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For my organic church friends: Would you be willing to attend a traditional church, indefinitely, to impact another person’s life?

Posted by on Aug 30, 2012 in blog links | 35 comments

For my organic church friends: Would you be willing to attend a traditional church, indefinitely, to impact another person’s life?

Stephen at “Sword of the Kingdom” has written an excellent post called “A Challenge to the Organic Church.” Actually, Stephen didn’t actually write the post. Instead, he published a conversation that he had with someone else.

Now, you should know, this is a very long post. However, it is well-worth the time it takes to read it, think about it, think about it some more, and ask God what he would have you do about it.

While the person agrees with Stephen about “the overwhelming ‘structural hindrances’ and negative inertia inherent in traditional church or institutional church (IC) settings that hinder God’s kingdom from coming forth as God would desire.”

But, he offers the following “caveats” that we should all consider:

The question to ask upon finding one’s self outside an institutional meeting construct should be:

“Father, to what people or peoples, have you relationally assigned me, in this season of my life, for their benefit and mine?”

That question removes the whole matter from meeting style, structure, likes and dislikes, convictions, etc., and actually lets the Lord . . . be Lord. Indeed, He might give us the freedom to pursue “getting out of the parking lot!” Then again, He might not. He might assign us to a meeting structure and format that is very distasteful and unsatisfying to ourselves, for another’s benefit. Sounds like covenantal kingdom living to me.

In short, there’s no getting around being Spirit-led sons and daughters, under lordship and on relational assignment.

And, he asks the following question of his “organic church” friends: “Would you be willing to attend a traditional church, indefinitely, to impact another person’s life?”

That is definitely a question to consider… how would you answer it?


35 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-30-2012

    Of course I would if it was something that had to be done.

    But I need to ask a question on top of the question you ask…

    Why would someone have to attend a traditional church to make a relationship work? I need an example.

    Can you not have a loving relationship regardless of how you are structured?

    Swanny

  2. 8-30-2012

    Swanny,

    The person who wrote that post (which Stephen published) does a great job of stepping through some of those issues. The point he makes is that if God leaves it up to us, without a specific direction, then yes, by all means, gather together in the way that you believe is best. On the other hand, what if God chooses to send you into a different situation (such as gathering with an institutional church)?

    -Alan

  3. 8-30-2012

    Yes, if a need can be satisfied by me gathering with a traditional church then I would go to help fill that need.

    What confuses me is coming up with a reason that I would have to attend a traditional church service to help a person in need or to build a relationship with them. Can that not be met just living life?

    Does anyone have an example on where you needed to attend a church to help another person?

    I do not agree with the structure of the traditional church, but that does not mean I do not love the people that attend services, and it does not mean I will not help them where there is a need to fill.

    Just a tad confused.

  4. 8-30-2012

    For those who will not let go of the imposter “church”, (the Denominated, steepeled, oblisked, Christ headship usurping, old covenant, building focused,incorrectly named, bible worshiping, authoritative prostitute Institution) you are obstacles of true repentance (changed minds). Perhaps, the religious spirit behind church has you, and you are so hooked, intrenched so deeply that you may never get free. Thereby you are an accessory to the defamation of Christ after the fact.

  5. 8-30-2012

    I could, and do, but it’s not exclusive. Both my wife and I are discipling people who prefer to attend traditional church. We don’t feel the need to attend with them every Sunday. We get together other times. After all, how shallow would our friendship be if it was threatened by not attending every Sunday morning meeting with them?

  6. 8-30-2012

    Dan – That is exactly what I am talking about

  7. 8-30-2012

    Dan,

    That sounds like a great idea! Actually, I know many people who do exactly the same thing.

    -Alan

  8. 8-30-2012

    I’m part of an organic church precisely so that I can impact other people’s lives.

