A Greater Gathering

Are those who no longer attend Sunday services part of a scattering movement that is undermining the mission of the church in the world, or are they in fact people looking beyond conformity-based environments for a more meaningful relationship with God and with others? Wayne reads and responds to a recent article called The Scattering Movement, to show how the prevailing definitions of church actually lead us away from real community. But it also opens the door to an important conversation: What is the church and how does she reveal the heart of God in the world? And, how does community arise out of a growing relationship with Jesus, and not conformity to a man's vision, or an institution's agenda.

Podcast Links:
John Burton's article, The Scattering Movement
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  1. The title of the article alone brings up a reason that people have become so disengaged and have left the institutional church. I have to ask, just how small is the God they say they serve if they have to have an institution instead of allowing Christ to build a fluid community that blends together and then flows out into the world? In reality, the safest hours for the undecided or those who have been deeply hurt and want to avoid the judgemental attitudes and follow our rules mentality of many institutional churches is when it is safely sequestered in a Sunday morning meeting.

    Additional food for thought – if it is a growing movement, could it be a new reformation? The institutional church of the first big reformation was out to kill those that left or stood up against the system, and institutional mindset today is slaughtering and hurting with words, either spoken or in print, or with actions of condemnation. I personally find it strangly similar on so many levels.

    Our culture and mindset in the western world is based on logic, rules and systems, and we have allowed this to tint our understanding of God’s Word. There is an order to God’s plan for the body, but the body of the bride needs blood to operate. Blood flows freely to support all parts and organs of the body. Is Jesus increasing the blood supply? Is he creating a movement and fluidity between all parts of the body, that is not of any organ (and for the sake of the analogy let’s consider an organ a type of instiution) but is a liquid, freely moving, essential part of the body that will be bringing signals, messages and nutrients from elsewhere to nurish the individual cells within that organ? An organ that is isolated becomes cut off from what it needs from the rest of the body to be vibrant and alive. If only the head of the organ has control of what the organ does, then is this really a part of a body headed by Christ? An organ cut off from blood supply dies.

    I have come to the conclusion that Jesus really is the head of His church. I either trust Him to take care of His individual parts, or I don’t. Those that are scattered He is very capable of caring for, teaching, bringing into contact with other believers, growing, and nurturing. He is bringing so many people back to the root – Himself.

  2. “This scattering of believers is so widespread that we are seeing theologies and philosophies emerging that support the idea that it’s actually healthy to disband and withdraw.”

    He begins with an assertion that my experience tells me is based on a false premise. The theologies and philosophies espoused by the vast majority of the “scattered” are about engaging not withdrawing. I’ve been encouraged to engage God, engage my neighbor, engage with other believers.

  3. I suppose the articles author has talked to people who stopped attending church and stay home and are not in touch with other believers. He does not really say.

    Our family has attended church sporadically (maybe twice a year) for many years. But we have gotten together with other believers (Mom’s groups and couples Bible study) for 18+ years. Some of those folks were regular attenders of church, but many were not.
    We pray, eat, open our Bibles, talk about things and encourage one another. Some times families have a need and some one can help or offer a suggestion.

    When I first became a believer I never felt compelled to go to church. I was a teen, I had no car and where I lived at that time (Utah in the 1980’s) I knew of no other churches than the Catholic and LDS. I just had my Bible. My only contact was my cousin in California encouraging me through letters. I eventually moved to California and married.

    I always appreciate that Wayne never says leave the church, stop attending. He just points us the Lord in all things.

  4. From my perspective; a scattering could possibly be the best thing that has happened to the church since Constantine endorsed Christianity and the institution was born.

    To me, the institutional church is the equivalent of a farmer who dumps all of his seed in a pile and expects the entire field to grow corn. Sure, some of the seed on the perimeter of the pile will grow, but most of the seed will rot and die. A farmer who seeks to maximize his yield will scatter his seed and grow hundreds of acres of his corn. Christ has set it on our hearts to scatter, not run away, but to go out and multiply so that his love can be knwon to all people.

