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.