I recently had an email exchange with someone who is in a gradual process of detoxing from the church business model to more organic church gatherings, and it reminded me of the pitfalls, dangers, and scary times that this process can bring. I have a lot of compassion for those who go down this road with us, though I still highly encourage it.
One of the temptations, especially if you’re someone who has been engaged with church planting, is to put the internal growth parts at arms length, and think of it as merely learning a new methodology. A methodology is something you can take a class to learn, or read a book, or go see it in action somewhere to get the idea, then off you go implementing it.
But the experience that my wife and I over the last 10 years has taught us that the difference is much more than on the level of methodology. I find nothing sacred about being in houses as opposed to commercial buildings. I’ve seen people simply reproduce in houses what’s traditionally done in commercial buidlings, and in my mind, they are missing the wave of radical cleansing and revitalizing that the Holy Spirit is doing among the church. There’s a lot of egypt that God has had to get out of us (and thankfully, still is!) long after we got out of egypt, if that makes sense.
I believe that allowing ourselves whatever time He allots for detoxing from all of the “business” mentality (entreprenurial energy) that is so prevalent in contemporary church planting/church growth is critical. It all needs to be surrendered to Jesus, so that when he’s got something for us to do, let his voice be the one we hear and obey. Having a history in church planting, church movements, parachurch movements, etc., will present some additional challenge in identifying what is really driving us. Paul seemed to have had about 17 years of detox (Galatians), which makes sense when you consider how steeped he was in the contemporary religious methods of his day (“a Pharisee of Pharisees”).
For those who find themselves on “the journey,” my hope is you let God be ruthless and thorough with the “un-learning” and “re-learning” processes. And then, I hope you tell your story! Those of us who want to be closer to God need to hear it.