Hello all! We’re here with a special Friday post to hopefully clear up some possible misunderstandings that can happen when we communicate 21st century style, aka short snippets of information. There is absolutely no way to fully communicate anything in an 800 word blog post, and frankly, we don’t try. If you want to know our full thoughts on anything, keep reading our blog for quite a few years and maybe by then we will have begun to round out some things. Or if you are wondering about something specific you can just ask, like Tony did in the comments on Wednesday’s post. Instead of responding in the comments, we decided to write a post because 1. we knew our answer was gonna be lengthy and 2. we felt that others might want to participate in the conversation.
First, we both met Jesus while in an Institutional Church System and spent the first 10 years of our marriage in “full-time ministry” within the ICS, and we did experience Jesus personally there. We have many family members who still attend an ICS, and we know that they love Jesus like many others who attend an ICS. However, we now believe that the Lord is after so much more than can be experienced within an ICS. The hierarchical structure, clergy-laity divide, performance-driven services, individualistic focus, business model, and mainly man-centered messages all go against the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our desire is for the Lord to have everything that He gave His life for, not just what we’re comfortable giving. Please know that within our hearts there is a very distinct divide between our brothers and sisters within the ICS and the ICS itself. We embrace all believers on the ground of Jesus Christ alone, no matter our theological disagreements.
Second, we are convinced that we do not have the market on Jesus Christ or the Eternal Purpose. The churches we are connected to are not the “only true churches”. Ugh. The thought makes us sick to our stomachs. We do believe that they were given a foundation of Jesus Christ and His Eternal Purpose, but if you were to visit one, (and you are welcome to do so) you would find it made up of very imperfect people. None of the churches are expressing Christ fully and completely, as we are all still “in process”, so we are sorry if we unconsciously gave that impression. And will they choose to continue standing firm on the foundation of Jesus Christ? Only time will tell. We can say that we have seen a greater expression of Jesus Christ than we ever imagined through the group we are a part of, and that the New Testament has literally come alive through our experience. It is no longer our moral manual but it is our history, and we have much in common with the saints in those letters by way of experience. It is also our hope that there are many groups around the world who are functioning under the headship of Christ and expressing his Eternal Purpose, whether or not we ever know about them or they ever know about us.
Third, we write this blog because we have a desire to, which we believe is from the Lord. Our intention is to write for those searching for something more than what they have found within the ICS, and those who are currently meeting with others outside of it. If you are content within the ICS this blog might not be for you. While we sincerely do not seek to consciously offend anyone, when writing about Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, we inevitably will. Our greatest hope is that we can all meet in, on, and around the person of Jesus Christ, Himself.
And finally, to directly address Tony’s comment:
I (R.C.) wrote the blog post out of a desire to address the idea that “organic church” isn’t just another method of “doing church”. What was in my heart was the fact that another methodology of church isn’t worth leaving the centuries old status quo. That does, I believe, add to the divisive nature of denominations. Isn’t that at the heart of denominations? “I don’t agree with your theology, and I’ve got a better angle on the Lord, so I’m gonna do this thing this way.” “I believe in free will, and you believe in predestination, so we’ve got to worship separately from one another so we can listen to a message customized to our way of thinking.” “We use a choir and pipe organ, and you use a worship rock band, so we’ve got to worship separately so we can sing the music we like the way we like.” “We don’t have a pastor, but you do, so I’m right and you’re wrong, and we’ve got to worship separately so that we can satisfy our own preference.” What kind of nonsense is that? The “rubbish” I sought to address was simply the “rubbish” of a method, a system, a way to do this thing called church – even the “method” of “organic church.”
Over the past several years, we’ve come across many folks who see “organic church” as simply another method of doing church, or worse yet, the “right” method of doing church. I was trying to convey that I didn’t leave one method for another. “Organic church” isn’t God’s stamp of approval on His Body. To get caught up in the “mechanics” of “organic church” is to get caught up in a slightly different version of a religious system. I have just about every grievance with the religious system and those who seek to use its power of authority, division, and law. I have no grievances with those genuinely seeking the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom. In inserting the excerpt from Sparks’s article, I was merely attempting to compare Paul leaving his religious system for Christ with us leaving our religious system for Christ. I had no desire to attack brothers and sisters. I didn’t necessarily want to attack the system, either, but when comparing the manmade system to the inexhaustible glory of the fullness of Jesus Christ, then I can see where some might see it as an attack. There really is no comparison.
This is plenty long and doesn’t make for light weekend reading, so I’ll digress. I do hope to answer other specific points raised in the comment, and in others as they come along, in future blog posts, but I defer that to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I had a strong pressing to write More Than a Method, and now I can see how He is using it in some small way. I had no ill-will in my heart or mind toward brothers and sisters as I was writing it, and while I can’t control how people take what’s written, I shall continue to take my heart before the Lord and ask Him to search it before writing.
Thank you for being willing to dialogue with us. We don’t claim to have all the answers. We do claim to have seen a glimpse of Eternal Glory, and we write from that ongoing, growing, progressing, evolving, developing experience. Though we are complete in Christ, we still have to walk that out here on the earth. We may get some things wrong as we go along, but He is gracious with us, and we ask that you will be, too. 🙂
In Love and Grace,
Bridget and R.C.