Hungry for Relationships

I’m sorry the blog is so quiet, but I am currently in Pocatello, Idaho hanging out with some folks that are thinking outside the box. I started last Friday in Boise and spent three days there with some great folks. We had two days with a house full of people who are at various stages in the journey, but all of them hungry to walk in God’s life. One of the joys of my travels is seeing people connect from the same area who have some knowledge of me, but don’t know about each other. There was a lot of that in Boise. I’ll be in Pocatello all week with a number of different groups and a regional conference on Saturday. Then I’m headed down to Salt Lake City for Saturday night and Sunday.

I got an interesting email over the weekend that I thought you might enjoy reading. It’s from David in Michigan and before anyone accuses him of painting with a broad brush, he is sharing his experience. And, believe me he is not alone in his experience…

I had emailed you regarding Authentic Relationshipsabout a year ago and commented on how much I loved the book. Since then, my wife and I have given away about fifteen copies. Three went to pastors and would you believe that–without exception–the ones who promised to read the book but didn’t were the pastors? It blows my mind.

So as a result of this and the book in general, I spent the past year thinking and praying a lot about this and how such an important facet of church life is so undervalued. The other day I feel I got a reply from God and wanted to share it with you.

I noticed the pastors who weren’t interested in the book all had busy plans to “grow their church”. They were immersed in programs and activities to build enthusiasm, commitments attendance and converts.

I also spent some time thinking about what an authentic relationship is and what “one anothering” is and came to this conclusion: Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love the Lord and love your neighbor and in these two things all of the law was satisfied. An authentic relationship is simply “loving your neighbor as yourself”. It’s fine to have a church and meetings and evangelism but I think it must proceed through a real relationship with those whom you would work with or reach. “Without love…etc.”

Anyway, here’s the reply I got regarding the lack of interest by pastors; They are trying to focus on external things to build the kingdom of God but the Kingdom of God is within. If what we do doesn’t proceed from what is truly already in us then it is of practically no value. In fact, our greatest “authentic relationship” must be with God. We must do things for Him — not from strategizing or planning or laboring—but because of our relationship with Him. We do it because He is authentically our friend and Father and companion and Savior and because we are personally grateful and love Him and simply want to please Him in return. Everything else is window dressing. Too many churches are trying to build the kingdom on earth through external activity and emphasis without ever realizing that these things are valueless to God if they don’t proceed from love.

Charismatics are saying, “If we just focus more on the anointing or prayer, then God will come!” Baptists are saying, “If we just preached more and taught the Word more then God will come!” So they do these things hoping to invoke God–often as a result of a doctrinal and dogmatic philosophy that they have never questioned. They hold special meetings and begin new programs and study past movements and sermons. The problem is, God is within. He is already present in us. We don’t build things and hope the Kingdom will come; we build things because the Kingdom has already come within us. Revival begins in the individual–it isn’t an experience to be conjured and summoned by activity and effort.

Just thought it was worth sharing. Hope your days are blessed.

My response: Love it! Love it! Love it!

I think you’ve put your finger on something that is so important… and sad! I know from having been a pastor that building relationships is something we wanted people to do, but saw the success of the job far more dependent on programs and activities that wear people out more than build relationships. I also thing the need of systems to build dependency on itself and push people to conformity undermines real, honest and supportive relationships.

I like to think of my life now as doing this with God rather than for him. That keeps me on his agenda rather than confusing me with my own, even the things I do in his name. Thanks for sharing your insight. I appreciate it very much and I like where your head and heart are at.

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8 Comments
  1. Dave A. April 27, 2005 at 6:56 am

    Wonderfully said! Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Dave A. April 27, 2005 at 9:56 am

    Wonderfully said! Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Steve April 27, 2005 at 5:09 pm

    Good stuff Wayne.

  4. Steve April 27, 2005 at 8:09 pm

    Good stuff Wayne.

  5. Rob Lane April 27, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    That was cool to read. Thanks for posting that Wayne! That put a skip in my step! Peace.

  6. Rob Lane April 28, 2005 at 1:00 am

    That was cool to read. Thanks for posting that Wayne! That put a skip in my step! Peace.

  7. michille April 29, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    I think what you had to say was great. The problem is is that it is so much easier to do the program and the teaching than it is to actually reach out to people. Especially needy people. When I step back and look around, I notice even the people who have made a commitment to change going back to the old ways. How do we keep our focus on the relationship and not on the doing?

  8. michille April 29, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    I think what you had to say was great. The problem is is that it is so much easier to do the program and the teaching than it is to actually reach out to people. Especially needy people. When I step back and look around, I notice even the people who have made a commitment to change going back to the old ways. How do we keep our focus on the relationship and not on the doing?

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