I started telling my story in response to a Facebook friend who was angry and hurt. He came off the top ropes on the institutional church in America and it was filled with hot words and accusations which were for the most part true. But I’ve learned three crucial lessons over the years
- I’m a sinner too
- There are always two sides to the story
- Using social media to vent usually makes you feel good for the moment but doesn’t fix a thing
On the other hand, I don’t want to minimize my brother’s pain because “I’ve been there. Done that. And got the bloody t-shirt. I know exactly what it is like to see the “world going to Hell in a hand-basket” and asking “Why don’t you care?!” I’ve watched the great ship of potential be sailed straight into the rocks of incompetence (and sometimes I was at the helm). It’s troubling, to say the least. So I thought maybe Deb and I’s story would be helpful and others could learn from our combat…uh, I mean…ministry experiences.
Post in response to my friend; Dear friend, I have a saying, “If you want to see a shepherd go prophet, mess with the sheep.” Your passion for the people of God is evident! But I’m giving these guys the benefit of the doubt and trusting that they are actually doing something about it. You’re right, there’s been a lot of talk. I’ve been at this for a long time now and quite frankly I’m Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde on this. I love the church because it is the Bride of Christ and I desperately want to see her in all her fullness glorify Him. I remember where I was years back wearing a robe as I officiated weddings and reserving baptism for the clergy (me! Yikes!). And the long process I had to go through in order to have my eyes opened not only to the fact that the American Church is in trouble (and every other country we exported to) but that I was in conflict with the truths of the Scriptures. But I am a shepherd by nature and gifting and I also get angry when I see the sheep neglected (or downright abused). So I did something about it 10 years ago. I’ll talk about that in posts below but lots of people in this facebook group are trying to do “something about it.” Some are trying to reform and some are starting from scratch. I would ask that you help me by approaching the problem as “family.” It’s good to be angry but I’m very careful to guard my words when expressing it (esp on Facebook) Let’s work together and pursue the solution through our actions.
Ok, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room 🙂 Some of us are still trying to make disciples in a Legacy Model and some of us are 0-1 folks that are starting from scratch (or almost scratch). This should start a civil discussion (not a civil war). Let me be transparent (and set the tone) about where I stand. To be upfront, I am a 0-1 guy. But as I stated above, I love the Bride of Christ (whether Legacy or 0-1) but I have been and still do get very agitated about the condition of the Bride. I try to approach this “full of grace and truth” but often fail. But here’s where I start. Jesus said He would build His church (Mt 16.18) and it will overcome Satan and the world as it advances the Kingdom of God. I also believe we have a role to play in building the church. Just as we are commissioned to make healthy disciples, those healthy disciples will gather. As we gather, we are church. Our goal now is healthy disciples in a healthy church. It doesn’t matter where they meet or when they meet. They are church. That’s their Identity. Looking at our classic example of church in Act 2, we see that they met in the temple and house to house. Which was church? Yes, 🙂 When did they meet? Daily (often) not just on Sunday morning. The church is the church. That’s her identity. Now what they do is another matter. I believe that what they “do” will determine their health (you just ferreted out my ecclesiology, I make a distinction between identity and practice). I believe the church in America is 1) in an identity crisis because everyone is calling themselves Christians and many (not all) are mistaken. and 2) That which is really the church has a health problem. We are not making healthy disciples. I could be wrong, but that is what I see as the actual problem. Not where we meet or when we meet or format or tools or etc… We are not making disciples of Jesus (before the ones that are, get mad, don’t! You’re doing a great job 🙂 ) More to follow…
So I’m still talking and we promised action. So what should our first step be in solving this problem? Repent and pray.
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chr 7.14
If the condition of the church in America doesn’t drive us to our knees, we don’t have a dog in the fight. Because let’s face it, it’s going to take a miracle. And I love what Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel do when they acknowledge sin in the camp. This is not a “YOU” problem. It’s a “WE” problem. I need to repent. It starts with me and we. When I was slapped in the face with this reality some 10 years ago, after 30 years in ministry, I was appalled at my lack of dependence on the Holy Spirit to actually get things done. I was maybe praying for 10 minutes a day. But when I was gripped with the actual need for me and our nation (and the world for that matter) it radically changed my prayer life. I’m no prayer warrior but I repented and started declaring my utter dependence on Jesus by “putting my prayer where my mouth is.” Seeing people like Ying Kai and how he and Grace prayed was not only inspiring but convicting. Deb and I have set aside Fridays for prayer and fasting for our Oikos and the American Context. I think if we are going to do anything to see a movement of the gospel in our country and see the church as a healthy change agent in our context, it starts on our knees. God help us!
How Deb and I got started in a Church Planting Movement