I Don’t Want To Be That Guy Who’s Pegged As Anti-Church, But…

486713_10151659773520087_1338628241_nThree to four times a day, a herd of cows is brought passed a Church building in a small village in the Ecuadorean Cloud Forest region.  On one of those passes, a bull saw his reflection in the glass of the front door of that church and charged it!  The picture you see to the left is the result of that charge.
~
I really don’t want to be that guy who’s pegged as anti-church, but there certain things that cause my prophetic angst to rise to fever pitch.  Like the bull, I want to charge.
~
Anything that impedes The Gospel, detracts from Making Disciples, or moves in a direction that is Contra-Kingdom has got to be fractured, shattered, disassembled, and put out with the trash.  I do understand though, that the speed or manner by which any institution or system is shifted away from the actions or attitudes that cause those things will differ depending on context, culture, and willingness.  Likewise, I understand that the time frame in which a local body becomes self-aware on those issues will vary.
This will begin a series of blog posts on the topic.  I’ll have to admit that it’s something I’ve been trying to avoid.  I don’t want to enter systems or institutions to bring change.  It would seem counter-intuitive for me except for the resonation in my heart which is God-Directed toward that end.  For me, it’s easier to buck the system, to snort and charge rather than to enter in and be a catalyst for change.  In discussing this with a friend recently, he said, “I simply do not have the patience for that kind of work.”
~
I’ve been having repeated and multiple dreams of late regarding the prying open locked containers or closed systems.  They’ve all been mechanical in nature and void of people.  I’m not exactly sure what they all mean yet, but I wanted to lay the background for this and the following posts.
By the time most institutions or systems become self-sustaining (a frightening concept), they’ve activated a defense shield.  Anything or anyone that seeks to penetrate that shield is perceived as a threat.  Like antibodies within a living entity that attack other living organisms perceived as threats, so the local church often responds.  Systems tend towards becoming self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-serving.  They also tend toward becoming self-adhesive.  They stick to each other at the expense of sending each other out into a world that needs them.  A church which maintains an antibiotic approach will eventually need to reestablish a healthy balance by accepting probiotics.
~
 Again, I think it might be bordering on arrogance to assume that I can be that probiotic, but likewise, I dare not reject where or what I perceive the Lord is calling me to. Perhaps some of you feel the same.  On the whole, I think it’s easier to leave systems or institutions and complain about them from a distance than to engage them with a Christ centered compassion.  Maybe it’s time for people living in glass houses to start throwing stones.
~
Before going further, I want to make a distinction between entering into a foreign body for the purpose of stirring up trouble, and being invited in as a consultant of sorts.  Randomness should, in my opinion be avoided.  If you’re part of an existing body and the Lord calls you to be an agent of change from within, then so be it.  If you’re not part of a body, but invited in, then fine.  If you’re pointed towards and appointed by the Lord then proceed with caution.  Our passions can be self-manipualtive.  What should be avoided, are the random and unwarranted emotionally charged attacks motivated by the latest pendulum swings of our own sensibilities.  I don’t think the Lord gives any of us cart blanche permission in this arena.
 
On the whole, I think that local bodies would benefit by looking at themselves as individuals.

A local church, or a local gathering of the people who make up the church, should be a corporate representation of what it calls its individual members to be.

Individual members of the body and the corporate body of believers both have tendencies to close in on themselves, isolate and protect themselves, assure their own survival, be independent rather than healthfully co-dependent, and inflexible instead of in flux.
Before a local body, system, or institution can shift away from those things that impede the gospel, thwart disciple making, or move in a direction away from Kingdom, they too must “deny themselves, take up his cross and follow Him.”  (Matthew 16:24)  They must lose their life to save it.  (Mark 8:35)  They must die to bear much fruit.  (John 12:24)  They must do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than themselves.  (Philippians 2:3)  In other words, a local church should be more than the sum of what it desires its individual members to be. 
 
