Category Archives: Relationship

What Should a Christian Gathering Look Like? What is the Church- Continued

I’m still exploring what it is to be the church.  At this time, I am not attending a formal gathering.  I’m really not comfortable with that, but that is the direction the Lord has led me.  I still give.  I certainly consider myself part of the church.

It’s not that I don’t gather with believers.  I do.  I do not nor never have believed in “lone ranger” Christianity.  Currently I meet with other believers a couple of times a week for periods of extended worship, prayer, and listening to God.

It’s not a formal gathering.  There is no preacher.  There is no formal teaching.  People do step out in a number of ways according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Is this the church?  I believe it is.

Now there will be many that will challenge this because we don’t do an hour-long teaching when we gather.  Frankly in the case of those I am gathering with,  we are all mature Christians who spend a great deal of time studying and reading the scriptures ourselves.

Even though it’s not a one stop shop, I do consider this a gathering of “the church.”  I’m still getting comfortable with this idea because I’ve always been a part of the “one stop shop” type of gatherings before.

The interesting thing is that even though we have no “formal” teachings, our informal discussions about what the Lord is showing us in scriptures is far more lively and for me life changing than what I get from “sermons.”

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Filed under community, Relationship, The Believer, The Church

What is the Church?

I’ve been doing a lot more thinking about the church and what it is.  I’ve been a part of mega churches.  I’ve been part of house churches.  I’m just not interested in the model or form anymore.  Now my question is – are we making disciples?  Are people experiencing life together, helping one another,  and loving one another?  Do we get together and talk about the things the Lord is doing in our lives?  Do we share struggles and ask for help.  Do we really offer help?

I’ve been struck lately in John’s Gospel with the fact that Jesus goes on quite a bit about if you love me, keep my commandments… but the ONE commandment he mentions keeping is that “you love one another as I have loved you.”  He didn’t use it to talk about “the sin issues” we often get caught up in (Not saying those aren’t important by the way.) But he emphasized loving one another.

So now I’m on a journey to explore more of this.  I’m not interested in models.  I’m not interested in movements.

How do we love each other?   Correction: How do I love my brothers and sisters?  So God has me looking at ways and stepping out in ways to help my brothers and sisters.  For me,  a lot of time, it’s practical /financial.

I’m trying to help meet real needs and relieve some stress for brothers and sisters who’ve suffered loss in this recession.

I’m also working on other areas of my relationships.  I have a number of friends that I meet at various times but still on a regular basis.  There are no “leaders” but there is real ministry.  There is real transparency.   There is real relationship and love.  I think this is more the church than anything.

I hope that when I leave this Earth, Jesus will say well done.  So to answer the question,  I believe the Church is a group of believers connected to one another in love.  I don’t think it has to do with Pastors, or Elders.  Those are important, but the Church can exist if they’re not present.  But the Church does not exist without real love and real relationships.

Meanwhile,  remember one of Jesus’ last commands to his disciples.  “Love One Another.”

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Filed under Love Your Neighbor, Relationship, The Church

The Refuge – a Church doing Cool Stuff

Saturday night I visited the Refuge, a simple church that my friend Bill Benninghoff is part of.  The group started off with a meal, went to announcements then did something that really surprised me.  Instead of worship and teaching, they had a member share his story, his giftings, and his struggles.  Then the whole group ministered to him.  There were words of knowledge, some prophetic words.  There was a prophetic song, and scriptures shared and the Brother was encouraged and built up.

Kevin, one of the leaders explained that they believed they should really get to know one another.  So for the moment, each week one or two people are sharing their lives with the group.  I think this is an extraordinary idea.    Kevin explained that they are still struggling to navigate away from traditional ways of doing church into a more organic or simple model.

What I really appreciate is taht this group is really trying to get to know one another and love one another.  I am convinced that this can only result in a stronger community of faith.

The Refuge is also being very missional.  One lady, Anita, has been ministering to a family in the apartment complex, with others coming along side to help.   Two other gentlement are ministering to the homeless.  Some are ministering at a local nursing home and others are helping people by cutting lawns.  They are serving people in ways that will allow them to connect with the people they are serving.  Hopefully, it will open up the opportunity for people to share the gospel.

I was really encouraged to see this group of Christ followers dedicated to following Jesus and reaching out to people.

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Filed under community, Disciple making, Love Your Neighbor, Missional, Relationship

Come as a Child

Boy and Dad

Boy and Dad

I’ve been in a funk recently.  I am going between bouts of frustration and mild depression where all I want to do is crawl into bed and go to sleep.  Nothing in my life seems to be working or going my way right now.

(Image:KellyB/creative commons/attributions)

In my work life,  there has been a number of changes, none of which including my new shift makes me happy at all.

In ministry, I don’t seem to fit anywhere and am not bearing any fruit. 

I was supposed to teach at out Lake Como simple church yesterday- No one showed up.  I felt it was a waste of prep time and effort, not to mention a thirty mile one way drive for nothng.

I drove to  Lancaster for an outreach this weekend, but got delayed and lost and more delay.  I arrived an hour late unfortunately and everyone had already headed out to their posts.  I didn’t know where to do, so I headed back home.  That was another bunch of time about three hours and gas wasted.

I’ve been working on some projects which I hope will lead to some business opportunities.  Nothing I am doing there is working either. 

I’m in one of those places in my life that I just don’t like very much right now.  But the thing that really has me bothered is I don’t seem to know what I was created to do.  Everyone else seems to have and be secure in their “callings. and their purposes.   When I’ve taken it to the Lord (Read that as Complained to the Lord- whined to the Lord-etc), the only response I would get back was a simple affirmation,  “I love you, son.”

I had dinner with friends of mine last night and we had some good discussions.  Larry laughed at my predicament which wasn’t all that re-assuring.  After dinner on my drive home,  I felt like the Lord was speaking to me (no not an audible voice, but yet audible to my mind.) 

He said, “Son, you have one purpose and one purpose only.  You are my son and I am your Father.  Your purpose is that you are my son.”  I of course objected.  “Well, I know that.  But I’m talking about wha I’m supposed to do.” 

I felt like the Lord said that our purpose is in our being not in our doing.  Our purpose is to be “in Christ.”  Our purpose is to be children of the Most High to be in a relationship with him.  That is our highest purposes.  We will “do” things but it is always out of our relationship with him not out of our desire to be doing something.   I am not a teacher.  I am a child of God who God may ask to teach.  I am not an entrepenuer.  I am a child of God that God may ask to start a business.  My identity and purpose however is wrapped up in my identity in and relationship with God not in what I do.

I remembered the scripture saying :

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  Luke 18:15-17

The Lord reminded me that children are not wrapped up in their purposes or their plans.  They are children.  They enjoy the “now.”  They are far more interested in being with the ones they love than about what they will be doing or what their career (or calling), or purpose is.  They just enjoy being and enjoy the moment.  Little boys would much rather spend time with dad, than going out to do something to feel “productive” or “useful.”

I believe that this is a place the Lord is calling me to spend time re-discovering.  I’ve somehow lost my first love and now is the time to re-kindle it.  My prayer is “Capture my heart, Lord.  Capture my heart.” 

So, I am laying the stuff I am doing at the alter and asking the Lord what he wants me to continue doing and what he wants me to lay down.  I believe I am entering a time of just being Father’s little boy again.

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Filed under Disciplines, Relationship