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Introductions


#1

Some of my dearest friends have come through the connections I’ve made via Lifestream and Wayne. Perhaps it’s the same for many of you as well? For those who are willing, take a moment and tell us a little about yourself.

I’ll start. My name is Kevin Tupper. I’ll be helping Wayne manage the discussion forum. I am married to Hilary and have two adult children, Holly and Caleb. Both are in college.

We live in the Washington DC area. I’ve been a Jesus follower for almost 28 years. We homeschooled both are children and have been non-institutional as far as church goes for about 15 years.

For the first year or so I was toxic (regarding the institutional church.) Today, not so much. I take it for what it is and seek the kingdom wherever it is found.

My other loves include

  • Socially connected, spiritually oriented small groups
  • Travel
  • Technology
  • Italian food
  • Fitness (running)
  • Photography (someday)

I’m looking forward to getting to know more of you and “finding church” all over the world!


Welcome to Discuss @ Lifestream.org
Welcome to Discuss @ Lifestream.org
#2

My name is Wayne Jacobsen, host of this board and author of the book we’ll be discussing here. We’ll also use the site to discuss other resources at Lifestream in the future. I live in So California with my wife Sara. We’ve got two adult kids living nearby and some grandkids. Enjoying all of them is the richest part of my life.

Most people know my story. I pastored for 20 years in conservative Charismatic congregations and got kick out through a painful betrayal almost 20 years ago. Little did I know at the time how much that betrayal would set me free from a conformity-based religious expression of Christianity, to discover a more rewarding transformational relationship with a Father of great affection. We have not looked back. It has been an extraordinary journey and we share it with people through my writings, travel, and audio recordings at Lifestream.org and TheGodJourney.com.

I also enjoy long conversations with good friends about the life of Jesus, a round of golf when I can get it, volleyball or bocce ball when the occasion arises, reading and watching a wonderful movie with Sara when we can find it. My greatest passion is to follow the Lamb wherever he leads and celebrate the life he has given us.


#3

Hi my name is Christine. My husband Mark and I will most likely be rereading Finding Church together and participating. We will be married 33 years in June and found The God Journey many years ago through the book “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” Although still involved in the intuitional church at the time We were becoming increasing aware that we really didn’t fit. I had been dealing with the guilt I felt for not really liking “church” as much as everyone around us seemed to. I loved God and really loved praying with and for others, engaging in relationships and especially felt drawn to listen to and help other women but the only way to do that was to be a church member and follow the rules etc and that wasn’t something we wanted to do. We moved on and then the loneliness kicked it so we tried “church” again and God made it perfectly clear that it wasn’t want He wanted for us. Wayne helped us greatly as we struggled through a nasty confrontation by the leaders of the “church” we were attending and in the last couple of years we have known a freedom of living loved and being transformed that has eased the pain of losing friends and others that felt our not signing their rules and conformity agreements was somehow a sin and we are being deceived by not being in unity. The very few relationships we have now are bound together by love and desire to love one another not by any need to see it the same way or be on the same page. We still long for a greater community of family and struggle with loneliness for others to share life with but count it a blessing when we get to love those that God puts in our path.
We have read Finding Church through together when it first came out and we are looking forward to rereading it with all of you
Looking forward to the discussion to come.

Christine and Mark.


#4

My name is Timothy, I live in Colorado, am married for 25 years (only by the grace of God) and have seven kids. I have been a believer for 36 years and have been (mostly) out of the box for about 15 years.
I am here primarily as comic relief and class clown, as Brad is missing.


#5

My name is Ron, I am from Ohio and have been on my God Journey when I gave my life to Christ in 1991. First, I’d like to thank Wayne for creating this discussion board for Finding Church, for it will certainly bring the book to life. And second to Kevin for helping with maintenance of it. Hopefully it will be a smooth and simple task.

I grew up as a Catholic, attended catechism, made the sacrements, but experienced little else of institutional church life primarily because my family had little to no involvement. I remember going to mass one certain Sunday with my father in attendance, and when it came time for communion, he remarked he couldn’t receive it because he hadn’t gone to confession. Surely if he couldn’t meet demands of the Catholic faith, I was doomed as well.