Here comes the hard part and most likely the real reason why I don’t want to be involved in this kind of work.  In order to be a catalyst for change within a system, I must be an example of that change.  I must be willing to turn the cheek, to receive “friendly fire,” to be persecuted by the church itself, to be discounted, ridiculed, and rejected by those whom I love.  I must be saltier and brighter than the existing salt and light.  I must be willing to stick it out until the appointed time.  I know that I’m not cut out for any of that.  It remains, however, a poor excuse for not going where the Father says to go, saying what He says to say, and doing what He says to do.
 
In the rest of this series, I will lay out all of those things within the church which I perceive to be impediments to the gospel, counter productive to disciple making, and contrary to Kingdom movement.  By His Grace, Mercy, and Power, I hope do this in a manner which is humble and honors my Lord and His people.  If I get out of line, I’d urge you, my family in Christ, to be corrective, convicting, and Christlike in calling me back.  But, I’d ask you to take a meditative pause, seek the Lord, and understand that I don’t have all these things figured out.  I’m walking the journey like you. 
 
Please subscribe to my blog to follow this series.  In addition, I’d love your comments, questions, and counsel.  One question for this post:
 
What are some of the things that you perceive are impediments to the gospel, thwart disciple making, and push away from Kingdom directed movements within the church? 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

    1. You probably know my answer to this one already. Giving the Scriptures too little, or too much emphasis within the body is the one of the biggest impediments to all these things.

      2 Timothy 3:16 defines the Scriptures as BEING our doctrine, yet most churches make people into disciples not of Christ, but of their own extra-Biblical doctrine, which they “back up” with Scripture. This only works to degrade Scripture into a reference tool FOR the church’s doctrine, and puts that doctrine ABOVE Scripture, putting the congregation under the direction of the church instead of it’s head, Jesus Christ. It also pushes away Kingdom directed movements because it re-defines what is from God as being what is accepted by that particular church.

      The other extreme considers Scripture to be “The Word” (as defined as the only word God has ever spoken or will speak), and impedes all Kingdom direction whatsoever because of the belief that God no longer speaks to His people (as that same Bible says He does, always has, and always will). If everything He ever said or will say is contained within that book, then there is no having a relationship with it’s author, the relationship is with the book. The entire gospel is changed, and disciples of the book, not the person of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, are made.

      The big picture is, that whatever is wrong with any individual church is based on underlying core belief systems. Whatever individual program is not working, or impediment that pops up is only a surface symptom of a larger problem. The big picture of the larger problem of wrong core beliefs has to be considered before any church can be rectified.

      The answer to the problems in ANY church is to always point them to Jesus. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus CAN be trusted with other people just like He can be with us. Jesus said even the Holy Spirit of God Himself would point to Him (Jesus). Any time we point to ANYTHING else, whether that be Scripture, church doctrine, our own spiritual experiences, theology, philosophy, Hebrew word roots, commentaries, concordances, history, ANYTHING other than Jesus, a wrong path has been started, and can only lead to the wrong place with any possible disciples becoming disciples of something OTHER than Jesus.

      The devil has MANY ways to distract us, and lead us down the wrong path–even WITHIN Christianity, but Jesus ALWAYS has the answer each individual one of us needs in whatever situation we are in at the moment, to get us back on track, and He CAN ALWAYS be trusted to do so.


      • David,

        As always, thanks for joining the conversation. I wouldn’t say that God no longer speaks (James 1:5), but I would say that He would not say anything in contradiction to what has already been spoken. (Hebrews 1:2)

        Finding the balance between the 2 is important enough. Taking the risk to speak out is what most fail to do.


        • “but I would say that He would not say anything in contradiction to what has already been spoken”

          I wouldn’t even say that Miguel. In one part of the Bible He says “thou shalt not kill”, and in another He tells King Saul to kill all the people, women, children, babies, and animals in a certain land, and takes the kingdom away from him for not doing it right. This is one of but many seemingly “contradictions” in the Bible. I’m sure you could name quite a few yourself.

          The reason they seem to be contradictions is because of the mindset that everything He says is absolute across all time, space, and culture, and that every Scriptural Word, (through correct interpretation of course) is the same kind of absolute. This mindset is what makes these “contradictions” seem so contradictory.

