26 Oct 2003

Playing church

Submitted by theshovel
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Hey Brother! Question if I may? I have found over the last few years that believers who understand (at least to a degree) this message are often reluctant to take a little time away (from the organized church if need be but not necessarily)---just to study with other believers who also understand it. Personally and Ideally, I believe we could all take a permanent SABBATICAL from the organized church and we'd all be the better! This is what we have done at our fellowship but few want to come hear the message. They opt for more organized types of things. In 4.5 years of fellowship, we have not grown--some come and some go but we stay with about 10-15 of the core people coming at any given time. This would be ok but it's often discouraging to many in the fellowship (sometimes myself included). We have no structure, no membership, and no formal rules. Perhaps that's what scares people away. I've just been wondering about it and thinking maybe you had some thoughts on this. Thanks! john

Hello John!

The official church mentality is a tough one for many to shake. I don't know if I really have much to share with you at this point in my life, as we get together so rarely anymore that I'm both missing it and glad for the extended break. :) Now, I continued on with an official (though small) church for a while back in the '90s (much longer than Sherri wanted to be there), but I was always glad for whatever connection was made. Of course, I was viewed as a loose-canon, but my abilities on the guitar and Praise & Worship music were desired enough to put up with me for a bit, I suppose! :)

I think as long as our religious culture is the way it is we will find that most will shy away from lone ranger grace-type groups (such as what we most likely represent).

I remember addressing the underlying sense of inadequacy that often permeated the small home groups we were part of in the 80's. The fact is that many are still trying to come up with a better version of the wreck they perceived as Church! Somehow, even though we see how devoid of life the modern organization is we keep comparing our gatherings to it.

I think many harbor the fear that maybe they are only trying to play church ... and that they are doing a very bad job at it because it so obviously doesn't have the features of a real church. Comparisons, comparisons ... always those stinking comparisons.

Oh well, I've rambled on. :) Looking forward to hearing from you!

Jim

Jim, It looks like our own church fellowship will be dissolving after 4 years of meeting because most of the folks just can't get around the desire for bigger things. I think it's more on a subconscious level than anything else. They verbally rave about the freedom they have come to know and experience thru our meetings--they go on about the burdens that have been lifted and the relief they are experiencing--but they act as if this is not nearly as important as the social benefits they are missing in larger churches. It will be interesting, as it always is, to see how the Lord is going to work this all out. Because I know that the end of things naturally speaking is always just the beginning with the Lord, I'm excited to see what comes next. Take the care of the Lord my brother! John

Hello John,
It must be somewhat discouraging to see things dissolve as they are with your group. It's so ironic that the same people who didn't find freedom within the confines of the institutions they left now look back to them as if they offered so much more. Sounds similar to the history of Israel in the wilderness, doesn't it? We had plenty to eat, and a much better life back in Egypt!! How quickly folks forget.

I'm glad that you're excited about things to come, because it tells me that your excitement is found outside the expectations of the religious mind ... somewhere in the realm of the miraculous reality of Christ. :)

Love, Jim

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The Spirit is ACTIVE. We were saved FROM a life of TRYING to gain the sense of doing something important, and INTO a life where the LIFE-GIVING Spirit is the empowerment of our lives.   source