The Paradigm Shift

The "Church" Paradigm (a la Camp)

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
1 Chr. 15:16 π 1 Chr. 16:37 π 1 Chr. 16:42 π 1 Chr. 23:5; 2nd π 1 Chr. 24:5 π 1 Chr. 25:5-6 π Hos. 4:17 π Mt. 13:33 π Mt. 15:14 π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 18:15-20 π Mt. 20:25-26; 2nd π Lk. 10:31-32 π Jn. 8:44 π Acts 2:39-47 π Acts 2:42-47 π Rom. 1:17 π 1 Cor. 14:26 π 2 Cor. 6:17-18 π 2 Cor. 11:12-15 π Gal. 6:1-2 π Eph. 1:9-10 π Eph. 4:11 π Eph. 4:12 π Eph. 4:13 π Eph. 4:13-16 π Eph. 5:18-19 π Col. 1:28-29 π 2 Ths. 3:6-15 π 1 Tim. 3:1-7 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 2:15 π Tit. 1:7 π Tit. 1:9 π Heb. 8:10-11 π Heb. 10:23-25 π Heb. 10:25; 2nd π Heb. 10:26-27 π Heb. 10:31 π Heb. 10:38 π Heb. 11:1 π Heb. 11:6 π Heb. 13:7; 2nd π Heb. 13:17; 2nd; 3rd; 4th π 1 Pet. 5:1-4 π 2 Pet. 2:1 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 17:3-6 π Rev. 17:18

Steve Camp posted 107 Theses in the spirit of Luther as a call for repentance and reformation. Since these theses are posted for discussion, I am going to answer that posting and discuss them. In doing so, I want to state clearly that I am highly supportive of what Steve is trying to do. What he wants to see happen in the Contemporary Christian Music Industry (CCMI), I want to see happen in the body of Christ at large: repentance, renewal, revival, reformation. As Steve wrote from having been down in the trenches, so too have I been subjected to things that ought not be so. But I believe that if God never took us down into the trenches, we would never see just how ugly our world really is. We would remain content and comfortable in our false belief that our "church" traditions really serve God and His kingdom. We would remain unable to recognize the difference between a work of God and a work of man.

What I want to do is pull from Steve's list of theses those comments which seem to indicate the "church" paradigm. My prayer is that we will all be able to see more clearly God's vision for His body as contrasted with the modern "church" paradigm.

First, what is a paradigm? A paradigm, as defined in the dictionary, is a model or a pattern. Just as a world-view (such as creationist, rationalist, etc.) colors every thought at a nearly subconscious level, so too a paradigm can cause us to miss the obvious. If we have in the back of our mind that the "church" paradigm is Biblical, we will not question many things that are happening today. Or, if we question them, we simply excuse it because, after all, "no church is perfect." When we fall for this lie (not that there is no truth in it, but that there is deceit wrapped up in it), we buy into a pattern for the people of Christ that is not Biblical.

Let us begin here:

31. For if in our worship we pervert His Word, we pervert the truth about God. If in our music we distort His doctrine, we distort a right view of Him. If in our song we misrepresent the Scriptures, we misrepresent the Savior. And if in our ministries we twist His truth, we dishonor His character. ( 2 Tim. 2:15; top )

Well said, Steve. Steve has written in the context of a contemporary musician. But what about in the context of a worship leader? Suppose, for a moment, you were a physical therapist working with disabled people. Now you go in to your first patient and you start to do the exercises you want him to do. You use all the equipment and demonstrate all the techniques, but you never put the equipment into the patient's hands and you never put your hands on the patient to help him learn to move his disabled muscles in the right manner. Well, you'd be a pretty useless physical therapist, no?

So too with a worship leader, which, by the way, is a position that has no Scriptural basis in the New Testament pattern for assembly. What we do see is Paul exhorting the Corinthians that "...each" of them have "a psalm..." ( 1 Cor. 14:26 ) and that they all "be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord..." ( Eph. 5:18-19; top ) Under the "church" paradigm, this is not possible - it is considered disorderly and chaotic, completely inappropriate and utterly impossible.

The chief reason this is considered inappropriate, disorderly, chaotic and impossible is because we have grown accustomed to the architecture which was used to construct a pattern of assembly that simply is not found in the New Testament. Our buildings are laid out in such a way that a "pastor" and the worship leaders (or choir) are exalted above the people and they lead the people in worship, understanding, etc. Let's give these leaders the benefit of any doubt and believe that they really are trying their hardest to be led by the Spirit as they lead all those people. But what is accomplished even when that is true is that the Holy Spirit must lead the congregation by proxy - that is, these people are learning to follow men, not the Holy Spirit. When Joe Layman cannot start a song from his place within the assembly, even though the Holy Spirit has put it on his heart to do so, simply because it would be "out of order," then it is the order and not Joe that is out of synch with God's pattern for His assembly.