          The truth of the matter, however, is that God has the authority, sovereignty, and insight to say one thing to one person, and another thing to another just like we do with our own kids, or employees, or whatever the case may be. He knows the situation, and calls the shots accordingly. This is as perfectly normal for Him as it is with we who were made in His image without the aforementioned mindset, and the fallacy that God is “bound by His Word” which is prevalent among most of Christianity.

          Getting rid of these false teachings and mindsets is the beginning of true relationship AND true discipleship.


      • David…sometimes I really wonder where the Holy Spirit is in all this. I mean if He is really there one would think that people would be convicted about what is in line with the Lord’s will for the church and what is not and would yield to His leading.

        Instead I see Christians squabbling, acting like kids, being authoritarian when they have authority to wield, and you name it. It’s like Jesus Christ is no longer around through His Spirit anymore.

        I have sometimes seriously questioned the reality of God through all this. Jesus did say that our oneness would testify to His living reality if I am not mistaken. We just don’t have it in the Christian world with everyone seemingly believing whatever they want to believe.

        Like in the days of Israel where it says that everyone did as he saw fit in their own eyes.

        The ONLY reason I stick with this Christian thing at all is because of the inescapable reality of the Living Christ in my own life and in His relationship with me (note that I said relationship as in give and take and communicate and His acting on my behalf in various things that can only be ascribed to a living being watching out for me).

        If it wasn’t for the living reality of Christ in my own experience of Him I would toss the Christians in the garbage and go about the business of living for myself.

        Carlos


        • I hear ya Carlos, I really do. This is where most doubt stems from, and it is experienced by all, so don’t feel alone here.

          The problem is the tolerance of sin. Like I said in my original comment, you have to look at the underlying core reason these people do what they do. If most Christians got any closer to God, it would interfere with their ability to sin. It has to. His presence is very convicting. So they stay at a distance, and attempt to explain the unexplainable using the only static thing they have from God–the Scriptures. If they can find a Scripture that justifies a mindset, it makes them feel better about their sin, AND allows them to continue it unhindered. This is obviously NOT what God intended our relationship to be. That’s why the teaching of the Scriptures being “The Word” is so dangerous. It allows the Scriptures to take the place of the relationship with God that brings the conviction, patience, tests victories, and ultimately, wholeness.

          The relationship you claim to have with the Living Christ being active in your life IS the relationship we were meant to have. The majority of Christians just don’t, or won’t, let Him truly in (usually for the aforementioned reasons). The Bible says there will be those who thought they were doing works in Jesus name, only to be told by Him “depart from me, for I never knew you”. It also says “narrow is the way”, and “few there be that find it”. Rejoice Carlos, at being one of the few.

          As for the rest of the Christians who just don’t seem to get it, feel free to throw their mindsets, teachings, false doctrines, philosophies, etc. in the trash (I have), and just try to love them, and stay in Christian unity with them as much as possible by the power of the Holy Spirit in you.

          Blessings brother. I’m on G+ under the same name if you wanna talk further


          • What you say makes a lot of sense David.

            I still don’t get it. I mean not that I have to in one sense. It’s just a source of consternation in the presence of the Lord is all. You say that the root problem is sin. I believe that too.

            But I just don’t get how folks who supposedly have the Spirit cannot yield and humble themselves under His truth to allow all of us to glorify Him with one voice and one heart.

            I personally don’t care to be right as much as I care to do what is right by Him. Why is it so incredibly difficult to find others with a like heart?

            In other words who cares if I am wrong or right in my own self about this or that Christian issue. I sure don’t. I could care less about that from that perspective. I will be the first to humble myself and embrace His truth coming from the lowliest saint around. Even a homeless brother who lives in some tent somewhere (hmm…on second thought that’s me LOL).

            Why is it so incredibly hard to find others of a like heart who seek after His heart on matters?

            If the Holy Spirit is in them…why?

            I suppose this is one of those things what will not be given to me to understand fully this side of eternity. I am learning to accept it. But it’s tough.

            Many times it’s like there is a wide chasm between me and those who go to church on Sunday. Like we are on two different planes of existence or something. I don’t mean in a wacky or cultish way. I mean where I have a real relationship with Him and am eager and willing to do whatever for Him out of that relationship and where so many are so content to file in to church on Sunday, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, and then file out as though that is all that church was meant to be.

