What Do We Do Now?

I thought you’d enjoy this little email exchange because I meet a lot of people that are wrestling with the same unfolding realities that this sister is. I also love how she responded to my comments! The heart can so easily grasp what the mind finds hard to believe.

I have no idea where to start this email except to say, “Wow!” I found your website through a yahoo group and almost wanted to cry. The whole “don’t go to church, BE the church” has been what has been going on in my head for so long now – but I have felt helpless. For the last year we have been visiting church after church after church—stuck here in the “Bible belt” and wondering where Jesus is. What we have encountered over and over and over again is the church pushing political or social agendas as well as programs—even in the tiniest of churches.

I also had a conversation on Friday with a good friend. I was telling her how Christianity has become an industry. For evidence of this fact, you can walk into any “Christian” bookstore – and plop down $15 and leave with a book on any of a million topics that will basically boil down to a well laid-out plan to manipulate God into performing the way you want Him to.

I am coming undone. Everything seems to be splintering apart. I feel better that I have a little clarity – and can see it as a farce – but what now? What happens on Sunday? What do we do now?

Here’s how I answered her:

Nothing! Wake up tomorrow and ask Father to lead you. Stop doing those things you think you ‘should’ do and simply do what he asks of you by putting things in your heart. You may not hear anything for a while. Don’t panic. He’s working out some things inside you. But at some point you’ll begin to hear how he feels about you and there will be things he’ll put on your heart, some of which will be incredibly simple, like doing some menial thing that will touch another. And it will just grow on. Eventually you’ll meet some folks who love the same Father you love and want to live with him relationally and share life with you, and community will grow out of your love for him. It is the fruit of our life in him, not the source of it. He is the only source of life.

So, enjoy the adventure. There will be lots he’ll sort out in you and through you. You’ll live in him without guilt or fear, simply responding to him instead of all the expectations of others. It may be painful for awhile, because you’ve worked to earn their approval in the past, and they will not approve of your new-found freedom. Embrace it anyway. Live on in him. This is a lovely journey…

She responded:

Thanks so much. You’re right. Trust God to show up—without a formula, a format, a building, or a program. What a life changing philosophy, and so amazingly simple! It is almost hard to grasp.

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18 Comments
  1. Richard July 14, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Wayne,

    Thanks for sharing this email exchange.
    I especially treasured what you said here..’The heart can so easily grasp what the mind finds hard to believe.’
    What a Friend we have in Jesus…Father continue to make your heart so much more real to this dear sister, as I know you are very fond of her.

  2. kent July 14, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    We humans have made everything so complex that the simplest truths of life in God seem so profound and difficult to grasp. We think……Can it be this simple?

    I think it is…..even though it’s not necessarily easy at times……..let’s learn to live in the simplicity of it.

  3. Richard July 14, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Wayne,

    Thanks for sharing this email exchange.
    I especially treasured what you said here..’The heart can so easily grasp what the mind finds hard to believe.’
    What a Friend we have in Jesus…Father continue to make your heart so much more real to this dear sister, as I know you are very fond of her.

  4. kent July 14, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    We humans have made everything so complex that the simplest truths of life in God seem so profound and difficult to grasp. We think……Can it be this simple?

    I think it is…..even though it’s not necessarily easy at times……..let’s learn to live in the simplicity of it.

  5. Benjamin Graber July 16, 2007 at 9:27 am

    “Nothing! Wake up tomorrow and ask Father to lead you. Stop doing those things you think you ‘should’ do and simply do what he asks of you by putting things in your heart.”

    I love that! So simple, and yet so difficult for us, who find it so hard to simply trust a Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine…

  6. Benjamin Graber July 16, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    “Nothing! Wake up tomorrow and ask Father to lead you. Stop doing those things you think you ‘should’ do and simply do what he asks of you by putting things in your heart.”

    I love that! So simple, and yet so difficult for us, who find it so hard to simply trust a Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine…

  7. Pamela July 16, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I have told many people that the church system reminds me of my MBA classes. that is a business, not a ministry. Things need to be taken care of but I don’t think Management by Objectives is what the Lord had in mind in getting things done.

