Bili na kayo ng Church

“The institution is human, it is the identity that is divine”

Iba rin talaga ang nagagawa ng kawalan ng internet connection, much more cellphone signal. I recently attended a Pastors’ and Workers’ Retreat and I can attest to a very significant effect of internet connectivity (or the lack thereof) on human interactions. Mas authentic and tawanan, mas totoo ang kwentuhan, mas buhay ang hagalpakan. In this world digital connectivity, we need to establish more often the significance of genuine relational connections.

Bili na Kayo ng Church

Isa pa sa major feat na naranasan ko while on that retreat ay nakatapos ako ng isang libro in one seating. Dahil wala akong cellphone na need constantly i-check during break periods, I really felt like I am one with nature that time, at parang kausap ko lang in person ang mga characters ni Kuya Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, ang author ng Bili na Kayo ng Church. Ang unusual ng title ano? Pero sa title pa lang, magkakaroon ka kaagad ng idea what the book is about – the emerging commercialization of the church.

What’s interesting about this book is that it is presented in a “he said, she said” format. Para kang nakikinig ng usapan ng magkaibigang sina Sef and Nivz habang nagbabatuhan sila ng mga arguments about the church – answering our questions that we dare not ask sa mga church leaders natin. Sabi nga sa blurb ng libro, “ang pagpili ba ng church ay parang pagsha-shopping lang para sa bagong gadget? Sa dami ng nagsusulputang churches, alin kaya ang dapat mong puntahan? Kung lahat sila ay mag-iinvite sa iyo, anong gimik kaya nila ang makakahatak sa iyo?”


Sef and Nivz presented our view of the church in opposing spectrums: one, that it must uphold and maintain its traditions despite the changing times and two, that it has to adapt to the cultural and preferential shifts of the churchgoers. Sa dalawang panig na pinakikinggan ko (err, binababasa), sa totoo lang nalito ako kung saan nga ba ang bias ko: I can identify with Sef and his frustrations with the institutionalized church, na hindi na tayo kinakikitaan ng mga pag-uugali na unang ipinakita ng early church fathers natin – pag-ibig, pagkakaisa, Christlikeness. I do also agree with Nivz, lalo na sa encouragement niya na huwag tayong mawalan ng pag-asa sa church dahil lang sa dungis ng mga taong bumubuo nito. If Jesus died for the church, why should we give up on her?

Nagpatikim din si Kuya Rei ng interesting facts about the church history in this book. Maging yung iba’t ibang mukha ng iglesia natin ngayon ay ipinakita rin niya: cell churches, house churches, community churches, traditional churches, mega churches, digital churches. May pros and cons. Ngunit kung ang tanong mo ay “should I stay or should I go?” at “if I stay, where do I stay?” ikaw na ang bahalang sumagot niyan based on your convictions. Ang masasabi ko lang, I appreciate how God sometimes lead us to questions unanswerable by either yes or no so we’ll learn to listen to Him intently, even in matters such as leaving or staying in a specific church family.

Before I end this post, I’d love to share this statement from Sef. Pertaining to church, he says “the institution is human, it is the identity that is divine”.

Actually habang binabasa ko ang libro, it’s as if my questions were being articulated and presented to me. Hindi lang pala ako ang may mga frustrations sa institutionalized church in general. Hindi lang pala ako ang nagtatanong, “why does it hurt to be in church?”. Pero through the years that I’ve stayed and served in the church, I began to love it not because of its flaws but in spite of it.

Grab a copy on Bili na Kayo ng Church available in all OMF and Philippine Christian Bookstores.

Satellite PM: Growing Larger and Smaller at the Same Time

Jesus didn’t say to “wait and make disciples”, He commanded us to “go”.

The church mentioned in the Bible does not refer to the structure, the building, nor the organizational system of the pious. The church in the Bible most accurately refers to every individual who has received the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives. If you have a personal relationship with the only Savior Jesus Christ, then you are the church. We, as Christ believers, are the church.

Seeking obedience to the commission of Jesus to “go and make disciples”, the church’s thrust is to get out of its comfort zone and move to where the “lost sheep” are. Jesus didn’t say to “wait and make disciples”, He commanded us to “go”.

But in our context, we understand that the church also refers to the people who gather to worship the Lord and fellowship with one another and ultimately being guided by the Bible. In the heart of every healthy church is the desire to be a living organism, not just a growing organization. Seeking obedience to the commission of Jesus to “go and make disciples”, the church’s thrust is to get out of its comfort zone and move to where the “lost sheep” are. Jesus didn’t say to “wait and make disciples”, He commanded us to “go”. And it is a stern instruction!

Last Wednesday, instead of our usual Breakthrough Service/Prayer Meeting held in the church sanctuary, the leadership has brought the program to seven different locations. The church is bringing the Prayer Meeting right at the doorstep of the members, and it is actually an exhilarating idea!

To be honest, I was a bit doubtful at first whether it will get support from my churchmates. When people are used to spending their Wednesday nights in a familiar territory like the church sanctuary, it will not be easy to break the habit. But it takes a step of faith before you can spiritually move forward.

And glory to God, I can say that the church have overcome!

Our church, Marikina Foursquare Gospel Church, is again an expectant mother with potential seven daughter churches (or additional Bible studies) within and outside Marikina. If it is the Lord’s will, we are about to witness a plentiful harvest of souls as we extend our reach towards our neighbouring communities. It is always encouraging to see the church growing larger and smaller at the same time. Larger because there is a healthy increase in attendance, and smaller because people are joining care groups and Bible studies. Just like the early church, leaders are being sent to where the people are and proclaim the good news of the gospel wherever they were sent. This is a church in action!

Here are some pictures from our pilot Satellite Prayer Meeting:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slowly, all by God’s grace, we claim the realization of our vision statement:

Marikina Foursquare Gospel Church is a group of Spirit-filled believers whose lives are driven by God’s purpose, rooted in His Word, grounded in His love, equipped for service with the goal of winning and discipling families and communities for Christ.

And with this, the challenge is to #PrayPaMore! #TrustPaMore!

 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

* Photo credits to Kuya Benj, Bro. Jun M., Ate Ruth P., Kuya Rey T., Sis. Elena B., Sis. Mimi dL., Teacher Jet G. *