This is an outline of something that I sense the Spirit has been awakening me to in the last few days. There is nothing original to it, but it may be the time when God wants to activate something in this city. Certainly, it is in line with scripture and a host of prophetic words and experiences. There seems to me to be a 3 dimensional outline for the fullness of the church as Christ’s body represented in the early chapters of Acts. (Many other texts in the letters of the New Testament support this picture, but this is not designed to be a teaching document.)
Hub: Acts 2:46; (3:11); 5:12; 6:2; Eph 4:12
The hub represents a gathering on a periodic basis (such as once a month) of all those who want to associate themselves with this particular work of God. No – one is excluded from attending “hub –gatherings”, but this is the least intense and most general form of the Word and prayer. At the core of the hub is an apostolic team i.e. the fivefold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers needed to bring maturity to the body of Christ. These persons would exercise a teaching function at “hub –gatherings” and have overall oversight of the common dimensions to do with the activities in this ongoing fellowship. They would meet regularly for prayer.
Storehouse: Acts 2:44; 4:32-37; 6:1-6
This is the dimension I sense most strongly. It has been said, with prophetic truth I believe, that in most churches we “tithe to ourselves”. Whilst there is a principle of giving in the New Testament, it is not at a fixed proportion nor is it focused, either predominantly or exclusively, on the local work. The key passage to do with “tithing” is 2 Corinthians 8 -9 which is a collection amongst the Gentile churches for the poor in Jerusalem.
The principle of the “storehouse” (Mal 3:10) is that whatever a local community does not need for its functioning in the Lord can be given into a central resourcing and distributing centre. These gifts might include money, goods, talents, ministry abilities etc. Such gifts, of whatever sort, would be funnelled to the poor (in the broadest sense of the word). “The storehouse” could administer skilling programmes, mission works, food, shelters for the homeless etc. The oversight of the “storehouse” would be in the hands of people “of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). My conviction is that these people have practical gifts and are already embedded in the world of trades and commerce.
Net: Acts 2:46; 5:42; John 21:1-14; Eph 4:12
The net is a web of relationships connecting individuals, local churches, ministries etc. who, on a voluntary basis, want to be a part of the above fellowship dynamic at whatever level of commitment they choose. Via the storehouse and through the hub, all kinds of support can be supplied (Eph 4:16;Col 2:19) for those struggling with isolation, financial need, or any other request.
In principle, nothing in this model excludes a denominational congregation, home fellowship, house church or any other body from being a part of “the net.” This is because “the net” is not institutional but relational.
It should be clear that this pattern is advocating a certain type of church culture that is in increasingly strong contrast with the prevailing mind set of our times. It is not however a reactive structure. Its relational focus is at the same time its potentially greatest strength and its most fragile area. Hence the need for prayer. Can I commend this matter to your consideration, especially (if this is of the Lord) that he will identify and raise up those who are said to be foundational persons in the church: “you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.” (Eph 2:20 -22).