Are you ready to redefine your understanding of the church and explore the concept of disruptive faith? Dive headfirst with us into an enlightening conversation that pushes boundaries and challenges traditional norms. We, at Madison Church, believe in turning these disruptions into catalysts for self-improvement and spiritual growth. From daily inconveniences to more significant setbacks, we'll share how these challenges can be opportunities for change.
Let's start by debunking the idea of the church as a physical structure. We're venturing beyond the bricks and mortar to redefine 'church' as a vibrant, dynamic community with Jesus at its core. Unearth a new perspective on faith, as we discuss Jesus' radical vision of the church as a mobile movement, not confined to Sundays but a purpose-driven mission that goes beyond. We’ll delve into how this mission is enabled through the work of Christians, individually and collectively, marking this purpose deep in our hearts.
But forging this path requires courage. We'll navigate the concept of a disruptive church and the bravery required to step out of one's comfort zone. We'll encourage you to muster the courage needed to create potential. It’s time to leave behind the safety of what is known, to disrupt the status quo and become the church in a world that needs disruption. Join us for this thrilling exploration of faith, disruption and transformation, and embark on this challenging yet rewarding journey with us.
Good morning and welcome to Madison Church, to our online audience. Watching at a later date they get a little bit later than you guys get and I'm Stephen Feith and we're so glad all of us I want to speak on behalf of our Madison Church community that we're glad that you're in person to celebrate our ninth anniversary, as I just mentioned, nine years of mission and life and ministry in Madison. What I've been impressed with the most that I don't know if I can say that I mean that humbly, kind of it reads arrogantly but what I'm most impressed about us is that we've been here for nearly a decade and we have done things the way we want to do them, on our terms, the way that we have felt that God has called us here to do it. I don't think in nine years, we've ever sold out. We've stayed true to ourselves. Even when it was hard, even when it was difficult, even when there was unknown and there was pain and challenges I mentioned some of those we stayed faithful. We kept walking what I thought was the path God wanted us to walk. And what am I talking about? Well, we came to Madison to start a church and the goal was never to be the biggest church in Madison. That might be a bummer for for some of you. You're like oh, they're not trying to be the biggest. Nope, that's not on the list. We weren't trying to be the fastest growing. That wasn't on our list either. We didn't necessarily care about that. So what did we care about? You're like well, if you didn't care about fast growing, you didn't care about biggest. What did you care about? Well, we said that we wanted the quality of our community to be greater than the quantity of our crowd. We wanted the quality of the relationships that exist within our church community to prioritize how many people we could get in a room once a week. We prioritized health and being healthy over being flashy. You might have noticed there are no lasers in here, and I don't plan on buying any anytime soon. I could be talked out of it, though, maybe, but we chose authenticity. We chose health over being flashy, and what I want to talk to you about the next few weeks is that we wanted to be a disruptive church. We want it to be a disruptive church community in the city of Madison. But what does that even mean? I say disruptive? It doesn't sound like a good thing, does it? Does anyone love being disrupted? I didn't go to the dictionary to look up a definition for you. I actually went to chat GPT. It's what all the kids are doing nowadays and so I asked chat GPT here's my prompt Tell me what disruption is, as though I've never heard of it before. And chat GPT told me disruption refers to a significant and often sudden disturbance or interruption of a system, process, industry or established way of doing things. It typically results in a fundamental change or alteration of the status quo. Okay, so kind of toward the end, there you're going. Okay, I can kind of see where maybe Steven's leaning in on being disruptive, like the status quo and challenging that. Yes, but let's talk about the earlier part of that. Does anyone love being interrupted? No, not at all. I don't think anyone loves being disrupted. I mean, over the pandemic, when your internet went out, was anybody celebrating that? Did you have a part? Maybe some of you were, because you're like I got a day off of work now, but for those of us who had to get stuff done or had kids at home, we relied on Disney Plus babysitting our kids, and so when the internet went out and you know, you call and of course, what do they say? They don't even answer. They. We are aware of an outage in your area and we are working on it. I hate that phone call. They did know and they don't care. They don't care, as are their parents in the room. Okay, do you like getting disrupted at 2.45 in the morning with a kid who says I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I got to go potty. Okay, go. Why are you waking me up for potty? You know where it's at? My least favorite thing and if you're a parent, I know you know this to be true my least favorite thing to hear at 3 in the morning is dad, I threw up. No, because I'm guessing it wasn't in the bathroom. I'm guessing I have