Saturday, October 07, 2006

Our church...God's Intention?

Lately, I have been having a great discussion with a new friend, Tony Sisk. Tony has exhibited lots of patience and love toward me in our dialogue on the nature of the church and the ministry/ministers thereof. I would like to here continue this discussion in greater length than really can be given in the comments section of another post.

In the comments section of a post I wrote a while back entitled "Who's the Priest", Tony pin-pointed my responses to him by saying, "It seems that you are arguing for the abolition of the traditional church model as we know it." This is a correct assessment. While this may sound harsh and a bit over-the-edge, I would like to ask you to consider the following brief overview of the situation as I see it.

As I see it, God's original intention was to have a people who could and would commune with Him. He created Adam and Eve and it seems He enjoyed walking with them "in the cool of the day". As we know, Adam and Eve (and thus the rest of us) fell and, as a result, broke fellowship and intimate communion with God. Even after all of that, God's intention did not change. As a matter of fact, God's intention has never changed. Even after the Fall, and the emergence of fallen man, God's intention still did not waver. God wanted relationship with the crown of His creation, man! The record of the Bible is the record of God bringing man back into intimate relationship with Himself.

Let's begin in the Old Testament. After the exodus, the Israelites settled into the promised land. At this time, the people denied God the pleasure of intimate relationship and instead opted for a human institution; a king. "We want a king!" was the cry heard throughout the land. While God wanted to be Israel's only king and leader, the people wanted someone else to look to when times got tough. In comforting Samuel, God said that the people had "rejected Him" as their king. Rejected Him...Wow!

Simply stated, the rest of the Old Testament is the record of the failure of a system that was set up because of man's rejection of God as her Friend and King! This system was based, not on personal, intimate fellowship with God, but instead on the mediatoral role of mere men.

Enter Jesus.

The first words out of Jesus' mouth at the onset of His public ministry were "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." What did Jesus mean by this statement...repent, and you can go to heaven when you die? I don't think so. Instead, Jesus was saying "There is a new order emerging in which God is the only King. Change your minds and trust Him as your Friend and Lord." While seemingly receptive to this idea, many people view the Kingdom of God as something that is to be, instead of something that now is. However, Jesus said that the "kingdom of God is among (within) you."

What does all of this have to do with the way we do church? Well, I believe that the current model of church (mostly unknowingly) downplays the real Lordship of Jesus and instead reduces Him to a figurehead. For all intents and purposes, the modern church has become a constitutional oligarchy. Much as the Queen is the figurehead of England yet lacking real power, Jesus is praised and spoken of as Lord, but in reality, the "head" of the local church is the "pastor" or "ministry team". While we give lip-service to the Headship of Jesus, the truth is Jesus would not even need to "show up" for most church services to function. Two fast songs, two slow songs, take up the offering, sermon, invitation, prayer...and out the door!

My friend Tony asked a good question to which I would here like to reply.


"Do you discount the qualification passages for leadership in the Pastoral Epistles? If there are no positions of leadership in the church, then what is their purpose?"

No, I do not discount the qualification passages for leadership found in the New Testament. These are valuable exhortations that, by the grace of God, we should all aspire to. However, I do not believe that there are "positions" or "offices" of leadership within the Church. Here is where I believe we have diverged from the biblical model. Instead of interpreting the passages on leadership in light of other Scripture, I believe that we have received a watered-down version of what that same leadership is supposed to be.

Jesus, in contrasting the Kingdom of God's method of operation with the contemporary religious system said:

"you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
Matthew 23:8-12 NIV


I believe that here, Jesus is establishing the rule for the Kingdom of God. That is, God is King and you are all brothers (equals). Therefore, bringing instruction into another believer's life does not necessitate one ascending to the position of "teacher". Just because God uses you at one point in time to show the Father's love to another brother does not necessitate you being their "spiritual father". This idea is echoed by John when he says:

"As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him."
1 John 2:27 NIV


Does this mean that no one will ever instruct us in the way of the Lord. I don't believe so. Instead, I think that the point of John's encouragement is that we need to learn to trust the Lord as our Teacher as opposed to relying only on our fellow brothers/sisters.

In the current model of the local church, the pastor is seen as "bringing the Word of God" to the people. Much like Moses, the pastor is supposed to seek God as to what He wants to say through the pastor to the people. The people are expected to attend at least one service each week in which they are "taught the Word" or "fed". The pastor is expected to act as the "spiritual father" to anywhere from 10-20,000 people. It is as if the temple veil was not completely torn in two. Instead of viewing pastoral ministry as one gift among many, most of the church sees it as an office that one holds; a position of spiritual authority.