  9. 8-30-2012

    Eric,

    I believe a more relational form of meeting together (i.e., organic) is healthier and allows us to impact one another’s lives more as well. The author of the post that I linked to would agree with us. He’s asking a little different question. What if you knew that God wanted you to take part in an institutional church so that you could impact a specific person (or perhaps you don’t even know why he wants you among that group)? Would we be willing to do that?

    -Alan

  10. 8-30-2012

    Alan,

    How would you know “that God wanted you to take part in an institutional church.”?

    When I look in scripture, I see something altogether different that what generally occurs in the institution. How would I know or even think that God wanted me to be a part of something completely different from what He has given us as a model in the bible?

  11. 8-30-2012

    Eric,

    First, we see in Scripture that God often directly guides his children. Second, I don’t see the question as either/or – i.e., it’s not either gathering organically or gathering institutionally. If you haven’t yet, read the original post. The author explains his concerns very well.

    -Alan

  12. 8-30-2012

    While there were some valid points, Stephen’s post contained a severe logic error and lacked Biblical support. I agree that leaving the institution doesn’t solve every problem and doesn’t make one better than a fellow Christian who belongs to an institution. The logic error is that the author seems to assume that many (most?) Christians who leave the institution believe that “my way is better than yours” and are doing “the same thing in a different location.” That may be true in some cases, but the author seems to be overlooking the possibility that most people that leave the institution do so–not because they’re more comfortable “having church” in their living room–but because they do not wish to align themselves with an organization that has embraced dangerous, unbiblical practices. Practices such as artificially inserting human authority between Christ and the body, recruiting unbelievers and “unchurched Christians” alike with marketing schemes and gimmicks, and making a “worship service” the focus of the gathering–all of which turn a relationship into a religion.

    Some of my closest friends belong to institutional churches and I have no problem fellowshipping with them. But asking someone to align themselves with an organization that they know embraces practices that are contrary to the Bible is simply wrong.

  13. 8-30-2012

    Our family left the traditional church about twelve years ago, we been in a few different styles since than, even alone for two years. now we are meeting with a group of people that we love and are loved in return. Our ideas are far apart but we have the same enemy, They are willing to listen and receive our input.I think if more would get out of the system they would see more clearly what needs to be fixed.

  14. 8-30-2012

    Norm,

    The author says that he’s writing specifically to those who claim “my way is better than your.” He doesn’t say that all of those who prefer more organic types of gatherings are doing that. When he says they are doing the same thing in a different location, he specifies that he’s talking about people who leave certain types of meetings without dealing with the heart issues involved.

    Some of my closest friends belong to institutional churches as well.

    -Alan

  15. 8-30-2012

    Mark,

    Thanks for the comment. While I think it’s good to recognize that we have the same enemy, I think it’s even more beneficial to recognize that we have the same Lord.

    -Alan

  16. 8-31-2012

    Wow! I read the post by Stephen and its parent post yesterday and thought it did a very good job of suggesting it you were DOGMATIC about the machinery (or lack thereof) you might be needing to rethink things, but the comments here reveal that there are folks who…due to past hurts(?)…go ballistic at the very idea. When that happens, I would suggest there is still work for the Holy Spirit to do there!

  17. 8-31-2012

    To take a quote from, “A Challenge…”

    “One problem I see is when we turn liberty for personal freedom into a dogma of methodology for all, we are in error, and often adversarial at the same time: “Those horrible institutional people are ‘doing church wrong’ and we are ‘doing church right,’” sort of mindset that infects non-traditional environments like a venereal disease. It is anathema to the spirit of Christ.

    The things that hinder God’s kingdom are beliefs/thinking and methods/expression, not the type of meetings we might do. The hindrances are heart issues, not “structure of meeting” issues. Structure just reveals what is in the heart. If I leave the IC, but the values and thinking of the IC are in me, I will just bring those values into a smaller venue. Nothing has changed. A contagion has just been localized. It will incubate and infect again . . . it is just a matter of time.