Thus when a worship leader gets up in front of an audience, his very presence is a distortion of what God wants for His people. God wants His people to worship Him from their hearts at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, not at the promptings of a worship leader. There is no place in the body of Christ nor in the New Testament for the impersonal style of "leading worship" that is performed in so many "churches."

40. Authentically Christian music was never intended for casual use or purely for entertainment. ( 1 Chr. 23:5; top )

And here is exactly why Steve's call for repentance and reformation is falling largely on deaf ears: most of the people listening to contemporary Christian music are seeking only to be entertained. And that is only because it is exactly what the "church" has trained them to do - week after week they gather in row after row as passive spectators and wait to be entertained. There is no incentive for active involvement - in fact, any attempt at involvement would bring on an encounter with the bouncer ministry, a high dosage of disapproval from the very comfortable audience and, if one persists, a severe treatment of "damage control" from the leadership of that particular "church."

"Church" itself has become something for "casual use" and "entertainment" because it is functioning under a false pattern. Change the pattern and you have a much greater potential for more serious-minded folks to be brought to maturity in Christ. Until assembly is built upon the "each one has something for one another" pattern, there will be no spiritual maturity in the assembly.

54. The Biblical model of the musician originated from the Levitical priesthood, as musicians were appointed by the Levites under King David's command, to proceed in worship, with the priests, before the ark of God. Its nature was prophetic to Israel and ecclesiastical in role, i.e., used in temple worship. ( 1 Chr. 15:16 ; 23:5 ; 25:5-6; top )

And I'm sure this will be one of the Scriptures used to refute what I've said above about there being no worship leader position. But what I actually said was there was no worship leader in the New Testament pattern for the body. The point I'm trying to make is actually illustrated quite well by using the Old Testament Levites. When David - whose kingship, inherited directly from Saul, is an excellent type or picture of how the "pastorate" usurps the position God would prefer for Himself - when David got around to organizing and scheduling the Levites, he found that there were already "officials of the sanctuary and officials of the house of God," both "from the sons of Eleazar and from the sons of Ithamar." (the two clans of Aaronites - see 1 Chr. 24:5; top ) In other words, what David was "organizing" and institutionalizing was already organized and functional as God had already provided all that was necessary.

What also must be kept in mind is that the Old Testament is chiefly a picture of God's redemptive plan and our response to it. It often paints in broad strokes. In contrast, the New Testament speaks specifically and plainly to all issues necessary for following after Christ. Where we can generate an Old Testament pattern or picture, we must be careful that it does not usurp a New Testament teaching. In this case, using the Levitical model to justify worship leaders usurps the power of the New Testament "one anothering" commands. As Steve said elsewhere, "All Scripture must harmonize (agree) with itself and thus interpret itself." And we must give the New Testament, where it speaks plainly regarding an issue, the greater emphasis than we give to some allegorical picture we draw up from some Old Testament incident or practice.

63. Music, by Biblical definition, is a ministry. ( 1 Chr. 16:37 , 42; top )

The verses referenced here speak of Asaph and his brothers ministering before the ark with the instruments of God. Again, we must be careful how we interpret the Old Testament picture. This thesis seems to be leading towards the notion that the Levitical musicianship is the pattern for New Testament worship in the assembly. This picture is incorrect. It does not. A more proper usage of this Old Testament picture here is that there ought to be music in our soul and spirit where we regularly and daily commune with God. Again, we cannot let an Old Testament picture usurp the role of a New Testament teaching.

65. God has designed genuine ministry to be inseparable from the life and leadership of the local church. Any ministry that does not strengthen one's commitment to the local church is inconsistent with the purposes of Christ. ( Acts 2:42-47 ; Heb. 10:23-25; top )

As this thesis is written, I could not agree more. However, there are certain "church" industry buzz-words in this thesis that must be re-examined. Let me re-write this thesis a couple of times and I think we'll see that this thesis tries to say too much in one sentence.