  5. HI!
    I noticed people landing on my site from your site, so I thought I’d see what’s up.
    I listened to your podcast, and it was actually quite enjoyable! Well done.

    The main reason I wanted to write is to let you know that a lot of the presumptions that you shared are not correct. My belief system isn’t quite what you presented it to be. No fault of yours, as the article certainly wasn’t comprehensive enough to address it all.

    Of course, there was much that you did analyze correctly, and we just simply disagree. I’m OK with that.

    I’ve written a couple of books on the subject, Covens in the Church and Pharaoh in the Church, and I’m writing a third titled The Coming Church.

    Covens in the Church is about the body’s responsibility to leadership and Pharaoh in the Church is about leadership’s responsibility to the body. The Coming Church will be about an explosive, Acts 2 style church structure that is emerging.

    Here are some quick bullet points in response to your podcast:

    1. I agree, we cannot build systems of man. (This is what Pharaoh in the Church is about) Jared Ming wrote the following lyric in one of worship songs: God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.
    2. You mentioned that the church model I support doesn’t equip and doesn’t love. This couldn’t be more opposite from reality. I’m a HUGE proponent of equipping the saints. We have a ministry school that is focused on awakening destinies, loving people into Kingdom life and preparing them to fulfill their callings.
    3. The purpose of being together “20 times a week” is certainly not just to have another meeting. For example, the International House of Prayer in Kansas City has their growing, thriving community together most every day…4-8 hours a day… praying for the nations, for revival, etc. These people are growing in God at light speed, and they are impacting the world with great power. I won’t go into detail, but the regular meetings will be necessary so the church can strategize, develop plans of action, pray, go deep in God, prepare for corporate ministry, etc. It’s a big, big job.
    4. I don’t believe the purpose of the church is mostly for community and personal focus, though that does happen. It’s an army vs. a club. A family of soldiers, of missionaries. We have all been born to minister, and good apostolic leaders will know that and will help us get activated in a corporate setting. And, yes, I do believe in healthy, life-giving rank and order in the Kingdom. Most people actually crave to have mentors and bold leaders to pave the way.

    Anyway, good podcast. I just wanted to say hi and address a few of the points. There are more I could have hit on, but this is good for now!

  6. Another podcast that hit home for me! I want to be a part of the Gathering! I’ve only been on my God journey for several months now (actually, in retrospect, I recognize God steering me toward this journey years ago). I am new to the region I live in which I’ve found to be such a religious area (SC) & I’ve been so frustrated trying to find a community of believers on a similar journey as me – moving away from performance-based religion (which is how I was raised – another story) & toward living loved in the Father. I currently don’t go to any church (building) but have been watching teachings on TV/internet, listing to podcasts, reading books (including of course the Bible). But because of my social personality I yearn for others who I can walk with on a regular basis. I do have a few Christian friends here who aren’t religious nuts who I thoroughly enjoy talking about God with. But I would love to attend a retreat or even organize/facilitate one in my area to have a conversation about this. I could be changing jobs soon (thank you, Wayne, for your recent podcasts that have helped encourage me in the area of my job) so am not 100% sure if/when I could. So I will stay tuned for possible opportunities & keep my heart open for Father’s leading in this area. In the meantime, I’ll continue looking for others who are on a similar journey to the one I am on. Thank you so much & God bless you!

  7. I remember reading this scripture (Haggai 1:6-8) quite sure God was revealing Himself. The journey has been long. I tried to interpret this in a way that the church I knew and was a part of would fit into it. But as I did, God just kept breaking down those strongholds. He has redefined His house to me, one that focuses on relationships and love, not on programs and performances. Jesus, a carpenter, did not spend His life poured out for a building, though I am sure it would have been exquisite, but on His flawed creation, restoring them to the Garden, to walk with God in the cool of the day!

