Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where Am I? Where Are You?

This is not a post written by someone struggling with amnesia. It's also not composed by someone battling an existential crisis.

Rather, I'm asking these two questions (see the post title) in response to Felicity Dale's recent short piece entitled The journey from legacy church to simple/organic/house church. I encourage you to read it before continuing here.

Felicity discusses some of the struggles involved in the journey from legacy church to simple church. In particular, her focus is the difficulty of giving up certain things that we may have enjoyed in institutional church life. Felicity concludes by discussing some of the wonderful benefits of organic church.

My questions today are aimed at myself and you. Where am I and where are you in this journey? I realize you may not be on this journey at all, and that is fine. However, if you are, then where are you? I'd love to hear from you; please leave a comment describing your situation.

As for our family, we can well understand what Felicity is talking about. My wife Alice and I have been part of several churches through the years that have had dynamic music and solid preaching. I freely admit that on occasion I miss vibrant, practiced singing in large groups. I even, if I'm allowed to say so, even like a choir piece once in a while. As for preaching, there is no doubt that God has gifted some men in both teaching and oratory skills. When these are combined in a godly man, he often can deliver a very good sermon. I've heard many through the years and still enjoy them.

The singing and sermons, however, are not nearly enough to entice me to return to the institutional church. There are two reasons for this. First, we are convicted to follow the biblical model for church life. Second, the sense of community, group participation, and freedom in simple church is wonderful. This environment lends itself to deep relationships.

I'm not really sure what the "mountain top" of simple church life looks like. Felicity refers to this and may be there herself. I hope to be one day. However, we certainly aren't walking through any sort of "Death Valley" either. I'd say, to continue the metaphor, that we are about half way up the simple church mountain between the valley and the top. We continue to progress upward with our friends and with Christ in the lead. It is a beautiful thing.

I thank the Father, Son, and Spirit for the wonderful gift of what He desires His church to be. It is difficult at times, but is glorious to behold.

That's where I am. Where are you?

5 comments:

Tim A said...

I'm with you, but I have seen saints treat their efforts at organic church like they are in death valley wishing they had the comforts and flesh pillows of pew/pulpit forms.

I have seen the headship of Christ in action. I have seen the power of leadership with no titles involved. I have seen the power of children "building up" the faith of adults. I have seen the "filling of the Spirit" in action with no swaying, reaching for the sky, or repeating a phrase 15 times in a song. I have seen God's power flow through those with Cerebral Palsy during gathering and outside of it. I have seen 100% of giving go beyond the givers to reach all nations and serve the poor. I have seen full leadership reproduction to laaaaaaaay men and see them become shepherds of God's flock.

The part I have not seen yet are the eternal rewards for those who run the race to win the prize - following the rules.
Lest anyone think using the r word means legalism:
2 Tim. 2:5
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

Eric said...

Tim,

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you have experienced s many of these wonderful aspects of simple/organic church life.

It's ironic how we, as evangelicals, cry out fr the purity of the gospel message according to scripture alone. Then, when it comes to the church, we so often look to tradition to lead the way. You are right that when we follow God's rules for his church, we experience great blessing and he is honored.

From the Wilderness... said...

Eric,
I touched on this before I think when you and I briefly discussed this. My wife and I have completely left the institutional church, however we haven't found a house church we felt comfortable with either. Though some other christians come down hard on us for doing what we have, any time we attempt to compromise and visit a church, we usually walk away sick from the experience. Just yesterday was one of those times. As we sat in a huge mega-church building and listened to the pastor tell everyone how great the church was (#1 in the area evidently) I found myself wondering how many hungry people in the city I live in could have been fed by the obvious millions that had been put into the structure. And no matter how many times I see it, I always am amazed at the idea of passing an offering plate, instead of a less manipulative offering box in the back. We don't have kids yet, but I do not think we will ever go back to the IC even when/if we do have kids. But like you Eric, there's a couple things we miss. My wife misses singing worship songs with other christians. I miss the church as a platform to meet other christians and the venue to hear scripture read in a pseudo public way. But, right now, and on into the distant future I think, our christian lives are wandering ones. All else has been, and is being stripped; Christ close to all we have left. And I hope that's still a good place to be.

Seth

Eric said...

Seth,

Thanks for sharing your situation. Wandering can certainly be difficult at times. I can't say that I envy you. However, being left with only Christ is, I'm sure, a place where you are forced to grow in dependence only upon him - which is obviously a good thing.

My hope is that God will eventually place other believers together with you in some sort of simple/organic fashion is which you can share life together. God often does this, based on stories I've heard, in ways and at speeds that shock people. Hang in there brother. It may sound trite but I mean it when I say that God does have a plan for your situation.

From the Wilderness... said...

Thanks Eric, I appreciate it.