Franchising the Faith (#640)

It seems like every time we try to mass-produce the life of Jesus, be it through a workbook or "church" program, it always ends up getting sidetracked. What may be life to the first generation gets lost in subsequent generations as people are instructed in principles they've learned, rather than helping them cultivate their own relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. It's an age-old story. Is that why Jesus didn't leave us with Five Steps to Whatever, or a discipleship program we could follow instead of him. He passed on the kingdom life-to-life, through relationships of love and growing trust rather than engaging human effort to follow a checklist.There isn't a system humanity has devised that cannot be exploited to serve the needs of our flesh, rather than let him engage us with a relationship that invites us out of our brokenness and into his life.

Podcast Notes:
Article Referred to in the Podcast: How to Become America's Fastest-Growing Church
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12 Comments

  1. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but did follow the link to that article in Christianity Today. And I must say my ‘yuck meter’ was instantly pegged. From “Moses on Management” to 1,000 other programs, trying to make Life fit our mold may ‘work’ for a little while — but in the process, people turn into pawns (if they’re paid or volunteers) or tithing units. And somehow, sadly, the ends seem to justify the means in so many people’s mind. “Whether by wrong or right motives, the gospel is preached.”

    But

    Abraham Lincoln said “If we call the tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? The answer is still four. Because it doesn’t matter what you call it, an tail is not a leg”

    And entrepreneurial business-model driven ‘churchianity’ (no matter what we call it) is NOT the gospel. It is not ‘good news’ — it is, at best, new wine in old skins.

  2. Maybe – just Maybe – the current Church has lost the “God Plan”. We are ( Born again Christians – that is) all – so fixated and coerced into “SERVING GOD” that we miss and diminish the “Finished work” of Jesus on the cross – as He declared – “it is Finished”!! – ( as the 2nd Adam)??? Jesus work has already made us ALL SONS of the Living God – yet we continue to preach/teach/ demand that we all “serve GOD” – do Sons serve their parents?- Look at the picture of the Prodigal – the end result was the Father throwing the Party – all invited – to celebrate the “losts” return!!??? The entire Bible is a series of Pictures ( as is the Jewish language – no vowels) of Jesus – as our (human =”vessel – Spirit = Treasure”) Saviour/Redeemer/Healer/Provider/King/High Priest – yet we still strive/fast/ labour/stress that there is “some standard/level/performance that we are required to complete or undertake to “prove our Love for Him”? Its really all about about His Love for us! Maybe its time to reexamine our Theology???

  3. God regularly knocks out the walls I have created, or dumps out all over the floor the box that contains my precious constructs.

    But why do I have these boxes? Ultimately, I think I am trying to somehow contain the uncontainable, comprehend the incomprehensible, the try to find some understanding, and maybe even control.

    Our human brains and souls cannot grasp the immensity of it all. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts because we are not God. But we live in a universe God has created. In the vast landscape of the unknown and the eternal, we feel helpless without some form of shelter.

    This process seems inherent to the human being. – the creating of a space that is self-contained and controllable: a home, a business, a church, a community, a country …. anything to provide definition and form that is knowable.

    Is that wrong or inevitable?

    The early pioneers exploring the vast landscape of the wild west put up tents, or small structures in order provide some protection from the elements to create a living space where the outside did not upset the inside living space. To create a place of safety and knowing separate from the vast unknown. Slowly settlements grew, and the controlled spaces increased and became cities. And the city dwellers soon start to forget that a great expanse exists.

    Where the problem lies is when we think that the box is all there is, walled off from the expanse. That the box is the universe. The use of spaces with walls is helpful in the learning process, but we should not remain there.

    Maybe we need to spend a bit more time outdoors.

    • Hi John,

      You said “The early pioneers exploring the vast landscape of the wild west put up tents, or small structures in order provide some protection from the elements to create a living space where the outside did not upset the inside living space. To create a place of safety and knowing separate from the vast unknown. Slowly settlements grew, and the controlled spaces increased and became cities. And the city dwellers soon start to forget that a great expanse exists.”

      I love your thoughts here. And, while I don’t want to get overly political I do also see a connection here.

      The ‘settlers’ also looked down on the natives as ‘less than’ and therefore paid no heed to displacing them, punishing them unless they conformed, or simply wiping them out — either intentionally or just by not caring if their own diseases impacted the local tribes in such a way as to wipe them out. And — they did all this in the full belief that they were doing God’s will, or at least had God on their side.

      In Sebastian Junger’s book “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” he describes many stories of settlers who (for a variety of reasons) found themselves living amongst the natives. And then when a chance came to be re-integrated, they chose to stay with the native tribe and live in a freer manner.