a messy clip. I am so annoyed. Right now my life is a little bit disrupted. They've closed the highway by my house. I don't know they haven't closed it all the way, but it goes down to one lane. So if you're ever going from Madison to Verona, you know that they just opened up this huge highway a few years ago after they spent a few years working on it. This is a new road and they're down to one lane again and so all of the traffic of a very large software company out in Verona is driving through my little, my little side streets, which means I get caught and we only have stop signs. Okay, because we're side streets, we don't have stop lights, and so I'll be like 25 cars back out of stop sign for the next 15 minutes. My life is disrupted and I hate it. Why didn't they fix the road? I don't even know what they're doing to it, but it's new. Why are we working on it again? Now? Those are kind of like light disruptions. They're kind of like little ones. We're entering into a season in which there are going to be more significant disruptions. You might need to cancel plans due to an illness that's spreading Strep, throat, rsv, the common cold, the flu, covid I'm sure I'm missing something, but there's going to be plans that you are really looking forward to and you're going to get sick and you're going to have to cancel it. If you've lived here one winter, you know that there's going to be a day where we get 15 inches of snow and whatever. You had everything shut down for at least the next 12 hours and you know when your the days are short and you're stuck inside and you're sick kind of the seasonal depression for some of you who have that kind of hits just a little bit harder in January and February. These are disruptions we don't like. Perhaps you unexpectedly have lost your job. That's a common theme with a lot of people since 2020. You've lost your job. That's a disruption. And speaking of your jobs, you may earn the same amount of money you did last year. Okay, tell me if you're in the same boat as me. You earned the same amount of money that you did last year, but it's not going like anywhere near as far. Like, I get the same groceries, but why does it cost $60 more now? And so you know that might be a disruption of your life financially, you have to cut back. Now. Here's the thing. Okay, I didn't ask for a show of hands. I asked, but I didn't wait for an answer Cause I know that if I had asked who likes disruptions, a couple of you are smart, alex, right and you would have raised your hand because you know that not all disruptions are bad. They're not inherently bad. A disruption, kind of, is just this thing that's interrupted you. If it's bad or not really has to do with your interpretation of it. Now, that's not to say that there aren't some objectively bad things out there. There are some objectively bad disruptions, but I want to talk about some good ones. For example, I mean, take the snow day. Yeah, your plans might be canceled, but you might discover during a snow day that, like you genuinely needed a day off of rest, a day off with rest, because life had just become overwhelming, it become busy. You didn't realize that, how just thin you were, how thin you were, and you're like, oh man, I really needed a day off, I really needed this snow day. That's the same as disruption. It could be a good thing. Perhaps you did lose a job, but it led to a better job that you never would have pursued had you not unexpectedly lost your job. I know that's true of some people. So have you ever considered that a disruption might be what your faith needs? Have you ever considered that a disruption is what your faith might need? For example, what if I told you that youth ministries in the past 50 years have primarily failed us? That's a critical statement. Did he just say that? I did say that. What if I told you that, objectively, I can tell you that youth ministry has failed us in the past 50 years? I'll back it up with a study that says that was conducted by Barna in partnership with Iwana. Just 10% of 18 to 29 year olds with a Christian background qualifies a resilient disciple, and how they categorize this was those who were committed to their faith, faithful to their faith, engaged young Christians who kept showing up and being engaged with Christian community. Okay, if I only did my job 10% of the time, if I only did what was expected of me 10% of time, if you only did your job 10% of time, how long would you last where you work? If I only parented 10% of the time, you know what kind of kids I'd have? Right, we have failed and we need to disrupt the pattern. We need to disrupt the system the way that we were doing youth ministry. It doesn't work. We're not going to double down to do it harder. We're not going to serve more pizzas. We're not going to have more lasers. We're going to change it all together. We're going to break ground. Disruption it doesn't have to just be beneficial. It can be life changing and eternity altering. So statistics like these inspire me. I want to lead the charge. I want to lead the charge of disrupting our faith, disrupting our church, disrupting the status quo. And so today marks the beginning of a new series called Disruptive Church, and over the next few weeks I hopefully plan to provide you with practical insights on how to rethink your faith for the better. And what we're going to talk about is relearning and perhaps, in some cases, deconstructing our interpretation and what we know to be the church. When you hear the word church, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of something like an institution, the Catholic Church as seen in the