The change that must come to the structure and the day-to-day operation of the church is extreme. It’s considered “normal church attendance” if someone attends less than two services a month.
That’s four hours out of 720 in a month!
THe 24/7 City Church must arise!
Can you imagine the United States military having sufficient training, unity, common vision, education and impartation if soldiers only had to report four hours per month?
It wouldn’t work. It can’t work in the church.
Consider the Chinese underground church. They are willing to risk death or imprisonment and torture just so they can gather together as the corporate body. In America we are often not willing to even risk missing the Super Bowl or relaxing on the couch.
I’ll include the notes below:
I. The Goal
a. The ancient and emerging 24/7 church
i. Acts 2:42-47 (ESV) 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
ii. The Chinese church: "It is estimated that there are at least 20 million Christians who are part of the underground movement," said Newton. "The Chinese have a saying, ‘God embraces the fire,' meaning that through persecution and hardship faith grows stronger." Newton says this is apparent in their willingness to risk their livelihood to practice their faith. "These Christians are a powerful reminder of the first church as described in the Acts of the Apostles. I saw in them a strong fire and conviction, the work of the Holy Spirit," said Newton. He also explains that the difficulties they face have made them a cohesive group "There are no denominations in China underground churches. There are simply Christians worshipping together, sharing the one message of the Savior," he added.
iii. Peter Xu: "They hung me up across an iron gate, then they yanked open the gate and my whole body lifted until my chest nearly split in two. I hung like that for four hours." That is how Peter Xu Yongze, the founder of one of the largest religious movements in China, described his treatment during one of five jail sentences on account of his belief in Christianity.
iv. Peter Xu said that while he was in jail, he saw several people even being killed for their faith. "A believer was praying, so a jailer made other prisoners lift him up to the ceiling and drop him to the ground many times until he died," Mr Xu said. But government crackdowns – and even torture – may not make people like Peter Xu give up their faith. "Despite all the persecution and suffering, God is calling more and more people in China," he said.
v. …police in a remote region of China had interrogated a woman named Ma Yuqin, but their efforts seemed unsuccessful. Kristof wrote: “She never broke when she was tortured with beatings and electrical shocks. Even when she was close to death, she refused to disclose the names of members of her congregation or sign a statement renouncing her Christian faith.” While the physical abuse was almost unbearable, the mental torture was even worse. Throughout her ordeal, Ma Yuquin could hear the sounds of her son being tortured in the next room. They could hear each other’s screams-additional incentives to betray their friends and their faith. Recalling this, Ma Yuquin began to sob. “They wanted me to hear (my son’s) cries,” she said. “It broke my heart.” According to VOM sources, Sister Yu was beaten to death while in custody.
b. The church is so important to the Chinese that they are willing to risk death to gather—in America many aren’t even willing to risk missing the Super Bowl or relaxing on the couch.
c. The primary issue that this issue is hinging on is found in Matthew 21.
i. First, we see the triumphal entry
1. Everybody celebrating, a huge church service
2. Most in the church would be thrilled at this level of commitment to Christ, but the problem is that the hundreds of thousands of people there actually didn’t have commitment to Christ, they had commitment to self.
3. They embraced a ‘bring your own bar’ to church mentality.
a. The bar of commitment was determined by themselves, and the moment they realized that they weren’t going to get what they wanted, the lowered the bar to zero.
b. We see this in churches all over, except instead of holding the bar high and letting people dismiss themselves, leaders are lowering the bar in order to keep the people.
c. The problem is that they are generally not Good Friday Christians—those who embraced the cross of Christ. They are more often Palm Sunday people.
ii. But then, we see Jesus dealing with the spirit that drove the Palm Sunday crowd.
1. Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
2. Religion- man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
3. The message of salvation must also be discussed here.
a. The Palm Sunday people didn’t find salvation and cleansing from their sins because they celebrated Jesus.
b. Only the cross, which resulted in all but two, plus a thief on a cross to Jesus’ side, will suffice.
iii. Then, as this religious reformation continued, we see Jesus restoring the Temple:
1. Matthew 21:14-15 (ESV) 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,
iv. Then, Jesus established the reality of supernatural faith and fruit as a normal life experience for those who dismiss religion and who embrace Jesus as Lord.
1. Matthew 21:18-22 (ESV) 18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
v. Then, the cross.
d. Our focus right now is to gather, pray and communicate the prophetic word of the Lord.