            How can anyone who has the Spirit of the Living God in them and who has experienced the comfort and joy of His Presence be content with the status quo of churchdom? It’s beyond me to comprehend when there is SO VERY MUCH more that the Lord intended the Body to be.

            The church I am in is entirely focused on spiritual activity done together. Sunday service + a prayer meeting + a home group (which is really just a mini-church service of the sit and listen type all over again though combined with a pot luck first LOL).

            I want and am desirous of RELATIONSHIP. Not spiritual activity!

            RELATIONSHIP.

            Why can’t people understand that RELATIONSHIP is the medium through which we express His love to one another?

            Love is not expressed through a teaching, a prayer meeting, or a mini-church home group per se. Love is expressed through life involvement with each other. Where we get involved in each other’s lives. Where my joy becomes the joy of others and theirs mine. Where my sorrows and trials are shared with others and theirs by me. Where the comfort that God gives me allows me to comfort others.

            Relationship should be the impetus that results in shared spiritual activity.

            We put the cart before the horse today I think in that we have spiritual activity without any real underlying relationship among the members of the Body.

            Church has become this thing of mutually participated in spiritual activity.

            Where is the love in that???

            I don’t want more spiritual activity! I want what I have with God with my brothers and sisters in Christ. RELATIONSHIP. Allowing the life of God to flow out of me to strengthen and encourage and build into my brothers and sisters and to have His life flow out of them to build me up. Freely and without restrictions just as there is between me and my Father.

            Instead I find that pastoral types sow up the sharing as if the rest of us can’t survive without their constant sermonizing. I find spiritual activity while dying on the sidelines of my life and unknown at times when I struggle through trials. When I share some things out of my life about the only response I ever get is “I’ll pray for you!”. Yeah right when what I really need is a brother in Christ coming alongside and taking me out to coffee to hear all about what is happening in my life. To show some interest. Dare I say some Christlike love?

            Sometimes I wonder if so-called Christians settle for the spiritual activity hamster wheel because it is something that allows them to avoid the need to give their all to one another as an expression of their love for the unseen God.

            Engaging in spiritual and scheduled activity allows them to dabble in living for others and loving others at their convenience.

            Somehow I don’t Jesus had that in mind when He lived among us and couldn’t hardly lay down for the night without crowds following Him everywhere He went. His call to a sacrificial life of love doesn’t quite fit with our self-centered religious lives.

            Sorry if I am expressing myself too fully on this here but I find that blogs like this are the only place where I can express myself. Most Christians around me aren’t interested in these sorts of discussions.

            Carlos


            • “Why is it so incredibly difficult to find others with a like heart?”

              You’ve found one here Carlos. I don’t know that some of these people DO have the Spirit. I can’t judge one way or another, and I think they may have at one time, but maybe some lost it along the way. Or turned from it when it got in the way of their favorite sin would be my guess. Don’t let it get ya down though. They will answer for their wrong attitudes, but we will also answer for ours. Keep yourself right, maintain that all important first relationship, then work on the others. That’s what I’ve been learning myself lately. Just don’t neglect either. That’s the hard part.


            • Hi David,

              Hmm…I know this is isn’t what this post is about but I am curious…you seem to be saying that one who has the Spirit at one point can lose the Spirit. Am I reading you right on that?

              Also you call the Spirit an it a fair bit in your response. Do you believe it is a He as in part of the Trinity?

              Forgive me if I am being presumptuous in asking such things of someone Miguel seems to have a healthy respect for David but I don’t really know you yet and was curious about these statements that you made.

              I don’t want to get into an all out discussion of these things in this post David. Just looking for clarification is all.

              Carlos


    2. Marty,

      I always appreciate your feedback. I was just thinking about offensive and defensive teams and how they correlate to disciple making. “Punting” is an interesting observation.


    3. You ask what hinders? If I may be so bold to say what is on my heart in this relatively anonymous forum…Pastors. The greatest single hindrance to the health of the Body today are men in the pastoral position who see themselves as God’s gift to the rest of us. Who use their authority to suppress the gifting of the Spirit in others while giving themselves cart blanch to operate in their own gift freely.

