So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore
Long time no blog.
I’ve been reading this book by the same title as the post. It is by Jake Colsen and is a fiction book about a pastor who encounters a guy who helps him see the dangers and ways religious systems rob people of relationship with God. At least that is how I sum it up. Those of you who have read it chime in. Donna recommended it and Kim was insistant that I read it. So I am almost finished and wanted to post this quote. It isn’t the best quote of the book but one I thought might help some people. It comes in a discussion about a house church, Marvin is a guy in the house church and John is one of the main two characters.
After a few moments Marvin let out a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know, John. I always thought the institution I left wasn’t working because it had the wrong principles. I thought we were getting the right ones in place so we could finally experience real church life.” Murmurs of agreement buzzed around the table. “But you don’t see it that way?”
“No, I don’t. If it helps, I think you’re finding better principles–onesthat reflect more accurately the life of the early believers. But keep in mind that following priciples didn’t produce their life together. We can observe what happened as they followed Jesus, but copying that won’t produce the same reality.
“Jesus didn’t leave us with a system; he left us with his Spirit–a guide instead of a map. Principles alone will not satisfy your hunger. That’s why systems always promise a future revival that never comes. They cannot produce community because they are designed to keep peoeple apart.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because they keep the focus on services or rituals, principles turn most people into spectators. By holding up standards and motivating people to conform to them they only encourage people to pretend to be what they are not, or to act like they know more than they really do. Questions and doubts are discouraged and people can’t deal with the things they are hiding. Thus they only let people see the shadow they want them to see, not who they really are. Feeling isolated, they only become more focused on their own needs and what others aren’t doing to meet them. They fight over control of the institution, however large or small, so that they can make others do what they think is best. It is a story that has been repeated for a couple of thousand years.”
Following a pattern or copying whether it is 2000 years ago that you copy or if it is the group whose conference you went to just doesn’t produce the same reality. I love that line about he gave his Spirit instead of a map. And I know the part about people pretending is so true. So whether you are in a big church, little church, house church, fluid church, coffeehouse church or whatever, Here’s to everyone, following the Spirit’s leading and to seeking God’s guidance on every decision.