Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Fast Approaching Precipice

Since my departure from church in the traditional or institutional sense, I have felt a variety of emotions. Fear that I would not know what to do; Excitement about what is ahead; worry that no one will understand me; joy to see people blossoming in faith for themselves; and peace that I have found my place in the body of Christ. The transition has been harder and longer that I anticipated, but not for any of the reasons that I expected.

I was ready for a fight, if you will, to justify and solidify my belief in the organic church concept... I found no such fight.

I was ready to be lonely and outcast by all of my institutional church friends who wouldn't understand or support me... I am neither alone nor outcast.

I was ready for the church to fail, because I have no experience with or examples of organic churches near me to follow... our church has grown both in maturity and numbers.

I found myself braced for a battle that did not come. It was in this discovery that I noticed something that has become clearer to me the more time I allow myself to mediate and pray on it. If we are not careful, the organic church movement will end up repeating the same mistakes that our denominational friends have in the past. Let me explain.

I have found that in the organic community people fall into two different groups:

(a) there are those who find there identity in what they are against in the institutional church

(b) there are those who find there identity solely in the "church" in whatever form it may come

In networking and talking to as many organic-minded people as I could find, this first group became very apparent. And I have to say, if I'm honest, I think I started out there. When I finally came face to face with the hard questions in my heart about church, as well as the evidence and history of the church (Thanks Frank), I had to face the facts and adjust accordingly. However, the point of the church is not to criticize other parts of the church. I feel that those who fall into this first group unknowingly (I hope) taint the majority of their words and opinions with a negative light of the traditional church. I think this is a bad thing. Yes, we may have our disagreements with the church, but we must be careful to understand, that's still the bride of our Savior too.

The second group of people that I have found have been a little harder to locate, but have been a much greater support and strengthener to me. I have friends in both the organic and traditional worlds that just love Jesus. I realize that sounds cliche, but let's be honest, there's a lot of money to be made in the church, and a lot of times priorities can be confused. My friends who fall into this latter category are those who truly want to see Jesus exalted, believers released into their fullness, and the true church (no matter its expression) flourish and prosper.

As I said earlier, I think we as the organic/simple/home church movement are approaching a precipice where our voice will begin to be heard and recognized by our brothers and sisters in institutional and denominational churches. The number of people in organic/simple/house churches is growing and will not be able to be ignored or recognized.

What will they hear carried on the wind of our words?

Will they hear criticism and rebuke? Will they stand up to greet us as part of the body only to be met with hostility and animosity because they don't do it our way? How can we expect unity in the body of Christ when we, as mere men, focus on our differences instead of our likenesses.

I understand the inert human need for identity, but does that identity have to come at the cost of unity? Where is the church that will stand up, united in glorious power and might, under the headship of Christ, institutional and organic together to greet the loving Savior at His return.

Having served my King in both the institutional and organic expression of church, this danger is very real, and very prevalent on both sides of the isle. We must fight to find forgiveness for the flaws and faults of our families, and be determined to dissolve our differences to defeat division.

Unity does not have to be uniformity, it just has to be.

No comments: