A Family Without Fences

Who are real pastors and elders among the Body of Christ today? That's not where Brad and Wayne start their discussion, but it is where it ends. A letter from a senior pastor to a former member of his church launches a discussion about those who seek control over others by fear and intimidation because they have a program to manage. Real elders and pastors among the body of Christ are not those who build fences to claim part of the flock as their own, but those who encourage and equip others to live freely and deeply in the love of the Father. And there are many of those throughout this incredible family!


  1. Oh wow, this is exactally what my husband and I are going through right now. We left the organized church last week after 20 years of building a church and seeing it change. So much happened for good but it got so institutionalized and controled by a abusive pastor that we felt so grieved. The pastor that is in there now is trying to love and mend things.
    So much of what you both said is right on excally how i feel. I am glad there is someone else besides me that feels this way. thanks for everything you do.
    Keep walking on the Journey.

  2. Thank you so much for this podcast, about 3 years ago, Father called me out of the ”church”, at the time I didn’t know what was happening, I thought I just needed to get plugged into the ”right” church, so I visited a couple, one of the churches I went to I liked, after the service the minister introduced himself and asked what brought me there, I told him I was looking for a church closer to my house than the one I had been attending. He said ”oh good”, I didn’t want to be stealing someone elses sheep. Even though at the time I didn’t know Father was wanting me out of the church, what the minister said really troubled me, I wasn’t his sheep, I was Father’s sheep, and we all belong to one shepherd-Jesus. Needless to say I’m not going to that church or any church. It’s me and Father hanging out together. Your podcasts have spoken to my heart so many times, thank you so much.

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed Family Without Fences. Have been out of the “church” for several years now. Several friends have also left their places of worship. I reached a point where I began to question what I was doing there. Have not looked back and have gotten closer to God since leaving but still have so much to learn. Just started reading So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore. It is striking a chord with me. Highly recommend The Shack. I have told people that The Shack makes God more approachable than other “Christian” books. (And the best part is who the Father is represented by. Awesome!!!) I agree with what you said about people are wired to fear uncertainty as well as the sheep-stealing mentality of some pastors. When I left the church I had attended and been active in for almost 20 years, I received a hurtful email from the pastor/bishop. He basically cursed me and my family though he had taught that if anyone said they felt God was telling them to leave, he would bid them “God bless” even if he felt they were wrong. NOT! Had to get over that quickly. I did.

  4. You guys this is a great cherry on top of the FREE RANGE BELIEVERS. Which I use all the time with folks who ask what kind of believer are you, I always say “free range” and I usually get a smile or at least a look of what the heck is that. I was watching an interview with Eugene Peterson and he describes the word “saved” in the hebrew is more like come into the wide open space an open area of no fenses. Perfect. One Shepherd.

  5. The SHACK is what ultimately led me to The God Journey and listening to your podcast. It has been exactly the encouragement I needed at the time I needed it. It is AMAZING what Father does for us if we relax and let him grow us in his love. In a Family Without Fences the referance to jumping thru hoops to please a pastor or group really hit close to where I was 8 months ago. That work had become so heavy and dead I needed to be reminded again that living with the Father is moment by moment every step every day. Gradually I am severing ties with the formal “church”. It is extremely exciting to see who Father brings into my path almost everyday hungry for this kind of freedom.
    THANK YOU VERY MUCH for the weekly podcast.

