Sorting Church Out Another Way

Sara and have been reading together The Way of Jesus: A Journey of Freedom for Pilgrims and Wanderers by Jonathan and Jennifer Campbell. It was recommended to me by a friend from New Zealand. Though the reading does get tedious at times with a lot of intellectual curiosities, I love the journey this couple is on and the conclusions they are coming to. I think many of you will enjoy the book. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Sadly, despite many charismatic renewals over the past fifty years, institutionalism remains. Even the most gifted leaders who reach freedom in Jesus and long for a greater outpouring fo the Holy Spirit perpetuate structures that prevent the free-flowing movement of the Body of Christ. With few exceptions, church in the West is still described in institutional terms: a worship service whereby passive laity sit in a sanctuary listening to a didactic monologue from a professional. Most of what we see today are primarily cosmetic changes expressed in the superficialities of style: music style, clothing style, program style, architectural style. Styles may change, but the systemic structure remains entirely modern. (p. 101)

“The real issues are not methodological or structural’ they are theological and deeply spiritual. The church was never meant to have a permanent (or stationary) residence because it was to be always enroute toward the ends of the earth and the end of time.… The problem with the church is not that it’s out of touch with the culture, but that it is out of touch with Jesus. Our powerless ecclesiology (understanding of church) reflects our powerless Christology (understanding of Jesus). We know about Jesus without experiencing Jesus. (p. 99)

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14 Comments
  1. Greg Campbell March 15, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    Sounds like a good book. We have been thinking a lot recently about the “form of godliness but denying its power” and how that so applies to the church today. We do all the stuff that makes us feel spiritual, or close to God (sunday school, church, quiet times) but we are missing the reality of the friendship we have with our living Father. So sad 🙁

    And, I like the wife’s name.

    (It’s my wife’s name.) 🙂

  2. Greg Campbell March 16, 2006 at 12:02 am

    Sounds like a good book. We have been thinking a lot recently about the “form of godliness but denying its power” and how that so applies to the church today. We do all the stuff that makes us feel spiritual, or close to God (sunday school, church, quiet times) but we are missing the reality of the friendship we have with our living Father. So sad 🙁

    And, I like the wife’s name.

    (It’s my wife’s name.) 🙂

  3. Lisa March 16, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    You know these people are absolutely right!

    I too have been struggling with these same things for some time now. At this time I am outside of the organised church and in many ways I am more free than I ever have been in my Christian journey. But still there is something inside that doesn’t seem complete about all this. We are “out”, we are free but isn’t it partly our responsibility to help our dear brothers and sisters that are held prisoner by “religious systems” ? What is my role? Should I “throw the baby out with the bath water”? Is there any hope for the Western Church? Where are the voices crying out in the wilderness “Prepare thee the way of the Lord” have we left the building?

  4. Lisa March 16, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    You know these people are absolutely right!

    I too have been struggling with these same things for some time now. At this time I am outside of the organised church and in many ways I am more free than I ever have been in my Christian journey. But still there is something inside that doesn’t seem complete about all this. We are “out”, we are free but isn’t it partly our responsibility to help our dear brothers and sisters that are held prisoner by “religious systems” ? What is my role? Should I “throw the baby out with the bath water”? Is there any hope for the Western Church? Where are the voices crying out in the wilderness “Prepare thee the way of the Lord” have we left the building?

  5. Eric Wilbanks March 16, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    What a phenomenal quote. I especially like the last line in the first paragraph: “Styles may change, but the systemic structure remains entirely modern.”

    I have been trying to spread the idea that what we call the “emerging church” does not involve the kind of fundamental changes in ecclesiology that would make it truly unique. Instead, we are taking traditional models and re-imagining them for a post-modern world (which is essential if the institutional church is to survive). By contrast, much (thought not all) of the experiments by “Revolutionaries” — as Barna calls them — is birthed out of a distinctly new understanding of church. That’s a significant difference.

    But I am finding that it is a difference too difficult to grasp for many because of our inability to think systemically (re: The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge).

    P.S. Are you familiar with CoComment? It’s a great new idea…but it doesn’t recognize the “SUBMIT” form on your blog. It’s probably looking for the form field to be labeled “POST.”

  6. Eric Wilbanks March 17, 2006 at 12:48 am

    What a phenomenal quote. I especially like the last line in the first paragraph: “Styles may change, but the systemic structure remains entirely modern.”

    I have been trying to spread the idea that what we call the “emerging church” does not involve the kind of fundamental changes in ecclesiology that would make it truly unique. Instead, we are taking traditional models and re-imagining them for a post-modern world (which is essential if the institutional church is to survive). By contrast, much (thought not all) of the experiments by “Revolutionaries” — as Barna calls them — is birthed out of a distinctly new understanding of church. That’s a significant difference.

    But I am finding that it is a difference too difficult to grasp for many because of our inability to think systemically (re: The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge).

    P.S. Are you familiar with CoComment? It’s a great new idea…but it doesn’t recognize the “SUBMIT” form on your blog. It’s probably looking for the form field to be labeled “POST.”

  7. Andy March 17, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    I know Jonathan! But it’s been awhile — thanks for posting the info about his book. I’ve been wanting to seek him out for advice. 🙂 Jonathan challenged me and provided a breath of fresh air from our first conversation. He’s been living this stuff out for years.

  8. Andy March 17, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    I know Jonathan! But it’s been awhile — thanks for posting the info about his book. I’ve been wanting to seek him out for advice. 🙂 Jonathan challenged me and provided a breath of fresh air from our first conversation. He’s been living this stuff out for years.

