Monday, January 9, 2017

Tim's Story

I'd like to share more and more of your church stories/journeys with one another. We all have much to learn from both what we have experienced and what we are currently experiencing. Today I'm sharing Tim's story with you. Enjoy!


Tim and Judy's Journey Towards Greater Obedience

I was born in the Philippines to Baptist missionary parents. Except for 3 years of "furlough" living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I lived in the Philippines, attending mostly Filipino churches which are formed just like American churches. My parents were in Bible school administration and teaching, training Filipinos to lead the school and church. My father taught the men how to use the original languages and my mother taught music. Since the 1950's, the evangelical church has been exploding with growth into more remote barrios, in greater ways than most countries in Asia or in the world.

When I was seven, I realized I was a sinner and could receive forgiveness by placing faith in Christ's death and resurrection. At 13 I was baptized during one of our furlough years. After graduating from high school in the Philippines, I attended a Christian college in Oregon. For the first time in my Christian experience I engaged in Bible teaching that included extra reading, writing papers that were graded, interaction with teachers, and testing to determine if I had learned what I was taught. I had never experienced this quality of teaching in church life. The strict one way communication with no other response on my part but to listen seemed odd. I was also taught to test what I was taught to see if it was really true. I was confused by my church life in general. I knew it was important because God was involved. In my second year I was listening to a radio preacher who talked a lot about the importance of being a shepherd/pastor for God's people. I had a deep emotional experience, complete with tears, where I concluded God was calling me to become a "pastor". So I joined the Pastoral Education Major. Immediately I began to learn about contradictions between what God's word said a Pastor did and what I was told a pastor should do. The first was when a nationwide preacher came to the school for special meetings. They gathered us budding "pastors" into a leadership meeting. He told us that as a pastor, we must maintain a professional distance from the people. We were the shepherd and the people were the sheep. The two don't connect with mutuality or intimacy. I knew from reading Paul's relationship with the churches that this was bogus. I determined I would not be that kind of pastor. The second issue was sitting in homiletics class learning to lecture the Bible every week to "teach" God's people. I wondered, does "preach the word, in season and out of season" really mean lecture the word by only one man for the whole time with zero participation from any other believer for their whole life? I realized there was no way you could "exposit" this text or any other text to strictly mean lecture by one man in perpetual dependency.

I graduated and was called to be a youth pastor. I knew I was thinking outside the box and that might cause trouble. I was going to be a member of the local family of God, not just a hireling to keep the programs running smoothly. As a youth pastor I realized I was primarily a program developer for different youth age groups so they would "grow spiritually". Making disciples was not included. In a year the Sr. Pastor took a different job, and the Associate Pastor left to be a missionary. Things did not go well from then on. I was "asked to resign" which means I was told to write a letter telling the people God was calling me somewhere else. That meant I was being asked to lie to make it look like my leaving was my choice. I lied, but decided I would never tell that lie again. I realized I could be a more faithful pastor serving for free as a businessman so I would not be forced by a church management board to do things that were not making disciples. I also realized my "call to the ministry" came from men, not God. There is no call to never work a job and lecture the Bible to believers every week of their life so they never say one word to their fellow believers during the "worship service". There is a call to the opposite of that. When I say this I'm not questioning anyone else's sincerity. I am questioning the accuracy and source of their experience and their willingness to test what they have been told with the scriptures. I have seen every scripture used to justify this, and they are all twisted. Example: Romans 1:1 "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,..." This is used to mean "set apart from working in business so you can devote all your time to 'gospel' things." This is corrupted exegesis at many points. 1. The term "set apart" is a locational movement. He is leaving to bring the gospel to "all the nations" verse 5, including Rome. Verse 6. 2. The rest of the NT tells us Paul always combined marketplace work with his spiritual leadership no matter where he was. Any time he received financial help was temporary and always from saints in another town, never from where he was currently working. (Big distinctions ignored by hired experts.) 3. This "calling" creates a false dichotomy between "secular work" and "sacred work". Col. 3:23 says "whatever we do" is to be "serving Christ". Every second I am doing filthy, smelly, despised tasks, I am serving Christ. Employees are watching and see my example of joy in this work. My marketplace work is "full time ministry."

I was dating a woman I met at college. She managed her parents business. In 6 months a position opened up, and I moved to that town to learn business. This was an amazing provision of God as he was completely redirecting me out of professionalized church leadership. I am amazed as I look back. We began serving together as volunteer leaders in a large church youth ministry where one of my classmates was on staff. Finally we were making disciples. We were married in that church and over the course of 15 years served in almost every area of ministry as our two boys were born and grew up. At this time I was learning about more corruptions in this corporation oriented form of Church. I realized that it was considered normal for churches to consume 84% of their "giving" to buy services for those who gave the money. Only 16% on average went outside the church door. I was shocked to realize I was consuming most of my "giving." I asked God, "Is there a way to do all of church and send 100% of my giving beyond my own "needs"? God began answering that question immediately with scripture, very clear scripture I had been blind to. I, every preacher, and every pew sitter were blind to these truths. Example: Hebrews 10: 24 "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." The "meeting" believers are not to "neglect" was "stirring up one another" and "encouraging one another." I had heard this preached all my life, and the meeting was strict one way communication by one man, the exact opposite of every believer participating in "one another" oriented communication. Wow! There it is. This does not require a hired pastor or a special building, the two things that force the consuming of 84% of the "giving," or it should really be called pooling. God did not stop with just this one scripture. He added more and more.