      Men who subscribe to the mistaken notion that they are among the five gifts given to the church by which the rest of us are equipped for the Christian life.

      Today’s Pastors. In my estimation they are the single biggest hindrance to the life of God manifesting itself through the Body!

      Carlos


      • I agree ALMOST completely Carlos. We must, however, remember that God called us into unity with each other, and that it is the mindsets and false teachings we must come against, and NOT the individual people. Most pastors (even the ones you mention) genuinely love God, and will probably be standing next to us in eternity–even if they do get some big things wrong here and there. God called us to relationship, not right theology, and the relationship He called us to is two-fold:
        Matt 27
        37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

        38 This is the first and great commandment.

        39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

        40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

        We MUST remember those six words. “the second is like unto it”.
        He was only asked for one “greatest commandment”, but He gave two–as if He couldn’t hardly mention one without the other. As if it were impossible to love God without loving our neighbor.


        • I must be careful with my attitudes David. For sure.

          Not all Pastors are equally as obstructive of the things of God. That’s for sure.

          The Head Pastor of the church I am presently in has a wonderful heart for the Lord and has given me unprecedented freedom to share whatever the Lord lays on my heart with members of the Body (though not in any sort of official leadership position which is wise and godly of him to say so).

          He is the main reason I am sticking around in this church.

          But even under this wonderful man there are other Pastors who are as traditional as traditional can get.

          It’s like their insecure in their relationship with God or something and must exert control and authority over the sheep to maintain a good feeling about their role in the church.

          I know the Lord wants to work all this out and teach me through this experience. I am willing to be used and must keep my tendency to cut and run in check to allow Him to work out whatever He might want to work out or into my life through this.

          But my experience over more than 3 decades of being a Christian is that…yeah…Pastors are the BIGGEST single hindrance to the work of God in and through the Body.

          Today’s Pastors I mean.

          Elders (which are not necessarily the same as today’s Pastors and no I am not referring to the watered down elder types who are on Boards of Elders or Councils of Elders) are absolutely needed in the Body. So I am not against authority or positions of church leadership. Some Christians in some circles have gone whole hog the other way to say that we are all leaders and that no one of us has authority over any other of us in the church which is baloney biblically speaking (in my understanding…correct me if anyone thinks differently on this…I am open to seeing things differently from a biblical standpoint if a solid case can be made otherwise).

          Looking back over my 30 years or so of being a Christian I cannot recall one single instance of ANY Pastor ever having done one thing to encourage me to be all I can be in God. Well…except for the present Head Pastor that is.

          That’s just sad!

          In all the churches I have ever been in I was mainly expected to be a good little sheep, to file in, sit, and listen to the gifted one up front sharing the things of God with me.

          As if I had no relationship with God myself and could not learn a thing from Him LOL.

          Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for gifted teaching in the church. But the pastoral role has grown beyond it’s breeches so to speak to become this all encompassing spiritual gift that has become THE gift to operate in within the church. That’s just wrong.

          Carlos


            • Sorry David but another question :).

              You mean as in I am totally wrong in what I said or that the Pastors supposedly growing beyond their breeches so to speak is totally wrong?

              No big deal either way dude. Just wanting clarification of what you meant.

              Carlos


    4. Looks like you’re getting ready to take aim at some sacred cows. Looking forward to your thoughts. Eric carpenter just wrapped up a similar series on his blog. Very direct but very gracious, as it sounds like you intend to be.


    5. Miguel…I really wonder if trying to change the existing church is even doable. I mean Jesus Himself said that new wine must be put in new wineskins and that those who have drunk from the old are content to keep on drinking the old.

      If we try to mix up the two, the new with the old, or to change the old into the new I wonder if we will end up ruining both. I commend your willingness to try and bring change into the old. I myself am in a traditional church, a Calvary Chapel church which is BIG on THE WORD, THE WORD, and THE WORD (did I say that already?). It’s like all they know is to teach the WORD. Teach and more teach.