  6. Hey Wayne and Brad. I so needed to hear this message. I forwarded a link to Darin’s Freebelievers site to some Christian guys at work and got locked in a back and forth email exchange with one of them. It was very instructive on how intolerant Christians can be when they feel that anything is challenging the “standard” big box Christian church beliefs. I’ve run the gamut of emotions about it and really needed to hear this message – very freeing and helpful. I basically stopped striving and relaxed again. I’ll be forwarding the link to this podcast to this gentleman for him to consider. I know his heart is for people, and he’s a good man seeking God as best he can. Hopefully he’ll be willing to tolerate another way of viewing freedom in Christ. Thanks again. Rocky

  7. As I am listening to the podcast and currently “working the steps” of AlAnon the light bulb came on regarding control. As you have said we have no control over the thinking of others, and although my head knowledge told me this was true, my heart was far from it. As my heart and my head grow closer the sadness in my spirit over lost time sometimes overcomes me. This too, I realize, cannot be changed, only today matters. As God draws me closer to himself, I am growing in freedom and love for others that I never thought I could love. Life without fences proposes interesting thought about…am I trying to hide from others or keep them out of my yard. I agree that God does not desire us to remain distant from those we live next to and fear is what drives that fence. Thanks for the podcast, it takes my thinking into so many different directions that arrive at the same destination.

  8. Your most recent pod cast was very timely. Thank God! About an hour before I listened I found myself in turmoil – broaching confusion, over the outcome of a situation that did not turn out too well. In fact it turned horrific. Yet, I was very certain that I followed the Shepherd’s voice – with confirmations to back it up. I began wondering, “Maybe God is not trustworthy” Which I know deep in my spirit that He is trustworthy. This was too much to handle; I decided I would kick back awhile, rest and listen to The God Journey. I am confident that Father came and spoke to me through your conversation when Wayne talked about surveying groups of people who followed the Lord’s voice and a large percentage had their situations declined and some lead to calamity. Wow!!! I have always thought following Father would make my path smooth. This just sends me off into whole new realms of thought. 1) I can’t follow Father as a means to change my heartbreaking circumstances 2) It sure makes learning His voice a bit more tricky – if we go by results. 3) This challenges me and others to continue to follow Him because we love Him, there is no other that will do. As Peter said “Where shall I go? You alone have the words of life.” I am sure I will think of more. But, this sure helps. It makes the journey more unpredictable. Yet He remains His faithful self.

    Anyway, your conversation came and soothed my weary mind. I am thankful for you both and so very thankful Father, in His kindness, stepped in rather quickly, and allowed me to hear about my kindred 89%. It is really crazy: my circumstances turned to calamity, yet, in the midst of it the peace of Father is in my heart. It is just that my mind screams “this is craziness!”

    I sure appreciate you both and I am thankful for the time and heart you put into The God Journey. Blessings and Peace to your families.

    Ralaine Fagone
    Clovis, CA

  9. Dear Brad and Wayne,

    I kept on saying things like: Absolutely! Right! Been there! Know exactly what you mean! I think there is a song with the title: Don’t fence me in! My wife and I always buy free range eggs, not ones from battery farm chickens. The quality is better – or is it just my imagination! Reminds me of another song – Home on the range! Building fences creates barriers! Them and us! Who is right – the other side or we on this side! “Well, we certainly won’t talk to them! We can’t trust them.” This can go on for generations and build up into real armed conflict – i.e. Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda to give just a few examples. By the way, you won’t be surprised that in areas of the Deep South there is still great resentment towards the Yankee north for the “devastation” inflicted during the “War of Northern Aggression” or “The Recent Unpleasantness”. I know this is straying from what you were talking about. However, people feel comfortable in their own exclusivity as they pour scorn on those who disagree with them. That gives them a sense of their own importance. They can even be faithful church-goers – to their own brand of church, which of course has THE TRUTH! All other denominations are judged according to that yardstick! You will have noticed that the name of God or the Lord has not been mentioned so far. That would be TOO embarrassing for this exclusive club!!!! In contrast to all of the above, Father just wants to love us. As you say, we won’t get it all right. We will make mistakes. BUT we are the body of Christ. We are the priesthood of ALL believers. God must weep at all the divisions in his family. BUT he is working his purposes out according to his sovereign will. By trusting him., we are in a position to get to know him more deeply – be able to discern his voice – to see him in our brothers and sisters wherever and whoever they are. Thank you SO much for these broadcasts. They are refreshing. And encouraging! God bless you and your families, Bill Drayton.

