Category Archives: Uncategorized

Called to Rebuild has moved!

Well, the transition is complete and Called to Rebuild is no more! The new blog can be found at www.insearchofthecity.com. As you’ll see I went with a whole new web host and domain for the fresh look. This will mean a ton of cool new features which I’m just now beginning to explore, but unforunately it also means that my subscriber list has been lost. Those of you who have followed this blog will have to re-subscribe over at the new site. I do apologize for the inconvenience. 

I hope to not lose anyone in the change-over, which is why I’m writing one final post here. If my writings have interested you to this point and you’d like to continue receiving notifications of future posts via email, please hop right over and subscribe while it’s fresh on your mind. You’ll find the subscription form on the sidebar to the right of the page, just beneath my profile picture. And if you’ve never been a subscriber, now would be the perfect time to hop on board! 🙂

While you’re at it, please feel free to share the link to my new page on your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, ect.) or with friends and family whom you think may be interested in the blog.  I plan to have a more official “grand opening” post at the new address in the coming days, so please make the necessary adjustments to keep yourself in the loop!

Until then, grace and peace to you, and thanks for reading!


Contemplating a name change

After more than two years of blogging here at “Called to Rebuild” I feel like the experiences and transitions my own life and thought are now calling for a change of name. I’ve had a new title for the site in mind for a little while now, but I would love to get some feedback from my readers. What I’m looking to do in the near future is upgrade this site to a more professional design, improving the blog’s overall function and appearance; this will go together with a new theme which I hope is more expressive of where I stand personally in relation to all I have seen, experienced, and yet long for of a practical realization of the kingdom of God and His eternal purpose in Christ.

As I see it, the church plays a unique role in the plan of God for this and all ages. In short, she/we/the local assembly are to be in the midst of our society as the harbinger of a new and coming age. Undoubtedly (in theory at least), any practical manifestation of this kingdom does threaten the kingdoms of this world, be they religious, political, or otherwise. My own longing is to be more and more a part of something-some living, flesh-and-blood community-which embodies this hope for a new world that we read about in the scripture and, from time to time, in the pages of history.

Also, I’ve come to realize that the very name “Called to Rebuild” seems to suggest to some people an advocation of going back and merely imitating the patterns and forms of first-century churches. I’ve never held this belief personally, but to some folks I know any talk of “rebuilding” has formed a stumbling block to their feeling that our need is not to go “back” so much as it is to go “forward.” I agree wholeheartedly, though I feel in many ways that the two movements go hand in hand. Often we need to go back in order to go forward.

Anyway, my question to you, dear reader, is this: what would your suggestion be for a new blog name which reflects this kind of a longing? I’m open to your ideas and would love for every reader and subscriber to chime in with their thoughts. Perhaps collectively we can come up with something better than what I already have in mind. Or, maybe I will find it confirmed. Either way, please let me know what you think. I appreciate your participation here over the past two years and hope for a long and mutually life-giving relationship yet to come. 🙂


A letter to my readers

Dear reader,

Since life is demanding that I prioritize my time more and more these days, I’ve decided to take a more structured approach to this blog in order to keep a consistent flow of quality material coming your way (what I think is quality material at least-I hope you’ll agree). For now this will mean a couple of things.

Aside from any regular postings, Fridays will be set aside for book reviews and highlights from other bloggers. I’ll be doing this in an attempt to introduce you to other writings and ministries which have been helpful to me personally. The schedule will alternate from week to week, with one Friday being for book review and the next for blogger highlight. Of course you can always check out the list of other blogs I visit whenever you want, which is found on the sidebar to the right of this page.

Otherwise, if you happen to be among the handful of people who enjoy this blog and you are not already connected with me on Facebook and Twitter, please take the time to do so. At the end of each week I’ll be posting a link to the week’s most popular post for those who are interested but may have missed the post.

Also, I’m going to try to start posting on a weekly basis over at my other site-Reconstucting the First Century Story-every Saturday. If you haven’t checked it out yet I encourage you to do so. And if you haven’t subscribed, either here or there, now is as good a time as any! 🙂

That’s all for now, although I’m considering in the future a possible name change and new professional design for the site. What do you think? I’d love some feeback on this one. What are some other ways I could increase the readership and quality of this blog for you and for future readers?

Thanks for stopping by, and have a happy Thanksgiving!


