If you have questions for Wayne, or would like to propose a new topic for chapter 3, you can do so here.
I think this might be more of a thought to ponder than a question. And I think you addressed this somewhat in the last podcast about the Uninfected life.
I wonder if it is almost a prerequisite for the journey, that a lot of us are on, to walk on the religious road for a time. I know there are those who are raising the next generations outside of the system. But I wonder if our journey isn’t somewhat enhanced by our time in those manicured gardens.
Maybe freedom is more valued once someone has been behind bars. I’m not sure about this one. Maybe life is more valuable for someone who has been close to death… and the analogies can go on.
I think we are where we are because of where we have been.
Ruby from Calmar, Alberta
I agree, Ruby and have been thinking along those same lines. I’ve been out of the IC for 30 years now. I was raised a Roman Catholic, went to a RC school and attended a RC church for the first 13 years of my life. I was drawn away from that and went to a very dark part of my life until someone introduce me to another Charismatic church and was very much involve with that life. A lot of what I learned from both of those places kept God alive in my heart, even during those dark years. But as I got to know Him more and more there were pieces missing. So, yes, I do think some of our time spent in those “manicured gardens” set a stage for our journey.
While it’s true that God makes use of everything in our lives, even the broken places and false trails, it is easy to understand why people think them necessary for others. But it isn’t so. It’s like when David’s heir to the throne comes through Bathsheba, you would think his failure necessary to advance the kingdom. Imagine what ol’ Uriah thinks about that.
God is so marvelous about weaving even the darker parts of our journey into the tapestry of our lives that we can’t imagine getting where we are without going down the roads we did. But that doesn’t mean the road is what he initially wanted or that there weren’t better ways. His grace is more wondrous than any of us can conceive.
If you met people who had never been down the religious road but simply discovered the life of Jesus apart from all of that, you would see that it is not only not necessary, it isn’t even preferable.
I don’t have a page number since I’m on Kindle, but you tell your story and write:
“though I wouldn’t express it in the same way today, it was during this time that I felt ‘called to the ministry’ and garnered admiration for choosing such a noble pursuit.”
My question is what do we do with those who feel “called to the ministry” if one is operating outside of institutional churches. Granted, I know we are all called to minister in some sort of way in our own daily lives and even within the five-fold ministry – and that pastor/shepherd is one of those gifts.
I had a convo with a friend about my dad retiring from 40+ years of full-time ministry and seeing the heavy burden pastors carry these days. I feel like Father God lovingly pointed out to me that what my dad had been doing all those years was so much more than shepherding (which is his actually gifting and he is amazing when he operates in that role). He was also wearing the mantle of Teacher (for 300+ people every week), Apostle, sometimes Prophet and then Evangelist. And all that is exhausting and cannot be sustained well from week to week, year to year, decade to decade.
I know that you can operate in more than one gift. However it seems to me that the role of “pastor/shepherd” in the five-fold has become so much more than it was ever intended to be in the early church.
Any thoughts on that and what my children would do with a “pastor/shepherd” gift/call on their lives if it didn’t follow the traditional model we grew up with?
I think you answered your own question in your first paragraph…daily life presents tons of situations and opportunities. It’s a bit of a brain bender, though, when we have been conditioned for the traditional categories that fit our institutional church culture.
Wayne, if you hadn’t had the church background of your parents and of your own life, do you think you would have found this new way of life sooner? Or do you think you still would be searching for it?
Hi Ron… I think Aslan said that no one knows what might have been. I really don’t know how I would have come here without the background I had, but I always see God as the major impetus of my journey and I think he is good enough to get us where he desires regardless of the circumstances around us. While I’m grateful for my heritage and how it helped ground me in Christ, it also gave me the religious tools that frustrated me for decades. The best way to answer your question Ron is to recognize SO MANY others who have found their way to a similar journey as mine without the same background. That’s what affirms the reality of all this for me. If I find myself with people who are just like me, I’m a bit suspicious. But when I find people from completely different background inside the same reality, I know it must be God.