From there I attended church sporadically, even after I was ‘saved’, and again and again there came a point where I had the feeling something wasn’t quite right. I knew people, friends and coworkers that simply were using the institutional church as part of the social fabric of their lives, not as a source of transformation. They attended church faithfully,but basically lived like they wanted the rest of the week, showing no regard for God’s influence in their lives.

I kept having a recurring discussion with a particular friend, who continually asked me if I was attending church. For a while I could say yes, but when my attendance stopped, the dynamic of the relationship changed. He couldn’t understand the direction God was taking me, which was a highly divergent path from his. I didn’t want to lose the friendship, but we couldn’t come to a compromise. He found excuses to become unavailable when I wanted to talk. I even gave him a copy of Finding Church, for he and his wife to read, leaving the discussion open for any disagreement they may have. I never received a response.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I recognize God is a 24-7 presence in my life, which has taken me on a highly unique journey, but one I wouldn’t trade for the world.


#6

Hi, My name is Bobbe. My husband and I do attend a church, and I love many aspects of it. We host a small group Bible Study, and one of our topics was the DVD series The Jesus Lens. Wayne addressed topics I had wondered about for years. For example, why does God seem so different in the NT than He does in the OT? Did he meet Jesus in the 400 years between them?! This series grew us as a group and gave us the freedom to ask many questions. (I am also a lover of The Shack.) I have read He Loves Me and In Season. A friend from our small group recently gave us Finding Church. I enjoy Wayne’s blogs and look forward to this discussion.


#7

Hello, My name is Barry and I’ve been married to Carol for almost 40 years. We have four children (two married) and three grandchildren. We’ve tried just about every type of congregation possible from military chapel, charismatic, non-denominational and home church. We left the home based fellowship because their emphasis was on principles instead of relationship. We took a break hoping to find a better “system” but instead find ourselves crossing paths with other believers and fellowship follows. We met Wayne at a gathering at Kevin & Hillary’s home several years ago. What a journey it has been. We will be re-reading Finding Church and look forward to the discussions.


#8

Hi, My name is Karen. I live in the DC area with my husband Chuck. We have two grown children. I am a
4th grade teacher at a local elementary school. I grew up in going to church. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t go to church. I ask Jesus into my heart at the age of 10 years old. Due to my fear of water I wasn’t baptized until I was 13. I was not really excited about having my head put under water. Since that time I have served in the local church in a variety of ways. At this time I have abandoned those things that the world has defined as being a Christ follower and am trusting God to make himself known to me. I have been on this new journey for about a year.


#9

Hi! My name is Joann and my husband’s is Chad. We have been married for 20 years and are parents to a 13 year old girl, 2 chihuahuas, and a bunch of chickens. We live in North Carolina. We have listened to The God Journey for a couple of years. We have stopped attending Sunday morning gatherings about 4 months. We have felt God leading us in a different direction for a while. Chad has always been outside the box with God. Myself, not so much. We are looking forward to learning from this discussion as we learn to live loved and love those around us.


#10

My name is Mark. My wife and I have three teenage sons. I have been the pastor of a small, independent, Baptist church in NY state for 20 years. Before that I taught high school Bible in two Christian schools for a total of nine years. In the middle of that I spent a year as a youth pastor. I graduated from a Christian college and a Christian high school and have been in institutional church as far back as I can remember. My father became a church planter while I was in college and two of my brothers are also pastors. One of these brothers introduced me to Wayne’s podcast and He Loves Me a few years ago. I had no idea who Wayne was when I read The Shack, numerous copies of which I gave to anyone who would take one. Currently, I feel like one of the “stuck pastors” highlighted in the Dechurched Project. Very much on board with what Wayne has written in Finding Church, I feel like I’m dragging my feet through a crossroads personally and at our church. Looking forward to rereading the book and participating in this conversation.