Let's look closely at these two words, "local" and "church," for a moment. "Church" is a bastardized rendition of the Greek word "ekklesia" - it is not a true descendant of the original word. While the Spanish language inherited the word "iglesia" and French got "eglise," somehow the translators for the King James Bible decided we needed the Scottish word "kirk" - the building, the monastery, the sanctuary. "Ekklesia" is from two Greek words: "ek" meaning "out" or "out of," and "klesia," the root of which is "to be called." Thus the word refers to people called out of one thing (the world) and called into another thing (the body of Christ, the kingdom of God). The original Greek word has no room for a building - it is only the people - nor has it any room for an institution other than the kingdom of God. In plain English, ekklesia is simply people getting together to obey God and do His work - whatever that might prove to be in each local expression of the body.

Now what's the adjective used here? "Local." The "local" assembly. This means neighbors, people who reside close by. What is happening in the traditional/institutional "churches" is not local - it's divisive. The Baptists drive across town to be with other Baptists and the Pentecostals, Charismatics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics and Non-Denominationalists, etc., etc., ad nauseam all do the same. And they all, just like the priest and the Levite in the story of the good Samaritan ( Lk. 10:31-32; top ), drive right past their needy neighbors without stopping to bind up their wounds.

The modern "church" (in its most usual, most attended expressions) is in no way "local." It is segregated along divisive doctrinal, cultural and racial lines. For the most part, the white yuppies meet with their own kind as do the Hispanics and the blacks. Those who believe in the pre-trib theory don't mingle too much with the post- and mid- trib crowds and the "once saved always saved" bunch doesn't get together with the "you must abide" group. The young people meet with those their own age as do the young adults, divorced, substance abusers, silver and blue saints and the married couples (to name but a few of the cleverly marketed scatter-gories).

The strength of the ekklesia assembly is found in its proximity to and intimacy with one another - the whole group of "one another" from the youngest child to the oldest saint mingling in a real environment meeting real needs and overcoming real problems together. Our strength is in our intimacy and our diversity. When we sacrifice these, we have sacrificed the assembly and God is neither honored nor worshiped. Instead, we have erected the idol of self as we go to the "church" that pleases me.

66. There are five reasons why we should love and serve the church: Firstly, Jesus Christ promised to build the Church - therefore, my commitment should be to it. ( Mt. 16:18 ; Acts 2:39-47; top )

I could not agree more. So when I dis these modern, man-made abominations so that I can find the ekklesia that Christ is building, you will understand, won't you?

The verse most often used to compel people to regularly attend the local abomination is Heb. 10:25 . "Forsake not the assembling together..." But if you read on, you'll find that those who do forsake the assembling are guilty of an unpardonable sin.(see Heb. 10:26-27; top to gain the full context) Does that mean that if I miss a Sunday morning lecture, I'm on my way to Hell? I don't think so.

The word rendered "assemble" in Heb. 10:25 (top) means to put all the parts together to make a functional, working unit. The most obvious example of this is a model car or airplane. When you buy it in the box, it's all in one place, safely held in place on the little plastic racks. But it's not an airplane or a car yet. It's just a bunch of unassembled parts.

So too the "church." Oh, sure, everybody's all in the same place (the room most often deceitfully called the "sanctuary") but they're kept safely away from one another (harmless to Satan's plans anyway) by traditions, rules, anonymity and, if those fail, the bouncer ministry. They are by no means assembled - they're still in the box waiting to be cut off the racks, have their flashing trimmed, to be glued together with the other parts, painted and displayed for the world to see the love of Christ actively at work in them.

It is those who forsake this actually and actively being assembled into a working unit for the glory of God who face the fearful reality of falling into the hands of the living God.( Heb. 10:31; top )

68. Thirdly, the Church is the predominate agency through which God's will is manifested on earth - therefore, it is the community with whom I labor. ( Eph. 1:9-10 ; Col. 1:28-29; top )

This is true - if we recognize that what Steve calls "the Church" is not the same thing as that which calls itself "the church." The true remnant are committed to obeying Christ at any cost - but those who are quite comfortable playing the "church" games have no concept of what God's will is nor any desire to pursue it. Therefore, without any apology I can declare I do labor with and for the true remnant, the ekklesia - just as I stand opposed to the apostate frauds.

More importantly than being "the predominate agency through which God's will is manifested on earth," the true remnant is the predominate agency through which Christ Himself is manifested on earth. At first that sounds like semantics, but there is more to it than that. And again, it relates back to the "church" paradigm.

Where the "church" trains up its passive listeners and its very few exalted leaders, the body of Christ relies on every member to exhibit the facet of Christ which is displayed in their individually-formed new natures. The question could be asked this way: "What does Christ look like?" The answer: He looks like His body - the corporate total. Thus when you depend on one man or a few men to give you their perspective - no matter how extensive or well-studied that perspective is - you are being kept from experiencing the fullness of Christ in His body. Again, each one has something for one another - not just one or a few has something for the many.

