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Have You Seen Her?


#1

Well, this group has gotten big. Hopefully it isn’t too big and we can get a growing picture of what his church looks like and how we interact with her.

Have you had a season in your life where you felt you had a taste of the church Jesus is building? Tell us about one of those. How did you find her? What made it feel like his church? What happened to it if it went away?

Wayne in Thousand Oaks, CA


#2

I had my first taste within a small group at the local church we were part of. It was the first time where we were on our own in the sense we didn’t have an authority figure or a set of things we had to do. Together we just figured it out as we went along. There were a few times where after we had been together I just knew that the Spirit had been in control of our time. There was no other way to explain what had just happened as nothing was pre-orchestrated yet none of us could have scripted it any better if we had tried. It wasn’t every time but the taste of that kept me hungry for more. Eventually my wife and I left as we felt God’s calling (and the church leaders nudging) us out. It was painful, however in hindsight it was the best for our journey to continue in a positive direction.

Mark Loeffler
Murrieta CA


#3

There was a season (a couple of years ago) where I sensed that I had a taste of the church that Jesus is building. It was different than any of my experiences in Institutional Church, House Church, or Organic Church.

I met a Hispanic immigrant that I worked with here in the U.S. that my dad hired to do carpentry and construction work to help us fix up an old run down house.

One day he expressed to me that he was unsatisfied with the Institutional Church and asked me what was wrong with churches these days. He first tried to ask some easier questions and I could tell he was trying to feel out the situation before dropping a big bombshell question that could be considered too controversial for some people. I went with it because I was eager for this kind of conversation also.

I shared what I had observed about IC’s, and why I left the IC as well. I even found a few free e-books in Spanish that I could download. I gave him the e-books in Spanish on a flash-drive that I bought, so he could read them on his laptop computer at his home.

He started by reading the Spanish version of “So you don’t want to go to church anymore”, and he said he loved it, and that it really touched his heart, and seemed to say the same things he was thinking. He said it was so good that he read a lot of it the night before, and he couldn’t put it down, and he just kept reading late into the night. He said that it made his heart feel good that other people had noticed the same things that he had noticed.

We had many good conversations on this subject matter for nearly a year.

He even noticed, that next to the house we worked on, was a Hispanic woman that cooked and sold Hispanic style food, and we both ate lunch at her house several times.

I invited the guy to start a House Church with me, but he declined, and it seemed like he didn’t feel God leading him in that direction at the time. Instead he liked to visit other IC’s from time to time in order to see what other different churches were like.

Eventually, the guy couldn’t seem to find any more good paying jobs here in my area, and he moved back to Miami. I miss the guy a lot. I also miss our good conversations that were totally open, honest, and where we felt free to say whatever we felt we wanted to say. We also had a good mutual acceptance of each other.

I guess you could say that Jesus made this happen, because it didn’t happen by any of my efforts…

At this current time, I get very little fellowship with other people that understand Fathers love. However, I do have 1 friend that understands Fathers love (we both left the same contemporary IC), but he lives an hour away, and due to his busy work schedule we rarely get to see each other.

Lenny in Sims, NC


#4

Although I have been out of IC for years my last attempt at dipping my toes in the pond proved to be a game changer for me. I walked into a community church that was fast on its way to closing its doors as an IC. Not because they had dwindling numbers but because they felt this was something God wanted them/us to do. We read “The Shack”, then “So you dont want to go to church anymore” and closed the doors in Dec 2008. It caused a lot of grief for a number of people, especially those invested in keeping it running, but for most of the leadership and many of the congregation this was life bringing. It felt like Jesus building his church when we didnt have to keep the grind of the structure going. I dont think the then leadership realised how toxic it had become for them until it wasnt there anymore and the depth of freedom was phenominal. There was some trepidation, concern we were all going to backslide et al, but as we came together as family and chatted about all of this, we saw a different dimension to life in Christ. We had deep conversations that left us hungry for more, we naturally loved each other without that forced perception of love you had in the IC. “How are you today”, “Oh fine, fine, hows the family”… etc etc. There seemed to be a transparency and vulnerability that just gave life and it was extraordinary. Grace towards each other, not trying to fix what appeared broken, but walking alongside and allowing God to be the master builder, not tripping Him up with any meddling on our part. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, John says, and we saw it lived out amongst us for a number of years. I guess my question around revival in the other discussion also referred to this, as it seems to me that there has been a camping around Grace, rather than a moving into it and a moving on with it as our “wrapper” as such. Grace says you are loved without exception, loved without limit, loved beyond or above what you can grasp. Does it also open up that “ever expanding conversation” that vista view that draws us out into the “greater things”, the rooted and grounded in love, that grasps the ungraspable length breadth depth and height of the Love of Christ, so that we are filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Maybe it is me that has not seen that yet in myself whereas the others are there, and so not camping but living it out. I dont know, but I wait on my beloved, living each day in what I do know and believe. That I am loved.