#11

My name is Martin C. Haglund (Marty). I am a semi-retired Pastoral Counselor. Sarah and I have been married for 42 years. We have 2 daughters and sons-in-law who are disciples and questioning thinkers. Our journey with Christ began outside the institutional church while in the US Military. Our discipleship and community experiences intersected with the Church on 4 continents and has seldom found the American experience fulfilling. Many years ago, because of our willingness to be innovative and embrace what we experienced in S. Korea, China and in small groups in the United Kingdom, we were removed from denominational leadership. Since that time, Sarah and I have chosen to follow patterns adapted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “Life Together” as well as experiences with Jon Zens and small groups attempting to reintroduce Body Life into the common experience of our fellowships. I read “Finding Church” last year and loved the provocation. I look forward to re-reading it and joining the discussion from time to time.


#12

Greetings from Buck Lake, Alberta, Canada. My husband, Morley and I (Marion) will be following this discussion time together. We are seniors and have been married for 51 years. We have a married daughter and a son…both love God but are not involved in formal church life at this time. We have three grandsons…one is on a Youth With a Mission DTS in Australia and is presently on an three month outreach in Mongolia! We have been living and loving the “Grace” focused Christian Life for about 20 years now and were delighted to discover Wayne’s books and podcast a few years ago. We live in a rural area and opted out of formal church about 10 years ago. Our friends and family members love to visit us on the weekend and so we weren’t about to leave them and “go to church”! Instead we recognize that we “are the church” and just focus on those God sends our way…learning to love them and enjoy them as often as possible. Our Christian journey has been long and the path has been very twisted but always moving forward into a fuller appreciation of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. We worked for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship for a number of years and received an excellent grounding in God’s Word (the Bible) but then moved into a more “heart centered” time enjoying fellowship with the Vineyard Ministry and the Charismatic style of worship. Then we moved out here where we were more isolated and have continued to seek a deeper relationship with the Father and right now we are discovering the importance of experiencing a “Jesus-like God” and a “Jesus centered Bible”! What a ride this has been and continues to be. We are looking forward to this discussion time because we know we will be blessed and enriched by sharing with all you folk! Thanks Wayne for arranging this.


#13

Hi, my name is Paul. I have been married for 45 yrs to the fairest of thousands, Eleanore, We live in Winnipeg Canada, in the province (not Providence LOL) of Manitoba. We have a son and daughter as well as 3 grandchildren.

We have been “wandering”: outside the walls for 25 years as of this past April 22nd. Our first 8 years we spent in isolation from traditional forms of faith community during which we studied and searched for answers as to what is/went wrong. Simply put, our wilderness journey taught us many things as we learned to lean on Jesus and Him alone. I actually encountered Him for the first time in a meaningful way within about a week of striking out on our own.

In 1999 we launched timidly into the house church movement, Frank V was popular and we has been intrigued by his insights and perspective. You guessed it, we found a mixed bag of this, that and the other, mostly people with an axe to grind or hurting in some way, or just needing fellowship with an emphasis on co-miserating. There was always a wrench that got into the gears and then peoplewould move on.

Short circuit to the now. We had come across the Church Outside the Walls series a few years ago. Somehow (mostly) everything made sense. We returned to the solo journey as my wife and I are blessed beyond measure with out individual and mutual walks with the Lord.So we lived in Him and grew together and now know that we were a body of two with Jesus always present. Of late we have been watching and re watching Learning to Live Love and The Affection of the Father.

While growing in and appreciating our walk together, we do participate in bible study with neighbours and look forward to opportunities of being Jesus to whomever He may bring our way throughout the day.


#14

My name is Tim. I was born again I in1972. I was raised Catholic, 12 years of Catholic school, altar boy, the whole nine yards. Thought I would be a priest at one point in time. Went totally off the Christian grid for about10 years. Since my conversion I have been to pentecostal, evangelical, home Church, denominational, nondenominational. Always something lacking. Really enjoy Wayne’s writings. Loved the shack. Married for 22 years. Wife is not ready to give up on organization but I just go with her. Looking forward to discussion.