      And how many of us who have left the institutional systems now have a more empathetic appreciation for others who haver been forced to conform or pay the price? =(

  4. One lady in the article who was from the original Crossroads Church was concerned about their identity if Crossroads expanded nationally. She said, “If God has placed this on the hearts of our leaders, then we must trust what God is doing.” My question is: Why is she yielding to leaders as her authority in place of having a direct relating with God Himself as her authority? Where is her responsibility for her own direct relating with God in place of indirectly relating through a pastor/leaders? Institutional church seems to assume its Self as our authority and we seem to yield to that idea easily.
    It’s a relational pattern very hard to escape.

  5. Now that I’be listened to the post, I am further convinced that, whether from the fall, or etc — anything we try to systematize (a la Babel and beyond) just gets us all messed up.

    Brad — as an old Vineyardite myself, I resonated with some of your comments. I wonder what might have happened if Ken Gulliksen had never passed the baton to John Wimber when there were too many church-on-the-beach locations for him to pastor? Would MC-510 ever have happened? Maybe not…but maybe so? And all of the other fruit that came about through the decades was certainly valid. But when Todd Hunter encouraged us to ‘take the best and go’ there was only so much any of us could do. The institution was in place by that time and so many people wanted to protect (read: control) the Vineyard ‘brand’ although it wasn’t called that at the time. It was just stated as “Well, that’s OK, it’s not bad, it’s just not ‘us'”.

    I am so thankful for the heritage I have and what I still think of as “Vineyard DNA” but am also so thankful for how Father has stayed with me throughout my journey out of that place and into a new adventure with Him outside the confines of ‘churchianity’.

  6. All of these comments are so spot on… The past weeks God has been ministering to me concerning space and time – constructs he created. Not to super impose here, but basically, and in the end, these become tools to disperse us and cause us to lean upon HIM. Babel, as previously mentioned, was chaos introduced to disperse mankind; we know today that an order placed within this context – as a witness to HIM. (70 languages all have the same numerical values applied to the letters within their alphabet; such application bares witness to: “God Eternal within the body.” and, “This is Yahweh, the one true Lord.” which are encoded and stated within the various levels of mankind’s DNA.) Job was asked various questions about various constraints placed within the earth’s systems. All of it as a witness of God’s eternal wisdom and grace. This law of constraints ( actual order, unseen by man) acts to limit us as we occupy space over time. Jesus came at the appointed time, “until HE could get the SEED in the earth…” God even yields to it to accomplish HIS purposes in the earth and through mankind. Chaos in our own lived causes us to search out the one true God, sometimes we seek a sense of order as an answer, and when this doesn’t come – we can choose to lean upon the bosom of Jesus, who alone is King and the one true God. HIS thoughts are so profound; HE loves us even when we place the cart before the horse through religious order. Today, I chuckle at the methods, “Hey. knock yourself out!” because I know it’s all in vain for all of us; we generally don’t until their order fails.
    And HE’s never amazed is HE?

  7. I am asking Father how to help others engage Him without distilling it down to a “this is how you do it” procedure.

    Perhaps showing others “this is how I myself do it” can be personally applied and modified by them individually, as the Spirit leads them. But then, is there ever really a proper “this is how I do it” even for my own life? Actually, I have seen God work through those templates, but in the course of my journey, I have learned to give God the freedom to work within or without templates (as if I can really control how He works lol). But often He does work within them, because at that moment, this is where I am in my walk with Him. But the time does eventually come when He nudges me on, pushing me “out of that nest” if needed.

  8. Good discussion topic..
    —-
    I agree with your remark about “generations”.
    Any movement, after “first generation” loses original viality, passion and vision.
    Focus is on other things.. status, assets, recognition from establishments..etc.
    Vineyard is one example.

    Every generation needs pioneers who are willing to break from existing norm/pattern/establishment.
    It means you have to come out of comfort zone. It takes courage..
    —-
    —-
    Also I agree about ” Father, Son and Holy Spirit. ”
    Experiencing / relationship with “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” should be
    top priority on our journey.

    Blessings,

  9. I’m inclined to think that the “programmes” which people put together & sets of principles they espouse as being “the way to walk with God, could be a part of “the Broad way” that Jesus referred to when saying that “Straight is the gate & narrow is the way that leads to life”. I have come to sense that the “narrow way” is the path which I am invited to walk with Jesus through this life. There are intersections along that path where sharing of fellowship, encouragement, team projects, the Life of the Kingdom occurs with other travelers, but for the most part I believe His desire is for personal, intimate communion with Him on a path which has room for me & Him. From that flows His life to those with whom I share a home, or a seat on a bus or a place in the supermarket queue.

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