Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paradigm Shift

Those of you who regularly visit this site may wonder why the postings have been so infrequent lately. There is a big reason for that. My family is in the middle of a huge transition.

For the last 19 months, we’ve devoted our lives to build something new… a church plant here in Charlotte. These many months have been filled with lots of adventure and blessing. But our involvement has clearly run its course. Last night we ended that relationship as the Lord is moving us on.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in how we arrived at this season in our lives. The most important element: The Lord has been showing me that my view of restoration truthfully is not radical enough.

Probably early in 2008, even as we began working to establish a church with a church planting ministry, I began to hear a “buzz” word circulating within Christendom: Organic. It resonated because I realized that’s how we seek to live our lives for God’s glory. As we seek the Lord and relate to people, we find ourselves connecting with other Christ followers with a kingdom vision. We also connect with people who don’t know the Lord in a way that allows them to see a glimpse of Christ in community, not by simply hitting them with a gospel message, but by opening up our home and our lives. This is who we are. So we’ve come to discover that who we are and what we do did not match up with the church system most of us are accustomed to. So we’re returning to our roots… those early days of 2008 when we met in our home for worship and meals. This is just a part of a grander vision the Lord has given us to unify His people and reach this city with the gospel.

Our greatest desire is to honor the supremacy of Christ in the church. He is the true Head, but sadly we’ve allowed Him to get lost in the temple. He gets lost in a crowded atmosphere of our structure building and religious protocols, in our consumer approach to church. While most of us would reject the idea of a single person acting in Christ’s stead, truthfully we live this way, professing a devotion to His Lordship, while living as if the true head is a human being. What does it really mean to be part of a “priesthood of believers”? I don’t know the complete answer to this, but I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of its true meaning. And I’ve come to believe that the starting place for walking out this kind of vision is for people like me who believe we are leaders to step off the stage and walk with and among God’s people.

As I’ve pondered over the years why we don’t seem to see God work in power as He does in other countries, I’ve lately been haunted by John 5:44: “ How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” This question raises many questions I will let the Spirit of God raise in your own heart. For me I’ve come to believe we as leaders make way too much of ourselves, and in the process the people we attempt to lead fail to truly connect with the true Head, in practice not just in theory. The result is the people we lead too often look to us instead of to Him to accomplish a “God vision”… something so extraordinary only He can do through us. The result is we do a lot of things even unbelievers can do and there’s little that would stir those outside the kingdom to take notice. Jesus says in Matthew 5: 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
That is the goal of Christ in community: that the eyes of the unredeemed would immediately shift heavenward. My concern is we are way too earth bound, actually religiously bound to be this light we’re called to be. It has been said that sometimes revival doesn’t come when we get a lot of new people in, but when we get some of the old ones out. I would suggest that before we can truly carry the new wine in these earthen vessels, we need to ditch some old wineskins. And the starting place probably needs to be a complete review of everything we’re doing in the church to see if it is of God and is therefore life-bearing, or whether its simply something we’ve done because that’s what everyone does.
If you have not already, I would urge you to read the “I Have A Dream” posting on this blog, and listen to the most recent message I uploaded from Francis Chan. It will give you a preview of the vision I believe God is stirring among his people. The priority is gospel in community. We don’t begin with structure. We begin with Jesus and build relationally around Him and let the Holy Spirit shape the structure. It probably won’t look like what many others are doing. And that’s a good thing because most of what many others are doing has little kingdom impact. I will have much more to say about what the Lord has been doing soon. But for now I’ll end this with a quote from G K Chesterton: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."


Debbie said...

All part of exercising some "Crazy Love"?

Ed said...

Exactly! :)