Vatican. Here. That might be what you think about. When you think of the church, you think of the Vatican, the Catholic Church, the denomination, the institution, or perhaps you just associate it with a physical structure. When we talk about church, you imagine a church building, like where we are meeting at right now. I am going to church. We talk about church as a place. It's a building. I'm going to go there. This perspective is not uncommon, this isn't new, this isn't Western, it's not just to us in the United States. Those who follow Jesus in the ancient Middle East likely held similar views. Jewish life in that era revolved around two key religious institutions the temple and synagogues, and the temple, which we have a little recreation here. So this was Jerusalem's second temple. This is the one that would have been around when Jesus was walking the earth, and this was the big guy. This was their Vatican. This is where they went to engage with God, and while there was only one temple, there were numerous synagogues, and so synagogues would be a little bit more like how we understand church's sake. So you could see, those are the ruins of a synagogue, much, much smaller. Each Sabbath day, people would gather at their local synagogue to read the Hebrew scriptures those are our Old Testament scriptures and they would engage in prayer. And then Jesus comes on the scene and he understands back then that this is how people understood church. They understand it as a temple, they understand it as a synagogue, they understood it as a place. They understand it as something that we do and we go to. And then Jesus has a very interesting conversation with his disciples challenging that, and I believe it's gonna challenge our perceptions today as well. So if you wanna follow along, I'm going to Matthew 16. If you want to follow along, we have house bibles. You can use Bible app. Certainly, I'll also have the words on the screen. I wanna point out a little bit of context while you're going there. What doesn't jump off the page is that there's significance in where this conversation took place. There's significance in the place that this took place. Caesarea Philippi was a hub for temples dedicated to Syrian, greek and Roman deities. They got a picture of this and so if you're looking at the picture here, right here in the middle, this middle temple would be the temple of Zeus. This would be the temple to the emperor. Right here is the kind of the area for the deity Pan this would have been. First it was Pan's area and then they kind of branched out. We gotta get our Greek gods in there, we gotta get the emperor in there, and then there are a couple little pagan religions down here, and so this is the place where Jesus is about to have this conversation, and again, it's critical. So in the backdrop of Jesus is Zeus, in the backdrop of Jesus is the emperor, and he is about to ask them a question. And Matthew records it this way, beginning in verse 13. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples who do people say that the Son of man is? Now? This is an easy question for the disciples. This isn't a parable where they have to pull Jesus off to the side afterwards and be like, hey man, what did you mean by that? I don't get it, I'm not following. Can you explain it? This is actually a question that they can understand. So you can kind of imagine the enthusiasm, like they've gotten it wrong so many times but now they're really gonna knock it out of the park. And so well, they say some say you're John the Baptist and some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah are one of the other prophets. You know they kind of throw that out. They're like well, maybe one of the other prophets. They wanna cover all their bases. So they're like, just in case we're missing one. They say you're like all of those guys. And so this is a pretty straightforward, easy question. I mean and you can imagine all the disciples chiming in this is like the easiest Sunday school answer they could have gotten or questions they could have gotten. They didn't need again Jesus to explain the parable. They answered the question. But notice all of those people that they compare Jesus to or they say who you're like John the Baptist, elijah, jeremiah or any of the other prophets. Those are people who spoke on behalf of God, which Jesus was kind of demoted to right when the Pharisees or other religious leaders. In modern day, some of the major world religions say what Jesus was? Just a prophet, just like Jeremiah, just like Elijah, just like John the Baptist, who's just speaking for God. And so this has already begun to happen. The disciples acknowledged this is already happening and the backdrop of Jesus are all of these world religions. And then Jesus says to them but who do you say I am? Who do you say I am? And this is where the disciples get quiet Because there is a correct answer, whereas before it was kind of a throw up like who do other people say I am? What do you heard? What's the gossip about me? And oh yeah, no wrong answers. This one, there is a right answer and the disciples can sense it. No one wants to answer. We know this because of who ends up answering. Peter, who is historically known and well recorded for speaking first, thinking later something I can relate to undoubtedly had something to say in this moment. Can you imagine, like all the disciples, they're not looking at Jesus because they don't want them to call on Him. You kind of all imagine their side-eye. Will Peter speak up? Please, peter, do the one thing we can count on you to do shoot your mouth off. And he does. And he does. Simon Peter answered