Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Itinerant Christian

Lately, or well years actually, I have been thinking of something... interesting. This I think will challenge us from today, what we actually think of ourselves when we say we are ministers of the gospel, or what we've been taught to think. Is there such a place in the church circle... here in Malaysia or anywhere for that matter... that we as Christians can function in FULL capacity of our calling, gifting and talent, serving God with all conviction and anointing, but in doing all that, not be confined to ONE church or congregation or group. What??? This has a lot to do with "a church without walls". Heard of that one?

Yeah, we do go to A church; we give our tithes, offerings, we serve, BUT... we should also be able to offer our ministry elsewhere too, believing that what God has given us is for everyone, everywhere and anytime. Not just ONE church or group. A little stretched, but picture this. We all know the familiar term Itinerant Minister/Pastor. We know that whenever there are camps, seminars, conventions, or even Sunday services, we have guest speakers... not only locals but as well as internationals. More often than not, these speakers say they have an itinerant ministry. They do belong to some church somewhere, but when called, they will be there to minister elsewhere. And this is part of the life calling apart from being a church pastor, etc. Apparently, this is ok for them and many regard very highly of these speakers as they minister with the full anointing of God.

So... question is, can this also happen for the 'common' Christian? So I'm seeing it here and there. But people don't generally acknowledge it as it is - itinerant in nature. Maybe they see the word 'itinerant' as more global... or more acceptable for pastors or those who are considered 'ministers'. I see members who are actively involved in NGOs or charitable organizations where they serve the people in areas of charity, the disabled, soup kitchens, etc. That's being a minister. I see people attending church events lending a hand at bazaars, food fair, donation drives, etc. I see musicians being rallied from various congregations to worship and minister. But most of the times, this also can only be seen in "JOINT-CHURCH" events which happens at the most twice a year. Twice a year?? Other than that, we are all busy serving the programs, visions, missions and directives of our own church. We have this meeting, that meeting, this and that training, bible studies, prayer meetings, healing meetings, camps, conventions, seminars.... all for the benefit (like 80% of the time) of our own congregation. It's happening. It's been happening. It'll probably continue to happen. I'm not even talking about the congregation I worship with. I'm talking about ALL congregations. ALL.

Check this out. How many churches are there in Malaysia? Think hard... Answer is--- ONE. It's the church of Jesus Christ. The church that Christ Himself started and commissioned. WE ARE THAT CHURCH. Note: I said WE. Not that building, or this denomination or that. We forget that. The buildings we worship in are really called 'congregations'. So, there is ONE church of Jesus Christ and there are many congregations. The reason we go to congregations is primarily for fellowship (exhorting one another, building each other up) and learning of the Word among other things. Check out the book of Acts which showed how the early Christians did this. Other than that, we should be out on the field doing God's work. Agreed? SO.... back to topic. Itinerant - ARE we supposed to be itinerant in the nature of our faith? Are we all suppose to be itinerant ministers taking the gospel to everywhere? Are we suppose to use whatever gift and talent and utilize our calling for all congregations with the hope that it benefits not ONE congregation but the entire church of Jesus Christ, since there is only ONE church? Or are we to be exclusive? What then? I'm a church musician. I have friends who are also church musicians. I often wondered that since it was really God's idea that the whole worship thing came about... how come we spend a lot of our time worshiping with only one congregation? How is it that since we are the church of Jesus Christ, and that there is only one, yet every week we spend time worshiping in a building with the same people. Years even. Ever wondered what our other brothers and sisters in Christ are doing? How do they worship God at their respective congregations? Or...ok more like... "man, I wish I can just go and check out the other congregations and worship together with them"... ahh... dangerous grounds here.... sensitive.... We say this a lot - the last combined church event we had was awesome! The atmosphere and the worship was like wow! God's presence was really felt. Do you realize why? duhh.... of course... its because God's people are united in worship and praise together! Simple. There is power in unity. A lot of things happen when God's people come together. And most often, when they DO come together, these are people from different congregations. It brings about a natural form of encouragement and nudge - hey we're all here together to worship the same God that we love and serve. It's an awesome sense of excitement! So back to the musician's thingy. So being church musicians also... we wonder what it would be like ministering alongside church musicians from other congregations. I have had many privileges of doing that. But we don't do it often enough. The beauty of doing so is this. There is so much diversity in worship and making music. Most of the times we learn more by playing and learning with others. It opens our eyes and understanding on how God works with different individuals and groups... and congregation in worship. We are exposed to different levels of worship. We see different things happen. We learn new skills and abilities when these things happen. We learn new expressions of worship that the Bible itself speaks of that we didn't know existed.

