Ekklesia seems like a new buzz word in the Christian world but, is it really? If you look at the New Testament model, ekklesia has been around for quite a long time. In fact, the word “church” in the Bible is really “ekklesia.” It refers to a gathering of people who are like minded. That can literally happen anywhere – in a home, through video conferencing, in a coffee shop, or other meetings. The key is to build relationship where everyone participates and grows as a community.
My first real experience with ekklesia came as a junior high schooler. This was during the “Jesus movement” in the 1970’s (yes, I’m dating myself here). People were so excited about getting together to discuss all the new and cool things we were learning about the Christian walk. A group of people in my community started meeting on Friday nights at various homes around town. We called it “Friday Night Fellowship” and people from many local churches came. Most Fridays, there were around 30 people who attended. There was no one leader, everyone participated, we all shared testimonies, we all participated in worship, and we all read scripture together. Now that I look back on it, this was true ekklesia.
Skipping many, many, many years ahead (let’s do the time warp again….) I’m now reminded of those early years where we discovered together how to function as a unit. I meandered around for many years wondering, “Father… what do you have for me? Where do I find like-minded people?” My pastor left the ministry, my church disbanded, and I was left alone to figure out where to go, what to do, and how to do it. During this time, God began to speak to me about personal maturity and the importance of building relationship – intimacy with Him in a way that I never knew was possible. That’s when things started to change.
Many reading this will recognize the names Ian Clayton, Mike Parsons, Justin Abraham, Dr. O, Grant and Sam Mahoney, and many others. They are forerunners in this “movement” of discovering and living out of intimacy and functioning from the kingdom realms first. It’s when I discovered the importance of developing intimacy with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that things begin to change. I practiced seeing in the spirit. I practiced being in the presence of God from a heavenly position rather than an earthly one. My focus now on Christ and being IN HIM made all the difference in the world. No longer did I plead with God to do things for me. I learned how to legislate situations in my own life bringing the truth from heaven to earth IN that situation. I began seeing things from that heavenly perspective so that what was going on around me no longer affected my vision of life’s circumstances. No, I don’t always get it right but, it’s getting easier as I practice functioning from that place of intimacy.
I became a part of NW Ekklesia in the spring of 2016. For me, it was a new chapter for me because being “in ekklesia” helped me mature even more. It wasn’t about me listening to someone preach a great sermon. It was about discovering all that Papa has for us as a group and growing into what we’re each called to do as Sons of God. We each have a part, just like every body has parts that make it work correctly (head, shoulders, knees, and toes, etc.). I also found that all experiences (the good, the bad, and the ugly) leading up to this time of my life had the opportunity of training me into greater revelation and responsibility if I allowed that to happen. Nothing is wasted! God can redeem any situation and circumstance as we use them for maturing tools.
In “ekklesia,” we’re given the opportunity to build relationships with one another to a much deeper level than in most church situations. I believe that’s why many churches have home fellowship groups. When these small groups focus on group participation, you have ekklesia. Fellowship is great in person but it can also be done using our modern system of technology! So, let’s not be limited to “in person” meetings.
When I first began this journey of seeing in the spirit and directly communing with God IN His presence, I had no local people that I met with. I didn’t know anyone who desired a similar journey. For many, “church as usual” was good enough. I wanted more than that. But, I didn’t let the lack of knowing people stop me. As we continue to seek the things of God, by divine methods, He brings people together. I had to learn to function from a place of rest and peace even though it felt like I was flailing about with no direction. What helped was my focus on Jesus and being “In Him” during the process. That’s what the faith walk is all about! We step out without having to know the answers. Our trust and focus directs us into the arms of the Father and from that position, we learn and grow. In and through that, I found ekklesia.
For those who are on this same journey, I encourage you that there really is nothing wrong with feeling like a fish out of water. The question to ask Papa is “What is it you have for me in this?” Grab a journal and start writing what comes to your mind – what you see, sense, hear, and feel. Ascend into The Presence and function from that position. Then, allow divine connections to be made. As we mature, we each contribute to the health of an ekklesia. It also requires that we understand and believe that we each have a part to play.