This is why I think it is so critical to examine Scripture in light of other Scripture. Ephesians 4 is used many times to show the "need" for the ministry of the local church pastor. The gift of "pastor" is referred to in the same breath as "apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher". I have heard this passage used over and over again as a proof for the existence of the five-fold ministry. Yet, when we look at 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, we are given a different, yet seeminly equal list of ministry gifts. Apostolic and prophetic ministry are mentioned, but only in the same sentence as "workers of miracles", "gifts of healings", "gifts of administration", "those able to help others", and "different kinds of tongues". Guess what's missing...the gift of pastoral ministry. The emphasis in Ephesians 4 is not the individual gifts, but instead, that everyone is gifted by God! He wants to use the whole Body!

In 1 Corinthians 14, speaking of what a typical meeting of believers should look like, Paul states that when we come together:

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV


In other words, everyone has something to give! A gathering of the church should never be a one-man show!

I believe that Tony hit it on the head when he said

"The Greek makes clear that elders are those who are “out front” leading by teaching and manner of life (cf. 1 Pet. 5:1-5). Their role is to enable the congregation to make decisions that are necessary to help the body grow into maturity (Eph. 4:11-12). Jesus Christ is the only Head of the church. Leaders are “foot-washers” and servants, not only of Christ but of others. Each and every member of Christ’s body is equally important since each has been given a gift and a strategic place of ministry (1 Cor. 12-14). All competition for rank is therefore eliminated! As Jesus put it, we are all brothers, and becoming “great” means becoming a servant of all, with Christ as our example (Matt. 23)."

Leaders are not those who instruct others to do God's will. Instead, I believe that leaders are those who are caught doing God's will, and whose contagious joy in doing such causes others to do the same.

God's intention is to have a family. In this family there is only one Father (God), and only one Head (Jesus). To set up a system that tries to send one man into the Holy of Holies to bring out the word of God for the people is to deny the truth that there is only

"one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"
1 Timothy 2:5 NIV


What do you think?

19 comments:

Tony said...

Hey Raborn,

Wow! This is a great post...well-thought out...I need to think some myself before I come back and get ya...hehehe...

;-)

Tony

ded said...

Raborn, the scriptures and issues you raise here are among the core issues of why I stepped down from a position of leadership in an institutional church. At that time, I had been in that particular body for 18 years. I conservatively figured I sat through over 2000 sermons (and delivered a few of my own). I know I never heard one on Jesus' words about all being brothers and to not call anyone teacher, rabbi, leader, father. Ironic and sad that the "leadership" team I was on managed to never have a sermon on us not being called teachers or leaders!

Raborn Johnson said...

Tony,
Thanks! Come on back now ya hear?!?

ded,
Thanks for stopping by! And thanks again for those great cinnamon buns...mmm, mmmm! I myself also stepped down from a "leadership" position in the institutional church, but not because of bitterness or anger, instead because I could no longer justify seeing myself as being over any of the other brothers/sisters. We are all at different places in our journey in Christ, but these varying levels of maturity do not separate us from one another as brothers or sisters.

Tony said...

Raborn,

I'm baaa-aack...

I am glad we are having this exchange. You really have made me think, and for that I am thankful.

I have searched for a common denominator in our discussion and I think I have found it. We can bang Scriptures back and forth at one another over our monitors, but I think you and I are searching for the same thing, just in different ways. You have convincingly argued your case; yet the rub came in that I believe I can convincingly argue my position using the same Scriptures. That is where I understood that we have a common denominator we are working toward and I do not think that one is less biblical than the other. I don’t think we are arguing for the rightness or the wrongness of a particular position or even what is good, better, or best. They are both viable in God’s sight.

I think what we are both looking for is the truest expression of what the ekklesia is. You and I both see many of the same problems in the traditional church model. There are two ways to respond; either leave the system, as you and others have, or attempt to overhaul it. Both are good and right, sound and biblical. I think maybe if I identify some of the problems I have, perhaps we can see if we really do cross paths.

1. Less preaching. I currently preach once a week for thirty-five to forty minutes. Some pastors preach three times a week; here is where I think the “monolithic discourses” become troublesome.
2. Less confrontational evangelism. Door to door has proven to work but I think the more effective method is relational evangelism.
3. Eradicate youth ministry. Period.
4. Abolish the ineffective committee structure.
5. Pastors need to see what their true purpose is. (Equipping the saints.) We are servants, not John Maxwellian leaders.
6. Deacons are a body, not a board.
7. More discipleship. This is where most churches fail. Miserably.