  9. Denise March 18, 2006 at 9:50 pm

    Something that came to me as I was reading the last excerpt.

    Fathers love is so great and I believe the time is shortening now that He is turning the hearts of His children back to His self. More & more people sitting in congregations are sensing in their hearts, “there must be moreâ€, “I want to know Him better†they are hungering for the reality of HIS Spirit in their lives. That was my case! It is not TOTALLY the organized church’s fault (and I’m not saying the excerpt insinuates this, I don‘t read it that way) for knowing about Jesus without experiencing Him, Our Pastor led us & taught us to have an intimate relationship with Jesus (but pastor couldn’t handle it after the fact) why were there only a few of us?, and why would pastor be so upset when we found that relationship? Not everyone is yet looking for that relationship with the Lord, they’d rather be given a bottle or spoon fed, it’s easier to want to stay immature. Pressing on to maturity has responsibilities. But then here’s another thing to think about; as children, we are all given over to guardians & tutors (the system with the law) until the time “SET BY THE FATHERâ€.
    Now those were just my thoughts.

    But hey Wayne, could this be the “great awakening†(Father awakening the hearts of His children to Him self as they sit in the pews) or “Revival†(enlivening the Body of Christ) that the Church is “NOT†expecting. Like how Israel didn’t recognize the Messiah, Maybe the OC/IC today won’t recognize Jesus’s Body even as HE comes now?

  10. Denise March 19, 2006 at 12:50 am

    Something that came to me as I was reading the last excerpt.

    Fathers love is so great and I believe the time is shortening now that He is turning the hearts of His children back to His self. More & more people sitting in congregations are sensing in their hearts, “there must be moreâ€, “I want to know Him better†they are hungering for the reality of HIS Spirit in their lives. That was my case! It is not TOTALLY the organized church’s fault (and I’m not saying the excerpt insinuates this, I don‘t read it that way) for knowing about Jesus without experiencing Him, Our Pastor led us & taught us to have an intimate relationship with Jesus (but pastor couldn’t handle it after the fact) why were there only a few of us?, and why would pastor be so upset when we found that relationship? Not everyone is yet looking for that relationship with the Lord, they’d rather be given a bottle or spoon fed, it’s easier to want to stay immature. Pressing on to maturity has responsibilities. But then here’s another thing to think about; as children, we are all given over to guardians & tutors (the system with the law) until the time “SET BY THE FATHERâ€.
    Now those were just my thoughts.

    But hey Wayne, could this be the “great awakening†(Father awakening the hearts of His children to Him self as they sit in the pews) or “Revival†(enlivening the Body of Christ) that the Church is “NOT†expecting. Like how Israel didn’t recognize the Messiah, Maybe the OC/IC today won’t recognize Jesus’s Body even as HE comes now?

  11. Fran March 19, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    I just finished a book called “What Jesus Meant” by Garry Wills. It blows me away that someone who is callled a Catholic intellectual could write from a perspective that challenges his own church to see Jesus without all the stuff that has been hung on Him by church tradition. Many different voices are starting to say the same thing—that the love of the Father shown in Jesus Christ is enough.

  12. Fran March 19, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    I just finished a book called “What Jesus Meant” by Garry Wills. It blows me away that someone who is callled a Catholic intellectual could write from a perspective that challenges his own church to see Jesus without all the stuff that has been hung on Him by church tradition. Many different voices are starting to say the same thing—that the love of the Father shown in Jesus Christ is enough.

  13. J April 6, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Wayne,

    After reading this little blip of the book I was captivated enough to buy it. My wife Ami and I are also reading it together. Through many discussions, my wife and I have come to the conclusion that our walk with Jesus is truly meant to be a life-long journey. We have come to the conclusion that we have simply made too many decisions on our own.

    We have been so tired and burned out through our own efforts to make sure we live the American dream. Our dreams fall so short and leave us wanting a better dream. That is where Jesus comes in. We know that his dreams for us are so much better than our dreams for ourselves. We realize that if we allow God to dream for us and lead us where he wants us to go on our journey, we will be so much better off. There is no promise of a great paying job, nice house, and being able to save up for that RV so that we can take incredible trips as a family. Instead, Jesus promises us himself. He promises us that he wants to take us on a journey that will change our lives forever. He promises that regardless of our life situation and the circumstances that surround our life, he simply loves us. And his love is truly sufficient.

    I highly encourage everyone that desires a journey with Jesus to read this book.

    J

  14. J April 7, 2006 at 2:26 am

    Wayne,

    After reading this little blip of the book I was captivated enough to buy it. My wife Ami and I are also reading it together. Through many discussions, my wife and I have come to the conclusion that our walk with Jesus is truly meant to be a life-long journey. We have come to the conclusion that we have simply made too many decisions on our own.

    We have been so tired and burned out through our own efforts to make sure we live the American dream. Our dreams fall so short and leave us wanting a better dream. That is where Jesus comes in. We know that his dreams for us are so much better than our dreams for ourselves. We realize that if we allow God to dream for us and lead us where he wants us to go on our journey, we will be so much better off. There is no promise of a great paying job, nice house, and being able to save up for that RV so that we can take incredible trips as a family. Instead, Jesus promises us himself. He promises us that he wants to take us on a journey that will change our lives forever. He promises that regardless of our life situation and the circumstances that surround our life, he simply loves us. And his love is truly sufficient.

    I highly encourage everyone that desires a journey with Jesus to read this book.

    J

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