It’s Not About ‘Church’
Sipping from their new God Journey mugs (You can click on picture for larger view.), Brad and Wayne discuss the constant preoccupation with issues about regular, corporate gatherings of believers, which many call 'the church'. Wayne often experiences this in trips he takes, as well as a trend on our Forums as one participant points out. Why is it that such discussions attract so much attention and the more important matter of knowing him and sharing that life with others relationally, sometimes gets lost? Part of thriving in this journey comes from the growing freedom to keep first things first!
Couldn’t agree with you guys more! I think focusing on what “the church” is supposed to look like robs us of fuller relationships with Jesus and other believers. I’ve noticed a number of people (including myself at times) rush to find an identity in declaring ourselves to be “outside the box.” That’s really no different than trying to find our identity as being a part of a particular Sunday club. We then tend to view people and things in a black and white spectrum as being either inside or outside the box. As you guys pointed out, this takes our focus off of Jesus and the vibrant life that flows from our relationship with him. What I am now attracted to more than anything is discussion and sharing around Jesus–who he is, what he’s doing, and how he’s changing our lives. To me, that’s far more uplifting!!
Oh, and just for the record, I would love to see the “should” t-shirts!!
Lovely post Gents,
It’s funny that I just wrote these notes down a few days before…!!!
enjoying the conversation very much….peace, Todd
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Spontaneity, Kindness, and the Movings of God
“He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” -King David
This Eve…..I recount a few things that I’ve been mulling over for the last few days.
Sometimes the path ahead is unclear….I had a friend tell me the other day (after he’d experienced an abrupt change in his normal everyday circumstances), “I’ve always been one who likes to see the big picture in front of him.” I laughed with understanding and said, “Yeah, you and me both.”
Anyway, what has occured to me over the last little while is that it has been the spontaneous things, the unplanned things, and the quick glimmers of goodness that have been one of the more stable sources of joy for me these last few months especially.
-Helping the upset mom with directions on how to get to her new house that she can’t find because she’s new to the area and totally turned around.
-watching wandering customers looking around with that “lost look” and helping them find their destinations….even though it’s not in my normal “job scope.” I’m serious, I think they should make me the Municipal host at my job ha ha!
-taking in some leftovers and being super Burrito Boy serving some killer burritos to hungry co-workers
-and the final thing that I’m thinking of is the elderly gentleman with his wife letting me cut ahead of them at the supermarket because I only had 2 items compared to their basketfull……which lead to the lady ahead of them letting me cut as well and……she even let the cashier swipe her discount card for my purchase because I didn’t have one on me.
small stuff maybe…..God stuff….I like to think so….I wonder if Jesus told us to not worry about tomorrow because he also knew that we’d get overwhelmed at times trying to figure out the big picture as well as become disillusioned when things don’t turn out according to our notions? The Present Moment seems to hold spontaneous blessings and opportunities if we’ll but tune in….but are they really that spontaneous? That’s another post.
Hi again folks, just listened to the podcaste â€œItâ€™s not about churchâ€, and have a few thoughts to share.
I find myself agreeing with the conversation that Brad and Wayne had here, but think perhaps there is an angle missing. Clearly Father does work everywhere, both inside and outside the systems (whatever they are â€“ religious or otherwise). Also clearly, some of the things that happen in our man-made Sunday clubs are not after Fatherâ€™s heart at all.
At least one incident in the OT may provide some perspective on this. Remember when David decides that heâ€™s going to bring the Ark up to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6). David decides that the best way to do it is to put the Ark on a new cart, with the sons of Abinadab to drive it. Only problem is â€“ that isnâ€™t the way God said it should be done (1 Chron 15:13-15). They were having a great old time worshiping before the Lord (2 Sam 6:5), but the end result was death.
Obviously, when Father says there is a certain way to do something, Heâ€™s more than a little interested in whether we follow His instructions. I think its pretty clear that there are some principles in the NT that show how the House of God is to function. It is to be all about relationships, it is not to be about some lording it over others (â€œyou have only one Masterâ€), it is to be daily, house to house fellowship, with each one knowing the others, and loving, admonishing and encouraging each other daily, it is not to be about attending something once or twice a weekâ€¦and so the list could go on.
These are not rules that we live by â€“ this is a relationship that we develop with each other â€“ which is literally with Christ, and under His headship and guidance, moment by moment every day.
Now, we can choose to follow Him (take the fruit from the Tree of Life), or choose our own way (take the fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil). If we choose His way, we choose life, if we choose our own way, we inevitably choose death.
As I think about these principles, I think that Father is saying that the man-made system is anything but benign â€“ in fact it is absolutely death to those who are caught up in it and living by it. That doesnâ€™t mean Father canâ€™t do some wonderful things in spite of it, but I think we are just fooling ourselves and others around us, if we think its not hurting people to be involved there.
In light of that, donâ€™t you think we need to help those â€œshackled to the systemâ€ to be set free ?