      Today I opted out of a hike with the brothers where I thought we were going to informally get to know one another but instead I found out at the last minute that leadership had determined that it would be a teaching moment and that we needed to bring a notebook and pens to take notes of their gifted teaching of THE WORD during a hike in the mountains. It’s like I can’t get away from their emphasis on teaching the WORD and to see the need to build RELATIONSHIPS bringing the Word to life through our love for each other.

      It’s like they are stuck in a rut of thinking that if the minds of the saints is stuffed with the WORD enough that it will lead us all to become holy and what we ought to be in Christ.

      Trying to get them to see the need to apply 1 Corinthians 14:26 and let His people go to be all that they are supposed to be in Christ is also another point of frustration. I am bumping headlong into leaders who like the status quo and don’t want to change.

      So again…I am not sure that change to the old is really possible Miguel or even biblical to hope for.

      Carlos


    6. No Carlos, I was agreeing with you that what the pastors were doing was wrong.
      I DO consider The Holy Spirit a He and not an it, I was just keeping my English right, but it made my theology sound wrong. It just seems odd to say it the other way, but you are right, He is a He.
      No presumption taken. :-)

      I guess I used the wrong word when I said they lost the spirit. That’s why I clarified later saying they walked away. Yes, I believe a person can walk away, or maybe turn away from the Spirit of God. You have to in order to sin—in my experience anyway. It’s very hard to sin without pushing God aside first. It’s like purposely speeding in front of the cop. It’s hard to do when you know He’s there, and there are consequences to face. That’s why all these false theologies and teachings are formed IMHO. Because people who PLAN on sinning need a theology that allows for it, plain and simple. Some people just don’t seem like they can even fathom getting all sin out of their life. I’m not saying it’s possible to live sinlessly from one point on, but I AM saying that attempting to is at least expected of us.


      • Thanks for clarifying David. So are you saying that one can lose the Spirit if they intentionally decide to sin in something? As in that the Spirit will leave a Christian and no longer be in them such that they no longer belong to Christ at that point until and if they repent at which point the Spirit will (I presume) come back into them again?

        Again…just looking for clarification David. Not to get into an all out discussion on this here.

        Carlos


    7. Not really. The Spirit of God is always everywhere. It’s just that we turn away for the moment so that we can sin. Sort of like the guy that turns his wife’s picture over on the bedside table when he has another woman in bed with him. It’s not God’s action, it’s ours. He judges the heart. He knows if we’ve left for good and “divorced Him” or if we just messed up and will come back and repent. He knows it before we do. The Spirit DOES lead, and the sheep DO know His Voice, but sometimes, He still has to leave the 99 and go back in search of the one. But He’s faithful to do so. The Scriptures attest to that.


      • Forgive me David but its still not clear from your response whether you believe the Spirit if God can enter to live in a believer and then leave to depart from that person such that end up becoming a non-Christian all over again or not.

        So do you believe the Holy Spirit can leave a believer? Or not?

        Carlos

        Ps. Miguel…the comment box is near impossible to use on an iPhone. Some sort of box obstructs the view on the right to where I have to type blind.


        • The Holy Spirit of God is sovereign, Carlos. He can do as He pleases. And like anyone else, I don’t see Him staying around where He’s not wanted. I don’t quite get the question completely, but maybe this verse will help.

          Revelation 3:5
          King James Version (KJV)
          5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

          Blot his name out of the book of life? Jesus? Really? That’s what it says. And in red letters no less. Not to mention that some of the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit more than once in the Bible. Did they lose it? Probably not. More like they gave it away, and had to be re-filled. Who knows why, the Bible doesn’t say, but they did receive the Holy Spirit more than once.

          I personally don’t see Him continually giving an infilling of the Holy Spirit to an ex-Christian turned satan worshiper, do you? I guess this is what you are getting at. Maybe one of these answers will answer your question. If not, let me know.


          • Hi David,

            I appreciate your further response David but again you don’t come out and answer the question simply. I don’t know why not. I’ve tried to make the question as clear as possible. Perhaps I have not done as good a job of making it clear as I had believed I had.

