I have been enjoying conversations with John Lynch about where the church is and where it needs to go. In between our meetings after reflection and study I have come across author Leith Anderson who seems to have a great understanding of contemporary church life:
"While the New Testament speaks often about churches, it is surprisingly silent about many matters that we associate with church structure and life. There is no mention of architecture, pulpits, lengths of typical sermons [or sermons!], rules for having a Sunday school. Little is said about style of music, order of worship, or times of church gatherings. There were no Bibles, denominations, camps, pastor's conferences, or board meeting minutes. Those who strive to be New Testament churches must seek to live its principles and absolutes, not reproduce the details.' Those details simply aren't given.
"Now you might ask yourself, Why does the New Testament say nothing about all those matters to which the usual congregation today devotes almost all its thought and effort? Answer: Because those matters are not primary and will take care of themselves with little attention whenever what is primary is appropriately cared for. Pay attention to the "principles and absolutes" of the New Testment church and, one might suppose, everything else will fall into place--in large part because "everything else" really doesn't matter much one way or the other. To fail to put the focus on those principles and absolutes, on the other hand, is to wander off into a state of distraction, which is where most of our local congregations actually are. They wind up majoring on minors and allowing the majors, from the New Testament point of view, to disappear.
"If you make the minors out to be essential or even very important - even if you do so only practically, in the sense of spending most of your time on them - the local congregation will make little or no progress in terms of the spiritual formation of those in regular attendance. These 'vessel' matters do not bring anyone into Christlikeness, whichever side of them one stands on. That is a proven fact of life. Look and see."