I have been brief but I think churches could start here and would be on their way to becoming the called-out Body Christ desires her to be.

And if I may respond to ded’s statements, I am not trying to toot my own horn, but I have attempted to lead my people to see the office of pastor as just what you describe. I have indeed preached messages and taught Bible studies to that effect.

I would like to propose a change to church signs everywhere: Senior pastor: Jesus Christ; Minister: Every member; Servant of the Church: Tony Sisk, or insert pastor’s name here.

And if I could I would like to address some concerns that pop out at me about the house church method, which I am sure you have addressed already somewhere else, so I apologize for my newness in this discussion!

It seems rather insular and cliquish to me, and fairly reactionary. Also, on the issue of leadership, I am certain that there is someone whom your group looks to as “leader.” He or she may not carry that title, and even abhor it, but there is someone there who is more mature that the group I am sure looks to for guidance, especially in questions of methodology. You may not right now, if the house church is in its infancy, but eventually, as time goes on, the group will begin to gravitate toward someone to lead your group. That is the nature of groups coming together no matter the reason they come together.

Well, there you go! I hope our discussion continues, you are a blessing to talk to. This is a great blog centered around an even greater Topic!

Be encouraged,
Tony

ded said...

Tony,

I understand the concerns you voice of the small group being insular and cliquish, but consider the larger organized church as well. How often does a large church appeal to a particular race or socio-economic level? Even as those outside such categories attend the Sunday service, do folks from the minority population actually mingle with the larger group attendees in one another's homes?
Some churches may succeed in having people build relationships across social barriers of race and economics, but my experience says most do not. Being insular and cliquish is probably a function of the collective heart of the group, not a particular size of group. The small group is an excellent place for folks of varied backgrounds to meet and reach for one another across artificial social barriers. Many large churches adopt a small group meeting in addition to the large group meeting just for that purpose.

Reactionary? I can only speak for myself; but again wouldn't this be a reflection of the state of heart of the group? It is not a function of being in the small group.

When my wife and I decided we had to leave the organized group we had been in for 18 years (she for 21), it was as much of a shock to us as it was the group. We did so believing it was God's leading and we were clueless what was next for us.
In the end, I had come to disagree with a number of our group's beliefs over a period of five years. All my efforts for change or developing a different perspective went for naught. In those final wrenching months, all my brothers could say was that I was wrong. I was left with two choices: keep my mouth shut quietly dropping out of all positions of influence and authority while posturing as a supporter of the status quo; or exit the group. My wife and I both had a peace that the Lord released us from responsibility to the group. I am not a contentious man. I was being pragmatic, not reactionary. We purposely only visited other churches for a year, to prevent anyone following us out into a church split.

Much of my disagreement is with church practices developed over the last 1800 years which are not written in Scripture. What is reactionary? The use of an altar on a raised dias at the front of a gathered group was a pagan practice and Constantine reacted to pagan expectations and modified Christian worship accordingly. The addition of expository teaching, the use of the pew, the meeting time of 11:00 AM Sunday (Luther liked to sleep later than Catholic mass occurred and reacted by setting a later time for meeting), the ubiquitous sinner's prayer which entered American experience as masses of people were being converted through the Great Revival, these and more are all someone's reaction to a particular cultural reality.

Is a reaction always wrong? Is a choice always a reaction?

Steve Sensenig said...

Guys, I really would love to jump into this conversation. Both ded and Raborn know how passionate I am about this topic.

Unfortunately, I was gone today for almost 13 hours, and am exhausted. I cannot stay up long enough to type a coherent response, so I must pass on it for now.

Hopefully tomorrow?

steve :)

Raborn Johnson said...

Tony,

I really appreciate the fact that you have found a "common denominator" in our discussions. I believe that you are one who wants to see the Kingdom of God advanced, and for that I am grateful. I am thankful for your willingness to truly "dialogue" on this subject. I like your 7 statements, and believe that they might be a good starting point.