  10. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 1 Pet 5:2.
    I love the way Peter states this, but amazed at how many people twist it and unfortunately it is easier to do through the NKJV translation. Elders are to feed the flock that is among them, wherever they for there is only one flock. They are to have have oversight, or care for, or watch over Who’s heritage.
    I have been described as one who dismisses the five-fold and eldership, but it is clear in scripture that they are part of His church, we cannot dismiss it. Its just the perception and application of these ministries in organisational church that is in question.
    We see in Titus 1 that Titus was charged by Paul to stay in Crete and appoint elders, not to fill positions but for things that were lacking to be set in order. These elders were not chosen for their good looks etc but Titus was told that, “if a man be blameless etc v’s 6-9”. These ones that were to be appointed were in some way already doing these things.
    These ones will do this regardless of title or position, salary or allowances. for it will be something that the Holy Spirit has already placed in them.
    I loved the comment, “Pastors have institutions for the same reasons that farmers have fences. So they know who their sheep and they can make money off them.”

  11. I don’t know whether to cry or scream after listening to this podcast. This is the first podcast that I have listened to. After reading _So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore_, I thought I would check it out even though I have differing opinions. All I’ve heard is two men putting others down for what they believe. So those people may dissagree with this God Journey stuff, but what difference does it make if you actually believe what you’re preaching. Doesn’t that just put them at a different place on the journey than you? Why is that even on the radar of a podcast here? I got nothing but condencension for anyone that believes differently. What makes you so certain that you have it and these others haven’t seen it? Why are they wrong, and you’re right? I don’t see anything unique here.

  12. Hi Brad & Wayne,

    I want to start by saying thanks; you may never know how much of an ecouragement you both have been to me. I started listening to the podcast after reading “at der shark book” back in February. Even though I was playing catch-up for a while (sometimes listening daily), there were countless occasions where the conversations you were having mirrored those of my friends and I, or they answered questions I had.

    I want to give you one example. Over the last few weeks, God has been talking to me about freedom. It began as I was driving along one day; I suddenly became aware of the immense freedom that there is in God – it was overwhelming! I truly can’t describe well enough in words how it felt; it was as though I had stepped into a place so vast and so huge – there were no familiar landmarks & I couldn’t even see the horizon. I could go anywhere; I could do anything. (There were no fences!)

    What was interesting, however, was that I felt apprehensive, nervous, scared even, at having such freedom. It was as though I wanted to be told what to do and where to go.

    As ever, God is using your conversations as part of the healing, transforming process along my journey.

    In 2002, my family and I moved to be part of a new church plant (which started out with 9 people meeting in someone’s home); it has been good (painful, character-developing – but good). Over the past few years, we have been on a journey of re-discovery; of God’s grace and His desire for relationship. It’s meant going through a deconstruction & detoxification process. You see, we’d operated to the best of our ability with the knowledge we had,but we’d still managed to build an organization – not a community. God is changing that!

    I would like to ask you whether you know of any congregations that have stepped outside of the box together, as a family? We currently have 2 congregations (240 miles apart); I travel between both and the vast majority of people in both are on the same page; i.e. passionate for God, fed up with religious performance, with a growing desire to see the life & love of God expressed in a community that is vitally connected to God & each other.

    It is so exciting to see and be a part of what God is doing with His church at this time; causing His bride to turn back to Him.

    If you do know of other congregations who have made the journey, perhaps you could talk about that on a future podcast.

    Thanks again. Your infectious laughter and open, honest conversation is a real encouragement.

    Hertfordshire, England (UK)

    PS – I guess you guys get asked this all the time, but if you ever plan to come to the UK, please do not hesitate to let me know; I would dearly love to meet up with you.

  13. Mike,

    Great stuff. May try to get to your question in a podcast. We’ll have to see. But if you want to know if we’re going to be in the UK any time soon, send me an email to waynej@lifestream.org, that’s how we track these kinds of things…

    Blessings. Sounds like you’re having fun.

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