    For the time being I am participating in a very unusual club after spending a prolonged period of time out of the church system. One thing I truly experienced for the first time is this, the church is PEOPLE not a building. The church is worldwide, not a local congregation. The club I attend focuses on building your relationship with Jesus through the teacher the Holy Spirit. They look at themselves at a church without walls. They emphasize the function of the five-fold ministries instead of the title. When they can nothing is sold or is sold for very little. No extortion of funds (tithes, 100-fold return teachings, etc.) Give what you purpose in your heart or what the Holy Spirit tells you to do.

    Another thing I learned is that the Lord might lead you to a club or to stay outside. When I stepped away I never looked at my walk the same way again. I found that my walk with the Lord was truly mine, not only defined by whether you are a part of a local congregation or not. Even though I participate in a club right now the attitude is as one that is not, that is, I do not look only at the people there as the body of Christ. Many people attending there view this like I do. Believe me when I say that if the people felt like the church is the only happening place I would not be attending. I attend because I’m learning more about loving the Lord and how much He loves me. That can happen anywhere when we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us. My process began outside of the church structure.

    PLEASE do what is in your heart. The best times to hear the Lord is when you are out of the busyness of life. You will be able to see why you did what you did and a clear path of your future in Him. You will NOT be sorry at all. I will do it again in a hot minute if I felt the Lord was leading me in that direction. It was the best thing I did at the time. I promise you this you will enjoy the journey.

  8. Pamela July 16, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    I have told many people that the church system reminds me of my MBA classes. that is a business, not a ministry. Things need to be taken care of but I don’t think Management by Objectives is what the Lord had in mind in getting things done.

    For the time being I am participating in a very unusual club after spending a prolonged period of time out of the church system. One thing I truly experienced for the first time is this, the church is PEOPLE not a building. The church is worldwide, not a local congregation. The club I attend focuses on building your relationship with Jesus through the teacher the Holy Spirit. They look at themselves at a church without walls. They emphasize the function of the five-fold ministries instead of the title. When they can nothing is sold or is sold for very little. No extortion of funds (tithes, 100-fold return teachings, etc.) Give what you purpose in your heart or what the Holy Spirit tells you to do.

    Another thing I learned is that the Lord might lead you to a club or to stay outside. When I stepped away I never looked at my walk the same way again. I found that my walk with the Lord was truly mine, not only defined by whether you are a part of a local congregation or not. Even though I participate in a club right now the attitude is as one that is not, that is, I do not look only at the people there as the body of Christ. Many people attending there view this like I do. Believe me when I say that if the people felt like the church is the only happening place I would not be attending. I attend because I’m learning more about loving the Lord and how much He loves me. That can happen anywhere when we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us. My process began outside of the church structure.

    PLEASE do what is in your heart. The best times to hear the Lord is when you are out of the busyness of life. You will be able to see why you did what you did and a clear path of your future in Him. You will NOT be sorry at all. I will do it again in a hot minute if I felt the Lord was leading me in that direction. It was the best thing I did at the time. I promise you this you will enjoy the journey.

  9. Chet July 17, 2007 at 5:59 am

    Simply put. Jesus Church is the “Building of His People”, as opposed to religion’s church that’s the “Building With a Steeple”.

    Chet

  10. Chet July 17, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Simply put. Jesus Church is the “Building of His People”, as opposed to religion’s church that’s the “Building With a Steeple”.

    Chet

  11. Messy Christian July 26, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    I take Pilates classes on Sundays. 😛 For a while I felt guilty for that, but after a while, I enjoyed it so much I don’t really care.

    Since I have finally decided to embark on this crazy/scary/exciting adventure, life has been so full and free of the guilt/condemnation and pain that I once was tortured by. I am now enjoying the relationships that come my way – I’m amazed at how much I treasure people now that I’m not drugged out trying to fulfill the expectations of people and the institution. It’s hard to describe the freedom!

  12. Messy Christian July 27, 2007 at 2:47 am

    I take Pilates classes on Sundays. 😛 For a while I felt guilty for that, but after a while, I enjoyed it so much I don’t really care.

    Since I have finally decided to embark on this crazy/scary/exciting adventure, life has been so full and free of the guilt/condemnation and pain that I once was tortured by. I am now enjoying the relationships that come my way – I’m amazed at how much I treasure people now that I’m not drugged out trying to fulfill the expectations of people and the institution. It’s hard to describe the freedom!

