[This started off as a status line on my Facebook page and started a discussion there that I would like to bring here and continue here (where we have a little bit more room and can invite more people to join)]
My original status line:
Been hanging out talking about how to reach those that want to know God but can’t stand the church.
Comments afterwards (names have been changed since this is a public place vs Facebook – not as public anyways):
MA: Who are you meeting with and what is your response to them? I am running into that with many folks myself.
My reply: Its the initial talks with several missionaries that live in the area and some house church advocates. To bottom line it, the reality is that you don’t do church, we are the church. Church is a life style not something you do on Sunday morning and that doesn’t mean having to talk about God every moment of the day but it means that you live life, pouring your life into others and having them pour their lives into yours. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will seep into your conversations as life continues. Remove the institution that is church to reveal those who have Christ as the church and people will understand it. Its a hard concept for many in the West to understand as we have church as an institution made up of programs and schedules which makes our walk with God compartmentalized and therefore to an outsider – our lives are compartmentalized and that makes our relationship with God only a part of our lives (and therefore hypocrites).
Ooops. I think I stepped on a soap box.
OH: Thanks for that Courtney. Well said!
MA: No this is very good Courtney. I thought that’s where you were going with this, but wanted to clarify… This is more appropriate than you know brother. Two weeks ago my family stepped out of the institutional “expression” of church, but we could never step out of the church because we are the church. This is a whole new journey for us, and what we are convinced Jesus has called us into. There is far more than I can go into here typing on my phone – but the Father has given me encouragement every day since we left the institution, and little did I know it would come today from missionaries we support. Thank you brother – and please pray for us as we walk into this journey with Jesus and a few others who are coming alongside us and loving us… There is SO much rest in this brother.
My reply: Hey MA, be sure to catch the blog of a guy named Tall Skinny Kiwi (Andrew Jones) as he is a good advocate for what you are being called into. I’ve been reading his blog for a while now and he brings in some good resources for you to look at. http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/
KB: This is encouraging to me as well. I’ve been a Christian since the age of four … yet, 18 months ago, I began really, seriously questioning the “institution” of church.
One Sunday morning, I was sitting on the front row of the church I’d been attending for a year-and-a-half … and suddenly, I found myself looking at everything as if I were brand-new to the concept of “church”. And I didn’t like what I saw.
So I started visiting other churches … with much the same result. By the middle of last year, I was so fed up with the “institution” of church that I said to someone, “If my relationship with God were dependent on the church … I would quit.”
However, my relationship with God has actually deepened since I began questioning what “church” is … or should be. I’m not following what any human being thinks I should do; I’m seeking God’s will in every area of my life and letting Him transform me into who He wants me to be. It’s an amazing journey so far!
JM: If you haven’t seen this already–this website is all about this topic: http://simplechurch.com.ua/content/view/177/71/lang,en/
There are a lot of very thought-provoking articles here. Courtney, you will notice it’s based in Ukraine.
Honestly, when I posted my status line I really didn’t realize the interest people would have in it. Yesterday, I spent the day in meetings that were centered the concept of planting house churches. Now I’m still new to these ideas but let me share some things from yesterdays meetings and I would love your feedback on them:
“Church is not something you do, its something you are” – Wolfgang Simpson
“Lower the bar of what it means to be church but raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple” – (somebody said it but I don’t know who)
“OOCC – Out of Church Christians – people who have to leave the church to keep their faith”
“Church happens where life happens whether its McDonald’s, coffee shop, bowling alley, bar, etc “ – (ok this one is a thought I had during the meeting)
I’d love to hear from ya’ll about what you think church is, how that looks and plays out and how people can come to know God intimately through that concept! Please comment below!