Diversified Church

I took the video clip in my last post from a site called Recycle Your Faith which bills itself as a place to find “weekly videos for spiritual explorers.”

Intriguing…I’ll start following that site.

This fellow, Chad Estes, the guy on the clip, is from Boise. Apparently, he’s a former pastor of a fairly large congregation, but decided to, as his blog tag-line says, go on “a journey from fear to love, from rules to relationship, and from religion to freedom.”

He is not alone in that. Lots of people have begun to question their understanding of the church and finding their questions leading them to places they never expected to go. Many are amazed to find that there is living, active, relational faith outside of organizations and buildings. Moreover, they are discovering anarchy and heresy aren’t the inevitable outcomes of journeys off the well-worn path, or at least any more so than in the inherited structures of our parents and grandparents.

What I’ve discovered on that journey (we started meeting almost exclusively in homes in 1990) is that the real joy in following Jesus is in the relationship. Early on, I thought that meant that there needed to be a “clean break” from the traditional, but as the adventure unfolded I realized there was a flaw in that thinking. Breaking relationship can hardly be considered a good way to deepen fellowship within the body of Christ. Consequently, as we pursued the “simple church” course, we realized that if we kept our attitude right we could encourage our brethren in the more structured world, even as we deepened relationships outside it.

What I think I see happening now, is diversification. It isn’t “either-or” when it comes to church community, it’s “both-and”. Whereas, in the early days, we had to talk persuasively to convince people we weren’t a protest against the traditional church, nowadays there seems to be a growing understanding that the message of the gospel can—even must—be delivered on multiple channels. Furthermore, bricks and mortar needn’t create a Bastille. Buildings may serve a community; they don’t have to confine it. When buildings contain systems that control, dominate, and confine the followers of Jesus, they might better become real estate—galleries, coffee shops and bookstores. But when they shelter a community of faith; one that meets by love, mutual respect and gracious interdependence, such places become a light in the city.

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