Beyond The Congregation

One of the hardest moments for people on this journey is when they begin to realize that they no longer fit in the congregation that has been home to them for sometime. Most can't even put their finger on why they feel so restless, but they no longer seem to fit into the pressure-packed, conformity-based systems or rituals that used to feel so comfortable. Their heart cries out for a deeper experience with his love and longs to be transformed not by their own performance, but by his work. This is the stirring of the new creation. Give it place in your heart because God is inviting you on a journey that no congregation can satisfy. It may not be necessary to leave, but it will be important to walk free of the dynamics that choke off your spiritual life rather than draw you into his fullness.

Podcast Links:
An emergency in Kenya could use your help
Details for Wayne's Trip to Maryland and Virginia
5 Really Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church
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  1. Thank you Wayne. If right, this is podcast number 435 starting 03/19/2005 The Journey Begins…

    The following quote comes from the book (Life Together) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    “Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.”

    Wow! So much to ponder…

  2. I may have found the source of the forum quote:

    “The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community,
    but the person who loves those around them will create community.”
    Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
    By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  3. Wow this Bonhoeffer guy really saw some deep stuff! Thanks for the Quotes Free Ranger!
    Wayne : My wife read the link “5 really bad reasons to leave your church” thinking it was a link to something good before we got to listen to the podcast .
    She said I can’t believe Wayne would put a link to something like this on his site! I don’t like it!
    Once we listened to the podcast it all made sense we got some good laughs out of the whole thing! We Loved the podcast!!! We started listening way back at the beginning when the podcasts started. Wow there was some good stuff back there too! I finally got to hear Brads voice! I have only listened for about a year now. I am so excited about listening to you guys chat more about your journeys, we are pacing our selves so we don’t get through them too fast. Nothing like a good podcast over coffee in the morning! I Love watching how my day unfolds with my Daddy at The wheel ,
    What rest and wonder there is in the reality of I in Him and Him in Me! Anything becomes possible !
    What I do is a side note . That I get to hang with Him and what He is doing is what makes my heart sing ! I LOVE this Journey!!!

  4. Hi Wayne


    Yes the church (organized) is dysfunction. So are the people in it. So am I, actually. The only place I have found where I can be completely myself is in a 12 step group. No matter what I say they will love and accept me because of the place of brokenness they come from. There I have found much healing. And honesty. They call me on my stuff. And I call them on theirs. Then I heal. Slowly and painfully with many missteps along the way. As I have discovered grace from my Father (and he has tolerated a lot of assholiness in me) I am able to give that same grace to others.

    Many times I would like to be like an ex-president. Surround yourself with people who love you and will pay you a lot of money to say stuff you both believe to selected audiences. I am not convinced that this would be best, at least for me, and of course I have not been give that opportunity. I don’t get a chance to create a life of pleasant warmth and puffball questions. I get misogynistic bosses, arrogant co-workers, customers who refuse my advice and a wife who can misunderstand me. And that was just when I was pastoring!………..

    In this tumultuous boundary-less fearful anger ridden anguished times, I have found Him. Your work will never kiss you good night. Friends, real friends, and family are all important to me. Long term relationships mean a lot and are better than money in the bank. Of which I have none by the way. But a faith filled walk with my Father who loves me trumps it all. And I have been to visit Helen. Some will know her. Her full name is Ms. Helen Back. And when you’ve been to Helen Back there is nothing left to fear…….

    Wayne, it is really easy to take shots at large, mostly ineffectual organizations filled with ego driven people building man inspired empires. The 1% for example. (You don’t even have to use the church). With the shots others will line up, inspired by what they had suspected but never seen, and will buy into your vision. Two people are never closer than when they are criticizing a third. Even if the third is a large body political such as the church.

    But what about the danger filled, poverty driven, love inspired, prayer sustaining adventure lived life with Jesus? To give with emotional reserves spent, to love with no thought of return, to give grace when all you get is hatred in return, to spend time with traitors and back stabbers who want nothing more than your demise? Which is what I think Jesus did most Sabbaths in the synagogue……

    My apologies. I am coming off like a scolding father to a child. I pay a price for how I’ve lived. But I know the fellowship of His suffering. I have much road left to go, so far from the goal. Fortunately He is always near. And you are a gifted communicator which I know you know. I have loved your broadcasts. Stick to the high road. That way if people criticize you they’ll be aiming up……..



