Catching up with church

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God’s answer for carrying on the presence of His Son, Jesus Christ, in the world today, and accomplishing His work here, is the church. The church is an organic, living organism of believers in Christ all over the world. It is called the body of Christ because it represents His hands and feet continuing until He returns the ministry He began.

For 2,000 years, the church has taken many different forms and met in different venues from a place where two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name to gatherings of thousands. Here at the Catch, we are committed to returning to the earliest forms and operations of the church as reported in the Book of Acts in the Bible. These first churches met in homes for fellowship, to hear the Apostles’ teaching, to pray and share daily in remembering the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42). There were no special buildings, no worship services, no performances, no professionals — none of the trappings that have come to be associated with church today.

Indeed, the refreshing truth we have found is that the aspects of the modern church that are not possible to reproduce online are in most cases traditions that were never a part of church in the first place. The rock concert, the choir, the sound systems, lights and flash pots, we can’t do, nor do we want to (see Pagan Christianity by George Barna and Frank Viola). The fellowship, the prayer, the teaching — even the Lord’s Supper — we can do, and that is why the early church is actually our most viable model.

There are also advantages the Church at the Catch has over more traditional churches. Church no longer has to be limited to a geographic locale, but can reach around the world. We are also able to reach out to many people who either cannot attend church or feel uncomfortable in a traditional church setting. And we have found we can be relevant to the needs of people who too often fall through the cracks of more traditional church ministries. These include homebound individuals, people living in areas where traditional churches are rare, and those who have been disaffected, disenfranchised, and discouraged by negative church experiences.

The Church at the Catch is interactive and personal. It is also enduring. Once a traditional church service is concluded, it is lost. However, Church at the Catch endures. Even after the live video concludes, the recording is stored. Hundreds of people see each video during the week throughout the day or night.

Spiritually speaking, then, a church is simply a group of people who share a common faith. Ephesians 4:4-6 states the essential elements of a church: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Where or how people share this faith is a factor of each new generation.

The Church at the Catch releases people to function according to their spiritual gifts. It will give us teachers and prophets to expand the ministry, apostles to begin new fellowships and evangelists to add new believers. Not to mention myriad other gifts that come by way of the many members of the body.

The Church at the Catch meets Sundays at 6:00 p.m. PST. It’s on Facebook Live so you can choose to interact with me through a chat column or just watch. You can also view the video any time after the event, so you can attend church at 3 in the morning on Wednesday if you want to. Also there is our Wednesday night Bible study on zoom (see below). We’d love to see you there! And don’t forget our prayer ministry and counseling, always available to you.

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4 Responses to Catching up with church

  1. Hi John,
    I’ve appreciated your ministry for many years. I date back to searching for your column in the back of the old CCM magazine. I loved it. The one that always stuck in my head was a writing on a church where you spoke. There was a cross directly in front of the pulpit, which bothered you, until you realized the importance of always keeping the cross of Christ front and center. Of course, you put it much better than i.

    From time to time I read your “Catch” writings, and find direction and encouragement. Thank you. As I read today, I found myself confused. I’m sincerely thankful for your online gathering of believers, but I’m wondering if you’re implying that this virtual gathering should take the place of the local body? I’m thinking of elements that seem to be missing…and please forgive me if I’m uneducated about what your gathering does. Are there the scripturally mandated elders and deacons? Are you able to minister to families through the funeral of a loved one, or watch over the the dedication of a new born into the church family? Perform a wedding (also the premarital counseling)? Visit the sick? I want to be held accountable to my local family of believers that I may bump into in the store…not just when I choose to log-on.

    I’m not trying to be contentious. My wife and I have spent the past few months “attending” our local church online, and I’m thankful the opportunity is there, but many in our congregation have attested to missing the gathering of our family of believer in person. Perhaps you have this figured out, and I apologize if I’m out-of-bounds or misunderstanding.

    Thanks for your time. I appreciate the thoughtfulness that I read in The Catch.