Probably the major thing that helped me see beyond the system was being kicked out of it. I’ve often said I might still be back in that “church” I helped to plant tinkering with the machinery hoping against hope to find the right combination that would provide what I sought. Being kicked out, while brutally painful, allowed me to see into a wider world and I’m blessed to know there is no machinery that can guarantee this kind of community. It is a work of the Spirit not human methodologies…
I like Amy’s answer to this. All the gifts outlined in Paul and Peter’s writings are so much more effective when they are relational realities instead of institutional occupations. You’re right, mosaicmomma, we have actually made our pastors Christ-substitutes for people and it is exhausting for the pastors and disappointing to the people. No one can do well all that falls under that job description today. Just imagine what you dad could have done for people if he’d just loved and equipped them without having to manage an institution to contain them? That’s what Jesus seemed to demonstrate. He was a gift in the world, not the organizer of a religious system.
Yes…I both do and don’t want to imagine that because of the pain that it brings up of what feels like “wasted years,” which I know is not altogether true, but feels a bit like what “the locusts have eaten.” But I have full confidence that Father God can and does want to restore that and I see that He is already starting to bring awareness for my dad about how much he did in the name of “ministry” that wasn’t really God’s heart for him or others.
I’ll have to chew on more what it would look like for me and for future generations to “love and equip people without having to manage and institution to contain them.” I’m actually doing something along those lines now, myself. I would never refer to myself as a pastor, but I do see that I have some of that “shepherding gifting” that feel like they have run in my family for generations. Maybe I get to be the bridge to a new way of shepherding in the Kingdom. Now wouldn’t that be amazing???
I don’t see it that way at all. Many of us were (and are) just doing the best we know in the light we have. And I bet your lives touched many people even confined to that system. But now we have opportunity to find our way into a wider space and it would be sad for people to miss it if they felt like it discounts all that they did before. I know people caught in that and it is sad. We can celebrate what was as well as walk on to what the Father makes clear to us today… And caring for people was never meant to be a vocation, but a way of life for all who know the Shepherd!
Yes…very true. I have a feeling that my dad could be walking that line between shame and grace and I am going to copy these words for when the timing is right to share them with him.
Thank you so much for your insight and reminder that He uses all things and with Him nothing is wasted or invalid.
If that’s not HOPE, I don’t know what is!! Such good news for the bones for my friend mosiacmomma. Thanks wayne
Yes it is totally amazing. Amazing in ways we cannot quantify now like traditional roles…but real and tangible nonetheless…and in hindsight, downright amazing and had God’s fingerprints all over it#
I feel as though this must be true. I didn’t go to church until I was 16. I could never know then what I know now having walked in churches for 20 years. I remember going to church service and small group and there would be this deep tiny voice asking is this really all there is? I couldn’t explain it. As long as I did the Sunday thing I could measure my progress. Or know when something went wrong it’s because I didn’t do this or that. Having a relationship with God knowing that He loves me not because of the things I’m doing for him is foreign to me. I am told I’m saved by grace but really there is a lot of extra stuff that should be there. We are taught to do the things that have been set in place by the IC. I have NEVER fit into any of those things. The stuff that is set up for women to do is just stupid. I’m not a mindless idiot. I was always told that if you ever left the IC your faith would fail and God would be gone. I have experienced some of the loneliest times in the IC. I have also been experiencing super lonely times out of it. Yet I am not hopeless. I have had to face some questions. Do I really know God or do I know the system and rules? Do I even really KNOW who God is? The religious leaders thought they did and missed Jesus standing right in front of them. Freedom is a threat to the IC. You can’t get the tithes and building projects if people have freedom.
Everything in this world is a system. If everyone does the system there is no threat. If you go outside the system it forces others to ask questions and wrestle with their faith and that’s inconvenient. God can meet us in the IC and out of it. Sometimes there are those who can’t function outside of fences. Or they just can’t respond to the whisper of God because the voices of the IC are so loud. Maybe they don’t know they can think something different. This is all knew to me even though I have questioned much over the last 20 years. I just didn’t have anyone I could go to until a couple years ago.