    Oh yeah. That a**holiness thing is what I’m giving up for Lent……… I’m slipping though. This Saturday we had an all day board planning session for a non profit I am involved with. We just welcomed a priest to the board. He gave a flowery introduction to himself using high church Catholic words about his place of origin, education and initial ministry. I asked if he lost his superpowers once he moved away from there………….Fortunately he laughed…….

  5. If any thing becomes a prerequisite for communion with the Father, it has encroached on the place of Jesus as the one mediator between God and man. While i don’t feel a need to bash smokers, i’d still prefer to breathe life giving air, not restricted or tarnished by an unnecessary conduit. Problem is, once you’re smoking, that cigarette is designed to hook you. It is what it is. Thank you so very much for the podcast Wayne (and Brad and all the guests over the years). This podcast has been a source of timely input as i continue to sort out this life. I’ve heard lots of good things about 12 step groups. That’s awesome that there exists a place in this culture where people can be “no holds barred” real and still find acceptance enough to deal with their junk out in the open.

  6. Wow Mark I feel for you!
    It sounds like you have experienced a lot of pain and disappointment in your life.
    I was never strong or disiplined enough to stick to anything programmed long enough to find out if it worked or not? Interesting to hear from someone that has. I have failed at everything I have tryed That seems to have worked for so many other people. I guess I was just too broken for them to benefit me. Father has had to find me. And it has taken a lot more than 12 steps, it is entirely His doing Not mine. He just asks permission, To which I simply say Yes. In this way my broken pieces become his problems to fix. In the mean time we are enjoying a growing relationship in a way I never thought possible! As each piece of me becomes healed we celebrate it together! I have come to enjoy the meantime as much as the celebration times. The two are directly linked for me.
    Yes I am new! But I am so broken and twisted I am looking forward to spending a long time in this phase! Sorry if I come across as too much in the clouds! I probably am! But I have decided to enjoy this reality as long as He is here with me!
    Take courage my brother! Father sees all and cares!

  7. Good Morning!
    It is a beautiful morning here in Ohio!!:). I loved the podcast Wayne. I had read the link before listening, and figured you must have a purpose for it, as I didnt think it fit at all with the journey your heart seems to love! Just reading those articles made me feel claustrophobic..Something about those other yokes…Its even worse when there is a little truth mixed in, as it seems like a parallel, but like a parallel, runs along side without ever getting closer, and totally misses the mark. A poor copy..
    I thought it was very interesting Mark and Bobby, that you both like the openness and freedom of a 12 step program…and yet it seems you think we are not to have, this openness with each other? I dont know….something is very wrong with that picture. It seems like you are saying we should mutually agree, that we don’t want what these others have, agree that we know better, but say nothing out loud. And I dont like that saying about the high road either…i used to think like that, but when u realize the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and you are like everybody else, a child of God…nobody has to aim high. I would never want someone to feel that way about me anyhow…dosnt seem like it would encourage much of a personal relationship. Mark, I see familiarities in what you said…to what I used to feel. I met my own version of Helen Back. Until one day my little brother, who was then 17, told me he didn’t think I was happy. This bothered me greatly, as I knew it was true, and I always believed that God is a loving and good God. And so believing that, concluded he had a way, no matter who we are and what we are going through have true joy in him. From then on, I knew “I”( regardless of what else others were to blame in) was missing a connection somewhere. From that moment on I had more hope, because tho you cant choose for others, and have no control over what they do. The one place i had power, when I was feeling so utterly powerless, was between me and him. Nobody can get in the way of that other then me! And I….can say yes!!! It is 9 years later, and I went through a lot of things still, but I didnt go through them alone. And every year has been better than the last! I believe God is good and kind and loving enough, that we dont have to know whats right, to know when something is wrong. And he is just waiting for us to just show him where it hurts, and admit we may know nothing, but we want to know him. He will set about doing what he does best…and thats everything!lol…I used to thing I had to know what was wrong with me for him to fix it, but have found out since, that this isnt true. He only needs us to LET Him do whatever he needs to do. Have our permission..if you will. At times I have even wondered if I said yes to him, I was having such a teensy mustard seed of faith…and he still began to work. Only time he seemed to stop, was if I freaked out, and tried to grab on to something or someone. I picture it like holding your hand open in a relaxed way….and just leaving it like that no matter what. Anyhow..I have probably jabbered on plenty..;) I feel for you Mark, as the frustration I delt with myself was similar in part to what it seems you feel…Wishing you all a wonder-full day with our Father!…..Ps…love that quote Free Ranger! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Just a quick note to thank everyone for their input. Not much for me to add…other than it’s always encouraging to read dialogue b/t people who are on a similar path. Jesus does indeed have the strength and wisdom to build rest into places that we know we’re powerless to change or where we have no power to “relax ourselves”. Blessings