What are the five most influential books you’ve ever read?

Friend and fellow blogger Frank Viola recently posted his own personal “top 100 books” list. I’m gonna take my cue from Frank and do the same (only my list will probably be considerably shorter). But first I thought it would be fun to get some feedback from you, dear reader. So my question today is, what are the five most influential books you’ve ever read, and why?


Called to rebuild podcast

In case you haven’t noticed, there is now a podcast section to this blog. The brothers and sisters with whom I gather have been getting together every couple weeks now for a time of focused ministry on Christ, exploring together various aspects of God’s purpose for our living and meeting together as His Body. The podcast recordings will be mostly from these times, although the most recent addition is from a regular Sunday gathering.

For those of you who subscribe to this blog, you can also subscribe to the podcast and receive notification of future posts straight to your email. Feel free to leave any feedback on the podcasts, too; I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks and enjoy!


The Local Church: A History of Change

This post is a follow-up to my last one. Here I will share a few brief thoughts on how it appears to me that the local character of the churches changed from century one until now. I will say ahead of time that this post, now that I have finished it, comes nowhere close to saying all that I wished to say in a satisfactory way. Again, your thoughts and comments are more than welcome.

First, consider the following scenario…

It’s the first century. Joe Christian is living in the city of Thessalonica. A few months ago a guy named Paul came through town telling people the good news of Jesus. A number of people believed the message, Joe Christian included. So there is a group of people in Thessalonica who believe in the Lord Jesus.

It’s the first day of the week, commonly referred to as the Lord’s Day. While you might think the believers in Christ in Thessalonica would be eager to gather together and celebrate their Lord, they are not. In fact, most of the believers don’t even know each other! And when Sunday rolls around they all get up out of bed and embark to separate destinations. Some go to the local synagogue, where they hear some scripture readings, sing a few hymns, and listen to a rabbi expound the text (sound familiar?). A few others make the trek to a neighboring village where there is a group of “like-minded” believers who all believe they should be baptized a certain way. Still others meet in a mission hall at the edge of town where most of their effort is spent on evangelizing the leper colony located outside the city. And then there are those who don’t gather at all, but choose to remain home and proudly celebrate the fact that “all they need is Jesus.” 😉

Well, what do you think? Quite a mess, is it not? It’s amazing how foreign our present-day practices seem when you cast them in the light of first century Christianity. Why is it that believers no longer gather as one body in the town in which they live?

Here’s the story, as best as I can tell…

In the first century the local expression of the church was uniquely one. All the saints in a given city/town gathered as one body, whether that meant meeting in the same place or meeting from house to house, like they did in the Jerusalem church. Even in this “house to house” expression, though, the church was practically united. Their oneness was not only spiritual but practical. No one entertained the notion that there were many different local churches in one locality, each defined according to its particular beliefs, form of government, style of meeting, ect. Christ was one their one, all-absorbing center. Amazing thought, isn’t it?

Throughout the second and third centuries a system of government began to develop among the churches that had as much in common with the administrative structure of the Roman Empire as it did the simple order of the first century ekklesia (this structure became set in stone by the emperor Constantine in the fourth century). How this relates to the issue of oneness and locality is that the churches began to be united into a federation of sorts that extended beyond the boundary of individual cities and towns. Among the larger cities/churches, one head elder was elevated above the rest and given the rank of bishop, or overseer. Eventually the bishop came to exercise his authority not only over the church and elders in his own town but the churches and elders in the many surrounding smaller towns and villages as well. In this way the church began to be organized along the lines of districts and regions rather than by simple locale. This development continued through the ensuing centuries until all of organized Christendom was united under the headship of the pope. Dioceses, parishes, and “the church of this-or-that saint” became the order of the day.

For 1100 years this united, universal church prevailed. Then came the Reformation under the leadership of such men as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin. None of these men originally set out to break with the Roman Catholic church, mind you, but political and religious tensions eventually forced the separation. With that separation came the Lutheran, the Dutch Reformed, and the Anglican “state” churches. The sign on the door may have read “Protestant”, but in all actuality the structure of these conflicting systems was little more than a kind of “reformed” roman catholicism. The organization of the churches remained much the same as it was in the RCC, while the congregations themselves were still comprised of a “mixed multitude” of both believers and unbelievers. The one, pure “communion of the saints” was nowhere to be found (Luther himself lamented this deplorable fact).

