Wild and Free!
Wayne is back from the National House Church Convention he spoke at in Dallas, TX and shares with Brad some of his joys and frustrations he experiences at a conference like that. While enjoying the people and the journeys they are on, it is also frustrating to be alongside a movement that thinks the next step is to focus on infrastructure and leadership. That leads to a broader discussion about those who see managing people as a way to serve hungry hearts, and the danger of crossing the line where we lead people to the irrelevance of plying a program, rather than the heart engagement of walking out a real relationship with Jesus.
The greatest conviction of sin I have ever experienced came about 2 months after I got off the treadmill. It was when I realized that most of what I had done in the church was to get “approval” from strangers. Honestly, I was happiest when I had people recognize me on the street as “that guy that plays the guitar at church”. The acid test was when my wife and I went from being “leaders” in the church to just her and I meeting with God. Suddenly I had no desire to play the latest Chris Tomlin song because I knew that neither God nor my wife would be impressed.
After sulking for about a week, God graciously let me off the hook a bit as he allowed me to recall that it was not ALL vain conceit. There really were moments when I was motivated by love for Him – but those were “moments” – most of was for me. Then I realized what a great gift it was that He had given me by allowing us to get off of that track and get a glimpse into my heart. Let’s face it, I am still apt to be as self serving as I ever was, but this transition has perhaps moved me closer to actual worship of the living God.
Awesome, brought me to laughter and tears. My head hurts from bobbing up and down amen’ing you!
Been there lived this.
Thank you guys so much, that has to be one of the best podcasts I have listened to in a long time. I have been meeting with a number of others here in Truro England and everyhting you guys are saying we are trying to do. I know that sounds like we are tying to make it happen but actully we have shunned leadership and organisation. I have been excited, frightend, scared, blessed, challenged etc every day for the past 2 years as we work out our journey.
Anyway what I wanted to say is that I am more inspired after listening to you guys this evening.
Thanks and I pray that you continue to be blessed in your journey.
It clicked with me when Wayne said that he couldn’t imagine how someone could have a “Jesus moment” in the orchestrated mega-church environment.
For a long time I was weighing out the “quality” of various worship groups (got this from my parents) as I hopped from church to church. What I realize now is I just really want a Jesus moment.
As one who played the “musical guru manipulator” on church staffs for years, I can remember how empty I would feel most Sundays, even in the middle of “pushing the right buttons” from one song to the next. I often wondered if anything we were doing was truly derived from a pure motivation. Oh sure, we wanted people to experience Christ, and enjoy cathartic moments in an “atmosphere” of worshipful expression. But usually on Mondays at staff meetings, the majority of our time seemed to be spent evaluating how “smoothly” the machine operated, or how slick and effective the presentation was. Did we “close the deal”? And if not, what did we need to tweak?
At least to me, there seemed to be only “token” interest in the actual relational part of where people were in their whole worship experience. Admittedly, this created a climate of “uber performance” or a constant striving for more and more of the wow factor in our worship experiences. I became so focused on the quality and standard of my own performance as a leader, that I began to look to how well I sang, or how dramatically I interpreted each song, as a benchmark to determine the “success” of our worship gatherings. People’s lives truly being impacted by a loving Saviour was simply a “delightful bonus”. How sad! Thanks be to God for His mercy and patience with me on this journey. I’m so excited about what Father continues to do inside of me! Loved this podcast, as always fellas! Keep slingin’! Peace!
superb podcast. you guys really poured out yourselves into this conversation. inspiring, encouraging, convicting. thanks!
Great conversation guys! Just what I needed to hear right now.
Although I was not at this conference, I had attended in the past. As with Wayne’s experience, I also have had the great privilege to meet and build relationships with some wonderful people in the housechurch realm, including a few who are out ahead seeking the Lord in how to facilitate what they feel led to – well, lead.
That said, over the last number of years, I found myself drifting further away from the housechurch perspective and I must say that it is making all the difference for me. Not that their expression or my relationship with it was unpleasant. It’s just that there was a gnawing feeling within me that I had been down that path before, rebuilding and reaffirming the same process all over again, but with a newer, fresher flavor. I think any movement we might get involved with where we recognize a greater freedom to learn and worship Him is extremely appealing – especially in comparison to the structures many of us were in the process of filtering out of. But our very best in trying to build a format for his eternal purpose is in the end futile.
As the modern and future expression of the living body of Christ seeks to find and understand how He speaks to us individually and corporately, I believe we will continue to stumble through movements and ways and expressions until we hopefully begin to become more fully awake to His purpose within each of us. If my personal experience and what I read of Paul and others is any indication, there is a deeper drawing on the Holy Spirit which makes our dependence on forms and structures (even simplified ones) for our relationship and effectiveness in Him – less and less relevant to our lives. I sure do hope my pals in the housechurch setting don’t see this or Wayne’s comments as a personal slam. I know that when I first read Wayne’s article: “Why Housechurch Isn’t the Answer,” it made me a little mad because hey – I was a housechurcher and he’s telling me I’m missing it. Funny how that which has the opportunity to offend can also be a path to something else. Just saying!
I used to play guitar in the worship band when I was in the box. Because of that, friends who are trying to “get me back into church” keep inviting me to one which looks exactly like that Northpoint video. And I did go one Sunday.
Honestly, it was like being at a taping for a TV show. There were roving cameramen on stage, getting closeups of the musicians to flash on the two jumbo screens above. The audience was constantly cajoled into the stand-up, sit-down, clap-hands and sing-along routine. I finally quit singing though, because I couldn’t even hear myself. All I could hear were the musicians up on stage. If God showed up I missed Him, probably because He slipped by unnoticed during the commercial for the Wednesday night sermon series.