    You have sown much, but you have reaped little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you do not have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages has earned them to put them in a bag with holes in it.Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways (your previous and present conduct) and how you have fared.Go up to the hill country and bring lumber and rebuild [My] house, and I will take pleasure in it and I will be glorified, says the Lord [by accepting it as done for My glory and by displaying My glory in it].

  8. John, I’m glad you found your way to the podcast and felt free to give some input. I was only commenting based on the content of your article, not about you or your congregation specifically. I don’t know anything about or or them and would not presume that I did. However, after reading your responses, I think the contrast is only sharper between an apostolic-driven congregation and people who are finding significant avenues of community and collaboration through more relational expressions of church life. Just because someone has had a class on love, doesn’t mean they know what it is to be loved by the Father, nor how to lay their lives down for friends, families, and co-workers they cross paths with every day. I’ve been where you are and I know how right it can feel, the manufactured zeal to justify how we’re treating people, and how many people want to be told what to do by an anointed person rather that discover what it is to listen to Jesus. I also know how many of those people years later spill out disillusioned and exploited.

    I’d be happy to discuss this further with you on a future podcast if you have any interest…. Write me through the Contact form and let’s arrange a Skype call.

  9. This is such an interesting topic and one that I’m sure will never be exhausted. 🙂 I have to keep a smile on my face and in my heart when having conversations like this or else I get very intense and feel very “compelled” to say lots of things. As if I alone bear the sole responsibility to change someone’s mind. 🙂 And we all know how well that goes.

    Someone said to me once that “If there wasn’t church membership, the whole church would die out in a couple generations.” Ghastly, I know. To this day, I’m not quite clear whether the gentleman referenced “church” as a specific denomination of believers or all God’s people on the earth. It is very hard for me to believe that there are people who sincerely think that defined leadership, corporate structure, church membership or some such are what hold God’s people together, keep them in service to Him, etc. If that is the depth of committment or relationship that one has in God and the Church (His Church), then it is clearly quite shallow. And if my primary source of accountability is not first and foremost God’s word and his Holy Spirit, then I am giving a corner of my life and heart to a mortal carnal human that only belongs to God. I’m not saying accountability among believers has no place as I believe that Paul pretty clearly gives some examples in which it does. But the issue is one of placement. Accountability to God must rank above accountability to man, right? Or I end up living my life for a person (or a group of people, denomination, etc) and not for God. I have much to learn and I’m quite sure that I will continue to relearn things in the future. But this issue of who is our head, who we are accountable to, whose opinion we hold in highest esteem- this is one to which I’m pretty sure I know the answer. Anytime I give even just an inch of these things to something or someone other than God, they end up getting a mile. 🙂

    Maybe someone who has never been forced to question the teaching of their pastor or leaders, or their church structure, or how their future could be anything but the culture they grew up in… maybe those people sincerely don’t see the grave danger in placing too much emphasis on those things. It’s hard to imagine.

    So if I’m wrong, I hope that God will (ahem, gently:) correct me, but I truely do feel that up to this point in my life He has shown me that He doesn’t NEED systems and programs and accountibility partners to grow and sanctify me and kep me in him. He simply asks for my heart. Every day. Every moment. And that doesn’t mean that he NEVER uses those other things, it just means that He doesn’t NEED them.

    Ok, I’ll stop. I’m a longtime listener/lurker, first time commenter… now you understand why. lol.

  10. Count me in to help in any way I can to further the dialogue in the greater Detroit Michigan area. I thirst for this conversation.

  11. Am I correct in understanding that you feel that gathering together as Believers is not healthy?
    Praying together and working toward a goal together is not good?
    And are you saying that leadership is not biblical? I can’t imagine that’s what you believe, but I just want to gain some clarity.

    Plus, why did you presume that the zeal is manufactured? I don’t understand that point. I know in our ministry the zeal and fire of God is certainly real. I have no patience for hype.

