F. from the U.K.: The journey we have been on has been long and somewhat difficult. We have tried to keep away from all the good ideas that flood our land, choosing instead to trust all to Father-much easier said than done. We have been through many changes as a group; we have enjoyed God in a new way, and have seen expressions of love and grace shining through in the most amazing ways. We have also had times of deep sadness. The difficult days have been around the things you write about in BodyLife, however from a direction that I have not read about yet in the things you have shared. I read BodyLife and it is so helpful, the many letters you receive are obviously from good and honest people, but they present me with the reason for writing. I know at least 20 people who could write such letters, people who left their fellowships, who have found now a new sense of freedom and integrity that they couldn't find elsewhere. The people I write about left our fellowship, some had been loved in practical ways, jobs had been found, finance given and all greatly loved. Yet when I read the letters in BodyLife I know that is what these people are saying, they now choose to meet in their new group adjacent to where they live. What I'm asking is when I read the letters published, what really happened? Does anybody really know-in their striking out, have they left behind unfinished issues? Those that I know, walked away without any discussion or sharing of hearts.
I know the letters I receive are only part of a story. In many cases there are groups behind the story who feel as you do-that they loved them and that they were left with 'unfinished business'. That is sometimes necessary because those 'in control' don't often want to hear from folks who are struggling with institutional priorities. In other cases as they discovered new things, they wrongly assumed that those they were leaving were 'the enemy.' The result is pain on all sides. As a mediator I am always looking to connect people, even through past hurts, to have a fresh chance at effective relationships.
A brother in deep frustration sighed out a few years ago to me, "Wayne, we have to figure out what it is that separates believers!" That statement has never been far from my thoughts since that time . He's right. One of my struggles with institutional systems is that they often love well as long as people conform to the group, and treat harshly those who don't. Of course I am not saying that is true of your group. But I do think part of the 'programs' and 'shared power' that many groups fall into will continue to produce difficult moments on both sides when people don't fit in with the direction the group is headed. Wouldn't it be great if we could affirm each other's journeys and let people move as God leads them without so much pain and suspicion?
God has only one church in your community and whether people gather at the same place or not doesn't change that reality. I suspect some of those people may be hungry for relationships to be rebuilt in love. It pains me to see the Body of Christ continually splintered and the damaged relationships that result. But that may be the unintended fruit of the systems in which we invest God's revelation. Instead of freeing people to follow him, they feel forced to conform or leave.