Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our New Label: "Church Drop Outs"!

Well, it has been an entire year since we officially became church drop outs! Oh how some of you must cringe when you read this sentence! And I know some of you understand where we are because you too are now church "drop outs".

Have we "back sliden"?
Is our spirituality at risk?
Are we being disobedient?
Has our love grown cold?
Have we been misled and fallen into deception and heresy?

The questions could go on and on . And I have asked myself and the Lord these same questions many times since our move out here to Arizona. However, the answers that I am finding to these very questions have been liberating and yes vindicating to the perplexity I have carried within my heart and mind.

I do not self righteously look down upon those who have remained in the organized church setting. By doing that I would be judging them just as many "church goers" have judged many of us who have been led in a different way. This past year has enabled me to see with clarity that God calls all people to be members of His family, we just operate in various ways.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life! Does that mean to find Him, we must all go to the temples to serve Him? No, we are the temple and we are all church goers in whatever capacity He calls us. Yes, we are all church goers because wherever we transport the presence of God (who lives within us) we are fulfilling the purpose of God.

It has been amazing to watch God orchestrate relationships in this new season of our lives. The way church has looked for us has been different from anything I could have ever imagined. Without striving to search for our church family, God has been setting up meetings and gatherings with other believers who also have an
"outside the walls" vision for church. Most of these precious people have been hurt by the organized church in many ways. However, there is a holy wrestling and passion that is bringing healing to us all. No we do not just sit around and fume about our wounds, but we share our desire to go beyond what we have always known to become the mobilized church using our gifts and resources to invest in one another and those future members of God's household.

Another thing that has amazed me is that in this season where I really do not have so much to give, God has placed people in my life who do not expect me to give! This has been quite chaffing. And I know it is good because I have always wanted to give and have loved to give.However, these sweet saints just keep giving and giving to our family expecting nothing in return. Since the pregnancy with the twins, I have been trying to mainly take care of myself and do whatever I can to take care of the other children in the home. In the past, we were always giving. We would have people over for dinner at least once a week, we served various ways in the church, and volunteered in the community. And I hate to be this honest, but many times we did these things because we thought we were being obedient and earning a greater level of approval of God. But now as we have rested and been less busy this year, God shows us that He is still proud of us. It is about who HE is not what I do.

Since we have been here, precious families have invited us into their homes for meals, they have had our children over to spend time with their children,they have given us gifts for the babies and clothing for our other children and brought us meals. There has been no expectation of anything in return. Now this is the church,the true church.

In a week or two, we will be meeting with some families to watch a set of DVDs called "Church Outside the Walls" I am growing more excited to receive a greater understanding of God's heart for the church. I realize that for many years I only lived one or two facets of what God wants for the church. Exciting times are ahead. Below are some descriptions of this study we will be participating in.

Church Outside The Walls

"This will be a four part video series with each video running about thirty minutes. The documentary focuses on Christians who have left Sunday morning 'church' services and the whole system of doing 'church' in order to return to the simplicity of Christ.

The first video of the series is titled, 'The Dropouts'. In this video we will meet some of these people who have dropped out of attending a 'church organization'. Who are these people and why have they chosen to do so? Are they Lone Rangers? Rebels? Non-conformists? Flakes? Wounded believers who need to be won back?

How has their decision to drop out affected their spiritual health? Are they still walking with the Lord or are they backsliders? Or have they been snatched up by wolves or carried away by false doctrines? Usually we hear about these people through pastors or church leaders and are told what they are like. But have we actually taken the time to really meet them and listen to them?

In this video we do just that. We hear straight from them why they dropped out, and how they are doing spiritually since dropping out. Be warned! Some of their answers may shock you!

This unsettling video examines what we call 'church' today. What are some of the root causes of the current atmosphere of mediocrity we find in many of today's Christian institutions? This video is a journey that uncovers the facts and connects the dots of church history from the early apostles to today. It exposes the real origins of many of the traditions commonly held today. Biblically based, historically accurate, this riveting video exudes a passion for restoring believers to the simplicity and purity of knowing Christ.

In Parts 2 & 3 we set out to take a look at how 'church' has evolved from the times of the early apostles until today. How did it get this way?

Christ promised that he would build his church and at the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Is it possible that the Church Christ promised to build looks different than much of what we call 'church' today? Parts 2 & 3 shines the spotlight on the historical evolution of organized religion and positional authority.

Part 3 takes a hard look at many of the doctrinal interpretations common in today's church. Is there a scriptural basis for the form of leadership practiced today? Does the Bible teach that the followers of Christ are to attend weekly services? Why do the programs designed yield such minute results? What does the Bible teach about being the family of God?

This documentary delves into many of the components common to today’s Christian institutions such as:

The clergy/laity distinction
The function of the elder/overseer
The role of the pastor
Church services
Church buildings
Programs & Outreach

Part 4 takes an objective look at what the scriptures say about church as a family. How do brothers and sisters in the family of God encourage, correct, equip and build up one another in Christ? What is biblical discipleship, and how does it fit into a family relationship?

This 40 minute video begins to answer many of the questions people have asked about this new journey of freedom from religious obligation. Some of the topics address questions about worship, fellowship, meetings and much more. What if you're alone? What about your children?

We explore ways in which the family of God reaches out to those who do not yet know him. Does it take large organizations and evangelism programs to resource effective witness? Is evangelism something we do or a fruit of our life? How do relational followers of Christ fulfill the Great Commission?

In this DVD we observe how some believers are learning what it means to become 'friends of sinners'. We hear from those who believe that where and how they live and what they do for employment and entertainment is all strategic to loving the lost into an extended family."

So there you have it. This is only a portion of the new adventure the Lord has led us into. It is exciting! It is uncomfortable at times! However, I have honestly seached for a Person named Truth. I have been seeking this One called the Way. And crying out to a Father called the Life. And I am finding Him more and more each day. I would have it no other way for wherever He leads I will go.

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