    What is the strength, in your opinion, in not being closely connected with other Christians? Why do you feel it’s better not to come together?

    My guess is a key difference between our perspectives is that I don’t see that the church’s primary purpose is to facilitate community. It’s not about us. To say that the church is a family would be an incomplete definition. I believe it’s a family of soldiers, of missionaries, who are united toward a common goal, to fulfill a mission.

    For example, we have a team of people that hit the streets here in Detroit to pray, to minister… it’s much stronger when we do it together, under effective leadership, with great unity. The effects are exponentially greater than if only one or two casually did it on their own.

  12. Whew! Yes, I have been killed by a corporation. The last church I was in, I told my fellow elders that the church didn’t belong to Christ but to this small cohort of people who undermined my work during a pastoral search. In a matter of weeks, an elder looked at me and said, “You do good work!” Then when I didn’t handle something in the way he thought it should be handled, he slandered me in an e-mail to one of his friends and lo and behold they along with another person started having hallway conversations and eventually I just turned the search over to them. The elder made it clear that I and another elder didn’t know what we were doing and I just thought, “well, I’ll just let them have it.” You see, these individuals had been in the church a long time, had been very instrumental in building campaigns and bringing in other pastors, so in their minds, they knew how things should be done. In fact, one of them also sat on the Nominating Committee, and during my last interview prior to being appointed to another year as elder, I emphasized Christ versus the church as an organization, and the this person mumbled loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, “Why do we have you running the search?” Imagine sitting in a room of 12 or so people and hearing that comment. I know all too well what it is to be beat up simply for being, thinking and doing things differently and stepping into peoples’ precious territories.

  13. I’m happy to help facilitate a conversation in the Atlanta area. I’m not exactly sure what that means but I’m willing to learn and help.

  14. Wow. Where to begin? First, Wayne I am in. If I can be a part of or help with the discussion or facilitate a group in my part of the world, then sign me up. I think I will call in as well.

    I have am presently a bi-vocational pastor. I pastor a small church of about 30 people, most older than me, I am 56. It is a very loving group of folks and not too “churchy” which is good because I am not that way.

    I have been involved in planting three churches, one of which I served as pastor. All failed. That is story for another time. What I did learn is that you cannot create community. Community is a by-product of shared life. If you try to create community without the sharing of life you end up with an institution , if you are left with anything at all. Community occurs when people’s shared journeys combine. Spontaneity , vulnerability, openness, trust, on and on, these as Christ lives out His life in our shared stories creates community. It is here that God’s Spirit dwells.

    I often rise very early and watch the sunrise. Sunsets as well I find wonderful. I have seen many photographs of both that have awed me but none quite like actually seeing and being there. The difference I have learned is that sunrises and sunsets are alive. Minute changes constantly occurring as I watch. Dynamic and vibrant my observation becomes a part of the life of that moment. I can take a picture of it to commemorate the moment. I can enjoy the beauty reflected in the photograph, but the life is not there.

    So it is with community. If I attempt to institutionalize it I get a reflection, a portrait but not the life. If I try to work back from there and create the image I find that without the sharing of life I merely end up frustrated and praying for revival.

    The Spirit invites us into a living hope.

  15. Hey guys, Just a thought . The more we depend on church ( community) , the less personal, intimate and free-willed becomes our relationship with HIM. When we cast off this world’s view of community, we become more a part of HIS body as HE lives in us. We set sail on our life’s adventure driven by the wind of HIS SPIRIT to truly be who HE created us to be. Our wills, our hearts, our minds, our spirits and even our dreams become as one. Thus, the definition of marriage not “church”. Please, rest in the freedom HE died to give US. Thanks, Gman.