you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And, to everybody's surprise, this is actually the correct answer. Nobody could believe that he got this one right, but he nailed it. He nailed it you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. You are the true King and to you alone we pledge our allegiance. And this is the moment it's actually the first time in the Gospel of Matthew in which the disciples acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, and it begins with Peter first proclaiming it. Some people call this the great confession. So Peter gets it right. The disciples didn't answer. They're quiet. Now. They look at Jesus. Right, they're looking at Peter. Peter answered now what's Jesus's response? And Jesus replied you are blessed, simon, son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, which means rock. He changes his name. It goes from Simon to Peter. This means rock, and upon this rock I will build my church and the powers of hell will not conquer it. Jesus responds to Peter. He says this is who you say I am. You say I am the Messiah. And then Jesus says here's what I say and who I say you are. You are Peter, you are the rock and you are the church. And it's one of the first times, this first time in Matthew, that we get this Greek word ecclesia. Does anyone know what that word means? Well, translates to church, right, but in the original Greek this is what I think might be interesting to In the original Greek it didn't mean church. If you and I were just living in the first century Greek speakers, we would say that the farmer's market downtown is an ecclesia. That's what we would describe it as it's a public gathering around a purpose. We would say that the Iron man or the CrossFit Games is a form of ecclesia. It's people getting together to do something. And then Jesus kind of hijacks the word, he disrupts it, he takes it. He says and you, I'm going to build my ecclesia, my assembly, my people, I'm going to build it around you, but I want you to take, if you're taking notes, ecclesia wasn't a religious word at all. Up until this point in history. Ecclesia was something secular, it wasn't something sacred. Jesus' disciples would have expected him to say I'm going to build a temple. I'm a rabbi, I'm charismatic, I'm good at what I do and we're going to build a big temple, much bigger than the one that already exists. Or they would have expected him to say we're going to build my synagogue or we're going to have a place that people can go and do church. But that's not what he says. He says I'm going to build my ecclesia, I'm going to build my assembly, I'm going to build my community. He tells Peter and the rest of the disciples he is not going to build buildings, but gatherings of people who will meet in marketplaces and public squares and neighborhoods, not just the hang out, but to carry out his mission on Earth after he is gone. And, as already stated, you and I and they, the disciples, they all had ideas of what church meant and I want to disrupt your understanding of it with what Jesus taught. If you've thought of church as a place you go on Sundays, you're thinking about it wrong. That's not how Jesus spoke about it at all. If you're thinking that church can only happen for an hour, or if it's a building, it's just not a biblical understanding of church. It's not the way that Jesus taught it and it's certainly not the way that Jesus envisioned the church. Theologian Ed Silvoso writes the temple and the synagogue were static institutions that functioned in buildings that members had to go to on specific occasions Static just like what we're doing right now. We meet in a building, 11 o'clock on Sundays you come to us, whereas ecclesia was a building. Less mobile people movement, designed to operate 24, seven in the marketplace for the purpose of having an impact on everybody and everything. But does that mean that then, anytime two or three Christians gather together, that that's church? That should be your next question. So last week some of you know Judd he comes to our church and Dick and Dan and I we all went out golfing on Sunday morning. What was that church? Just a couple guys chasing a white golf ball around. We were all believers. Was that church? Well, sort of. It's one facet If you can imagine a diamond. I couldn't find a diamond upstairs in the nursery. I'm sorry, but you just gotta imagine. I thought they'd have one, but just imagine a diamond and the whole diamond is the church. And so, yes, when four believers get together and you're out on the golf course, that's a form of it. But that's not all of it. It's not what aligned with what Jesus thought of the church. Once again, we might have over-corrected in the other direction. So for some of you you're like, all right, we'll just get rid of the building, we'll get rid of the services. We don't do that by the being, by the boom and just anytime Christians hang out, we did it. We go to the coffee shop. That's church. It's swinging the other direction too far. It's an aspect of it, just like as I'm gonna talk about more that this is an aspect of the church. Jesus had a lot of things in mind when he used the word ecclesia, which is why your translators, people who got their PhDs in ancient languages and when they're looking at the original text and they see the word ecclesia and they know that and if you were just a normal Greek speaker, ecclesia means assembly. It's why they translate it church, because they know that when Jesus says the word ecclesia, based on everything else that Jesus has done, it doesn't mean just an assembly, just a Christian club, that it means