Blessings in Him,
Okay, guys! Where do we get those COOL mugs? You can’t just show them off and not have a link to order! LOL! But seriously…
A very timely podcast indeed.
my wife and i have a sort of continuous….er, discussion just about every sunday. she has been less than thrilled with my belief that sunday services are not necessary to a growing relationship with Jesus. we have been dancing around these isssues for about one year now and it seems to center on one essential thing: she believes quite strongly that we and our children (17, 16, 14 and 8) need a regular christian gathering of some sort (church or para church) as the means to developing close friendships with other believers and receiving accurate teaching about God.
what i have learned, so far, is that this is an issue right now that is so tender and so central to her spiritual identity that she cannot bear for it to be touched or threatened in any way whatsoever. I have not found any approach to even begin a discussion that does not upset her. What i seem to be hearing from her is alot of fear. She fears what will happen to our kids if they don’t go to some youth group, and she fears what will happen to me and her if we don’t have that Club connection. For me, though, Sundays are like a weekly appointment with the dentist: at best it’s uncomfortable and at worst it is agonizing.
All i can think to do at this point is to yield to her and go along for the “show.” It’s not bad: there’s a talented band and the lead pastor is a gifted speaker with a good sense of humor. He even seems to be reading Wayne’s books— this past Sunday I swear he almost quoted Wayne on the prodigal son parable. Anyhoo… i am thankful to Papa for your podcasts and especially this last one. I really do feel like i must be crazy or a heretic or both and then Papa brings along a podcast or something on the forum or something else and i think i see him wink my way. I need that some days just to keep going.
Gordon & Glen
Glen said:”my wife and i have a sort of continuousâ€¦.er, discussion just about every sunday. she has been less than thrilled with my belief that sunday services are not necessary to a growing relationship with Jesus”… “All i can think to do at this point is to yield to her and go along for the â€œshow.â€ ”
Gordon said: “As I think about these principles, I think that Father is saying that the man-made system is anything but benign â€“ in fact it is absolutely death to those who are caught up in it and living by it. That doesnâ€™t mean Father canâ€™t do some wonderful things in spite of it, but I think we are just fooling ourselves and others around us, if we think its not hurting people to be involved there.
In light of that, donâ€™t you think we need to help those â€œshackled to the systemâ€ to be set free ?”
I hope my comments below will find some relevance to your respective places.
Glen I want you to be encouraged to “yield” as you say as that is the way of love. I wondered how I would’ve gone had my situation were the same. I was merely discontent and disillusioned. My wife could firmly and without much coherent argument from me put the blame for my discontentedness and depression on me. After all I wasn’t “doin’ the stuff” i.e. bible study, ministry involvement, intentionality with relationships at church (even though they were superficial) ad nauseam.
In 2005 we vacationed in Texas and a Christian brother there tried to unload the “superdisk” teaching CD on me. I deftly tried to leave without it (cause if I’ve gotta hear one more a**h*** try and tell me how to “do” church and christianity I’m gonna go off!) and my friend brought it out to the truck as we were ready to depart… “Hey, you forgot this!” Ok so now what?
My wife and I were just taking about your post and she shared that afterwards it was simply that she started seeing “fruit”. I had peace, intermittent deep depression & sadness seemed to gradually disappear, and she saw me beginning to LOVE others in ways that was totally uncharacteristic for me.
So I guess in summary when her heart was ripened by God’s good work her interest waxed and before I really knew it I heard one day. “I went to church today, in spite of my own heart, and feel guilty for going cause I knew God was leading otherwise.” Now that’s not to say the objective is to not “go to church” but it is to say God is always working and can be trusted.
Gordon, I have a close friend who with I shared the very same CD with as he was going on a work trip to Peru. The processing of that time led him to join with me on this journey and as regular golf buddies we have talked much early on about this very question.
How, if at all, can you “make” someone get this life. Which I think includes the question about “unshackling” others. Our conclusion is we can’t really. It is God’s work and I think the only important thing we can do is to be his agents and sons/daughters in the world where we are and that that should be testimony itself. I think, and maybe I mis-understand you here, that foisting the apparent “evils” of their way upon them is, at best, a dividing influence and they’ll close off even the possibility and at worst be unloving which is the largest calling of Christ.
I think that we should be ready to answer (a loving, non-judgemental, agendaless answer) those who ask about the hope we have. The asking I see as a product of them seeing the “hope” displayed through the life we live, the joy we have, and the love oozing out of the cracks… All of this from God.
BTW I’ve shared the “Transistion” series with numerous others and when I casually follow up later “did you listen to the audios?” the response is like: “Yea, it was ok.” That’s it. Just as there are people saying these and similar thinks just as Wayne has for over a decade. But clearly it comes to “he who has ears, let him hear” and even the ears are God’s gift in the correctness of time.
Again I would refer to the testimony of my wife. She just began seeing things change in inexplicable ways and it just drew her.