#5

Ha, that’s’ good and true!


#6

Wayne, Surveying my life in light of your question brings me to a personal view that I have seen sign/road posts indicating that there is a building of sorts going on. However, deeper consideration leaves me wondering when the arrows and distance indicating the place to arriving within the borders (for lack of a better qualifier) of that reality is.
I perceive Jesus has been working on building his Body since the resurrection… and I think there have been windows of time recorded in history since that time that would allude to his working. He has definitely stirred the hearts of many, the majority of which we don’t currently have a handle on. Some stirrings having accessed more renown than others and some seem to get undermined or diluted before realizing widespread establishment.
I recall a time as a young girl sitting beside a stained glassed window while hearing the ‘minister’ bragging about turning children away from his former congregation because their parents wouldn’t park the car and join the service. My young heart sank and that impression was imprinted forever in my mind when I looked at the window I was sitting next to… The depiction of Jesus surrounded by children, with the scripture about suffering little children to come unto him. I felt then like there was something more he wanted. Since that time I have been a part of situations that increasingly seemed, in retrospect, to indicate that there was something more we were to have access to. One of the best was a midweek gathering composed of people from a variety of institutional backgrounds where there was earnest to enter into more intimate life with Jesus. Part of what appeared to contribute to the dissolution of those occurrences was the imposition of denominational interference / someone eventually trying to establish a personal kingdom / doctrinal error based teaching of some sort.
I have witnessed, not just in my life, but the lives of others, a coming to a place to shake off the shackles holding us back from full expression and fellowship, however, life circumstances have not been conducive to full engagement. This is one reason that I am grateful for social media and the internet in providing proof that there are more of us out there, and some are fortunate enough to enjoy opportunities to ‘indulge’ in gatherings. I hope these advancements are going to help define the signage more clearly, and/or act as stepping stones toward the culmination of Jesus knitting his Body together. I’d like the ‘taste testing’ to turn into full sustenance.


#7

Just this Wednesday I was able to meet up with someone from the congregation we left in 2013. When I agreed to meet with her all of the sudden I was full of anxiety about getting together. I didn’t know what to expect but it turned out to be one of those wonderful moments of fellowship that I have tasted a handful of times through the years.
She had mentioned during our time together that she was feeling like she just wasn’t measuring up. I asked her about that, why she would feel that way. She said that she had never really thought about it and from there we were able to talk in length about who the Father is and how he really wants to relate to us. It was a good, refreshing conversation. Seeing His church has been like this for me. Here and there and always wonderful when it happens; like a cool drink of water in a desert land.

Johanna from Federal Way,Wa State


#8

I really like how you put this :slight_smile:


#9

Yes! Just allowing Jesus to do the mending is such a wonderful place to be with others. I can’t wait to have this on a more regular basis. All in His time :slight_smile:


#10

Hi SHarron, it is so true isnt it. People dont seem to be able to leave us alone to let God be who he needs to be for us. When Wayne visited UK recently, he called it trespassing and it so rang true. People trespass on our lives, mostly I hope trying to be helpful, but in many cases just meddling! I like the word Trespass, because we did not give permission, or if we gave an inch, they took a yard!!! Love 'em anyway :smiley:


#11

Oh yes Jo :sunny:
It does seem tho. and I have wondered about this, that when we experience it we have to hold it lightly as if it is a fragile thing, because when we grasp it as if we will lose it, it breaks, becomes ephemeral and you end up with a manmade camp around, a laager that keeps us in and “them” out.
I think we find it hard to hold things lightly in that way, to let things be what they are without our need to control them. I am learning… :smile:


#12

In 2011 my two sons and I went to a Christian youth festival in the uk, tagging along with a family we knew who from london.

