Ekklesia - 24/7 Church
From a talk by Ed Silvoso about his book Ekklesia
What happens in church every Sunday is extraordinary. The word is preached, people worship God, there is repentance and reconciliation. But what must we do for that which happens once a week to happen every day out there in the marketplace?
There are some very intriguing questions that need to be explored:
If the Church is so important, why did Jesus speak only twice about it?
Why is it that there are no instructions or a command on church planting in the New Testament, as important as church planting is?
How does the Church today compare to the Ekklesia in the New Testament?
Look at the characteristics of the Ekklesia in the New Testament:
Members devoted to their teacher's leading.
Individual and corporate prosperity to meet the needs inside and outside of their circles.
Daily numerical growth.
Ongoing and expanding favour with outsiders.
Signs and wonders
It was definitely a different kind of church or it looked different. It was always people, never buildings. It was vibrant, expansive, operating 24/7, unstoppable capacity for growth. It set the agenda rather than being an item on somebody else's agenda.
So the question is, why such low performance and little social relevance today?
Could it be that we have confined to four walls, once a week, what is meant to operate 24/7 all over the city in the marketplace? You see, the other side of the church is the Kingdom of God, they go together. And when Jesus launched the church, He described the Kingdom as leaven, light, water, salt. Leaven in a jar doesn't do what is supposed to do. Light that is blocked creates darkness. Water that doesn't run becomes putrid. Salt in a shaker doesn't do any good to the meal. So, we need to take these into society.
When Jesus introduced the Ekklesia, His intention all along, was to co-opt an existing secular institution and impregnate it with his Kingdom DNA. Let me explain this by taking you back to the genesis of the Ekklesia. There were three main institutions in Israel during New Testament days. Number one, the temple. Number two, the synagogue. Number three, the church, the ekklesia (secular), the word translated church in our Bibles. The temple was the religious place where people met with representatives of God, the priests. The synagogue was another religious place where God's people met with each other. But the ekklesia, the ekklesia secular, was a Roman institution where it was an assembly of people deputised by the emperor to introduce and implement the laws of the empire. And the function of that ekklesia was to teach the language and the culture of Rome until everything and everyone walked, talked, and acted like Rome.
Very interestingly Jesus didn't say, "I will build my temple." Or, "I will build my synagogue." But He said, "I will build MY Ekklesia." Basically what he was implying was there already exists an ekklesia, a secular one, which is governed by evil forces, but I am releasing a new ekklesia, a group of people, and when these two meet, mine will win.
When the disciples heard the word ekklesia, they didn't need much explanation because the frame of reference was a secular entity already in existence in the marketplace, except that this new ekklesia was going to be Jesus' ekklesia. Pay attention to this. He co-opted a major institution that was operating in the marketplace with imperial authority and infused it with God's Kingdom DNA.
He went beyond that. He also co-opted the Conventus, which meant that when Roman citizens met anywhere, the power and the authority of the emperor was with them. Isn't that what Jesus said about his church? "Where two or three of you get together, I am there in your midst." But it goes beyond that. He also co-opted the term 'apostle'. Today it's a religious term, but in Jesus' day it described the admiral in charge of a fleet loaded with building materials and all kinds of people with building expertise, carpenters, plumbers, engineers, architects, that they were sent out to build in a new territory, a city that looked like Rome.
So my friends reflect on this. He co-opted the Ekklesia, He co-opted the Conventus, and He co-opted the Office of Apostle. And that's why friend, you are commissioned as a minister in the marketplace. You are part of one of those ships taking building material to establish the Kingdom of God in new territory.
In the Bible, the Ekklesia was a building-less, mobile people movement, designed to operate 24/7 in the marketplace to impact everybody and also everything. By selecting the Ekklesia more than over the temple or the synagogue, Jesus chose an agency better suited to succeed in the marketplace because His ultimate objective was to see nations discipled by inserting the leaven of his Kingdom into their social fibre through the Ekklesia, which is people.
Jesus' Ekklesia was not meant to be a sterile, sanitised holding tank into which his disciples were to store, in frozen isolation, converts fished out of the turbulent and doomed sea to await the arrival of the refrigerator ship that will transfer them to a heavenly port for final processing. No. Instead, His Ekklesia, whether in the embryonic expression of the Conventus or in a more expansive version, was designed to inject the leaven of the Kingdom of God into the dough of society so that first people, then cities, and eventually nations would be discipled.
Your participation is vital and let's take inspiration from the Apostle Paul, in Acts 19:11 we read, "And all who live in Asia heard the word of the Lord, and God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul." Who performed the miracles? God. Whose hands did he use? Paul. Where is God? Here. Where is Paul? He's not here. Who is here today? You and I.
Paul was a minister in the marketplace. Whatever instrument touched Paul became a vehicle for transformation. Whatever you do and touch is potentially a vehicle for transformation.
My friend, without God we can't, but with God we certainly can!
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