#15

Hi I’m Ed Parker. I’m married to Tamara my lovely wife of 17+ years. We have two beautiful daughters. We live in western NC in the thick of what’s commonly known as the Bible Belt. We both grew up in a very conservative Baptist tradition and both our fathers were pastors. We left institutional church about three years ago after a gruesome church-plant implosion. God was already moving us in that direction but the afiore mentioned gruesomeness was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Still finding our footing in many ways but moving forward (albeit slowly at times). I’m looking forward to re-reading the book and all the discussion to come.


#16

Hi there! My name is Johanna. I live in Washington State in the Seattle/Tacoma area. I’m a single parent of a nineteen year old daughter named Emilia and a 21 year old son named Luke. I have trusted Jesus since I was 5 years old.

All three of us have been outside the institution going on 3.5 years. I spent many years going from one congregation to the next trying to find a place to rest and not feel driven by guilt or obligation. The last congregation my family attended was one we would be at for about 4 years. A year and a half before we left I found myself becoming overly dependent on some of the leadership there. I believe that Jesus started to show me that they, the leadership, had a place in my heart that only He should have.

The way we left was not the best way in which it could have been done. It was like a light came on and I realized that my pastors were not my superiors but my equals and that Jesus was my Head not them but the way I expressed this to them was not in the most gracious way. I just knew that the power that they seemed to have over me was not good and I had to leave and the leaving was harsh. If I had been more secure in the Father’s love our exit may have been much different but I realize that I was following His lead even though to others it may have seemed that I just lost my mind. It’s one of the many things I have had to try to let go, the need to be understood.

I came across the God journey a couple years ago and the Father has used it tremendously to clear away much fear and guilt and to help me enter into what it means to really rest. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s thoughts about “Finding Church” and maybe adding in my two cents as well!


#17

Hi everyone. My name is Stephanie. I’ve been on this journey with Jesus since 1974. I teach college at a private Christian university in south Florida and i love the community of Christ – wherever i find it. So glad to be here with you!


#18

Hi, I’m Joan. I was raised “Independent Fundamental Baptist” then went to CMA for years. Year after year I’ve been taught to “submit to pastoral authority,” and “don’t talk badly about anyone.” If you go against the teachings you are considered a troublemaker. I’ve have seen such ‘troublemakers’ finally leave the church and been publically belittled. Anyone who leaves the church must be wrong or must be a “dead branch being shaken out of the tree.” Or such ‘troublemakers’ are spanked from the pulpit (as I have been.) One is made to feel that he/she is wrong to have a thought beyond what is being taught. If we question, we are wrong. So I sit and try not to feel what I am feeling and look around at everyone ‘worshiping’ and wonder if there is something wrong with me? So I pretend, yet all the while look around and think, “Where is Jesus in all of this? Where is abundant life and rest?” It is Jesus that I miss. What we get instead are guilt trips to improve our behavior that motivate for a while but then, after years, leave us feeling dead, because nothing is ever enough. What is ever good enough? It simply becomes defeating. So one quits working on trying to become ‘godly’ and sits feeling dead inside because he/she has stifled his thoughts and feelings for so long.
So I left my institution not quite a year ago and God has grown me in His love! I’m so grateful to be in this discussion.


#19

Hi there I’m Gadiela. I have been married for 19 years and our children are 17 and 14. My background with church Is a whole lot of nutty. My parents were in a cult, then they were excommunicated because they approached the elders with proof of their faulty doctrine. I grew up next to the headquarters and we were shunned all the time because the church members were under orders not to have anything to do with us. Fast forward to my 15th year and I am at a church for the first time where I eventually gave my life to Jesus. The first couple years I really believed God loved me and I was blown away that He loved me in such a personal way. The church I was attending tends to be on the legalistic “we have the truth and everyone else is wrong” attitude. Everything is measured by this very well known pastor. There is a prevalent doctrine at this church that once I understood it I felt my faith shatter. It was one of those if this is who God really is I don’t know how I can follow Him. I did keep following God but the root has been fear and despair.
Over the 19 years of our marriage we have had a couple other really bad situations. Affairs that we had a suspicion of but no proof. We felt that God wanted us to leave that church and God would deal with whatever needed to be done. A couple years later all things were revealed. The last church we left was because the new head pastor was extremely arrogant and essentially ousted the junior high pastor because this pastor didn’t hold to the approved doctrine of the church. That event pretty much put me out of commission.
I didn’t know where to put myself. I spent about two years not attending church because I just couldn’t. My heart was broken. I didn’t feel like churning through another church. I needed and wanted to find out who is God. I took it down to step one. I knew Jesus had died on the cross and that’s it. Those two years were hard. There was no one to talk to. I spent that time voraciously reading and searching. I thing the lifestream podcasts have been the most dynamic in my life. It’s stuff I have never heard before.
I am not bitter towards the church. I am currently attending a church but I long for real community. I also long for an immovable relationship with God. I want to learn how to trust in and rely on His love for me. Happy to be a part of this.


