I have likely done Donald a mis-service by only sharing my favorite quotes from a long post he wrote here which is all good and worth reading in its entirety.
Nevertheless, here are a few of those 'sound bites' that stood out to me from "Why I Don't Go To Church Very Often:"
I’d say half of the most impactful people I know, who love Jesus and tear up at the mention of His name, who reach out to the poor and lonely and are fundamentally sound in their theology, who create institutions that feed hundreds of thousands, do not attend a traditional church service. Many of them even speak at churches, but they have no home church and don’t long for one. They aren’t wired to be intimate with God by attending a lecture and hearing singing (which there is NOTHING wrong with) they are wired to experience God by working with Him…
The point, though, is this: Jesus engages people inside and outside the church. It’s almost as though He sees the church as one, without walls, denominations or tribes. I’m starting to see the church that way, too…
Today, many churches look like night clubs complete with pastors being piped in on video. It’s quite brilliant and I’ve no problem with it, it’s just not my thing. I don’t like night clubs. And I don’t like lectures and I don’t emote to worship music. And I still love Jesus. It’s shocking, but it’s true. That said, let’s stop using the word “Biblical” as some sort of ace card when it comes to how church should be done…
I do think church can evolve beyond a lecture/worship/performance institution, but the current leadership is unlikely to make that happen. When and if the church evolves, it will evolve from outside the current leadership and that evolution will pose a threat to existing tribal values as well as financial systems that are sustained by the current model…
… I’d argue that by making the church smaller, less formal, less organized, less institutionalized and more like the chaos of a family structure, the church would be moving MORE toward the historical church in ACTS and less like a culture-formed institution by deconstructing itself. Though I hardly consider that a God-given decree.
Interesting quote. It helps put some things into perspective. If you are reading this blog you are probably on a wonderful, current-day adventure in your spiritual and ministry life. You are an adventurer.
It's an interesting perspective to consider that so many who have gone before us, whom we describe as "traditional," were adventurers in their day. The masses tend to follow the adventurers and, within time, that which was new becomes a routine, a liturgy, a program, or just something to do that was once exciting. Taking an adventurous experience and reducing it to something repeatable for others turns it into a tradition. The adventure of listening to and following THE Adventurer gets lost.
However, this quote reminds us to reflect on the many adventurers that are sprinkled throughout our traditional heritage. Remembering that our "traditional" heritage is also made up of extreme-sports type rock climbers can remind us to honor them for the courage they had and encourage us to press on in the adventure we are having in our day.
Why waste time worrying about those who don't understand adventure and look for safety by turning all-out-life-with-God into something routine, predictable, religious, and un-relationship-like. Instead, let's keep our eyes on the top of Everest-- where we are headed-- and enjoy the company of the Adventurers-- past and present.
I received the following email from Mike Lyons several years ago that bears repeating:
In my past life, as a pastor of a traditional church, I felt the responsibility to hear what God is saying and to pass that word along to "the people." Of course, God's word is always God's word and it will always bear fruit. But how much more fruit is available when every Christian discovers his/her gifts and his/her ability to hear the "rhema"-- the living Word through the written word-- and to be able to share those gifts and His word with one another.
The shifts the responsibility for hearing from God to each person-- to everyone-- and that takes some getting used to. But what an explosion can take place as the church worships and listens. Jack Deere (Suprised by the Voice of God) shares this:
The New Testament church was not only the dwelling place for the presence of God, it was also a learning center for the language of the Holy Spirit. People not only worshipped God in church, but they were equipped to hear him, and after hearing God, they were able to give something to someone that would build them up.
In preparation for this, Jack challenges us to consider why we gather as a church. It's not about tickling our spiritual ears or getting a little spiritual lift (though these may well happen), rather he suggests that we gather for four reasons: 1. To hear Jesus and be healed by Him, 2. To worship God together, 3. To be equipped to do the work of ministry, and 4. To be built up in Christ. He contends that all of this can take place only as every person gest involved-- bringing something edifying to share, learning to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, and ministering to one another.
If you lived in the New Testament times, you prepared your heart to come to church, you prepared your heart to worship, you came expecting to be equipped for ministry, and you asked God to give you a gift to bring with you so that you might be used to strengthen someone else. This was the New Testament way of going to church.
Excerpts from James Barron:
Religion is all about the outward and seen. Jesus is all about the inward and unseen.
Religion tries to repair and fix the old creation. Jesus made us a New Creation!
Religion’s yoke is hard work. Jesus said His yoke was easy.
Religion uses fear to manipulate people to act. Jesus’ love compels people to act, with joy!
Religion is proud. Jesus is humble.
Religion is boring. Jesus is an unexpected journey and adventure!
Religion is insecure. Jesus is confident and secure.
Religion is competitive and envious. Jesus is a rest.
Religion thinks itself wise. Jesus thinks Religion is foolish.
Religion is a dead end. Jesus is an open door to endless possibilities!
Religion is man-centered. Jesus is God-centered.
Religion wants to control other men. Jesus wants to set men free to live by Him.
Religion is death. Jesus is Life!
Religion is depressing. Jesus is joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Religion keeps people in a boat that is sinking. Jesus empowers people to walk out of the boat onto the water to Him!
Religion needs money to exist. Jesus’ life needs no silver or gold to live and prosper!
Religion is mean to you when you do not agree with it. Jesus is kind even to those who nailed His hands and feet.