Then somewhere along the way someone came up with the idea of the “visible and invisible” church. This doctrine essentially teaches that the church spoken of in scripture is ideal and impractical, existing only in a spiritual, “invisible” sense, and thus we cannot expect it to be worked out here on earth. The visible church has a form while the invisible church does not. One is actual and one is theoretical, and never the twain shall meet. A few examples: In the invisible church we may all be one, but in the visible church there are rampant divisions. In the invisible church all believers are priests unto God, but in the visible church we maintain a sharp distinction between clergy and laity. The invisible church is made up only of regenerated believers, but the visible church is a mixed multitude of both wheat and tares, saved and unsaved. Do you get my point? The practical inconsistencies between what is considered to be the “invisible” church and the “visible” church may be legion, but that’s OK thanks to this teaching. Like it or not, the doctrine of the visible and invisible church was brought into play, and remains in play to this day, in order to provide a convenient excuse for us not to have to worry about having a true expression of the church.

Anyway, as time went on there arose dissenters, men and women who left the state churches in order to found or become members of independent, “free” churches with no connection to civil authority. John Wesley, who left the Anglican church to found what eventually became known as the Methodist church, is a prime example of this. Most often this occurred as a group of people who had received fresh light from God broke with the existing structures of their day and sought a new wineskin in which to contain their experience. Methodists, Quakers, Salvation Army, Pentecostals… the list is pretty long. Most of these groups eventually formed themselves into denominations and are still with us today.

The problem with the denominational churches is that, while most of them only plant a single congregation within a locality (though you will see instances of “first church of God”, or “second presbyterian”), their very existence as an organization is still based on something other than Christ alone. It is based upon partial light, partial truth and partial experience. It is based upon this or that doctrine, this or that personality, or this or that form of government. In other words, the failure of denominationalism is that it is not based squarely upon that faithful acceptance of the whole which is found only in the Person of Christ.

(Does this mean to say that all or any of our brothers and sisters who participate in the life of denominational churches are divisive? Of course not! It simply means that the setup, the structure, or whatever you like to call it, is not true to God’s mind concerning His church.)

Nowadays, though, it seems like the denominational way of doing church is in huge decline. What you see more of these days are the independent congregations that have no organizational attachment to any larger body of churches (though some of them do form themselves into loose “networks”). Then you also have your fair share of “house” churches, “simple” churches, “organic” churches, and so forth. There are plenty of options, really, enough to confuse the heck out of you. And as far as I can tell, most of these churches still have as their unifying center something other than Christ. It is a particular line of teaching, a particular model of church life, or something else. It is not, quite simply, the fellowship of all believers in Christ in a given place.

My question is, where are those believers who are returning to the original ground of the church (their locale) in order to rebuild the house of God on our one unique foundation, Jesus Christ? Where are those brothers and sisters for whom life in Babylon is no longer enough to meet their spiritual need and satisfy their hunger, who are looking to find Christ in practical, undivided fellowship with all other believers in their town, regardless of their differing opinions and doctrines? Where are those who are willing to give up whatever needs to be given up in order to have, once more, a true and practical expression of the local church?

God is willing, I’m pretty sure. The question is, are we?


Called to Rebuild: An Explanation

Personally, I feel God is doing something in our day very similar to what He did with Israel centuries ago.  He is stirring the spirits of His people to return and rebuild the house of God as she once was!  It is an exciting but costly quest, and I hope by these writings to stir something of that vision in the hearts of those who read. 

In the words of Peter Cheltschiski-

“Nothing else is sought in this book” (or in this case, blog) “but that we, who come last, desire to see the first things and to return to them insofar as God enables us.  We are like people who have come to a house that has been burnt down and try to find the original foundations.  This is the more difficult in that the ruins are grown over with all sorts of growths, and many think that these growths are the foundation, and say, ‘This is the foundation’ and ‘This is the way in which all must go,’ and others repeat it after them.  So that in the novelties that have grown up they think to have found the foundation, whereas they have found something quite different from, and contrary to, the true foundation.  This makes the search more difficult, for if all said, ‘the old foundation has been lost among the ruins,’ then many would begin to dig and search for it and really to begin a true work of building upon it, as Nehemiah and Zerubabel did after the destruction of the temple.” (from his book The Net of Faith, written in 1440)