    David

    • Hi David,

      I will not feign a response on John’s behalf. If he chooses to answer your query then he’ll reply succinctly and try to allay any doubts concerning the virtues and necessity of his cyber-church in todays world market.

      While I’m one of many who has, as John says, been disaffected, disenfranchised, and discouraged by church experiences, I do not believe a virtual community can adequately replace the flesh and blood, shoulder-to-shoulder, and tactile reality of a gathered body of souls who greet each other with handshakes and hugs, who commune and share bread together at the Lord’s table, and who worship God in either a man-made structure or under open skies.

      To my knowledge, I have never had physical contact or face-to-face encounters with anyone from the Catch community except through a camera and monitor, and occasional e-mail.
      A few months back I had a major event where my wife nearly became my widow. Did anyone in the Catch community know? No.
      Would they have even cared had they known? I think not.
      John might say that it was incumbent upon me to share details so they could reach out and pray or something. Perhaps so, in a virtual world.
      What happened in my life, though, was sudden and real so there would have been no prior notice and I certainly wouldn’t have reached out from beyond the grave to let John or his Prayer Warriors know or ask them to pray about it!
      I haven’t even mentioned it before now because it would be pointless.

      I wish it weren’t true but it appears if I were never able to communicate in any way with the Catch again – for whatever reasons – then there would be no pause and no concern on the Catch’s behalf to inquire about my well-being. Even the sudden cut-off of my financial support wouldn’t be enough to prompt a Catch representative or any “boots-on-the-ground” to investigate my status or whereabouts.
      In real life, though, if you don’t show up or aren’t heard from for awhile, then someone will usually check on your welfare to find out if you’re, at least, okay.
      Usually. In the real world.

      There is an accountability and responsibility to one another and – dare I say? – a purer Love and truer LIFE in the body of Christ that comes together physically than there is in the virtual spheres of manmade dominions.

      Churches are not perfect. People are not perfect. The internet is not perfect. But God is.

      And you’re right, David, in reminding us that there is no better substitute for the tangible gathering of believers.
      Under certain circumstances online preachers – and maybe even some televangelists (when they’re not building their mansions on earth) – serve a needful purpose in keeping us focused on God, reminding us that He has everything under control. and helping us retain our connection to Him.
      And, undoubtedly, during these socially-distanced times there is a huge need for The Catch and other online Christian-based ministries to fill the void so rudely imposed upon us by the coronavirus.

      I’m thinking this may be a moment of reckoning for the Church as a whole.
      Could todays pandemic be Christ’s 21st Century scourge of the modern church similar to His cleansing of the temple from the money-changers?

      Perhaps, when things settle back into a semblance of normalcy, we will no longer take it for granted that the people who attend church will always be there; and, perhaps, the leaders of the Church will rethink their priorities and choose the will of God’s plan for His congregations, communities, country, and Kingdom.
      Instead of being money and power-driven, prideful and hurtful, contentious and contumelious, will the modern Church actually become Spirit-led, faith-based, honest, loving, accepting, transparent, and True to all once more?

      After the glow of relief has subsided, I guess we’ll find out.

      Shalom, Peace…
      🙂

    • Thanks, David – I truly appreciate your kind thoughts.
      I wasn’t trying to elicit any sympathy from my “tale of woe”, just trying to relate my personal thoughts on what what I perceive as the major disconnect between a cyber-church and the local congregation.

      There is a sterility and façade to the online gathering with miles and miles of protective distance between talking heads. And one doesn’t even have to wear any pants!
      Nor does one have to really be held accountable. Just hit “mute”, “delete”, “escape”, and/or banish those who disagree with or challenge them and those others whom they could care less about or cause them discomfort.

      Although I do believe there is a useful purpose for them – both online gatherings and pants – but knowing human bents (both my own and others’), I suspect people would prefer to default to the convenience (and safety) of two-dimensional fellowship as oppose to what I believe God had designed for His children.
      Flesh and blood were meant to mingle.

      Thank you, again, for your kindness.

      Shalom, Peace to you my friend…
      🙂

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