  16. Thank you, thank you for helping me to put into words all I have felt for so long , but was unable to articulate. I have gone to church all of my life. While I have loved Jesus since childhood, it has taken years (I am 61) to understand why church was empty and I could not fit into the cookie cutter mold. I wasn’t rebellious. I saw the manipulation from the pulpit and every new pastor had his own agenda. One was all about being the anointed Apostle for our area and how God was going to use our church to bring true revival to our area…….I have only heard these things repeatedly through the years from different men. By the way he was anointed by another leading Apostolic leader associated with some of the groups Mr. Burton mentioned in his response to you. Everything had prophetic meaning so that even a barge hitting a bridge in our area was a sign of God shaking our area spiritually. This man went on to stalk a woman in our church and some elders said he had to remain as pastor because of that Apostolic mandate. He eventually left to start another church in our area and it is clear to some close to his family that he and his wife live in denial.

    The next leader sat on stage and promised the church how he would be a faithful leader and never do anything to hurt our church. He obviously had control issues and you were either be on his team or you were not with him. He spent hour long sermons berating us for how he was the leader and we were to follow. If we did not then God would judge us.

    I spent most of my life hungry to understand scripture. I would avoid Old Testament reading because it made no sense. A friend who went through a major spiritual transformation began to teach after much study and research the history and culture of the Old Testament helping our class to see God’s love story from beginning to end. I have received more out of this class than I ever have in a church service of suppposedly special words from the Lord or Bible studies I have attended. I am so grateful and this little group is growing together because we long to know him.
    New pastor now and he has a new agenda of how to create body life with prepackaged programs for home group studies that he bases his sermons around. Instead of people coming together to know one another organically, they must come together like little puppets to discuss the questions going over Sunday’s sermon. Empty !!!!!!!!!! Groups can be no larger than 12 people and you are assigned a group based on your 3 preferences. Eventually our class will be dissolved so we have moved ourselves to a home and dismiss in time for those who want to attend a service and those who stay get to know and share their lives. Without a foundation of understanding God’s purpose throughout scripture people are tossing around lots of verses that are so out of context so that they are easily led and do not know why they believe what they claim to believe.

    I don’t easily leave where I have attended for over 30 years. It doesn’t mean I will never attend another a church. My daughter and grandchildren attend there. I know many people there and it is my history. Truthfully though I know little about them because a church service leaves little opportunity to know them. My class (call it a small group or whatever) has given me most of my connection. I think you have to want truth more than to belong or acceptance. I am not sure how this will play out in my life but I know I cannot play the spiritual games anymore.

  17. I am in on all of it just tell me where and when to show up and I will be there. As someone who has been outside the confines of corporate church for 9 years now and has found real community through lots of blood sweat and tears and laughter, I would love to be a part of a larger conversation.
    Wayne has been a huge part of influencing that journey.
    Anyone interested for more details are invited to check our website(tbcconversations.org) and our facebook page Transformed by Christ.
    What has been interesting, in the last 5 years we have been loosely organized, is how difficult it has been to “define” who and what we are. We have a gathering place that is part of a little downtown area (Edmond, Oklahoma)that has a coffee machine and some books and comfy chairs. And people come in and visit and have a conversation, (that’s the name above the door Conversations) and then say “who are you guys and what is this place exactly?” Its funny we struggle to define it.
    Wayne’s blog and another place on the internet (Potters Wheel of Kansas City), that I think would fall under the definition of “Scattering Movement” as would Transformed by Christ, I found a beautiful definition of who we are. And we, a core group of women, gather on Monday mornings and I shared with them the note that I had written that is on facebook and includes part of Wayne’s blog.
    And we had a marvelous discussion of the difference between “fitting in” and “belonging”. And everyone related to all the different environments they had been involved with religious and secular that required conformity to feel like you belonged and that here in this place they don’t feel that pressure at all and look forward to coming to hang out. Kind’ve like the designated “fellowship” times that were a part of the organized church events. That most of us enjoyed more than the Sunday morning event. And we argued about the term “missional” because it was too churchy for some of us. LOL So we changed it to ” We are a relational community. And I think this is our working definition of church. For the last 5 years we have been busy being the church instead of going to church.
    Here is who we are: Transformed by Christ is a missional community of Spiritual Formation pursuing a deep, intimate relationship with God that will transform our lives and equip us to be vessels of God’s love to those our lives encounter.