#20

Hello! My name is Peggy Brown, though I am known in some circles as Abi, The Virtual Abbess, where I ponder what I have called the Purple Martyrdom. I am approaching 23 years of marriage to Robert and we have 3 sons: 21 (in 2 weeks), 18 (in 6 months) and 15. I am recovering from 8 freak injuries/accidents over the past 20 years and am finally turning a corner there (knock on wood)! We live in Vancouver (not B.C.) Washington (not D.C.).

I met Wayne after having read The Shack and being in a Missional Learning Community that was supposed to last for 12 weeks. My husband and I were invited to join 7 other couples, in January of 2008, who were burned by or burned out in ministry – three of us pastors and the rest elders or other leaders. In June of 2009, still together, we were blessed to have Wayne come up for a weekend retreat to help us process where we found ourselves and how we might continue our group and individual journeys.

This was a pivotal time for me, especially, since this group exposed me to sides of my husband that I did not know – after 16 years together in marriage and ministry. I had just suffered a traumatic brain injury 3 months earlier and it was continuing to manifest symptoms that were challenging. (Immediately after the retreat, my only brother’s wife died from brain cancer, leaving behind 3 daughters for my brother to love without her help.)

I came home from the retreat with two of Wayne’s books: He Loves Me and Authentic Relationships. Dove right into He Loves Me. So paradigm shifting as I was learning to turn away from performance-based faith. It was more than a little ironic that I was having trouble with Authentic Relationships, since I was having trouble relationally with my four sisters as I moved away from institutional church.

I am the youngest of six children to a church planting family. There was never a day that I didn’t love God. I was baptized just after my 9th birthday, a result of my first week at church camp and realizing that there was something I was supposed to do in response to my love for Jesus. I have walked with Jesus almost 51 years now. My sisters didn’t get where I was coming from…and the TBI didn’t help. I was a huge loss of spiritual connection to lose that identity as PK sisters.

I was interviewed by Josh Packard for his Church Refugees book (my story is not in the book), as I learned about it through a friend working on the book at the publisher. So, yes, I relate very deeply to The Dones. And I would have related to the group he is now studying: pastors who are Done, but stuck in ministry professions.

My husband has, in the years between our meeting Wayne and today, revealed himself to be someone who doesn’t understand relationships … and so he doesn’t have a relationship with God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. He was able to hide it pretty well during the years I served at our church and he was the Pied Piper of our young sons. But after we were spending time being authentic in our small group of burnt leaders, his true colors began to show. He wanted to be lord in our house and have a wife and children that were subservient and obedient, and definitely inferior, to him.

Three years ago (under very complicated circumstances with my health and our middle son’s), I asked Robert (who does computer engineering work from home) if he could work from his parent’s home (30 miles away) for about six months and give us a break from the deadly stress…and he did what I asked, but let me know that he considered our marriage over in the eye of God, and that I had been unfaithful to him by asking him to leave.

We continue on in a challenging dance of non-relational relationship. I am leaning into Father’s love day by day as I journey deeper into love with Father, Jesus and the Spirit. I am walking with our sons through this, as they are pretty mad at their dad…and blame the God their dad follows.

Just have a couple of dear friends locally who aren’t freaked out by our not “going to church”…and visiting at Robert’s church on Sundays to keep the door open. Looking forward to sharing the journey together here. Trusting Father’s love for us all.