something different. And so what did it mean? And that's what we're gonna talk about the next three weeks, and so I hope you'll keep engaging, I hope you'll come back. If you can't be here, subscribe to the podcast. But here's what Jesus had in mind. Here's the whole diamond. The church is a community by definition, by ecclesia. It is an assembly, it is a body, which means you are the church and you are the church and you are the church, not individually, but when we get together collectively, we are the church. The church is a community where Jesus is king. Who do you say I am? Don't forget the question that prompts the conversation who do you say I am? We are separated as the Christian church, not just by belief but by the work that God has done in and through each of us, individually as well as collectively. But we're not just the church community where Jesus is king. You can see I left an open space on my slides, right, okay, the church is a community on mission where Jesus is king. You see, before sin enters the world, we're just in community and we're just enjoying life with one another. But then sin enters the world and we're in this in between, and we read in Revelation that once again, community is restored, and that's what it is. But you and I, we now live in between one community and the next community, perfect communities, and we are a community on mission. Now, sometimes I'll read like on Facebook or something. If God is real, why doesn't he just write in the sky? Because he's written on you and me. That was the way he was gonna communicate. He didn't need to write it in clouds. He wrote it on your heart and my heart and he gave us hands and feet to be His church. That is what we are to do Now. You and I can talk, and theologians and scholars do this. Well, the church isn't just those things that Stephen described. What about communion and baptism and a statement of faith and all of those things? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, but minimally. There's a word that scholars and theologians use. It's called a minimal eschatology. At a bare minimum, if we stripped everything away from the word ecclesiology, what do we have? And I believe it's that sentence that we came up with the church is a community on a mission where Jesus is king. Now, before I wrap up, I do wanna say buildings are not bad. I've gotten into the habit lately. I know I cited chatGPT at the beginning of my message. I'm gonna cite it again. I've gotten to the habit of copying, pasting my entire message, and I pasted it on chatGPT with the prompt what am I missing or overlooking. And then chatGPT always gives me like 25 responses. So they think I strike out every week. But one of the ones that was really good this week was they said buildings are not bad, like chatGPT said that, and I said, okay, explain, cause that was my next prompt why? And chatGPT had 20 more reasons on why buildings are good and I loved it and I agreed with it. I'm not anti-building. I don't think you should be anti-building. Who has a house or apartment, a condo that you live in? You guys like living in a house right indoor plumbing, that's pretty cool. Electricity, you can stay up at night. Okay, buildings are good and this building is great. I love meeting in Trinity here in the basement. It's a little warm right now. It's always gonna be a little warm down here, but this space is a space for you and I to come together and experience the tangible presence of God with other people. Yes, you can do it at home, you can do it in other places. I'm not denying that. But there's something just a little bit different, a little bit set apart, about this space. We get to come together to learn how to better follow Jesus. We challenge each other to follow Jesus better, more faithfully. We encourage each other when things are going bad, when things are going rough. In this space, you and I, we take communion together every week and we're gonna do in a few minutes we're gonna celebrate someone's baptism. This space is great and, as I mentioned in the previous series, this kind of space is where most of us found Jesus. Yes, can this space be hurtful? Yes, is this space overplayed? Yes, have we made poor decisions in spaces like this? Yes, but that's the God we serve, the God of grace, of love and forgiveness. God can use our bad ideas and make them really good ideas, and this space isn't inherently bad and God has used it historically to lead many of us to Him. Buildings are good, but they are not the church. Oh, here come the kids. They want me to wrap up here. As we close today. My challenge for each of you throughout this series is to be the church. We don't do church, we don't go to church. We are the church. So be the church. And it will take courage to do the things that we're talking about today and for the next few weeks, because you're gonna have to get uncomfortable. You're gonna have to challenge some of the things that you grew up in, you were told were sacred and you had to believe this. I was listening to the Craig Rochelle Leadership Podcast this week and he said on the show you have to have courage to disrupt what is to create the potential for what could be. It takes courage to be the church. It takes courage to step out of the boat. It takes courage to speak up and to speak. First you have to be brave and to step out of your comfort zone. But if you do and if you will, what you will experience in terms of your faith and spiritual health and thriving and the rest of your life will be better than you ever could imagine. It does take a decision, though at this point. Will you and are you willing to disrupt your faith?