            I mean either the Holy Spirit is in the Christian to stay for the length of time they are here on Earth or He (the Holy Spirit) is not and will leave depending on what a particular Christian does or not in this life.

            Permanent indwelling presence or not.

            I was referring to a true Christian David.

            You seem to strongly imply in your answers that the Holy Spirit does not dwell permanently in a believer. I will assume that is your belief unless you tell me otherwise David.

            That’s all I was after. Just clarity as to what you believe is all.

            Thanks.

            Carlos


            • Sorry Carlos, I don’t know how I can be any more clear, and furthermore, my beliefs don’t matter near as much as His does anyway. As far as I’m concerned, He can do what He wants. It’s a judgement call on His part. I guess this isn’t a question for me, but one worth taking before the throne if it plagues you that badly. I just don’t know what else to say. There are some things that God just wants us to go to Him with. If it were as simple and absolute as you had hoped, it would be clearly written in Scripture. One of the things I’ve learned over the last few years, is that if the Scriptures aren’t clear on a matter, it’s probably because it’s not as definite and absolute as we would like it to be.


            • Hi David,

              Hmm…I apologize if I did not see an answer in your responses David when you had every intention to give me one as best you could. Come to think of it…saying that the Scriptures are not clear one way or another is indeed an answer.

              Thanks for your patience and follow up.

              Carlos


    8. I get where you are coming from. Here is something I would advise:
      1. make sure you are motivated by love, not frustration with or dislike for congregants that, in your mind, impede the furtherance of the gospel. In what I read here, I think you are dangerously close to making that mistake. As much as you protest your “calling” I feel ego here and a certain lack of love. You gotta love, or you are just as bad as those who cling to comfort. If you do love, you work will bear fruit because you are absolutely correct in your assessment of how certain churches grow to exclude others and protect their own, which is not what Jesus did.


      • Rob,

        Thanks for your comment. I suppose it’s normal to sometimes direct “frustration” at people. I think that there is always a bit of holy frustration directed at people. The old testament prophets would bear that out. I would also suppose that it can be the catalyst for speaking directly against a person without being sinful. But, for the most part, I think that the church is inept in that way.

        My series will not deal with people specifically, but with the system which has all but subdued them. As to your sense of ego, fair enough. If that becomes evident by others and if conviction is brought by more than one and the Spirit, then I’ll course correct.

        Thanks again for your counsel.


      • Rob,

        Sorry for my reply out of sequence to your comment but I am on my iphone and searching the tiny text to search for the appropriate button among all the responses is a bit of a hassle.

        Anyway…

        You say that you detect a bit of ego and a lack of love in Miguel. Not agreeing with you but maybe you’ve seen something I have’nt.

        So if I may ask on what basis do say this of him? Is this just a hunch? Something more concrete? Perhaps something he said or the way he said it?

        You may not realize this but such accusations, lobbied at those bringing much needed input or correction of the status quo of exalted religiosity are usually without warrant.

        I wonder too if you think Jesus calling the Pharisees hypocrites and white washed tombs would be determined likewise to be unloving by whatever standard you are judging Miguel by.

        Again you may be on to something but I am looking for something more concrete than just that you think so.

        Carlos


    9. Miguel, Thank you for sharing your post on “Church Expatriates” Face Book Page. If the Holy Spirit is directing you as a change agent from within, God bless your labor. As a student of the Holy Spirit directed to research church history, I can see no precedent for reforming what has been institutionalized for over 1,700 years. If you have read my book, “Was Church God’s Idea?”, then you know where I am coming from.
      I love your heart for the kingdom, as it is my heart as well. What I see in reviewing the history of church is this, the kingdom of God cannot be institutionalized. No matter how natural (earthly) organization is, it is the death nail to the things of the Spirit of God. We cannot capture the Wind. This is problematic to say the least. We always what to know “How do we do it Lord?”. “What does it look like?” “Can’t there be a right formula?” of course the answer is always no.
      The life of the Spirit, like the Wind cannot be harnessed, only cooperated with.
      God bless you richly dear friend as you wrestle with these weighty issues.