  9. Thanks for all your thoughts. Of course, I can only share from the life I have lived. Hopefully I did not come across as knowing it all, but only sharing from my experiences. Which are limited of course.

    Harvey, it sounds like you need to define success for yourself. Or perhaps redefine. I have had many adventures. When you are in the middle of them it is difficult to see a nice ending. But through those things, fearful and mistake laden though they appeared to be, I learned. Mostly I learned He was there. When I say He can take all things and cause them to work together for a wonderful good, I have stories to back that up. Sometimes it took a while. I have learned that while He is never early, He is also never late. I trust.

    It was a bit humorous to me when you said you did not have enough discipline or were strong enough to work on steps. Discipline and strength are the opposite of what is required to work on steps. Faith and surrender are the main components, in addition to just showing up. And if you just keep showing up faith and surrender will surely follow. At least that is what worked for me. Fear is a big motivator to keep showing as well. My sickness will kill me if I allow it.

    Which brings me to the conundrum. There is no need for faith or courage unless there are trials and fear. There is no need for healing unless you are sick. There is no need for a savior unless you are a great sinner. I have learned to pray in the midst of adventures. I found grace in the midst of my sin. I found Him to be the most near when He felt the farthest away. He is a wonderful Saviour. I am quite thankful.

    Sometime do a word study in the Hebrew on hesed. It is translated lovingkindness and appears over 200 times in the Old Testament. He is a loving Father, always working His best in me.

    Monica, I appreciate what you said and how you live. For me, each year brings it’s own challenges. Sometimes each day. One Thursday recently I went to my early Rotary meeting, where I put a few coins in to help end polio in the world. (We are now down to only three countries with reported cases over a running 12 months.) At 9:00 am my daughter called and a 9 month old baby she had been watching flipped off the couch where she was changing it and smashed it’s eye socket. They rushed it to emergency for x-rays and were concerned about a blood clot. At noon my 19 year old grandson decided to take his bicycle jumping over stuffed, missed, and was life flighted out with a possible broken neck. At 3:00pm my mother in law called saying she was having a stroke and the doctor wanted her to the hospital ASAP. As I am only two blocks from her I dropped everything and rushed over. At 6:30 I had a board meeting with a local non profit where we were struggling with a $200,000 budget deficit. And that is just one day last month.

    I no longer look for adventures. And He is there with me every step of the way, each moment. I am grateful. It all seems to have worked out. The baby is okay, the grandson did not lose his scholarship and did not have a broken neck. A plastic surgeon just happened to be at the hospital as the lower half of his face was torn and full of gravel. The clavical that was clearly broken to both the doctor and the ER nurse just disappeared. My mother in law has had a full recovery and is back to her busy schedule. And the budget was worked out and we should finish in the black this year.

    I am a very small cog in each of these events. The hero is Jesus. And I finish where I began. Grateful.