The boys had a blast! I was at the end of my tether. I felt so lonely in my life in Spain, so helpless to effectively make Jesus name known to local kids (which was my hearts desire, that they would know him). Maybe others were right. Maybe I was rebellious, and maybe thats why I was alone and sad.

Then through a series of “coincidences” I found myself meeting for a cuppa and chat with two families who had a heart for Spain. I knew instantly that these folk loved God. They encouraged me in ways I cannot explain. Since then we have visited one another on several occassions, and even they have introduced me to other folk too. They teach me sooo much, and i am so grateful for them in our lives.

Almost every time we talk I find my soul ENCOURAGED TOWARDS FATHER that is the best way I can describe it. And that, my friends is what I think Church is… encouraging one another toward God.


#13

Whenever I’m with people who are open, honest, loving, concerned, and focused on Jesus as a real part of their lives, I can see his church taking shape. Whenever I meet someone, who knows someone and an unintentional circle of growing friendships (friends and friends of friends) takes shape, I see his Spirit knitting the body together. I have had those kinds of connections in every place I’ve been on this journey. Some connections only last for a season, others go on for a lifetime. Some I have proximity to in my daily activities, and some are around the world that I only get to touch sporadically. But she is taking shape and she is learning how to be preoccupied with him and generous with others.


#14

This sounds absolutely amazing! A congregation that closed their institutional doors in order to learn how to be the bride of Christ. Did I understand that right?


#15

Have You Seen Her?
Obviously came on stream later, yet seems to by the lower in growth rate as compared to Introductions and others. This obviously could be for multiple reasons, recognition, realizing, still struggling with IC hangovers, etc.

I’m wondering if some people have not had prior access to COTW DVD series with Bob Humprey, yourself, et al in '06? along with your more recent Living Loved and Father’s Affection more recently?


The New Creation
#16

Institutionalizing by definition destroys the whole concept of faith community and is the absolute antithesis of the original Way. Historically, an authentic move of God typically and almost without exception is followed by an “authentic” move of man. If you haven’t seen RevivalHymn (not a song) but found at


you might get that sense.

God comes along and does something Sovereign and man instinctively comes along with the idea of improving on what God’s already done. Is that incredible or what, and yet lays latent in the carnal nature of the most mature believer. When some Chinese believers were brought to America some years ago in their quest for America’s concept of church growth, when leaving they were asked what they thought of what they had seen. Their answer “We are amazed at what Americans can do without God”.


#17

Wow, I wonder what the hosts who had invited them thought about that statement?
It makes me think of myself - all the things I have done (currently do?) in my own
strength or the strength of the systems that I participate in that insulate me from
really being ‘naked and not ashamed’’ before the Father. I’ll check out the video you posted.
Sharron in Kansas CIty


#18

Glad that resonated with you Sharron.

Paul in Winnipeg Canada


#19

Hi Sarah :slight_smile: You did read that right, and I remember so well when the “leadership” told us, it was like all the lights going on for me, an “at last” moment!.


#20

About twenty years ago we began to bump into Christians who were longing to know God in a deeper way. Over a period of a few weeks we opened our home on a Friday evening and invited people to just come and be together. We didn’t have any agenda and didn’t have a specific leader! We sang and prayed and shared our hearts with one another…it was awesome! The group grew and grew and had a huge variety of people…new believers, long-time believers, and especially pastors who were tired and frustrated with their regular church ministries. We saw God touching hearts and healing hurts and just generally loving on us all. As time went on, folks began to view this gathering as “church” and then things began to change. A couple of fellows began to take more leadership in the gatherings and ultimately, this grew in to a Vineyard Fellowship and it exists as such today. During the time we were involved, I felt we all glimpsed the kind of love and support that God longs for us all to enjoy. We moved away to another city just when things were beginning to change into a more structured fellowship. We loved the community we had in our home and feel it was the beginning of our adventure in discovering God outside the walls of a institutional church.