New Wine for a New Wine Skin

Written by Terry

“He is no fool, who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
(Revised from a quote by Jim Elliot)

How does one adequately explain the death of a dream?

For nearly 30 years I wanted nothing more than to encourage Christians to grow in intimacy with Christ, that they might know Him crucified and the power of His resurrection. But the role of the pastor has been so well defined and ingrained by tradition that the position of CEO better describes what believers are looking for – they want an organization rather than organism. In reality we want an organizational structure to define who we are and what we are to do.

Believers for the most part want to attend church rather than be the Church. Today, believers want programs, projects and forms.

A huge amount of self-introspection along with emotional and mental pain was part of the baggage that came along with us as we walked away from what we view as institutional Christianity. It has now been 8 years and still there is a mixture of doubt along with the freedom that comes from walking away from religious form and a hierarchal system that bound us for so many years.

Let me first explain that there is only ONE Church. It comprises of all who are in Christ Jesus. The Church excludes no one found in Christ. We have all been accepted in the Beloved.

Some refer to the Church as local while others exclusively use the universal connotation. It doesn’t matter which view you prefer. Local tends to specify a specific location where as universal refers to worldwide. It is easier to relate to the local, simply because that is where we live.

Today we tend to define local Church by our particular brand of gathering style or theological preferences. We tend to define it by our expression of worship. We have turned Church into the an organization accentuates the pettiness of our personal preferences. Not only do we engage in competition with other expressions of worship, but we actually employ the same tactics the world does to promote their particular business, this we call “being good stewards of our demographics.”

I am so tired of the politics of the local church that I refuse to participate. I am part of the Local Church and every believer is my brother and sister, our fellowship is not based on where we attend or do not attend – it is based on being ONE in Christ.

I will admit it is hard not to get caught up into bashing local expressions of Christian gatherings because of the universal corruption we have let permeate into our constitutionally run organizations. Even in our organizationally run gatherings hostility, rejection, and pain are common not because of theological differences or divergence, but as a result of the demand of conformity to personal preferences.

I am tired of the abuse of power, disguised as Biblical guidance, or Spirit administered purging or redirecting. The local church is plagued with a system that is given over to man management rather than Christ’s headship.

We have turned our pastors into CEOs with the power to hire and fire. Our gatherings are Spirit enhanced club meetings that concentrate on organizational growth. Numbers and dollars are the bottom line. It is the aesthetics of our buildings and the style of teaching/worship that embody our present day concept of church.

For the past eight years Carol and I have gathered with believers in our home or their home rather than a church building. We have chosen to not have a pastor in the traditional since and are learning to allow Christ to lead.

We are learning to experience the gifts of body life without the traditional trappings. We have the gifts of pastor, prophecy, encouragement, giving, hospitality, leadership, and the other gifts surface as the Spirit distributes them among us. We find that discussion often reveals areas of disagreement, yet love supersedes all differences. We have seen healings, heard prophecies, written new songs and as opportunities have arisen, to share the Gospel outside our fellowship. Revelation of the person of Christ is welcome from all gathered believers. We have sent out from our group those who feel the Lord would have them encourage other believers to gather as the Body of Christ under the headship of Christ.

We have seen God work in light of prayer; we have had Him surprise us by answering, before asking takes place. All this has been happening outside the traditional institutional setting. Yes we have the gifts but not the hierarchy, we answer to each other as the Body and to Christ as the Head.

Freedom to be all that Christ wants, and free to allow others the freedom to be themselves in Christ, we laugh a lot, we cry together, we become frustrated together and are inspired by His presence as demonstrated in the lives of each other.

For me it is still a learning process, I find it a struggle not to be building a large group, not to be organized and thus structured in a manner that assures a form that can be predicted. I think of McDonalds, same menu, same taste, same price, same d├ęcor, secure and traditional.

I can’t even be sure that I’ll get the same chair as last time. Yes I am still suffering from withdrawals from the old and feel a dream has died. After all I pursued it for over 30 years with most of those years as a pastor.

I came to know Christ in that system, I met Carol and we married in that system, my children accepted Christ in that system, opportunities of ministry flourished under that system, I have friends and acquaintances still in that system – letting go has been and still is traumatic, only the new dream of a united Body and a oneness with Christ is able to sustain us in light of all that we feel we must give up. As His Body we, together, reveal His fullness. He is returning for His Bride, not a fashion victim girl friend, but a Bride given over to adoring and looking forward to her Groom’s appearing.

Carol and I discovered our Bed and Breakfast to be an avenue through which we are able to minister to people. We are encountering more and more people who are interested in deepening their intimacy with Christ. We find exploring our commonality in Christ has not only encouraged our guests but has left us in awe over His orchestrating the mutual encouragement that takes place.

If any should feel such an encounter would be stimulating please feel free to contact us through our website for details and prices.

Terry J.