    What is a missional community?
    A “missional community” is a “group of people, about the size of an extended family, doing the mission of God together outside the regular confines of the church building.”

    An extended family of belonging. This is who we are this is who we want to be. Conversations is our living room where we gather for mission.
    That mission is the release of God’s image in every heart. This is happening among us and we are grateful. We are not doing this perfectly but transformation is happening. And we are so grateful.

  18. John, I thought I would share my perspective of the differences between you and Wayne that I noticed. If I misrepresent either of you I apologize in advance.

    I think both of you want the same end result. People having healthy and growing relationship with God and others, and for that to impact the community and world.

    I see you saying that will happen best by people being told what God wants them to do by apostolic leaders. And by gathering together you will have body life, as there is strength in numbers and others will help each other not to fall and to stay on mission.

    I think what Wayne is trying to convey is that bodylife does not happen just because people get together. It can actually hinder it if it is used as a substitute for the relationship Father wants to have with you. We cannot have the impact on the world until we know we are loved first. We can love because God loved us first. The impact comes in the transformed lives of people. Gathering happens as a result of this, not as a prerequisite. And then real impact does happen because it is God doing the impacting and not us.

    • Hi, I’d say that’s a fair analysis.

      The first issue that we must deal with is that of biblical leadership. We can’t eliminate it if it’s in scripture, which it is. So, the question is, how do we respond to those in leadership?

      Additionally, everybody doesn’t receive the same revelation regarding specific vision. God does nothing unless he reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets. So, some do receive the specifics, while others will only receive revelation on their part.

      Regarding mission, it’s both biblical and it makes sense that simple direction and organization is appropriate. If everybody is doing their own thing, very little will get accomplished. This is the point that I wrestle with quite a bit. It’s odd to me that it isn’t very clear. What is the struggle with this? A very simple example is this: I was in a mega church, and God weighed heavily on the pastor that he needed to spearhead a project to gather thousands of blankets for people in sub-freezing weather… in another nation, on the streets. Because he had masses of committed and responsive people, it was easy for them to fulfill that mission.

      Regarding body life, I see it as important, but not primary. We can’t be inward, we have to be missional. I agree that we need to know God loves us. We know this because the Bible tells us. It’s a settled issue. Of course, there is a process of discover on an emotional level. We can and should go through that process… but it’s not an eternal process. There comes a point early in the process where we are ready to minister, and mature leadership will help people at all stages of maturity advance in unison with the rest of the army in the advance of the Kingdom.

  19. It’s funny (and sad) to see a mover and shaker of the industrialized movement toss out the Greekiness upon defining “church.” I did not, however, hear the reference to which Jesus, my big brother, used in describing the church, His body. (Followed the link.)

    What I have experienced, as true life, has happened after I left the mind clutter which stifled my heart.
    The corporate structure was full of constant chatter, and shoulds…

    Honestly, most of the Sunday morning setups are mechanical in nature. Complete with name tags! Where’s the room for spontaneity?

    As for leadership, this member of the body is connected by his spirit to the head, THE apostle. I have never been closer or more moved by true love in any place or time in my life.

    If praying in a corporate setup gets results, why are so many of those there in so much lifeless agony? ( As I was…)

    And finally, what portion, department or branch of the U.S. government is more beneficial to the masses of souls because it is larger? How could those in charge see the heart of each one without establishing relationship first. Size always demands funds to function.

    Two guys sitting on a park bench can share love, one for another, all day without spending a dime.

    It would seem Mr. Burton would rather pass out the shame and guilt he still carries, which his big brother has already removed from his heart.. Mr. Burton follow your heart.

    If there’s scattering going on, and I believe there is, I am certain freedom is getting slung all over the place.

