry and move on to their various ecclesia. All belongs to the Lord, and all meeting at the ecclesia closest to their homes owned by no one but the Lord, with no brand name attached to it. No one is claiming to belong to any other thing but Christ
"Let there be no divisions... What I mean is that each one of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided?" (1Cor 10,12,13). The concept of belonging to one denomination or another is only a phenomenon of the church system—a system that is alien to God’s original plan.
Around the second century, Aristides was sent by the Emperor Hadrian to spy out those strange creatures known as "Christians." Having seen them in action, Aristides returned with a mixed report. But his immortal words to the emperor have echoed down through history: "Behold! How they love one another."
That statement, "Behold! How they love one another." became how the outsider described the early Christians. Around that time an Apology was written by Tertullian stating: "It is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See how they love one another," (The Apology, ch. 39).
We have lost that testimony today, so divided that even our division has division. We must learn to recognize that we are one and try to bond with anyone that is a believer. And one very important thing about bonding is proximity. It is much easier to bond with those living closest to you.
You don't need to drive for miles in order to patronize your favorite brand (I mean church). You are to bond with the believers in your locality, because they are the ones closest to you. You come to know them intimately, growing together in love, and becoming one. And when the people of that locality sees how the Christians in their area are so close they would testify, "See how they love one another".
This is why it is called a local assembly, because it is in your locality and it comprises of all the believers in that locality. It is the believers in that locality bonding together. The Ecclesia of Corinth, involves all the Corinthians believers, the Ecclesia of Ephesus, are all the believers in Ephesus. You will never see a believer in Ephesus driving to Corinth every Sunday to worship God.
Many of the things we do today are alien to the early Christians, but we do them anyway and call it normal. No, it is not normal. Another thing about bonding is genuinity, the person must truly be a Christian, dying to that ugly carnal man and all his perversion, otherwise that relationship will be nothing but a bone in the throat
Church is a mixture of true Christians, fake Christians, and outright unbelievers, you can't really tell who is a true believer. All these people calling themselves Christians, it is difficult to know which is genuine. But ecclesia is an assembly of true believers, dedicated to the pursuit of the fullness of Christ, dying daily to the flesh and all its perversion. A small group of people where everyone is known
In an ecclesia you are all gathered with a mission to recognize and die to anything that is of the flesh. Hence, you are dying together, bonding together, and growing into the love nature of God. Just take some time to imagine that, a people growing into the image of the God who is love, learning to express this love to one another, and becoming one. Yes, that thing that you imagine is what the people of the 2nd century saw about Christian and said, "Behold! How they love one another."
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me." (John 17:21). "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:35).
If Christianity is to be practiced rightly there would be nothing like church. There would be only local ecclesia and the various ministries of the body of Christ existing separately. Everyone belonging to the ecclesia in his/her locality, if he changes his address then he must join the ecclesia nearest to that new location.
We must feel at home with any believer, anywhere in the world. That is what oneness is. We should never be too uncomfortable with the believers close to us that we move to another locality to fellowship. We should fall in love with the Christ in every believer.
Every minister must come from a local ecclesia. The local ecclesia can help sponsor his ministry, or the ministry be sponsored by whatever way directed by the God who called him and gave him that ministry. If you are a teacher, organize teaching programs, rent a hall, invite various ecclesia.
And there would be those who feel like, "Wow, I am very interested in the topic series this minister is teaching, it is something that the Holy Spirit is drawing my attention to, let me go sit under his ministry." Yet another may feel, "Well, I do not feel drawn to learn about that topic, look there is another ministry currently teaching on a topic that the Spirit have been trying to teach me, let me go sit under that ministry".
Everyone is free to sit under any teaching based on the leading of the Spirit and there is no denominational wall saying, "You must not move anywhere beyond this boundary". Let the Spirit be free to lead His people, and let the people learn to follow the Spirit. Our spiritual growth is the Holy Spirit responsiblity, we must let him take charge of it
And if you are called into a more unique ministry like worship. I believe the body of Christ really needs to learn how to abide in worship. Yes, in whatever way the Lord will sponsor you, get a hall and hold worship program. Let people from different ecclesia come learn how to worship and soak themselves in the presence of God
If you are called to be an Evangelist, get a hall, or whatever platform as directed by the Spirit. Send messages to the various ecclesia asking them to persuade their neighbors who are unbelievers to come, especially those that have stubbornly refuse to give their life to Christ despite all the attempt of the local ecclesia to win them over to Christ
Let them come and sit under an anointed evangelist and the power of God will come upon them in a way that they would not be able to resist anymore, they will just find themselves surrendering all and give their lives to Christ. If you are called as a teaching prophet to give a special training to the body, then establish a school or something.
Let the various ecclesia come and be trained so that they will able to represent God better in their locality, oh that God would walk the earth in that area where the ecclesia is located, and the unbelievers would behold His glory. Church is an hybrid that tries to mix fellowship and ministry together, which is not supposed to be so. It is difficult to have real fellowship when ministry is going on.
In schools, once a teacher is teaching and some students are discussing, bonding and fellowshipping together, what do you think the teacher would do? He would have to stop that fellowship. Fellowship does not mix well with ministry, it is either you do one and leave the other. And the two are very important, you can't totally abandon one to only do the other.
Church is an attempt to mix the two together, as a result the people are not properly ministered to (they should be allowed to enjoy all the ministeries that God has made available in the body, and partake of all the riches of Christ, rather than to be limited to one denomination) and at the same time they are not given the chance to have real fellowship and bond together into oneness.
If you don't understand the difference between ecclesia and church, please follow the links below and read the posts;
From Church Back To Ecclesia (part 1); The Real Word
From Church Back To Ecclesia (part 2); In Practice