    10. I really like your illustration of antibiotics and probiotics. Our bodies fight off what it perceives shouldn’t belong. We take antibiotics to boost that effect. In the institutional church we do the same thing- we fight off what we think doesn’t belong. But sometimes we need probiotics, from outside the comfort of our four walls, to strengthen us. I’ve been the recipient of many arrows by bringing outside influences in and will probably get struck more. Sometimes I shrink back, sometimes I don’t. But I’m heartened when others whom I’m close to shows a hint of something that I influenced. I consider myself a seed-planter; that’s all I can expect to do, what happens after that is up to God. Not all soil is fertile, nor is every seed good, but I believe fruit will bear over time.

      As for my personal pet peeves and soapboxes, what I feel most strongly about is the tendancy to worship church. Not God’s institution. Not even Christ’s bride. But the form, function, and comfort of “church”. It is frightening the extent we as a body are willing to go to protect the status quo. And I think this is captured in many of the comments above regarding pastors, the lack of sound teaching, etc. And this goes back to the antibiotics/probiotics illustration- we don’t like to change.


    11. Frank…I don’t know about everybody else Frank but when it comes to the things of God, given that we continue to inhabit a body corrupted irreparably by the sinful nature (while our spirits have been reborn and made perfect in Christ), change is the norm and to greatly desired.

      In my thinking anybody, Pastors or otherwise, who doesn’t LONG for and readily EMBRACE change to be more pleasing to God is a fool (at least according to Proverbs).

      Correction is a way to life.

      To desire and defend the status quo is not just foolish but also Pharasitical. As such it is an attitude of the heart that Jesus, the one we claim to follow and trust, would have exposed and exicitly condemned.

      Especially in religious sorts who claim to follow Him with their lips but whose hearts are far from Him.

      Carlos


    12. As soon as I read Miguel’s question, I thought of another quote:

      “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

      I submit that all of the things that we find to be impediments to the advance of the Gospel by the church can be categorized as “things that sufficiently please us so that we are content not to pursue the mission of the church” (yeah, that’s not going to fit on the board on Jeopardy). Some examples:

      1. An inappropriate commitment to God’s Word where the emphasis is on observing and interpreting but not applying. In my experience this is a root cause of several controversies within the church where the focus is on an increasing minutiae rather than applying the truth we find in Scripture.

      2. Creating an organization for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission and then focusing on the sustaining and ever increasing building of that organization rather than on the purpose.

      3. Focusing on leadership as an end rather than a means.

      4. Not seeing the church in terms of both “all” and “each”. If the Great Commission was given to the church, then every member of each local church must be able to know how he or she is working toward the accomplishment of the mission…in real and non abstract ways.

      This should be a good series Miguel. Variations of this question have plagued me since college where many in my close circle of friends have gone on to careers in ministry. One man in particular was among the most mission minded and on fire for Gospel advance. His goal, now, is to finish his PhD so that he can be a professor of missiology at a major US seminary…having never spent more than a single short term visit to any country in the 1040 region and having no desire to actually serve in a boots on the ground position.

      We did not get to this place randomly.

    13. Pingback: Deconstructing… to see the kingdom of God increase? | The Assembling of the Church


    14. Miguel, you said,
      “Here comes the hard part and most likely the real reason why I don’t want to be involved in this kind of work. In order to be a catalyst for change within a system, I must be an example of that change. I must be willing to turn the cheek, to receive “friendly fire,” to be persecuted by the church itself, to be discounted, ridiculed, and rejected by those whom I love. I must be saltier and brighter than the existing salt and light. I must be willing to stick it out until the appointed time. I know that I’m not cut out for any of that. It remains, however, a poor excuse for not going where the Father says to go, saying what He says to say, and doing what He says to do.”

      All I can say is been there, done that, got the T shirt and literally wrote the book, Escaping Church. Well, Tim wrote the book. But on looking back on all that we went through, we had to in order to be the ones now who tend to the wounded from both sides of the pulpit.

      Its all about the journey and those you share it with…

    15. Pingback: Church Discipline In A Social Media World? | Pathways International

    16. Pingback: Church – Gathering to Scatter or Gathering While Scattering? | Pathways International

    Join The Conversation!