Of Lone Wolves and Free Rangers (#469)

emptypewsIt seems like everyone is talking about the decline of the traditional congregation, though it is often in vastly different ways. Some see it as a threat, accusing those who leave as lone wolves out for their amusement, unconcerned or unconnected to the real church. Many who have left tell a different story, that the congregational system they were a part of did more to undermine the connection they wanted with Jesus' church than it did to facilitate it. Does this decline spell the the death-knell for the church in the west, or is it an opportunity to see God's church as a greater reality that can help people experience a more vital connection with Jesus and his family? And can we participate in the conversation in a way that builds up Christ's body instead of tearing it down further?

Podcast Links:
Lone-Wolf Christianity by Jordan Chamblee
The Most Disturbing Church Trend of All at Charisma
Order Finding Church by Wayne Jacobsen
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  1. I just want you to know I have been listening to your pod cast for some time now, I cant recall the years. It isn’t that I turn to you as the leader or the one with the answers because I know you don’t want that at all with your podcast. But I was so fortunate to have stumbled into listening to your podcast way back when. I was at the beginnings of just stepping out of the playpen of religion, and learning to rely on just Him for my daily manna. I was thankful when ya paused from the podcast a time because it reiterated not relying on you as a main source and turning back to Him. Although I was and am excited when a new post of yours is up, but now I don’t look at you as my “online pastor” as I did early on.
    I really enjoy when God beams that inner lightbulb when His wisdom is passed through you in a phrase or your guest or letter someone wrote for that matter. I write this to encourage you as your podcast are doing great works, and when you feel a break is needed I encourage you in that as well.
    Peace to ya,

  2. I’ve briefly “popped online” and shared the encouragement Brian wrote about. It’s also been a # of years of listening…and the transformation has me moving to a place where conversations with Him are the most important (as much as I appreciate Wayne’s and others’ insights). This has me enjoying a space that is more free…how incredible that the weight of religous obligation can be replaced with increasing lightness and a greater degree of security found in Him. Blessings

  3. I just listened to “Lone Wolves and Free Rangeers”. Since the author of the article chose those terms for his analogy, and since I grew up in the American West, I feel he really missed something. Wolves generally are pack animals, and the great buffalo herds ranged freely and yet herded together. They are not guilt tripped into this behavior, it is part of their nature. People are also mostly social by nature and it is rare for anyone to seek constant isolation. Perhaps a better term for those believers who are not affiliated with a specific congregation is “untethered”. That is,at least, how I feel, though I think any term is limited in it’s descriptive power. I am free to develop relationships and a life apart from obligations to an institution. We are not instructed in scripture to follow man or an institution, but to follow Christ. When you do there is a natural pull towards building relationships and loving others (both Christians and non-Christians). It is a natural development that does not require outside management.

  4. I was listening to the pod cast, I just sat there and said wow. Scary. The institution is running scared. I have discovered since leaving the programs and the endless meetings behind, I finally have time for people. I actually want to meet with them, and I also find myself being led to connect with new ones. Not in large quantities, but one here or there over a longer period of time that is suitable for me as a person, not based on expectations imposed by another. I have recently reflected on the difference between now and my life before, and I can see a marked change. I kind of like it.

  5. A better word for ‘leader’ is catalyst. ‘Leader’ has become such an ‘idolish’ (if there is such a word) word. I love the comments above; the work of a catalyst. Wayne, you definitely are a catalytic converter! đŸ™‚

  6. I read the Lone Wolf article you added, and shook my head. being where I am now in this journey, the guy’s perspective sounded so stiff. I probably would have supported him 10 years ago, but now, not so much.

    What really moved me is what I found in the comment section. Grendel007 commented what most people in our shoes have thought at one time or other in our own transitions.

    Grendel007 wrote:

    “I used to go to church all the time. I liked going so much that when our associate pastor was hired to lead another church I would go to the early one there and then to my church.
    My pastor (of the original church) told me this was a bad idea but would never really say why.
    Then I found out. Despite both pastors originating at the same church they held different views on some issues, naturally.
    Over time I was forced to ask myself why. Not about the tiny issues, that’s just individual inclination, but about larger things.
    How do you KNOW what church to go to? How do you know who speaks the truth? Each of these pastors went to school, studied, and had been ordained by the same denomination originally. If I chose one over then other than didnt I just have “itchy ears” for the one I chose?
    I can find preachers who can find verses to answer any questions I have (except one that no one can answer). Which one is right?
    My opinion is becoming that we, and they, are ALL wrong. That there is something we are all missing here. I just don’t know what it is.
    There are so very many churches and so very many Christians in our country, but I keep going back to the path being narrow and that so many people who say they know Christ don’t.
    I don’t have an answer to this. Maybe I never will, but it sure does make buying in to a particular church very difficult.”

    Can it get more simple than this? My heart goes out to this guy. Him I understand. The guy that wrote the article… no so much anymore.

    I don’t think we are wolves either… just sheep that want to follow the Shepherd out fresher pasture.

    Thanks again Wayne.

    Ruby from Alberta

  7. My re-occurring thoughts on meetings vs no meetings is that verse ‘can two walk together except they be agreed?’ There are some fundamental ideas couched in institutional churches that I just can’t walk alongside, not authentically anyway.
    Recently I settled into a Pentecostal type very small local congregation. I was thrilled with it at first because they seemed to be relational, they seemed to be unafraid of following the direction of the Holy Spirit. It was until I disagreed (strongly) with a sermon (the pastor spoke in terms such as ‘do you have what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus? …yuk) anyhow, I shared with him afterward that I don’t really agree with hierarchy, I am attracted to a Trinitarian understanding of God..and I’m not even sure about hell anymore ( my good friend lost her 19 yo son to suicide last year). He was so condescending saying that is a simplistic view (the trinitarian thing) as if he had studied it to the nth degree….
    Suffice it to say it was not long until I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. I was really gutted because I long to find kindred spirits to encourage my walk with God. But to sit under the institutional, congregational expressions of Gods ‘family’ is too big a compromise. At best they are concerts, at worst they are driven by a power mad leader or group of leaders. So, maybe I am a goat, wolf, or somebody who does not have what it takes to follow Jesus…who cares. There was an awesome quote by AndrĂ© Rabs I think, that if you draw a line in the sand, God will be on the other side.

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