  10. I was so blessed that the magazine article was posted along with this podcast. A couple of months ago a friend who is involved with a group we faded out from posted that article for its merits and called it ‘good truth’. It bothered me somewhat. When you leave a group that you have been involved in for a long time, you have a lot of thoughts and memories. It is so great to be free of the type of thinking that article represents. I am thankful to God for the podcasts. I had never realized the inner ‘nudges’ through those years were God was trying to peel back the veil. I’m still uncovering the restraints that I inadvertently accepted.

  11. It is really fascinating reading the comments to the podcast. There is such deep wondrous struggle. Wondrous because the struggle leads to a much closer walk with Father.

    I began this morning with Colossians 1:2 – Grace to you and and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Its as far as I got. Paul speaks out his greeting to the Colossian church on behalf God. As I sat in His presence I heard: Good morning John, grace to you and peace. This is My heart towards you.

    I discover that much of Christian “growth” is actually deconstruction. Breaking down the lies that I was born into and that I have learned along the way in my 50+ years. The lies that have covered up the truth. The lies that have masqueraded AS truth.

    God is a jealous God. He does not want his kids to have crutches that replace Him. Its amazing how many crutches we have that bypass who God wants to be for us.

    I say I have trust in Him, yet when finances get tight, His promise to supply my daily bread is challenged by anxiety, panic and desperate attempts to find solutions. If finances are a crutch in place of trusting God, God in His mercy will at some point get around to pulling out that crutch out from under me in some form or other. I find a lot of ways to replace God. I say I trust him and then sneak around behind His back trying to manipulate in my favour.

    Could it be that God leads some of us out of the formal church setting or allows us to become very uncomfortable because doing church, doing ministry in the church, is a substitute for our relationship with Him? Perhaps the issue is not church per se, perhaps it is OUR idolatry of the church that is the issue. We put the church up as our “god”, we have a relationship with “the church” institution, we have intimacy with the “idea” of church. We want the church to be everything to us. We place church attendance and involvement as the pinnacle of spiritual success. It is easier to measure than “a relationship with God”.

    I recently listened to a testimony from someone, and it felt like their life had been changed by the church rather than by Jesus Christ. Their relationship “with God” was actually defined by their relationships in the church and their involvement. “When I started attending church, my life was changed.” Huh? There was no mention of intimacy with Jesus.

    In coming out from the “church” environment, particularly services and programs, it really revealed to me how I had relied on “church” to define my relationship with God. It was a crutch in the same way that I viewed my finances, my job, and my relationships. I was asking all of these to provide security and peace. To provide definition of who I was. In leaving all that behind, it was suddenly me and God and nothing to prop it up. And it is in these places where there is no control, no solution that I experience Him and learn deeper trust. And then just when I think I have learned it, along comes something else that once again reveals my fickle heart and leads me on an journey to learn trust.

    I am finding that no matter where I go, people and institutions are going to peddle a substitute for what only God can provide. If I have substitutions, Papa will in his grace and mercy (and divine jealousy) will dismantle them at some point.”

    Thank you Lord. I am so far from perfect trust, but what an “adventure” discovering You.

  12. the bonhoeffor quote at 1st really confused me. But than when I processed it, it brought me more light and life. it confused me as at 1st I thought To love people around you is part of papa’s vision for community. And if papa’s vision is your vision for community how could that destroy community? Once I thought about it some more and I realised loving authentic community is good. But no matter what your vision or ideal of community is, if you love it more than you actually love people you miss the heart of the vision. I also realise that the vision is meant to lead you to desire and desire is fuel or empowerment to love people. walking this line full of passion though, I am personally learning to guard against ever trying to ‘pull my strings’ to create the community that I want. All I can do is let/trust christ be lord and to form community around me and partner/work with christ as he leads. To trust christ as lord is the difference between finding life or death.

  13. Love….what you said John! And i too feel walking with God is a great adventure!! A picture that fits it well for me, is the first time Lucy steps through the wardrobe into her first glimpse of Narnia, in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the witch, and the wardrobe, my favorite books…The wonder of it all…amazes me very day!!!! I would think He was too good to be true, its just that he’s not! lol…much love to you all, my dear brothers and sisters! Hope you are at this moment feeling his wonder and love for you!!;)

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