71. In response to these truths and to insure a life of godliness and holiness and to guard against blind spots in personal life issues, vocation and theology - submission to the plurality of godly leaders within the church is essential. ( 1 Tim. 3:1-7; top )

72. We are to obey, honor and pray for the faithful pastors in the church who have been given this sacred trust. They are those who are instructed by the Lord to keep watch over our souls as ones that will give an account. Woe to the shepherds who do not take their responsibility to shepherd the flock of God seriously. They dishonor the Savior. They disobey the Scriptures. They diminish their office and defame their calling. ( Heb. 13:7 , 17 ; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; top )

With the first thesis, it sounds like the New Testament pattern. But then in the second thesis, we're back to praying for the "pastors in the church who have been given this sacred trust." This is the "church" paradigm at its most blatant. Let me explain.

Eph. 4:13-16 describes a beautifully mature assembly. The folks are unified in "the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God," they're being brought "to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," they are "no longer...children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive," they are "speaking the truth in love" and growing "up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (top)

What an assembly! Where do I sign up?

The key is found in verse 12 (top): They have been "equipped" and "edified" (built up to maturity).

Well, great. How do I get "equipped" and "edified"? The modern "church" paradigm tells you that you need a "pastor" and a "church" assembly (meaning a regular diet of lectures and some superficial "fellowship" with people of your own kind). Well, that's not what God gave to make His assembly mature. Take a hard look at Eph. 4:11 and you'll see the clearest explanation for the weakness and immaturity of the "church."

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers..." (top)

Where the "church" paradigm puts its focus on one man giving an entertaining lecture to make the audience feel like they've done their duty to God, God gave five types of spiritually gifted people to minister by example to His body to equip and edify them towards maturity. When you downgrade any of these types to mean something other than what God intends, or when you purposefully exclude them from "your" "ministry," at best you can only hope to raise up a crippled and deformed cell of the body of Christ. At worst, and much more likely, you will raise up that which is the worst enemy of the true body of Christ - an institutionalized "church" or, even worse, yet another denomination that is completely fallen away from the real faith in Christ.

What is often overlooked about the term "pastor" is that it has no reference to him being in a position of power over other believers. In fact, Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you..." ( Mt. 20:25-26; top ) Any time anyone exercises authority over other believers, he is outside of God's will. Mark it well. How can you recognize a false shepherd? The first clue is that he will have his own "church" where he is able to lord it over his subjects.

The New Testament assembly functions, not under autocracy (or theocracy as some call it) nor under majority rule, but under unanimous consensus - one accord - through the Holy Spirit. If those who lead the assembly lack the patience to cultivate consensus but rely on authoritarian practices to maintain the order of their own status quo, they are not qualified to be leaders within the body of Christ. (see Tit. 1:7 , 9; top ) An impatient autocrat is not an "elder who leads well."

In this thesis, it is also stated that "we are to obey..." This brings up the interesting paradox of New Testament authority. We are to obey ( Heb. 13:17 , etc.) but those who lead are never to command. ( Mt. 20:25-26 ) What an interesting dilemma! So what's the full counsel of God in this matter? It's found in a better rendering of the word used for "obey" in Heb. 13:17 (top). The word is better rendered "allow yourself be persuaded." That is, the elders and leaders of the assembly are supposed to have the best grasp on God's truth and it is as you obey the truth that you are set free from your sins to better worship God with all that you are, do, say and have.

73. In the case of a Christian being overtaken in sin, proper discipline must be exercised within the church to bring about restoration and reconciliation (as prescribed in Mt. 18:15-20 ; Gal. 6:1-2 ; 2 Ths. 3:6-15; top ) This is to confirm repentance and to guard the purity of one's life personally as well as the entire body of Christ corporately.

Once we compare the modern "church" paradigm to the New Testament pattern for assembly, we quickly see that it is the "pastors" and the other Nicolaitans (Greek for "over the laity" - Rev. 2:6 , 15; top ) who are the most overtaken in sin. But there is little or no chance to exercise proper discipline upon them because they hold positions of authority and power (if you don't agree with them, leave or meet the bouncer ministry), they hide behind layers of bureaucratic yes-men (try to really talk to the "pastor" sometime and see if you don't get referred to one of his hirelings), and they rely on their popularity to ostracize those who speak God's truth (anyone speaking against the "pastor" is "touching God's anointed" or "attacking the church").

So as Steve says elsewhere, "When Biblical standards are dishonored and unrepentant sin persists we must adhere to the instruction of the Word - stop the music until the life is right." In this context, it is time to stop the "church" until we all get our lives - and thus our service to one another - right.

