It's been over a month now since we began to revisit a more ancient version of Christian fellowship and committed surrender. We've been meeting in what looks more like a cell group than a traditional church, and we've committed our finances and time to the service of those who are in need in our group and in our community. We are not financing staff or facilities any more. Our meetings are sometimes messy and a bit disorganized. We are a bit less 'devotional' in our study of the scripture and far more analytical in the way we measure what we believe related to the world around us. We no longer see the meetings as the final expression of our faith. It's just the place where we get ready to live out what we believe.
It's much harder to measure success in this format. Clearly, it is not based on numbers or on growth in the traditional sense. It is not based on the size of our building either. In order to evaluate whether we are living as God would have us live, we are going to have to rethink much of what we believed in the past. We are finding ourselves trusting God more than before, when our systemic approach to our faith allowed us to delegate much of this to the traditional and established cultural church. It has been a crazy time for many of us, and a time when we have had to draw close to each other to seek the answers together.
Along the way, we have been hearing doubts and minor grumblings from those who are still blessed mightily by the traditional church. That has been perhaps the most difficult part of this transition for us. While we are no longer part of that institution, we still love it. We still honor it in our reflections and in our memories of how we grew in that setting. We have no evil or harsh thoughts about that time of our lives, and we certainly have no hard feelings for anyone who is still engaged in the church as we once knew it. So, it's been hard to hear criticism and misgivings about our motives or heart in this matter. Especially from people who haven't even asked us personally about our journey. We were hoping that the church would encourage and bless us, only to find that many within the church have, more often than not, done just the opposite
But we've come to understand that a move back toward a simpler form of church IS going to seem strange to many who still believe that the institution is the ONLY way one can be a Christian. That really shouldn't surprise us. It's important for us to remember WHY we would do something like this. It's important for us to remember that our desire is to grow CLOSER to the heart of GOD, not closer to our own desire for novelty or innovation. And as the months and years pass, time will tell us if God approves of our effort. Until then, it is probably premature for anyone to judge whether God is in this or not. We simply have to stay strong, keep chasing God, and stay committed to the principles for Christian fellowship that He has so clearly given us in the scriptures. That means that all of us need to understand where criticism comes from, live patiently and lovingly through such criticism, and return LOVE and PATIENCE toward those who don't yet either understand what we are trying to do, or believe that we are telling them the truth about what we are trying to do. Stay strong, finish well, keep the faith...
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