first we humbly seek for God. Then we humbly speak with God. Soon, though, we may proudly speak for God … and then we arrogantly speak as if we were God!
Friend of Brian’s

I’m sorry to burst your bubble here, but every major heresy that has inflicted God’s people for the last 2,000 years has come from organized groups with “leaders” who thought they knew God’s mind better than anyone around them. Conversely, virtually every move of God among people hungering for Him was rejected by the “church” of that day, and the people that were part of that move were excluded, excommunicated or executed for following God.
Why I Don’t Go To Church Anymore

An authority structure such as the church is the perfect culture for codependence. I see how complicit I was in its vivacity. I know people depended on me to make decisions for them in every sphere of their lives, from financial, to relational, to spiritual and everything else. And even though I resented it, I did allow it to some extent
the naked pastor

These quotes go hand in hand. The danger of heresy comes not from whether someone is a part of a local congregation or not, but from pride and arrogance. This pride and arrogance can be seen in an attitude that I/we [a congregation, denomination or religion] know God fully enough; that we have God’s authority or are operating under God’s authority – so of course we have the responsibility to impose our beliefs on another.

On the other hand, I have come to believe that Christianity is NOT God’s approved religion! Christianity is man’s attempt at compiling doctrines and practices into a neat and organized box. That God does not move exclusively or even primarily within this christian religion box, rather, God’s spirit hovers over the whole of the sea of humanity and is at work within all nations, people groups and religions. I am NOT saying that ALL religious roads lead to God; like a statement found in The Shack, I believe that God is on all roads and will meet humanity on whatever road its on. Do we, in the Christian Box, have something to offer others? Of course we do. But so might Buddhists, Muslims and atheists!

Finally, our beliefs, practices and actions ARE important. These things help to model us and the society we are apart of. As such, values judgments can be made on different worldviews and religious doctrines and dogmas. These affect how we  react to:

  • violence (9/11, the war on terror, …)
  • economics (our recession, the poverty of the majority of humanity, …)
  • power struggles (the struggle of protesters against political policies and actions, …)
  • ecology(global warming, oil spills, …)

So, for instance, I’ll reject and make value judgments on worldview boxes which  believes that:

  • the world will come a violent end as a means to a peaceful reign of their God
  • God will bless or curse certain people or groups of people based on their relationship to said God
  • believes that we need to make our culture adhere to our beliefs and practices
  • believes that the earth is destined to be renewed by their God so global warming is either not important or is not factual.

Rather I believe, base on my faith and the understanding of Jesus’ life and teachings that:

  • Peace is the means and the end. The reign of Christ, the era of the Messiah, has already been inaugurated in the life and death of Jesus.  (If there  is a second coming, it will follow this model of peace being the means and the end.)
  • Blessings and Curses from a deity is archaic. We who are living in the Kingdom of God must realize that any blessings we have, should be used to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, release those in captivity …
  • Citizenship is not to any nation. As such, the policies of the  nation in which I live are not up to me to change.
  • The earth is God’s and it is our responsibility to care for her.

When I had authority in the church, as a pastor, I wasn’t allowed to critique it because that was disloyal.

Now that I am no longer a pastor I’m not allowed because I’m no longer a part of the club and I’m just bashing.

Conclusion …
The Naked Ex-Pastor

If seeing the kingdom grow in our life and world was our real priority, how might that change the way we think about our gatherings and what we do to help equip people to live the life Jesus offered us?

This week’s podcast -just two guys talking- comes to you from The God Journey.

EASTER BONUS: I include with this podcast, this talk by one of the God Journey guys. I is the fourth talk in a must listen to 8 session weekend that purposes:

to help people break free of the bondage of religion and embrace an affectionate and life-changing relationship with the Father, through the work of the Son and in the power of the Spirit

Does A Church Need A Building To Be A Church? Here is an encouraging story.

FAYETTEVILLE, GA — A church in Fayetteville is closing its doors but not its hearts. Rolling Hills Baptist Church is challenging traditional ideas and selling the church and using the money to help people.
read the story

I love the work that Neil Cole is doing—and Alan Hirsch (The Forgotten Ways), Bob Roberts (Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World), Frank Viola (Finding Organic Church), and many, many others.

