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It’s often difficult for people to think outside the traditional church box

Posted by on Jun 26, 2012 in blog links, discipleship | 5 comments

It’s often difficult for people to think outside the traditional church box

If your understanding of the church falls outside the normally accepted range, then I want to encourage you to have patience with others. I encourage you to listen and to explain carefully and to focus on important aspects.

Jim at “Crossroad Junction” offers an excellent example of this kind of patience in his post “Directed Church versus Participatory Church: A Dialog.”

In that post, Jim relays a conversation that he had with one of his mother’s close friends about gathering with believers in a prison. Jim does not belittle her or get annoyed with her, even when she doesn’t understand in the end.

Here is part of their dialog:

Me: “…I have learned to sit back so they can learn to express what the Lord is doing in them and it always seems to meet the needs of those present. Sometimes I have something to share, usually along the lines of helping to create a framework for them to come forth. This morning, however, like most of the times I join with them, I said a few words as just one of the guys then sat down as they ministered to each other for an hour and half. Like usual, they also ministered to me.”

Her: Silence, then, “Oh, so you are there to make sure they don’t get off track?”

Me: “No, they’ve learned to do a really good job of that themselves. I just go to enjoy their fellowship every now and then and be an encouragement to them or maybe add some foundational input.”

If you read the remainder of Jim’s article, you’ll get a good sense of the life of these prisoners as they live as the church in their prison.

You’ll also see how carefully he answers his friend’s questions. The difficulty, of course, is that she does not understand exactly what he’s talking about because it is so outside of the categories in her thinking about the church.

So, Jim is patience, careful, and includes many explanations and illustrations.

By the way, this is also a terrific way to deal with any kind of disagreement or misunderstanding.

Great example, Jim! Thanks!


5 Comments

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  1. 6-26-2012

    Daily, I am coming to understand more and more, that I can not, nor should I attempt to convince any who are not ready to hear this Good News; freedom from religion.
    For those are ready to hear, I certainly rejoice, because Jesus came to set the prisoners free!

  2. 6-26-2012

    Marc,

    I would recommend it’s better to not push the issue, but to always be willing to explain carefully and gently to anyone who is interested or questioning… such as the lady in Jim’s story.

    -Alan

  3. 6-27-2012

    Hi Alan,
    I,too, read Jim’s blog with admiration and approval. Seems that so often that immature believers desire to reign in or manage a meeting when it is almost always best to allow the Holy Spirit to do the orchestration. My wife and I have been having home meetings for many years now and, with only a few exceptions, the meetings have been life giving and fresh bread for all those in attendance. In those meeting which were the exceptions, the meeting was hijacked by some individual or another with some sort of agenda. Whether personal or professional, an agenda (preplanned program of some sort) almost always quenches the Spirit and leads into a less than rather than a more than situation. If we allow Him preeminence within the gathering, He will meet needs. If we try to manhandle a meeting by controlling it, He cannot be who He wants to be for those who have gathered together in His name. It is just a matter of being at rest and peace and knowing that the Lord Jesus will build His church just as He said He would do.
    Blessings, Craig

  4. 6-27-2012

    Box? What box?

    It’s also difficult being in the box, recognizing that it’s a box, and then getting out of the box, especially when everyone you’re close to and love still don’t see that it’s a box, and cling to you to stay in the box.

    But, when I was ready to mature, in all humility, our Father welcomed me and made a way. When, for me, it became about Him and not the box, when I truly found my delight in Him and not others, which He tested so that I was certain, He gave me the desires of my heart.

    How could I be angry or resentful, impatient or unkind? I want what our long-suffering, gracious, and loving Father wants… that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. And wanting a good thing doesn’t remove the need to be long-suffering, gracious, and loving.

  5. 6-27-2012

    Craig,

    Thanks for the comment. Those “personal agendas” can even show up among people with the best of intentions even among those who are part of “simple church” or “organic church” or “house church.” Thank God that he is patient and continues to teach us and lead us.

    Dwight,

    I know that I can be angry, resentful, impatient, and unkind… until I repent of failing to follow the Spirit living within me.

    -Alan