As feel-good Christian entertainment it was fine, I guess. But as worship? To God? It seemed like we were really worshiping the worship itself. Everything we did was to serve the service.
I suppose I could have just slipped out and had a cup of coffee at the “Jesus Java” shoppe located out in the hallway… 🙂
The sad irony is that many Christians think that a contemporary, rockin’ at the church-house service like that is “wild and free Christianity”.
Thanks for your podcast – quite enjoyable and thought-provoking! I believe that worship is what happens when the worshippers (24/7) get together. I too am weary of performances masquerading as worship. We don’t even have to have music to worship – it takes many forms. However, as a worship leader, my main requirement for people on the team is that he/she is a worshipper. I don’t care how good a musician a person is, that won’t automatically make them eligible to lead worship. Rather the contrary! My passion is to encourage the people of God (and those who don’t yet know him) to become 24/7 worshippers – getting to know him brings out our worship as a response to His love. Let’s show his worth every day by how we treat others!
Really you guys gave some great insight .
I think Brad is right about Wild & Free being scary language to the established “Plodders” but Doesn’t that just perfectly describe the Father?
I mean, I have found His Fingerprints in my own life & in the lives of others in the wildest places, and you never know what to expect.
I guess the statement makes me think of C.S. Lewis’ picture of Aslan when Lucy first see’s him..
Huge and scary and wild, yet irresistible. Untamed and dangerous, yet you feel safer in His presence than anywhere else in the world.
If you ask me ( and no one did) we need our faith to be wilder and freer because I believe that is a clearer picture of Father than anything that religion has provided us with.
It’s still really good to listen to you guys sort this stuff out .. especially since there aren’t many people I know that I can even dare to talk like this with. But I do believe that God will bring us all out into the light and we will see clearly all those things that we bickered over and were divided because of.
Why is it do you think that we as humans need to put God into a box? I have tried it, I have heard the 5 steps to getting God’s blessing on my life and it’s like we have a need to control God, as if we could.
any way, I am glad you guys are still talking and I for one will keep listening while you do.
We have had many conversations about “kingdom infrastructure” and “leadership”. Our default position is that the only kingdom infrastructure modelled and mandated by Jesus is friendship and servant relationships. Leadership is example and influence- example and influence through friendship. When Jesus looked at twelve guys and called them friends (rather than slaves) He forever established friendship as the highest in the kingdom and forever destroyed any hierarchical system as having the possibility of representing His Kingdom. Thanks for this podcast! Steve
I’ve been around “conferences” some before. I’ve seen how people (churches) feel disconnected if they don’t have representation at “conferences”. Conferences take autonomous groups, stack them up together, and form a system and rules and clicks. They fear being “alone” in the world. It’s comforting. Individual worth becomes defined by who you know and where you’ve been (other than Christ and the cross).
Thanks for the podcast. It was very eye opening and a good warning. I’ll be considering it for a long while.
I also went through your articles “Living in the Relational Church” parts 1-11 and compiled them into one document. I’ve read part one and will continue through it. thanks for the time you spent writing these. The first one is really thought provoking.
I have a hard time believing that in those manipulated settings where we are told when to do what, that God blesses it for some and not for others. It all stinks! God meets us where we are as individuals. I don’t want to split hairs with what Brad said, but I think it’s important to understand just what is happening. It’s not the song, the service, the message, the standing, the sitting, or time spent at the alter. It’s faithful Father Who moves with compassion for us and towards us.
I know several ex-song leaders, including my own husband, and they no longer have an appetite for this, and no thought that their participation facilitated actual worship or ministry. God alone, in and out of the ritual of the service longs to touch His people and lead His people into a love life- with Him and others. Knowing Him changes everything, our eyes are open to His heart and we begin to live lives of worship and friendship with Him. Once again, I thank you for the podcast. It’s a joy to be a part of the conversation knowing that we don’t have to get it all right, right away.
Good conversation and sharing here. It’s been my ever expanding experience that it seems the Father continues to move in ways that don’t pin him down to one way of operation. I continue to encourage people to see God at work in all things. (There is a great sermon on this at http://www.marshill.org entitled “Uncaging the Lion”.) What seems manipulative worship to one person can be a life giving experience with God to another (I’ve known both to be true in my own life). If we truly believe that our Father is at work in all things then I have to tread lightly with my perceptions. I think Wayne spoke to this in the podcast. The motivations and perceptions of how others worship can not be judged by us…we only see their story dimly and our own perceptions and motivations usually could our sight.
As far as movements are concerned…Brad your comment concerning “can’t their be a movement of God that doesn’t lead to hardening and a loss its life?” is one I wrestle with as well. As I participate in a small gathering of 12 people who are trying to walk humbly together I see this specter on the horizon. I think what happens is that people want to expand “the movement” because the small intimate group has a natural path that leads to vulnerability. “If I stay with these people long enough I will have to be completely honest and open with them (or get really good a faking it).” That means being vulnerable and transparent. That means going into places that may lead to hard conversations, pain and discernment. People feel much safer with a wall of doctrine around them to hide behind. I long to be part of a group of people who when asked the questions, “What defines you? What makes you who you are? What’s your confession of faith statement say?”, simply answers, “Jesus is Lord.” That’s it. No creeds, no confessions of faith, no “do this and your in” type of conversations. Simply, “We’re following Jesus…ya wanna come too?”
I believe, as Wayne and Brad stated, that our Father is asking us to walk with him on this journey. It isn’t obedience but a relationship. So yes, I take great hope that there are movements of God in his people that lead to open spaces and even more life. If a movement of God leads to hardening…that’s just constipation…and nobody enjoys that!