On our trip to Great Brittan, France and Italy I visited and spent time in several cathedrals and famous churches. St. Paul and Westminster Abbey in London; Bath Abby in Bath; Notre Dame, Sacre Coure, and St. Chappelle in Paris; and the Doumo and Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. I will continue my daily blog on my reflections from my time spent in these churches.
The picture above is part of a marble plaque that is inside the Duomo in Milan. The Duomo is the largest Catholic Church in in Italy, the third largest in the world. It lists the Bishops of the church. When I read it, it made me stop and reflect. The first bishop was Saint Antalone and he became bishop in 51 AD (“Anno Elez”- year elected). In 51AD!!! Jesus was crucified in 32AD so this is only 19 years after his death! This is before most of the books of the New Testament were written. This church was planted and grew without any Bibles. John 3:16 would not be written until 25-30 years after this church was planted! Actually, Antalone died before it was written. When we talk about the “early church”, this was the early church.
History states that Barnabas brought the Gospel to Milan and that Saint Antalone was converted by and discipled by Barnabas. This church then was birthed out of one thing, the Goepel of Jesus Christ and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Trying to form a community that simply conformed to and imitated the life of Jesus.
As a planter of missional churches I am aware that church plants tend to be of a different culture. In there attempt to create a “new” form of church, a “Cowboy” or anti-established church attitude can take shape. As I read this plaque I am reminded and reaffirmed that though I may take issue with some of the current models of church structure, I am not trying to distance my self from the established church.
I am not smart enough nor do I want to try to create from scratch a new denomination. (And saying you are non-denomination basically means this). Nor do I want to disconnect myself and our church from those like Antalone. Those early saints and martyrs whose blood and sacrifice first joined in the Missio Deo, the Mission of God to establish his Kingdom on earth and laid the prayers and ground worked my church today flows out of.
The more my heart was opened to “new church” the more my heart and my understanding was exposed to the “old church.” As I understood, embraced and began to imitate not what the church has currently morphed into, but what the current church morphed out of. The early church illustrated in Acts of the Apostles and the explanation and implementation teachings on the church contained in the Letters of Paul and James. And since we are a church committed to discipleship, I have spent much time spent in close examination of the life and teachings of Jesus found in the Gospels. The life and teachings on which Antalone founded the church in Milan
I came to the greater realization that Christianity and discipleship is not about imitating a religion, but imitating a person, namely Jesus Christ. So my plant is not called to try to conform to and imitate current church models, but it is called to conform to and imitate Christ.
A deeper study of John Wesley, the early Methodist movement based on band and class meetings, the reading of Wesley’s sermons, and reading through the journals containing the stories of the lives of early Methodist preachers exposed me to the “old” of our denominations roots. What "new" form of church was used to birth the Methodist movement and caused it to spread like fire. Added to this, I spent much time honestly assessing the state of the church today, which is not good. Through all this my heart was not just opened to, but convicted and compelled to doing the “new.” "New" basically means returning to the “old,” forming and returning to simple churches that Love God, Love Neighbor, and Make Disciples.
Starting a church is not the goal, but starting a community imitating Jesus. If you start with church, you do not always end up with community. But start with community, a church will be formed. And lives will be transformed.
My ODC family, I pray today you will reflect and pray “old School.” Paul states in 1Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.” The ultimate price was paid by Jesus Christ on the cross. However, the Church today through which you receive grace from God was paid for by the dedication, suffering, prayers, and lives of the millions of saints who have gone before you. You are part of a community of faith, a communion of saints, which includes Saint Antalone. Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!!!
One Direction Community- Lead Follower