Friday, May 27, 2011

Simple church is anything but simple

Something I've learned since leaving institutional religion is that organic church life is even more complex than traditional forms. Why? Because everyone is expected to minister to one another and we can't hide behind programs and classes but have to actually get to know each other.

We can't rely on the paid guy to do all the teaching because he doesn't exist. We can't sit idle in our pew and "actively listen" the entire time we're together. First because there is no pew and second is because the crickets would do all the talking. We can't turn a blind eye to the sin we see in others because it hurts the entire body in a very real and intimate way.

Community isn't easy.

On one side we have to let down our guard and share our burdens and deep thoughts with one another. We have to be willing to trust others simply because we trust Christ who dwells within them. We have to be vulnerable. We have to be transparent. We have to be genuine.

On the other side we have to learn to set ourselves aside to listen and care for others. We have to consider ourselves less and learn enough about our family to know how to stir them up to love and good works.  We have to look, listen, and love.

These are not easy things to do. There is a lot of pride that must be put away, trust that must be built, grace that must be given and forgiveness that must be granted. Let's face it, we all have issues and we are not always easy to get along with. I think that overcoming our flesh to be a unified body in Christ is what makes us the church and God must be at work in each of us to bring it about.

As we go through the painful process of loving one another in this way, we grow closer together and staying together gets easier. As conflicts arise it is our desire to resolve them and reconcile. We learn to love each other in good times and bad and our love for one another is the driving force of our bond. But like I said, this is a painful yet rewarding process. Our feelings get hurt, our hands get dirty, and we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations often.

All of this is necessary if we are going to be a family. As the saying goes: "you can't pick your family". I think if we could, we would pick the people who think like us, act like us, and hide their struggles and sins from us as best they can. That way we could feel like we had a lasting relationship but it would only last until someone rocked the boat. Then it would be time to find a new "family" which shouldn't be hard because we haven't left the shallow waters.

I love my church family.  I love that they come to me if and when they have beef.  I love that they know my struggles and needs and can come along side and minister to us.  I love being loved even when I'm not lovable.  In the short time we have been built together, they have learned more about me and cared for me than any other church family I've ever had and I'm looking forward to going deeper.


  1. That is simply excellent, one of the best blogs I have read in a long time. Little wonder institutional church is so appealing to us, it is way easier and a lot less messy.

  2. Very good observations, Bobby. Built on experience, no doubt. I was just thinking this morning about how important it is to be able to handle conflict in organic church because conflict happens. A lot of people that come into organic church don't realize how much conflict is involved. At least that's my experience. Learning to handle it humbly with grace and love is key.

  3. Where do you live.. I might just move :)

  4. Arthur,

    thanks for the compliment. It's true that staying in the IC is much easier but in many ways it doesn't even qualify as a shadow of sharing divine life together.

  5. Mark,

    when you have people, you have conflict. When you oust all the things that distract us from one another the chances for conflicy rise exponentially. Yes, grace and love are key. We have to keep the gospel front and center of our understanding and our ministry. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

  6. Brian,

    we all live in the Savannah metro area. Some travel nearly an hour to gather with us. Moving to a different city to gather with believers - that's pretty radical isn't it? Aren't there any good churches you can go to in your town ;)

  7. I was just playing... we are all brothers and sisters wherever we live.

    and BTW.. I do not want to go to a church... I do not know what that means.

    To me Church just IS!!

  8. Brian,

    that is what I figured but I also don't want to assume to know all that the Lord is leading you to do. You wouldn't be the first person He led to move in order to be a part of an organic gathering.

    you are the church wherever you are gathered with others that are abiding in Christ.


As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.