  20. By the way, some great books on this topic are A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards and Under Cover by John Bevere.

    Also, Dutch Sheets has a great teaching on the purpose of the church. Family vs. mission.

  21. John, I’d much prefer a conversation than the limited communication of blog postings, but to answer some of your questions at least from my perspective…
    “Am I correct in understanding that you feel that gathering together as Believers is not healthy?” No, you would not be. It’s not IF we gather, but how we gather….
    “Praying together and working toward a goal together is not good?” Again, wrong. It depends on what goal, how we are praying, and who is doing the working.
    “And are you saying that leadership is not biblical?” Again, no.
    “Why did you presume that the zeal is manufactured?” I’m not presuming. My point was that when it is manufactured it has a limited shelf life. I’ve seen it manufactured a lot in my 59 years. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, however. I just don’t know.
    “What is the strength, in your opinion, in not being closely connected with other Christians? Why do you feel it’s better not to come together?” Again, not my point. I love CLOSE connections. My point is the political realities of a conformity-based model can actually supplants close connections that are relationally-based. Have you not ever been part of a gathering that wasn’t based on conformity, but simply the shared life of a common Savior? If not, give it a try.
    “How do we respond to those in leadership?”Just because someone has a position in a religious organization doesn’t mean to me they are leaders in a biblical sense. Leaders are not those who hold institutional titles, but those who are closely following Jesus, are engaged in a long track record of a process of transformation that exhibits the fruits of the Spirit, and facilitates God’s life in people around them. How do I respond? By giving them weight in my life and experience, but not unquestioned obedience. I find no one who truly knows God as Father wants to direct anyone else at the expense of them learning to follow the one, true and good Shepherd.
    “If everybody is doing their own thing, very little will get accomplished. What is the struggle with this?” People who are learning to follow Jesus are not doing their own thing. They are following him, collaborating as God leads them and some amazing things get done. I have no one to direct, but when God linked me with over 400 orphans in Kenya, we let the need be known among my friends and this God Journey audience. In three years we’ve put almost $400,000. into an orphanage, education for those who can’t afford it, care for those widowed in the tribal violence of five years ago. No one had to direct anyone. I just made the need available and people responded and that resource has been spread among a group of people there.
    John, I am not disputing that some good things can happen in a group like yours. That’s not what this is about. This began because your article seemed based on the idea that its the ONLY way God works in the world. I used to think that way, too, because it was the only lake I’d ever swum in. Your vision is limited by your application of community, leadership, ministry, collaboration, and connection to human-managed systems. I realize no one in them thinks their humanly managed because they are trying to follow God, but the pyramidal system is no different than any other secular institution. Wouldn’t you think people being transformed by God wouldn’t need the same human conventions that the world needs? There’s a huge ocean out here where those realities exist among Christ followers who are not limited and tied-down by corporate structures, and I’ve found that the exist with far greater reality, relevance, effectiveness, and endurance beyond it. That’s what you’re missing here. You’re making assumptions about people not in corporate systems as if they are disconnected, uninvolved, unengaged with Godly leadership, and unfruitful. Almost every one else here knows better than that so your concerns are not as applicable as you might hope.
    There may be realities out there that you can’t see yet. I labored for years where you’re laboring with the same conclusions you seem to hold. I found out that Jesus’ headship of his body was so much bigger than that. I hope you do, too.

    • Good points.

      Just a quick response before date night with my wife!

      I believe the corporate world actually borrowed from scripture, not the other way around. We see leadership, authority, submission, order, process, etc. in scripture. Moses developed a leadership team under him, for example.

      I don’t believe relationships are the primary goal of the church. If they were, I would probably agree that some of your protocols can work well. I really believe this is the point of departure. I see the church as an ordained organization that has been given missional assignments, some broad and some very specific. It’s an army. The military doesn’t exist for the relationships of the soldiers, but, there is awesome relationship among those who are in battle together.