    It is about VALUES, not VENUES. It’s always about the heart. It seems to me that God’s field of endeavor is the heart, not how a meeting is conducted, the size of the meeting, nor the place of the meeting. All those are flexible to the purpose at hand.”

    This explains in words better than I had tried when I warned of the “us” versus “them” mentality. We are all us. What the organic/simple/New Testament gatherings are doing is excellent. But, just because some of us go to more organizational churches does not mean we love Jesus any less. We hear from God and go where God tells us to go.

    My family and I used to go to a small church that in our last five plus years of going there (we were there for 20 years), deteriorated into a Shepherding cult. We were seeing things go wrong for a while, but did not leave. Why? God did not release us to do so. When the time came, we knew. Now, we are part of what is considered a mega-church, which, for those who attend organic churches, is the ultimate afront to what the function of a church should be. However, unless you experience our church and meet the people – including our very approachable pastor – , you would not know the values, hearts and goals of all there. It is very different than any mega-church I have experienced or known about. As it is, we are there because that is where God wants us…at least for now. I may not fully agree with all they do, but I do love their hearts, attitudes and the way they treat people. The rest just kinda doesn’t matter after that.

    So, here it is…I am part of the same Body of Christ, the same Kingdom, the same Church…as you – or, as I learned while living in the south…all y’all. How? Same King, same Lord, same God.

  18. 8-31-2012

    Tom and John,

    Yes, I think you both caught the point that the author was making in his post.

    -Alan

  19. 9-1-2012

    Galatians 6:15
    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

  20. 9-1-2012

    Matt,

    Are you including “organic” and “institutional” in that?

    -Alan

  21. 9-2-2012

    I am actually preaching in a institutional church once a month. I never thought it would happen, but it is the season the Lord has me in right now. It is a very conservative, very rigid church, but the Lord has me there preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, Salvation, the completed work on the Cross, and the Father’s Love. They need pure milk, and I will do my best to give that as long as they keep on asking me back.

    My wife and are also a part of an “organic” church, so to answer the original question, in a way I am already doing that … and in a way I am not. Hey I’ve never been known for doing things “normally” 8-)

  22. 9-2-2012

    I think I see it…it is not about the physical structure, whether it be pews or a comfortable sofa. It is about the heart of the people – the new creature(s). Is that a fair assessment?

  23. 9-2-2012

    Kevin,

    That sounds like a very interesting experience. I’d love to hear more about it.

    John,

    I think it’s about the heart of the people, including our heart.

    -Alan

  24. 9-2-2012

    Yes Alan, I am referring to IC and organic. We are sons working Father’s farm and we should be getting our instructions from Him as to which part of the field our assignment is.

    To Eric…I’ll expand a bit more on Alan’s response of how to know where to go. Jesus said for us to go into all the world but yet we see that when Paul was endeavoring to go into Asia (which is in the world) the Holy Ghost forbade him to go. My point is that specific direction is available. We are called to live by faith and faith comes from hearing HIM. We have not been left here as a bunch of orphans. Scripture tells us to go into all the world but it doesn’t tell us where in the world to go.

    I have to agree with Tom Schultz. There are a lot of hidden wounds revealing themselves in these responses.

  25. 9-2-2012

    Matt,

    I agree… which “part of the field” is important, and we can learn something about that also by considering the people that God brings into our life.

    -Alan

  26. 9-3-2012

    I found the challenge, or the supporting arguments to be a little confusing.

    “It is a matter of heart condition, not seat location.”

    Okay, so why do I have to go to a meeting “indefinitely” again to meet the challenge? The argument seems to imply there is nothing contrary to scripture happening in this missional meeting we are to attend “indefinitely”, so that the question is simply, can I give up my “latent idolatry of method” for a different “latent idolatry of method”. Well, why not, one idol is as good as another right? Stephen looks to be somewhat older than me. One of my issues is do I include bringing my young children along, cringing at false teaching/practice, knowing you have to correct this at least for your own family on the way home since you are not allowed to interact in the meeting, then explaining why you say you believe in the instructions in scripture, but don’t do anything about it while going to these meetings “indefinitely”? Some will say then that my family has become the idol.