One thing I am pondering…I sense the truth in so much of what I have read in this book. The true church is to be found in our personal journeys with Jesus and in our relationships with those He brings our way. However, one thing I have found that our IC does well is to engage children on a weekly basis with the gospel and its relevance. The focus is on engaging and equipping parents to grow in their roles as the spiritual “leaders” in their own homes. Each summer, we have a big Summer Kids’ Week (VBS in the olden days) and draw hundreds of children, who often are the impetus for their parents coming to church to learn more about God. In what ways can a non-IC community/individual reach out to kids and their parents? Maybe a broader question has to do with growing disciples. I am reading your book chapter by chapter, so maybe these questions are addressed later.
I’m glad to hear your congregation does it well. Many just use the Bible and God to pound kids with conformity ethics of obeying their parents or trying to be good. I think kids are better nurtured in families not institutions, and if families will look out for others and invite others into it as well so they an learn together how best to disciple kids, then it benefits every one. Most parents just abdicate their children’s journey to the institution and no longer are the primary source of teaching their children about Jesus and learning to walk with him. To me that’s a better place, but I’m not against more structured outreaches to help kids on a better journey and touch their families as well. I’ve seen out-of-the-box families get together and provide similar Kids’ weeks, or even a weekly Bible focus. Those are always as good as the people behind them anyway, no matter how structured it is or what curriculum is being used.
Gadiela…I feel like this has been my journey of late too. As a pastor’s kid and born into multi-generational church ministry family, I know all the stated and unstated rules of conduct. But knowing and operating out of that knowledge never brough me joy or freedom.
I so agree with this too. I have seen that in the last few months as friends and family have a distinct fear for us and our “falling away.” As much as we like to think we operate in freedom, for many it is terrifying. Thus the choice to go back to the cell and shut the door – that is no longer locked, but just as imprisioning.
Wow…this really helps with my own insecurities of pulling our children away from the comfort of the group they have been raised in. They have friends there and it’s what we know. They are confused by our leaving and we are walking through that.
But this reminds me that we did abdicate a lot of the teaching to the children’s pastor and Sunday School teachers. They do have a good foundation and Bible knowledge, but I’m seeing holes in their theology and their knowledge about knowing the Father intimately.
We have already experienced this in our decision to home educate our children. We pulled two of them out of their school four years ago. I think this journey out of IC will be similar as we grow to understand once again just how important our role as parents is to their spiritual journey and formation and that we are equipped to lead them and we have Holy Spirit to help us all through the rough patches as we navigate them.
I’m not sure where this notion comes from that we are better off in a broken institution than on our own. It’s a tough one to fight against and reject.
Interesting perspectives all. I will add this. I grew up in a very conservative southern baptist home. My wife and I are both PKs. We were drug to every church function and “revival” that you can imagine. I must have sat through more Sunday school classes and sermons and youth group meetings than most people get in a lifetime. Honestly, I can’t remember the point of A SINGLE lesson, sermon, teaching, etc. I paid attention, I took notes but nothing stuck.
I remember my mom crying herself to sleep one night because she was so exhausted and she had to be awake at 5:00 again the next morning to go back to work because we needed the money to pay bills. She gave herself sacrificially for our family time and time again and taught me more about love than a million sermons ever could.
In the end I think the life of Jesus manifested before us by our parents is what really molds and shapes us and not an endless parade of systemic manipulations.
My 12 year old daughter recently attended (with one of our relatives) a well known church in our area that hosts a lot of children’s outreaches. When she returned home I asked her what she did in Sunday school. “They threw rice at us.” She replied. “Rice?” I said.
“It was supposed to be lice.” She said.
“Lice? Really?” I asked. “Why?”
“We were learning about the plagues in Egypt.”
"Well, what did you learn about God in this lesson"
"I don’t know. They didn’t explain it very well."
Add the fact that after that enlightening experience she was forced to sit through a boring sermon that had even less impact than the Sunday school lesson and it’s no wonder so many walk away from IC when they leave home.