You said:

I am not trying to toot my own horn, but I have attempted to lead my people to see the office of pastor as just what you describe. I have indeed preached messages and taught Bible studies to that effect. (emphasis mine)

Here is where I start to see a problem. First of all, God's people are just that, God's people. I don't know that you meant anything by that statement, but it is indicative of the idea of many traditional pastors. Also, I believe that we can teach/preach on the equality of the Body of believers, but when one man is standing at the front of the meeting on a raised platform with 200 people facing him, expected to silently hang on every word, does this not undermine anything that could be said about the value of every member? The arrangement of the seats alone in a traditional church makes a subconcious statement to everyone present that one person is to be heard above all others.

The paradox of it all hit me after preaching myself one Sunday. I was preaching on the reality of Christ in each of us, and trying to show that as a result, we do not need to go to an anointed man, but rather each of us has the anointing of the Spirit on the inside of us which will lead us if we will allow. The dichotomy was that I was standing in front of people giving them a monolithic discourse on the fact that they did not need me to have a vibrant relationship with God! :) Things that make you go hmmmmmmm:)

As to your statement"

It seems rather insular and cliquish to me, and fairly reactionary. Also, on the issue of leadership, I am certain that there is someone whom your group looks to as “leader.” He or she may not carry that title, and even abhor it, but there is someone there who is more mature that the group I am sure looks to for guidance, especially in questions of methodology. You may not right now, if the house church is in its infancy, but eventually, as time goes on, the group will begin to gravitate toward someone to lead your group.

As to the idea of a simpler church concept being "cliquish" or "insular", I do not see how this is not rather indicative of the traditional church model. In the area in which I live, many people drive by at least 2-3 other churches on the way to a place with people who are just like them. They hold to all of the same beliefs, or like the same kind of worship music, or are at the same station in life. How is this not "cliquish"? Personally, the group with which I am currently in fellowship doesn't seem very "cliquish" or "insular" to me. I know that we have doctrinal differences, are at different stations in life, and don't all like the same flavor of music, but we have Jesus in common. I cannot remember being with a group of people who seemed to exhibit unconditional love more readily. Some people that I hardly know have actually made me believe that they are happy that my wife and I are with them.

When it comes to leadership and someone "taking over" by default, I think that this is only a problem when you grow to around 20 people. I know that church growth literature abounds with ideas to get over the "200 barrier". I personally believe that we need to be more concerned about the "20 barrier". When a group of people (in any kind of setting) grows to 20 or more people, it automatically tends toward organization. This is a necessary part of dealing with big groups of people. However, as a rule, I do not think that the local church is best described in large groups of people. Instead of adding more people, maybe the solution is to add more meeting places for believers. In a small setting, everyone has a better chance of participating (remember 1 Corinthians 14), and there is no need for a "leader" or "organizer".

I remember learning how to start a church in my church pioneering class in Bible school. In the traditional model, it takes alot of money, time, a building, volunteer "workers", sound system, etc. In the paradigm I am speaking of, the church can literally spring up anywhere, and even in a matter of days (if not hours)! I would strongly suggest you read Steve Sensenig's post entitled "Multiplication Ministry and Maturity". There are some fascinating thoughts there that could have huge implications for the discipleship that you and I both long to see.

Thanks Tony for this great discussion. You are a blessing!

ded,
You said:

Reactionary? I can only speak for myself; but again wouldn't this be a reflection of the state of heart of the group? It is not a function of being in the small group.

Well said! I think that some of what I have said here is simply echoing what you stated so well. I am thankful for your insight. It really all does boil down to the condition of our hearts and the motivations that drive us. Thanks again for adding your voice to the conversation. I look forward to hearing more!:)

Tony said...

ded,

I am trying to gain common ground here. I know that Raborn, Steve, yourself, and I are probably never going to come to a consensus on these issues. It does not mean that I want to cease interacting with you all...I just want to learn what the motivations are for your abandonment of the traditional church system (without getting bawled out ;-)). I stand to learn a lot!

If you read my second comment, and I'm assuming you did, you would see that I hold no ill against you nor Raborn about your decisions. If God has called you to a house church methodolgy, then it would be disobedience and sin for you not to proceed.

I don't believe that you are a contentious man nor have I accused you of such. I chose the word reactionary because to someone from the outside looking in, that is really what it looks like. But whenever someone upsets the status quo, of course it is going to be regarded in that way.

Traditional churches are cliquish and insular as well, but it does not lessen the fact that house churches, to someone on the outside, looks more insular and cliquish. I make no judgments about your house church; I have never worshipped there. However, if you and Raborn live near one another, my family often vacations in Boone, so a visit might be a possibility! I would love to introduce you to my children! We attended First BC Blowing Rock last time. (I wasn't impressed.)

