King David is honored in Scripture as being “a man after God’s own heart” Acts 13:22. This has puzzled many Christians because David’s life was riddled with so many failures. I suspect the reason why the Holy Spirit regarded him to be a man after God’s own heart is because David caught a glimpse of the Lord’s ultimate purpose. And he was willing to pay any price to fulfill it. En. David was occupied with building a house for God (2 Samuel 7:2ff.; 1 Chronicles 29:3; Psalm 132:3-5).
As I look back on my Christian life over the past 32 years, I can sum up my entire spiritual experience in one sentence: I’ve been on a quest to find the church after God’s own heart.
What exactly is a church after God’s own heart? Well, it’s certainly not a church that is void of failures and shortcomings. King David teaches us that lesson quite well. But he also teaches us that the church after God’s own heart that has caught a glimpse of the Lord’s ultimate purpose and is willing to pay any price to fulfill it.
In March of 2006, I was invited to speak at a conference for Christians who gather outside the traditional church. The conference was held in Portland, Oregon. It wasn’t terribly large. Approximately 120 people attended. More than 20 simple churches and house churches were represented.
It was the most unique conference in which I had ever spoken. The audience was unique. The messages I delivered were unique. And the group interaction was unique. (By “unique,” I mean it differed from any public event I’ve attended before or since.)
What is contained in these pages is the heart of what I shared during that conference. It also includes some related thoughts that have been on my heart for many years, but have never been put in print. All of it is best captured by the phrase, “the church after God’s own heart.”
One man, a former pastor from Spokane, Washington, described the event like this:
“This gathering was a turning point in the lives of many of us who attended. We were deeply challenged. Our understanding of the ‘glory and the gore’ of growing to know Jesus together was deepened, as Frank shared out of his 20 years in intimate church life.
In the course of the weekend, our eyes were opened to see that New Testament Christianity is nothing less than the corporate pursuit of the Person who is passionately pursuing us. With a burning heart and great Scriptural clarity Frank explained that, ‘We live by the Lord, who dwells in our brothers and sisters, and the Body of Christ is a real thing that we must actually experience.’ Relating rich and unforgettable stories drawn from his experience in true Body life, Frank taught us that “the divine nature is biological in that, when we meet Jesus as the Head, we still need to meet Him as the Body. We must have the other half of Jesus Christ.”
As Frank Viola described how this can actually work, he made us hungry to experience the real expression of the corporate Christ in a Biblical, unreligious setting, where believers can actually get to know each other in the Lord and practically discover the spiritual priesthood for which they were born again. Having drunk deeply of the anointed vision and revelation of the Bride of Christ, we left this gathering with great hope in our hearts that God truly is restoring New Testament church life today, and that simple churches with the Holy Spirit as the main leader really can happen.”