  13. Mike August 8, 2007 at 4:29 am

    My wife and I are in the same place as you, it’s amazing. We left the institutional religous club 3 years ago and couldn’t be happier. Other than experiencing Christ again after 16 years of a wet blanket draped over us (IC), we are alive again and am not looking back. The scary thing is your only foundation is the invisible Christ and not the visible building and people. You may feel alone but there are many in front of you and behind you on this narrow road. Mike and Lis

  14. Mike August 8, 2007 at 7:29 am

    My wife and I are in the same place as you, it’s amazing. We left the institutional religous club 3 years ago and couldn’t be happier. Other than experiencing Christ again after 16 years of a wet blanket draped over us (IC), we are alive again and am not looking back. The scary thing is your only foundation is the invisible Christ and not the visible building and people. You may feel alone but there are many in front of you and behind you on this narrow road. Mike and Lis

  15. Pedro August 28, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    I’m only new to this conversation, and I am very intrigued.
    Yes, Yes, Yes we think so much about ‘doing’ and neglect to ‘be’ the people of God. I totally agree. But I also think that it should not necessitate an abandonment of meeting with other Christians. The institutional church has made plenty and myriad mistakes throughout its history, but we ought to work to change this from the inside out, how we relate to one another and spend time together as christians and not just walk away. we shold continue to meet together and ideally the whole chuech will reform and stop ‘doing’ hurch and will start to ‘be’ the church.

    I have been burnt myself in very driven churches and programs, and personally my blood boils when a sermon on mission, evangelism, serving, God’s concern for the lost, etc is applied as “so put your name on the roster.”

    But if everyone on this bandwagon walked out of churches, how many people would miss the challenge your call to “stop doing and start being”; and how sad that would be!

  16. Pedro August 29, 2007 at 1:30 am

    I’m only new to this conversation, and I am very intrigued.
    Yes, Yes, Yes we think so much about ‘doing’ and neglect to ‘be’ the people of God. I totally agree. But I also think that it should not necessitate an abandonment of meeting with other Christians. The institutional church has made plenty and myriad mistakes throughout its history, but we ought to work to change this from the inside out, how we relate to one another and spend time together as christians and not just walk away. we shold continue to meet together and ideally the whole chuech will reform and stop ‘doing’ hurch and will start to ‘be’ the church.

    I have been burnt myself in very driven churches and programs, and personally my blood boils when a sermon on mission, evangelism, serving, God’s concern for the lost, etc is applied as “so put your name on the roster.”

    But if everyone on this bandwagon walked out of churches, how many people would miss the challenge your call to “stop doing and start being”; and how sad that would be!

  17. Wayne August 29, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Pedro,

    I think you misunderstand. People who are looking beyond religious institutions, are not abandoning people there so much as they are looking for something more real. Such believers do gather together, and that quite often with others, but they are looking for more active rather than passive settings to engage others.

    And no one is against those that feel like they can be a catalyst for change within those existing institutions. I’m sure in some places that’s possible, but history teaches us that institutions very rarely change. What is more often true in my observation, is that those who hope to change others are rarely successful and end up settling for something less than their hunger leads them to embrace. So this is an individual decision that each of us must make under Father’s leading.

    And many of us who have moved beyond the institution have found that they have significantly more impact on people outside of it, both with other believers and those in the world, because they are not spending so much time an energy trying maintaining the machinery or trying to change what is intractable. And I do think those who leave make a powerful statement to others about doing and being. I am in touch with a lot of people who are part of those institutions and probably having more impact on them now than when I was there…

    Hope that helps,

    Wayne

  18. Wayne August 29, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Pedro,

    I think you misunderstand. People who are looking beyond religious institutions, are not abandoning people there so much as they are looking for something more real. Such believers do gather together, and that quite often with others, but they are looking for more active rather than passive settings to engage others.

    And no one is against those that feel like they can be a catalyst for change within those existing institutions. I’m sure in some places that’s possible, but history teaches us that institutions very rarely change. What is more often true in my observation, is that those who hope to change others are rarely successful and end up settling for something less than their hunger leads them to embrace. So this is an individual decision that each of us must make under Father’s leading.

    And many of us who have moved beyond the institution have found that they have significantly more impact on people outside of it, both with other believers and those in the world, because they are not spending so much time an energy trying maintaining the machinery or trying to change what is intractable. And I do think those who leave make a powerful statement to others about doing and being. I am in touch with a lot of people who are part of those institutions and probably having more impact on them now than when I was there…

    Hope that helps,

    Wayne

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