81. Satan's number one assault on the church is to infiltrate with error. He doesn't want to fight the church - he wants to join it. ( Jn. 8:44 ; 2 Cor. 11:12-15 ; 1 Tim. 4:1; top )

Too late. He already has joined. In fact, he started it. And he owns the patent rights on the pulpit... and the choir... and the architecture... and the usual style of meeting. The average "church"-goer really needs to re-examine the origins of his Sunday morning surroundings.

In one of His most interesting parables about the kingdom of God, Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." ( Mt. 13:33; top ) In one sentence, Jesus lays out the broad-stroke picture of church history as it would unfold over the next 2,000 years. Let's briefly look at it more carefully - though I will have to leave you to be a good Berean and research (both physically and spiritually) the truth of what I say.

Why "three" measures? Why not four or twelve, or any other number? Simply because in church history there have been three main branches of Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, or, if you prefer, Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical. Either view of the historical divisions of Christendom is supported by Christ's statement and there are no other major divisions of Christendom.

Why "leaven"? If this parable represents the goodness of God's kingdom reaching throughout the world (as many have taught), why did He use leaven? Leaven in Scripture always represents sin - most often the sins of hypocrisy and religiosity.

Why "meal"? Again, if this parable represents the influence of God's kingdom reaching throughout the entire world, why did He use meal? Meal represents the Bread of Life which the body of Christ is to distribute to the world. Bread is never used in Scripture as a picture of the entire world.

Why "hid"? Because if the leaven (that is, the hypocrisy and religiosity) weren't hidden (that is, if it weren't subtle and deceitful), you would recognize it immediately and avoid it. (see 2 Pet. 2:1; top )

Why "a woman"? Who is she? This question is answered (albeit somewhat cryptically) in Rev. 17:3-6 but more clearly in verse 18 . "And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth." (top) Just as it is the "city" (administrative rule) of God who rules over heaven, the angels and over the saints, so too it is the "city" (administrative rule) of Satan which is over the kings of the earth. This woman, the whore of Babylon, has been worshiped under many names but she has always had one similar characteristic: she is the mother of God or the mother of the gods. Her names include Semiramus, Isis, Astarte, Rhea, Cybelle, and Mary. Her religions, in addition to worshiping the "Mother of God" aspect, includes a hierarchical priesthood, local temples and other idolatrous practices - the very influences which have leavened the body of Christ since before the time of Constantine.

God still calls to His remnant: "'Come out from among them and be separate," says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." ( 2 Cor. 6:17-18; top )

83. "Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone." ( Hos. 4:17; top )

Again, we have an Old Testament picture and we must be careful how it fits into the New Testament pattern.

Ephraim was one of the tribes of Israel. As such, he would represent an integral part of the body of Christ. But God says of this integral part of the nominal people of Christ, "Let him alone." Jesus said a similar thing about the Pharisees: "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." ( Mt. 15:14; top ) And this is what we must say of these blind "pastors" and false leaders: "Leave them alone. They will not repent. They are content in their apostasy. Only those who are blind - those who refuse to find the truth for themselves - will fall in the ditch with them." And let us note that leaving them alone does not mean we continue in silent, condoning, faithful attendance at their abomination. We depart from being around, near and especially under them.

As Pogo is famous for saying, "We have met the enemy, and 'they' is 'us.'"

105. Reconcile yourself to the local church. Place yourself, your family and your vocation under faithful pastoral instruction. ( Heb. 13:7 , 17; top )

Amen! But don't stop there. Put yourself, your family and your vocation under faithful apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic and true role-modeling teaching too - that is until you are mature enough that you are exuding those giftings yourself. ( Eph. 4:13 ) The Spirit of Christ is the complete expression of each of these five giftings and when you are mature and complete, able to hear and obey Him for yourself, you no longer need that any man should teach you. ( 1 Jn. 2:27 ) You will know God for yourself - just as He promised you would. ( Heb. 8:10-11; top )

And yes indeed, do reconcile yourself to the true local ekklesia. That is:

107. Take a step of faith. Come away from the current industry model like Abraham venturing out into the wilderness with only the promise of God as his surety. Begin to build authentic Christian Music Ministry again. ( Rom. 1:17 ; Heb. 10:38 , 11:1 , 6; top )

I would re-phrase that to say:

Take a step of faith. Come away from the current "church" industry model (the "church" paradigm) like Abraham venturing out into the wilderness with only the promise of God as your surety. Let Him who builds His ekklesia begin to build authentic Christian assemblies again.

I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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