When we left the organized part of churh about 6 years back, we did not know anybody on the same journey. It was daunting. All the scary stories of people following their own heads that ended in cults or sects. Who would be our covering? Submission and all that stuff. Who would make sure that we stayed on “the narrow path?”
I surfed the net and literally went through thousands of pages. Looked at how people do this church thing. And then I found Wayne Jacobson at Lifestream. His blog is to the left on my blogroll. He communicates into words what we believe about church.
I believe this church-thing is done through friendship. And church has a lot more to do with “being” than “doing”. More on this later…..
Wayne has just written an article called “Friends and Friends of Friends.” Perhaps this will help those who are on this uncertain journey on “how to be church.”
Here are a few quotes. OK, OK nearly half the article….:-)
- “the life of the church is found in the affection and cooperation of people who are living in Christ. No structure guarantees that reality.”
- “I know of no managed system large or small that can guarantee real community will emerge when it is implemented. Body life does not grow out of any management system, but out of the quality of a growing friendship with Jesus, linked together by people sharing that friendship with others.”
- “Friendships as Jesus viewed them were not the what-can-I-get-out-of-you style of relationship, but the willingness to lay down our life for someone else.”
- “learn to be friends with Jesus. He is the only source of life.”
- “pursue friendships with those God puts in your path.”
- “I’ve even been to home groups that have been meeting for prayer and Bible study for over 20 years who are not friends.”
- “Relationships grow best in small conversations. Trying to form groups is a poor substitute for that, and often a structured way of trying to build friendships unwittingly subverts the process itself. Friendships flourish only in real conversations where people are growing to know and care about each other under Father’s love.”
- “Gatherings of various groups will take shape, not because they are trying to have a New Testament meeting, but because they want to learn together, work together or in some other way express God’s work in the world.”
- “Thus the church takes expression through millions of simple acts of friendship in response to Jesus’ leading and the wonderful fruit that flows from doing so.”
- “Seeing the family as an ever-expanding fellowship of friends, and friends of friends helps see the church as she really is. It also allows us to appreciate the organic growth that happens through friendship, rather than the imposition of any structured model that forces people into friendships that haven’t grown naturally and most likely won’t grow in that environment either.”
- “Institutions have to provide clear decision-making authority, creating an environment based on who holds the power to make decisions others have to follow. Friends sort out conflicts not by deciding who is in charge, but through honesty and openness looking for God’s highest good and no one assuming they will know that for others.”
- “One of the Scriptures that always bothered me as a manager of an institution was Romans 14-15 where Paul talks about the stronger giving way to the weaker. There is absolutely no application of that in an institutional setting. Instead the stronger must take control over the weaker or chaos will result. In a family of relationships, however, those weaker in faith can be loved, extended the grace to be where they are in the journey and encouraged to move on to greater freedom, all in the context of friendship.”
- “It allows leaders to truly be servants, helping others to grow rather than maintaining machinery. It also prevents those who are immature from aspiring to false leadership while hiding behind their personal charisma, eloquence or intellectual knowledge as a way to lord over others. True elders will simply be those a bit further down the road helping others find friendships as well.”
- “When we think of the church as a specific institution who share a specific location, ritual or doctrine, we cut ourselves off from other relationships that God might want to arrange for interconnecting his family or touching the world.”
- “If you want to be part of that, just remember, the joy of living as friends, and friends of friends, does not come out of a desperate attempt to find friends for yourself, but by simply being a friend to whomever Father allows to cross your path. No, you cannot befriend everyone, but you can take the time to invest in those Jesus asks you to, whether they be a believer yet or not. And when you take the risk to cultivate that friendship, you’ll never know where it might lead.”
I wish I had written this. This has been in my heart for a very long time. I’ve seen it happen. We have wonderful friends walking this journey with us and it is amazing. All by being connected to Jesus and just being a friend.