    I do not believe God would have us in meetings of the church(in homes or otherwise) where we know professed believers are behaving contrary to scripture and have us not do a thing about that. To use Stephen’s example of Moses, God didn’t call Moses to go back to Egypt and be a Hebrew slave again and keep making those bricks and eat the garlics and leeks. Confronting Pharaoh is a whole ‘nother matter. It won’t be popular. By many it won’t be received. If God is not in it, it would mean death.

    I am struggling with this right now. We are going to be moving to a new community soon. We have a desire to meet our neighbors there and fellowship with believers, so one immediate thing we are trying is to attend some church meetings in the area before we are able to move onto our land. Many small assemblies in the area of the same denomination. One troubling practice in these meetings is an intentional time of the men praying out loud simultaneously. This is bewildering and has the exact same effect as speaking in tongues with no interpreter – there is speaking with no understanding (even though in English) and anyone walking in on that would think they are crazy. Are we willing to go back? Yes. Indefinitely without bringing up 1 Cor. 14? I don’t see how I can and say I love those people as brethren. I don’t know yet when or how. I don’t yet have the grace (strength) for it. Will I participate in this practice, knowing it is contrary to scripture? Absolutely not. Can I encourage some of their other edifying participatory practices (singing & testimonies)? Yes.

  27. 9-5-2012

    Eric,

    I think the question assumes that your brother/sister in Christ is part of a more institutional church and relates to people in that context. Like I said earlier, I would think the institutional church gatherings would not be the full extent of your interaction with that person, but it may need to start there.

    -Alan

  28. 1-31-2013

    Yes I would as I believe not every church is Christian but there are Christians in every church.

  29. 1-31-2013

    Ken,

    I think I understand what you mean, although I personally wouldn’t use the term “church” to describe a group of nonChristians. By the way, thank you for sharing so many of my tweets!

    -Alan

  30. 1-31-2013

    If God is asking, I will do absolutely anything he wishes. Even if it makes me uncomfortable. But I think he wants me happy too and knows my heart, and I think he would ask it of me only if it blessed me as well. He has my best interest in mind just like every other Son or Daughter.

  31. 2-3-2013

    Katie,

    I suppose it depends on what makes you happy, right?

    -Alan

  32. 2-6-2013

    I think that overall happiness is a choice, but with that said, I do think even if something is hard or makes you uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. I don’t think it is God’s desire for me to be miserable while trying to bless someone else. I may have hard times, I may struggle, I may not always get it right, but I think that God knows what we can handle, and he will only ask of us what we can handle.

  33. 2-6-2013

    Katie,

    I’m guessing it would depend on a person’s perspective and definition of happiness. I also think that God often calls us to do things that are impossible for us to do – on our own.

    -Alan

  34. 3-29-2013

    The thing about all this, “would you do if” Father led you to, is that it is rather irrelevant. What I mean by that, is that when Father leads us to do something, then He provides the means to do it. An elderly and dear friend, whom I love very much, asked me to go with her to sit with her to be serviced on Sunday morning. I really didn’t want to go, not at all. But, I was led to go with her and so I did. We sat on the bench near the stage. As I looked around, I looked upon the faces of the people, so beautiful and precious, but the whole time that the man on the stage gave his speech, I felt like crying and at the same time, I felt nauseous. I had a constant and overwhelming urge to jump up and run out of there, but I could not. I love my dear elderly friend, and I was supposed to experience that for a reason. On that day, my heart grew bigger, bigger in His compassion for those who are in the businesses and also for His eternal purpose in Christ. I don’t want to go back, but if Father tells me to, I will. Sometimes, He leads us where we would rather not go.

  35. 4-2-2013

    Kat,

    Those are exactly my thoughts as well. Thank you.

    -Alan

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