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A Church Without a Name

Image of Augustus Henry
Inspiration from New Creation Ministry —
By Augustus Henry (Ph D.)

Ralph W. Tyler was an American education scholar. He led a project in the US in the 1930s and 40s which compared the best ways to prepare high school students for college or university. During the eight-year run of that project, the programme followed 29 schools. The students at those schools were not required to experience school in the traditional ways. No standards examinations were administered. University entry for those learners did not depend on tests such as CXC, SAT, or ACT. They were accepted into university based on the number of school assignments completed and recommendations of their principals. It turned out that those students performed better in all academic and civic areas than students who had gone to school the traditional way. There was one problem however, the programme did not have a name. So, in the haste to foster historical relevance to that project, they named it ‘The Eight Year Study’. Yet, the fact that it did not have a name, did not minimize its impact.

A movement without a name

In the same way, a movement began several hundred years ago without a title. The leader one day fed 5000 people who did not even care to join his movement, but they did not call it the salvation army. On another day, he gave food to another 4000, but they did not call it The World Food Program or UNICEF. One time he took pity on a little old lady who may have been struggling with fibroid issues – they called her the lady with the issue of blood. But there is no record of her joining  his denomination. Lawyers sought him, the rich were after him, the poor needed him, the powerful craved him. They called him teacher, they called him Rabbi; they called him master, some went as far as to call him Lord, even though his movement never had a name.

The Bible says he had no reputation of note. The pharisees said, “we know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from” (John 9:29). However, what that leader, Jesus, demonstrated is that service to people is more important than reputation. And empathy for those-in-need should be the objective for any organization with a moral agenda. Remember that the pharisees were among the church (The Temple) leadership. They spoke for the church. It is reasonable therefore to conclude that the church was opposed to Jesus caring for the sick and people who were sinners.

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2). The church is in objection to Jesus’ sensitivity to the needs of people. In essence, they detested Jesus helping people in their own congregation. They refused to share the empathy that Jesus had for those people who needed recovery from all types of sin and disease.

Church that accepts all types of people-in-recovery

In 1 Cor. 12: 26, the bible says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.” Did you know that there are two diseases that can render a church heartless? I call those viruses episcopal diabetes and theological leprosy. In physical terms, both can lead to nerve damage called neuropathy. In that situation the pathways of communication from one part of the body are damaged or severed; and when one body part does not know what’s happening with the other, it cannot help.

Observations have shown that a person with leprosy would repeatedly push his hand in a pot of boiling water that would peel his skin; he would do it over and over again until the only recourse for the doctor is to amputate. This is what happens when people or organizations are desensitized to the needs of individuals. In that way, members could be going through life-altering problems and not one person in church knows about it. Some people go through emotional pain such as divorce, depression, isolation, loneliness and no one notices because the church’s nervous system has been destroyed; not even the pastor has his finger on the pulse of the church. I know of a case where an elderly lady, church member, was dead for two weeks in her house, and not a single church member missed her; even though she had been sick for months.

Would our church need a name if it were a friend to the lonely? Would we need a name if we were a people where the hurting find comfort; where the depressed finds a friend, the frustrated and confused can find love and acceptance; where those who are judged is met with understanding, where the community can find rest for its burdens?

Here is the thing: If one person is in recovery, and we all are not in recovery, whether you called it Baptist, or Adventist, or Catholic, or you called it Methodist, all you would have is a sick body. How can one part of a healthy body be sick in discomfort or pain, and the rest of the body does not know it?

I want a church which may not have a name but is like that leader of 2000 years ago – is interested in the welfare of people. I want a church, that may not have a name, but it cares about people’s physical health, their mental health, their emotional health; and most importantly, one that cares about the salvation of people. One that builds the kingdom of God; not breed millionaires or worship people and organizations.

Church that connects people to God not church

I want a place where spiritual neuropathy does not disconnect the sensation between the head and body. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body (Eph. 5: 23).

Stephen Hawkins lived with ALS, a neurological condition that causes people to gradually lose control of their voluntary muscles. In essence only his brain was functional. Yet, he was the most advanced mind explaining black holes, the most mysterious object in the universe. He created a model of how the universe function. He explained dark matter and dark energy. He did much of that using only his brain, because much of the time his body was useless.

What if I had a church where the body was healthy and connected to a head like that? Take that further, what if the church, the body, was connected securely into the perfect head, Jesus Christ?

A church with a healthy head that is connected to a healthy body is a place that focuses on spiritual growth. It would also care about the needs of people. Such a church would be developing people into spiritual maturity through bible study, incessant prayer, and teaching discipleship. It would be a church that nurtures people into who they were born to be. Its a place that equips all believers for a significant ministry by helping them discover their God-given gifts and talents (Warren). And I don’t need a name for that.

My task in this message is not to denigrate churches and their titles, but to refocus church and members on the pure duty of the Christian calling – love for God and love for humanity, especially the ones viewed as the worst among us.

Question: If we were task with building a church as Jesus did, what would it look like?

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