Nor do I desire to make any assumptions about what you do in your house church; I am sure you edify and encourage one another.

I ask and comment because I sincerely just do not know. Ecclesiology is one of those doctrines that God allows us a gracious, glorious freedom and I am thankful.

And as for the history in the latter half of your comment, I don't mean to sound priggish, but the average church member has no clue about the last 1800 years of church history. So that is another reason why I say it looks reactionary. The average church member is going to look for something more legitimate, in my estimation. So that is why I say I am more for an "extreme church makeover" rather than abandonment.

I thank you, my new friend, for your testimonial.

Many thanks to you, Raborn, for allowing your blog to be this kind of forum.

Be blessed and encouraged, friends.
Tony

Tony said...

Oops! Sorry Raborn! When I hit publish, more comments popped up, so I am not ignoring your comments. But my eyeballs are closing, so tomorrow looks like a greater possibility.

Have a great evening!

Tony

Raborn Johnson said...

Tony,

You are always welcome here. Your input is valuable and always welcome. I look forward to more interaction! It is wonderful to hear from a different part of the Body! "Iron sharpens iron". :)

Dan said...

Hello everyone,

Christ did not come so that we could have church and that more often. He came so we could have life and that more abundantly. If people have spent 20 yrs in a church and still don't know who they are, then the purpose of the church is not being fulfilled. The purpose of ministry is to "edify the saints" and bring them into a "knowledge" of who they are. As for me personally, I found out more of who I am outside of what we call "church". It seems when I went to "church" I found out who I was'nt. I think it is amazing the amount of time the disciples spent with Jesus.In three and a half years of teaching, a handful of men turned the world upside down. Yet in 2,000 yrs we still live in a fallen creation. Wow! Maybe something "we" have been "doing" is the problem. I do beleive in the local church but not the local church we think of. I beleive everywhere I go I am the church and since I'm there that makes it local. I am not against gatherings of beleivers, but it should be a time of celebration not a routine of religion. I think what we have created is a bunch of stained glass cradles. People are screaming in their spirits for truth. I beleive that God is raisng up out of the dust and the ashes a remnant people who will not settle for religion and tradition, not to manifest the church but the kingdom. The church
is not the kingdom. The church was to bring us into the kingdom. I feel that God is saying that it is time for us to get off the boat. The ark has already landed in the new world. Now we can continue to gather in the boat every sunday and shut the door to world, or we can step foot in redemption and change the world. For "now" are we the sons of God. I no longer need a man to tell me that. I am city set on a hill. I am the new Jerusalem. Christ said upon this rock "I" will build my church. Don't you think its time we let him build it?

ded said...

Tony,

Nothing about your words felt like an attack. Please do not read my response as defensive. Though, in the nature of debate I was "defending" a practice of faith by responding to your words.

You used the words "insular, cliquish and reactionary." You clearly qualified that as "seems" to you, which is a fair statement of your perception.

My response was an attempt to describe for you why I don't think those words necessarily hold true for us; though we are weak humans and any failure of anykind is possible; in fact inevitable, if we seek to achieve holiness in our own strength.

I appreciate your tone and position. I respect your effort for "extreme makeover." We need not search, however, for common ground. We already have that, it is Jesus and the love He has revealed.

For myself, I have determined the Christian structure that has been standing for centuries cannot be refurbished. It is cumbersome and mostly off target much of the time. The people inside are precious and beautiful, but the forms do not meet their needs.

This is just an opinion and is not an attack on you and your efforts.
I respect your exercise of free will to offer yourself up to God in whatever way you feel lead.

I would love to meet your children! We have five and parenting is among the greatest joys I have ever known in this life.

ded said...

Oh...and, yes, there are a variety of levels of maturity within our group. People speak to the whole group from where they are, we listen and digest what we hear.


The key is to listen for the Truth of Jesus to be inside the words of the one who speaks. He reveals His mind through our group discussion. We have not as yet confronted any issues of discord or needed "discipline." We trust our Father will guide through those times with His ever constant faithfulness to reveal Himself.

"Leadership" tends to be a function of whose home we are in. The host family sets the tone and exercises the needed organization of, "Okay, let's eat. The vegetarian foods are..."

Tony said...

Raborn,

I do try to be more conscientious about the folks God has given me to serve out here in the sticks. When I refer to them as "my" people, it is more a term of affection than indicative of ownership.