I began sharing these scriptures and many others with the saints in this fellowship, including the staff. I was on the church board so I had an "open door" with the Sr. Pastor. That door quickly shut, and the saints had no interest in talking further about these things. Soon there after the Administration Pastor and the Chairman of the Board asked to have lunch with my wife and me. We all know what that means - the official warning of being "unruly" or "out of step" from 2 Thes. 3. My wife and I realized it was time to exit and begin practicing obedience to God's instructions regardless if anyone we knew was interested. That was about 20 years ago. This journey has been completely unpredictable from one year to the next. I have stories to tell of people God connected us to and then separated, and then connected again, and so on. We have seen the power of what I call 100% church.

1. 100% of the giving goes out the door. NO pooling any money to bless ourselves. We received the truth without paying so we distribute it without anyone paying (Matthew 10:8b).
2. 100% mutual relationships . No power pyramid. No honorific titles. No offices for reserving ministry for a few experts. We are all brothers, all servants and slaves.
3. 100% two way communication. There are 58 one another instructions and no lecture instructions unless you want to assume into the text.
4. 100% reproducing leadership. Everything a leader does is "entrusted" (2 Tim. 2:1-2) to those who are "fully trained" (Luke 6:40).
5. 100% intergenerational gatherings. Never send the children away. Children can pray, read the scriptures, talk about the scriptures, ask questions, select songs they love, pass out hugs and love on people, etc. They are never considered a nuisance.

Last year in July, my wife was diagnosed with Leukemia. On December 5th God took her home. The grief for this loss is great, but I know God is working everything out for His purposes, including Judy enjoying heaven. As I share God's call to greater obedience, to further reformation with believers in traditional churches, I am finishing a free book called "When Men Are Paid To Lead". I go through most of the texts where Paul specifically teaches by word and example that spiritual leadership should always be connected with marketplace work. I have been shocked at what I have found. I am not surprised at how every professional commentator or preacher trashes their principles of exposition and explain away 8 texts on the basis of their twisting 3 texts to say the opposite of what it says. My book isn't professionally edited yet so maybe that will get done at some point. It's in PDF format so anyone who wants it can have it.

These things are not the end of transformations and clean up God wants for his church. There are many more. I'm watching out for what's next. I want to be ready.

11 comments:

Peter Horvatin said...

Eric,

I want to say it's amazing how many times I've heard Tim's story about how the institutional body of believers throws up roadblocks when it comes to discovering the truth. I really enjoyed his story and it inspires me. I'm sorry to hear that he lost his wife and my prayers are with him as God holds him in the palm of his hand during this time of grieving. I know that I would be devastated if I would lose my wife, we have known each other for 45 years. Thank you again for posting Tim and Judy's story.

Pete

Aussie John said...

Eric,
Now that is a balm to the soul of an old bloke like me who believes that worship is whole of life, not an hour or two on Sunday!

That's what I call worship!

Vascularity777 said...

Eric and Tim I cannot find the PDF using google. Plz post a link or send it to me via email. This topic is important to me, kinda as it should be to all of us believers in Christ.

Eric said...

Peter,

I'm glad you were edified by Tim's journey. I was as well. I know that it helps me to know that fellow brothers and sisters in Christ see in the Bible the same things I see when it comes to the church. It helps me know that I'm not way off base in interpreting scripture. Thank you Tim!

Eric said...

John,

Agreed! It's so nice to meet other believers, even in this electronic format, who realize that worship is a way of life.

Eric said...

Vascularity,

I do not have the PDF. I'm hoping that Tim reads these comments and tells us the location of the PDF. If not, I will email him in a few days. Thanks.

T Aagard said...

Peter, Thank you for interceding on my behalf. The sorrow I have felt is something I have never experienced before except in lighter doses such as when I was "asked to resign". I have come to realize my loss is normal for every marriage. At some point every marriage will end with the death of one of the two. No one is exempt from this struggle. Within 6 months I saw God work amazing new things for the future of my life. I am so thankful I got this kick in the butt to get me out of the pay-check-for-co-depenency-in-ministry. At the same time God opened up the door to a new ministry in the marketplace and a wife who was already on that path. Her father and mother had been church planters in California for many years and gave that up to buy a small business when she was in 3rd grade. God blessed their diligent work greatly. I am the only family member left besides my oldest son who does our website. Judy was my partner in business, ministry, reformation and family growth. Not many families get this breadth of partnership. God will bring in other partners in his own timing. He has done it before for me. He will do it again.

I don't have the PDF on a the web yet. I'll send it to Eric since I have his email. I'll also send a spreadsheet chart that summarizes key differences between professionalized church leadership and ministry free of charge and key scriptures that call for obedience, not merely a model option to pick and choose.

Eric said...

A note to everybody:

As Tim stated above, he has emailed me PDFs of both his book and his leadership spreadsheet. If you would like either of these, please let me know in the comments section. Give your name and email address. For the sake of privacy, I will not post your comment. I'll get the email to you as soon as I can.

Vascularity777 said...

Eric,

Are you gonna email those attachments??

Eric said...

Vascularity,

Did you send me your email address? I don't have it. If I misplaced it I apologize. Please send it again. Thanks.

John G said...

Hi Tim, We went to that same Christian School together. I was very much encouraged and challenge by your words. Patti and I have had many of the same experiences. Thanks.