Ever since the fourth century when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal, the church progressively went from a decentralized "saints movement" to a temple-centered, "clergy-dependent" movement.
We went from focusing on marketplace presence to building elaborate cathedrals with clergy-led rituals. We went from people "being the church" to people "going to church." I call the latter mentality "the box church."
This clergy/laity divide and emphasis with a ritual-centered approach in a building was not only a challenge in the past but also in the present (even though our evangelical rituals now have more pizzazz). Consequently, the leaders of the church held a monopoly upon things sacred—which kept the "holy elite" in power and in wealth. The sad thing is, similar concepts are still prevalent in the church today.
The following are some of the contrasts between the "box church" and "kingdom-centered" church:
1. The box church Christians go to church. The kingdom-centered believers are the church. Whenever we say, "We are going to church," it shows we are still trapped within the mindset that the church is primarily a building we go to.
2. The box church focuses most of their energy into the Sunday experience in a building. The kingdom-centered church equips believers for Monday to Friday. The kingdom-centered church not only has a good Sunday experience but also equips the saints for the work of the ministry related to their primary vocation from Monday to Friday.
3. In the box church, only the professional clergy are ministers. In the kingdom-centered church all believers are equipped to minister for God.
4. In the box church, only the clergy can understand the Word. The kingdom-centered church equips all believers to interpret and apply the Word. In the box church, people are taught to be dependent upon the "man of God" to feed them the Word. In the kingdom-centered church, the focus is to teach all believers to interpret the Word and feed themselves.
5. In the box church potential leaders are equipped to preach in a building. The kingdom-centered church equips people to lead in the marketplace. In the box church a small percentage of people with potential are trained to become full-time clergy and preach the Word. In the kingdom-centered church the focus is on equipping one hundred percent of the people to influence culture through their vocation.
6. In the box church, only Sunday is celebrated and sacred. In the kingdom-centered church every day is celebrated and sacred. In kingdom-centered churches every day is viewed as a sacred opportunity to demonstrate the love, wisdom and power of God in all of life.
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