Many pastors do put the churches they serve in the possessive sense...my church, my people. They are the Body of Christ; not my people really in any sense other than the fact that God has called me to shepherd them. It grates on my nerves though when I do come across brother pastors who seems to “own” the people to which God has given him care.

Granted, our areas of experience are going to bring much to bear on our understanding of these issues. I know you speak purely from experience of your own house church, as I do from the church I serve. I must confess, the folks I serve are a loving group of people who genuinely care.

Several of the statements that I have read from you and ded do sound reactionary. As I remarked in my previous comment to ded, from someone on the outside looking in, the house church does look like it has formed in response to obscured ideals or unmet expectations. For instance: Some people that I hardly know have actually made me believe that they are happy that my wife and I are with them. Obviously, this need was unmet in the traditional church setting, so to me, from the outside looking in, it looks as if you struck out to have this need met somewhere else and were willing to upset the status quo to have that need met (not that it is a bad thing, I cast no aspersions here).

I am sure you have had a difficult time establishing the legitimacy of your meetings in the traditional church’s eyes (not that it really makes any difference or that you would look to the church for approval of your meeting together, nor would I suggest it!). I would like to reiterate, I hold no ill against you or your brothers and sisters; it seems to work for you and you have a loving fellowship. Praise our God and king! I’m just trying to work all this stuff out myself.

I do still have some other concerns, so I hope I am not bogging you down. What about the leadership issue? If the simpler church concept takes off and you have a large group of people attending your meetings, what then? You wouldn’t cast them away for the sake of preserving intimacy and fellowship, would you? This is where it seems to get problematic to me and even more insular than traditional church, that once you reach a particular number either you must grow out or just simply refuse to let other folks in. This is where, in my mind, someone then must come in to exercise leadership and say we need to split into separate groups and where I see potentially that problems could arise. So it seems a “cap” must be placed to keep the house church from growing past a particular number. That seems troublesome to me.

I have not read Steve’s post you recommend, so the answers may be there. Steve, if you are reading, I’m coming for you next ;-)!

One statement Raborn, I would ask that you help me to understand: The dichotomy was that I was standing in front of people giving them a monolithic discourse on the fact that they did not need me to have a vibrant relationship with God! I agree with Robert Murray McShane. He said, “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” I do not think that one should be a pastor and not have a vibrant walk with God; that is a contradiction in terms, but then again I could be misunderstanding your point.

I have other concerns about your view on preaching, but I will save those for another time.

Honestly, my head (and heart!) is spinning. Blessings to all.
Tony

Steve Sensenig said...

Tony,

I'm enjoying your input here, and I reallllly wish I had more time to write, but I've only got 5 minutes before I have to head to another voice lesson to accompany, so I wanted to help clarify Raborn's comment!

Before I do that, let me say that you may have already figured something out, and that is that Raborn, ded, and I all fellowship together. We're not ganging up on you in any way, however, so please don't feel like it's being approached that way. But you will find a lot of similarities in what we all bring to this discussion. I just wanted to make that clear in case you weren't aware of that. And please come and visit with us sometime! We would love to fellowship with you, and perhaps the four of us can sit down and chat even more thoroughly about a lot of this in person. That would be wonderful!

OK, when Raborn said "they did not need me to have a vibrant relationship with God", what I believe he meant was "they did not need me in order to have a vibrant relationship with God.

That will completely change your perception of that comment, I'm sure! :)

I hope to write more this evening, but this will be my last chance to jump on a computer until then unless one of my students cancels on me!!

steve :)

Raborn Johnson said...

Tony,

I was actually going to clarify the same thing later today. Steve caught exactly what I was saying. I hope this helps. I have been in the middle of cleaning the house, etc. today, as my parents are coming over for a visit. I will try to comment more later this evening. Ditto for everything Steve just said!

Everybody

Thanks for all of the wonderful exchange! It is a pleasure to dialogue with you all!:) Let's keep up the great interaction!

ded said...

Tony,

Answering your concern of the house group being stuck in size:

Growth will mean multiplication of homes. The organism of church duplicates in an ever-increasing number of homes across a given territory.

Raborn Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Raborn Johnson said...

Tony,

In no way are you bogging me down, or frustrating me! I am really enjoying our interaction! Please feel free to dialogue in any way you see fit:)

Instead of responding to your most recent comment in the comments section, I would instead like to create a post out of my response. I hope that this is okay:)

I look forward to more interaction with you! Tony, you are good for each of us. You are helping us all to think through why we do what we do, and for that I am thankful!:)