My announcement last week has caused more than a little stir among the people we know (and I'm sure some raised eyebrows) ... here in Charlotte and across the country. For the record I first want to say that I am in a place of peace, freedom, joy and anticipation as we enter this new season of our lives. I am not full of disappointment or at a place of mourning. The Lord has released us to freely worship Him and build His kingdom, without the encumberances of stubborn structures and religious bureaucracy. We're eager to get on with... LIFE! And what is life but "knowing Him and making Him known"?
I will lay out more details on the vision the Lord has put upon my heart in the coming days, weeks and months. But today I'm anxious to share a message a longtime friend sent to me today on facebook. I've known this friend since high school. In fact, he was a co-conspirator who helped to start a Friday night student fellowship and a daily bible study at our school. Today he's serving in full time ministry, and I'm betting what I'm about to post here is the cry of many other men serving as he is. I'm not using his name for obvious reasons, but please listen to his heart as you read. And I'd love to get your feedback on his remarks, whether you are a pastor or member of a traditional church.
A little background: he begins by addressing my transition from one church planting ministry to another back in 2008, before speaking of where we are now:
Hey, Ed! Very interesting!!
Actually, I wondered a bit why the move just to a new denomination/ movement. You're more radical than that!:) No, it takes a lot of courage to do what you're doing, but I believe in it with all my heart. My desire is not to start a new denomination/group/whatever, but as you say, to return to the organic New Testament church. Love that word, too. Being the living body of Christ rather than doing church.
Here's where I am, and I'm torn. I believe God called me to pastor, and I believe I've followed the path He's laid out for me, the best I understand it, so far. But there is the tension with, even in good, loving, ministering churches like the ones I've served, the pressure you feel to do programs and come up with attendance strategies rather than just developing the relationships God has called us to and seeing lives redeemed and eternally changed by the power of Christ and Him alone. Do I still feel called to be where I am? Yes! Do I believe God will always have me in a "professional" pastoral position (even though I refuse to consider it such, I realize the world sees it that way)? I'm not at all sure. Do I pray (and hope you and others will pray with me) that this church will find the ministry God has called it to and begin to see lives changed in powerful, miraculous ways? Absolutely! But do I also want you to pray that God will show me how to follow the passion I have for organic body-life if there's a better way to do it? CERTAINLY!!!
I do appreciate your prayers and look forward to seeing how God carries you on your journey. PLEASE give me all the details you can share. I am ever open to God's leadership to be a part of His church in a more authentic, Scriptural way. I would be surprised if I did not spend the last years of my church life in house churches with no ambition of building a building or becoming recognized by any earthly organization, but God is often full of surprises! So my path right now, the best I can understand it, is to give all I can to this body and to pray and work to lead it to be a truly organic "house of love" for the local community and beyond. But I'll be watching you! (No, not like the old Police love/stalking song!:) I look forward to learning more about how God leads you, Brother. PLEASE keep me up to date, and I'll be praying for you and for your family as you follow this new path. God's richest blessings to you all!