In one form or another, they are champions of “organic church.” The term is fluid, but it contains at least three ingredients: Frustration with the-church-as-we-know-it, a focus on people (vs. programs) and mission (vs. institutional maintenance), and a vision to transform the world.
Out of Ur

As the above post goes on, a comment is made that  I felt I needed to echo. What God is doing in our day – organic spirituality/Christianity,  incarnation, missional embodiment of faith and emerging theology – is not the end. Change will happen again and these movements will need to transform/ reform themselves or become the old wineskin. Of this I have no doubt. My prayer is that if another change happens in my life time, I will remain supple enough to change with it.

I heard one pastor say that every generation needs to reboot their faith. This is true. It is also true that every age (Roman Empire->Dark Ages/Middle Ages->Modern Age->Postmodern) needs to reformat their faith hard-drive.

What ever comes after this postmodern age will bring with it a reformatting of the faith. Between now and then there will be many generations that reboot their faith within the postmodern context. But as for me in this time, I can only go with how God is leading me.

As For Me And My House We Will Serve the Lord [in how He is leading us].”

Religion is temporary. Once we catch a glimpse of what it points towards, it begs to be discarded. Should we hold onto it long after it has served its only true purpose, we only slide back into a state of being that ushers us away from the simple joy of living life with friends and neighbors.
Shawn Anthony

More and more I have a burning passion to enter into a community of faith that has more in common with family then it does with club. So much of institutional Christianity gets bogged down with structure and maintaining what it is, that it misses out on being family. The other side of this coin is those that discard the institution and enter into distant family relationships. Sure they get together, but it is almost by accident.

I believe the true church – the ekklēsia – involves a coming together with intent. In the comments to a blog I wrote:

I hate using the word ‘church’, as it has come to take on so much baggage that is not what ekklēsia means. Sure the ekklēsia will meet and have gatherings, as a matter of fact, it could be said that a group of individual Christians who never come together in community are not the ekklēsia. Ekklēsia holds within it an understanding of gathering together.

My belief is that the ekklēsia gathering need not, and possibly should not be institutionally structured. It is more organic and simple. the ‘Institutionally structured’ church requires effort to be put into the structure by many people and requires a top down leadership structure not unlike the gentiles (Luke 22:25) The result is an exoskeleton structure that will remain even if the Spirit leaves.

Jesus said that were two or three are gathered… Assembling together is all about relationship. If an institutional ‘church’ is the ekklēsia it is because of the relationships and is despite of the structure.

and

Institutions are a product of this world. Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world.

The institution gives us a glimpse of this coming together with intent that the non-church ekklēsia neglects. However, I have the conviction that “with the institution comes much baggage”. God has placed on many hearts a desire to leave this baggage behind, and there is a growing contingent of faithful believers who are struggling to come to grips with a religion-less, non-institutional expression of our faith.

The early ekklēsia met daily.

We are leaving a Christianized culture that met twice on Sunday and a few times throughout the week.

We are becoming/ have become a post-Christian culture that is swamped with time commitments which makes meeting once a week burdensome.

In one sense, we have an even greater need to get together; however, to survive in our culture, we become so busy that there is little time left in a week. All too often, I fear, we neglect relationship building – both within the ekklēsia as well as missionally – due to time constraints that result from our religious commitment to go to our weekly events. We use up our relationship time with our religious meetings.

I guess the warning is that as we ‘discard the religious’, we do not neglect  relationships.

I have no doubt that this process  of working out our faith outside of the institution will be messy. But I also have no doubt that it will be worth it.

Listening to one of my semi- regular podcasts, I heard a quote from a video I watched over a year ago. So I went back and watched it again.

The video is Greg Hawkins from the Leadership Summit ’07. The quote that made me go back and listen:

Increasingly [the people closer to God/ centered in Christ] are thinking about leaving the church.  … The people who love God the most, are the most disappointed by their local church.