So... the itinerant Christian. Minister. Musician. Pastor. You put the name there. Is it for real? Can our calling, gift, ability, be available for all? Can it be available at just a phone call? Can it be available without it being a threat to our existing congregation? Sheep stealing? Come one... Can it be available just for any congregation? Here are some examples of what I mean:
- I have a regular congregation that I worship in. I give my tithes and offerings there. I serve in some ministries. This remains.
- Once in a while I visit other congregations and take part in some of their activities to maintain some form of good brotherly/sisterly fellowship and to make use of what God has imparted in me. This can be in stuff like, lending a helping hand in events, ministering in prayer, ministering music. This is not just one congregation but many and not confined to states.
- Once in a while I visit other congregations just because I want to. Makes life more interesting and unpredictable. This is sometimes strange 'cos when you walk into the congregation, the pastor looks more worried to see than excited cos... they somewhat worry that you're going to 'jump ship'.... uhh man... or some of them get really excited about it as well.. haahh...
- I start a separate ministry that I share with friends of other congregations with the same vision. We minister in worship. We avail ourselves to any congregation that we can be a blessing to. We start goin places.... mmm.. sounds awesome.
- I join mission trips of other congregations.
These are just some. Hope you get where I'm going.

Here's the thing. I spoke of this to a dear friend and also with my wife. They somewhat think I'm dreaming or trying to rally a cause for nothing. Or I'm just trying to make excuses to support this crazy idea I have. The irony is, my friend is already doing it and he doesn't seem to see it... yet. Haha.. well... you tell me. If there's even anyone reading my blog (I wonder all the time)... post in your thoughts on this. What do you think? Should we be itinerant in nature? Does it make sense? Do I make sense?

Tell me please...


Would just like to clarify on my wife's true thoughts on this issue. I have very poor memory nowadays and after much discussion and a little reflection, there needs to be proper statements made. :)
This whole idea has become what we, my wife and I, really think is ideal and to be true for today's church. No longer can there be churches (or congregations) with walls. It is no longer one congregation that can bring about change in our community. It is the entire Body of Christ (THE Church) that will make impact. We believe this in its entirety. I made an error in saying that she thought I was rallying a cause for nothing. That is inaccurate. What was meant is that we thinks... that rallying the cause would not receive any positive response from the pastors, which in turn, become futile. Why I say pastors? Because in the current times here, they are the ones who need to see this happening First, so that the congregation sees it just as well. Correct me if I'm wrong here. So, there it is. We both see and desire the same thing here. Can it happen? We don't know. But we will endure to pursue this somehow. May our children too learn to see how big the kingdom of Heaven (here on earth) is. And His kingdom is for all.

Well, enough said for now. Back to the readers.


A Pinch Of Salt said...

Hi Jason,
Wow! You really have great thoughts there,bro! I really fully support you 100% on this matter. It can be done, actually. Why not? In fact, you are right in saying that we should adopt this. Yes, case sensitive but it's worth the try,anyway. Afterall, isn't the churches supposed to be God's house anyway. BTW, many are doing this - blessing lives of other congregation ~ We should be doing it too, actually!Great stuff. I am really encouraged. I really am because now I know that there are many out there who has a burning passion for God! Thanks,man!

jason@home said...

A Pinch of Salt:
Hey thanks for the response. Appreciate the support.

butter_cookie said...

Heys, I agree with a lot of the stuff u talked about. I think u had this 'idea' (if you can call it that) ever since YF days? A church without without walls is an ideal that'll be hard to achieve until we reach heaven. And we should be trying to break barriers between different congregations. But just as God deals with each person differently, then I think the idea of an itinerant Christian (in the context of your blog post) may not apply for all. We should break the mindset of being so 'clan-protective' of which congregation we belong to but not every person is called to be itinerant. A missionary may not be called to be pastor and a teacher may not be called to be a healer. Different gifts for different people. I believe being an itinerant Christian has to come out of personal conviction or personal calling. The local congregation has its purpose to serve - to reach out to the community around it. If every church member is moving about all the time, then who will minister to the local community? Some form of stability needs to be maintained as well. In most cases - a set of leaders to minister to the members and help in their spiritual growth and their families. Some are called to stay and grow in one place (for a season until God calls them out again). So... in a nutshell, i'm totally supportive of your idea about being an itinerant Christian, just that it may not apply to everyone. =)

jason@home said...

hey cookie.... well said. agreed.

rachellmc said...

agree with butter-cookie... :)