The Way

The Way
My Journey Into the Community God Intended

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The End and the Beginning

Well, it is approaching fast. What? The end - and the beginning. This coming Sunday (October 3rd, 2010) will mark our last Lord's day in the institutional church. On October 17, 2010 we will begin our journey on The Way, to my knowledge, the first organic church meeting in Terrell, TX. As of now, we have at least two other families who will be joining us on this journey. My heart is to grab up all of our friends and beg them to join us, but because I do NOT want to cause any division in the church body we are leaving, we are not trying to proselytize any. If any desire to follow, we will counsel with them about their decision to make certain their desire to join us is a calling from God, not running from their current situation.

So, what is different about The Way compared to the traditional church? Well, everything, nearly. We are not a cult - we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, son of Yaweh God and are indwelt by His Holy Spirit. We do not have a paid pastor position, as our meetings are participatory and every member is allowed and encouraged to contribute freely and spontaniously in the meetings from their spiritual gifts. We do not have a "church building", as we serve a God who dwells in a temple made by His hands, not one we put ourselves into debt to impress the surrounding community by building. We will meet in homes of our members (who are not voted-in, but born-in when they are born-again.) and will not be restricted to one to two hour services once or twice a week. We will have a set startup time, but will go until the Spirit says we are done - be it 20 minutes or 8 hours. We will work hard to build community and family relationships among the members and will focus on becoming living, breathing disciples of Jesus. We will take meals together regularly, fellowship with each other and really get to know one another - the good, the bad and the not-so-pretty. And we will love each other in a manner that will make the lost community around us want to be a part of that special thing that is growing in our midst.

I have been asked why I can't do this within the confines and under the authority of the traditional church - why break away and start something new? My answer is in the way of a parallel:

Yesterday, we took my wife's car, a 2007 Dodge Charger, and traded it in for a 2010 Challenger. The Charger was a lease and still looked immaculate, aside from a few minor scuffs and stains. We could have purchased the Charger for a lot less than what we would have had to pay for the same car on a dealer's lot. The only problem was this car started using A LOT of oil - about a quart every two weeks. Although it still ran great, looked great and was priced great - internally it is destined to fail mechanically because something in the motor is just not right. The car's ability to drive is inevitably goin gto fail. So, rather than buy the car and even have the engine replaced with a new, better one, we chose to trade and get the more streamlined model that catches the eye of most who see it (as far as we know it is the only one with this color scheme and wheels in Terrell). While the Challenger is brand new, is is patterned after the early model (1970 - 1972 models) and has the look and feel of the original with the punch of current technology.

I think you can connect the dots here and see where I am going with this. The traditional church "model" looks good, for the most part on the outside - it seems to run good most of the time - and can be had on just about every corner in every community in the USA. But, internally, it is built on a flawed system that takes away the priesthood of the believer (the common believer that fills the pews) and places body ministry on the backs and in the hands of a select few, which is totally unscriptural and ineffective. It has created a generation of spiritual zombies and even more misguided souls who believe they have salvation simply by believing the stories - the facts - about God. Church building are filled with strangers for two or three hours a week who's interaction with others can be summed up as "polite acknowledgements". It is no longer enough for me and my family. We yearn for the earlier model that had the spiritual muscle to change lives and positively affect the Kingdom. We want that stream-lined model that will catch the eyes of the unrepentant and cause them to look deeper to see what could have caused such a life-changing joy in our lives and want that same change for themselves and thier families. Putting a new engine in the old model would be alot like putting new wine in old wineskins - it could not hold up to the task you ask of it - because it wasn't designed to do so.

God is placing us as new wine in a new wineskin. It is all new and we are totally dependent on Him to guide, direct and bless.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Control Freak VS Servant Heart

Recently, I was informed that I had been labeled a "control freak", and that when I could not be in control of things at a church that I would move on to another church where I could "take over" and run things - and that I had been doing this for years. It is amazing the things people will make up or even repeat without even trying to discern the truth.

When we set out on this journey to place ourselves wholly in God's will, I knew there would be satanic attacks. In this sense, Satan is always predictable and seldom disappoints. He will rarely attack after you have hit one of those spiritual peaks where God has shown you something amazing, but will almost always throw a constant barrage of blows when you are on your way up to one of those peaks. Mark my words, set your eyes on Jesus and determine in your heart to do those things that will honor Him, then sit back and wait... As sure as the mouse will go for the cheese on the mouse trap, so Satan will show up to try and trip you up to make you miss what God has for you. It is like a road sign that tells you that you are certainly on the right path. If Satan is not attacking you, perhaps you should check the path you are on. Satan ALWAYS sets his path in opposition of God's children set about doing His will. If you are not hitting that demonic opposition, Satan does not see you as a threat - possibly because you are either not moving towards God or you are moving in a direction away from God.

Anyway... Back to my thought. In the past 10 years, I have had "membership" with three institutions. The first we left, not because we could not "run things", but because we felt no sense of community. I was active as a scriptural, biblically based servant minister (deacon), which was a position of no certain authority, outside of hosting a deacon family fellowship meeting once a month in our home. I had no more voice in the business or politics in the church than any other member - and I was perfectly OK with this. My family just did not feel the sense of community there that we read about in the New Testament - so we left looking for that. We did not leave mad or angry - just needing that sense of community.

We found ourselves at another institution where community was there and I was "recruited" to lead worship. During our time at this place, God blessed us with many new friends and allowed us to witness many miracles that today have often been relegated only to New Testament times. While God blessed us during our time here, He began closing the doors of the institution itself, moving the majority of membership away to other institutions as the leader of the church had begun to preach sermons downloaded off of the Internet, word for word, every week. (I began taking notes of key phrases he used in his messages and googling them when I got home, only to find the entire message on a website.) Once the community had moved away, we began a search for where God would have us go.

Which brings me to where we are now. After months of searching, we visited this small congregation just outside of our town. From the moment we walked into the doors, we felt the community, the love of Christ fleshed out through His people. We knew this was where God wanted us - to be the final leg in this journey He was soon to reveal to us. Here we experienced ministry with the body, missional work (local and global), and real fellowship. I was drawn in, again, as a servant leader (deacon) and was also asked to serve (after a couple of years) as an interim worship leader, until a replacement was found. I did not ask for these positions, but was happy to be able to serve in these capacities as the Lord allowed. When our pastor left, I was elected as part of a three man pulpit committee and served as a Wednesday nite Bible study teacher. I was approached by members of the church about taking on the position of pastor myself. Now, had I been a control freak, as some have suggested, I would have jumped at this opportunity to take over the reigns of this local body. However, since this was not the case, and I knew this was not God's calling on my life, I dismissed this opportunity as not being God's will for me and my family. As Forest Gump would say, "And that's all I got to say about that."

I have (and have not had in the past) no desire to "run things" in the church. I do have a burden to see that things are done properly and scripturally, which is not the same thing as wanting to be in control. Christ is the head of the Church and as such, should be the ultimate and only authority - I know that I am unable, unfit and unqualified to do His job and hence, have no desire to attempt to do so. God has given me a heart for His people - and those He wishes to become His people. He has given me a heart to build community within His body. He has given me an unimaginable desire to see His name honored and lifted up. It is this desire that dictates my actions, words and thoughts.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

This verse has never been more real and alive than it is now in my life. This life is not about me. It's not about you. It is all about Jesus. If you see anything good in me, that is Jesus. If you hear any truth come from my mouth - that is Jesus. My heart is to serve Him. His heart was to demonstrate to us that servant attitude which must be fleshed out in our lives in order for a lost world to see Him.