      • And thus, Mr Burton you discover exactly why most institutionalized organized church today resembles more the old covenant temple model than the church that Jesus came to build. However it’s not your fault. It all began way back in church history with a Roman emperor who wanted the church to resemble more what was modeled in the Old Testament…. a very structured organization complete with priests, robes, altars, incense and the whole deal. And now on down through history there have been changes and variations but the result the same: an organization driven by maintaining power and control versus an organic community that grows, develops and brings forth fruit as it is connected to the vine.

        • Organizations don’t have to be maintained by power and control. I’m sorry that’s your experience, but it isn’t mine. I value a wonderfully healthy, freeing, alive atmosphere with loving and bold leadership.

      • If I can make an observation; what I see in the last exchange between Wayne and Jon are two legitimate models of “leadership” that were observed in the Bible. Jon’s perspective seems to be rooted in a model that was practiced in the temple under the old covenant. Wayne’s perspective has been molded by observing the example of Christ, who dismantled the old system, top to bottom, then proceeded to institute a new model under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I’m not necessarily saying Jon’s model for leadership is wrong, per se, but in regard to the church, that model was never encouraged in the early church. In fact, Paul speaks quite strongly to those who were trying to re-institute old systems, traditions and practices in to their meetings.

  22. I am not in an Army, nor am I in a battle, and I do not want to be. I am in a relationship with the God who made me and holds me precious. I have wonderful relationships with other brothers and sisters all over the world. This is not due to a corporate organization, this is due to Jesus. Some of them I meet with daily, some rarely, some I have never met, yet we all share a common bond and purpose. We are all part of the same body. We are all part of an ecclesia. We are all the church!
    I have found more real relationships and life in Him who loves us outside of the box than I ever did in it. I am not saying that it is not possible in the box, but for me I am so glad that he led me away from the bondage of religious performance and into true freedom of his love for me!
    I am willing to accept that those in the box are following Jesus as God leads them. It frustrates me to no end that so many of them are not willing to give me the same acceptance, but so quick to find fault.
    My meeting with a brother in a coffee shop is just as valid an ecclesia as 50 sitting in pews or 5000 meeting in a stadium.
    “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matt 18:20

    I had a friend years ago who stated “Protestants do not not have a problem with Popes, as long as they get to be one.” Well, I have met way too many Popes in my day.
    There is leadership in those who walk out of the box. His name is Jesus and he tends HIS flock.
    “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD.” Ezek 34:15

    I also have some dear older brothers and sisters in my life who have walked in an obedient love relationship for years, They are wise and loving and full of grace. They are elders for many. They have, over the years offered me wisdom and guidance, but only as led by the Spirit. They have also gently rebuked me with encouragement in him! But I am accountable only to God.
    Having read Wayne’s books and listened to The God Journey for many years, I think I am qualified to say the following.
    Wayne does not try to lead people away from meetings and buildings. He does try to lead people into a loving trusting relationship with Father. He tries to help them to find Fathers voice within their own hearts. When one finally hears and trusts fully in Him that created us that often tends to lead one away from the bondage that comes from religious performance, traditions of men and its trappings. Then they leave the building in search of relationships that are built more out of trust and real life, instead of obligation to attend a weekly meeting.
    I have seen some horrible things written about Mr. Jacobson, by folks that have never met him, nor spoken with him, and mostly read only a few excerpts. And this from people that claim to walk in Christ. The reality is that he is only putting into words what so many of us have felt for so very long. Please don’t shoot the messenger. We love him!

    • I would never think of shooting anybody! This is good healthy conversation. I’m very familiar with the opposing viewpoint, and I have no issue discussing it while honoring everybody involved.

  23. What a wonderful post Timothy. It sums up much of what many of us have experienced. Really liked the part about finding and hearing God’s voice in our own hearts. That truly is happening for me.

  24. Such great conversation! I am new to the mindset of living outside of the organized church. I grew up going to church – it’s just what we did. I am in a time in my life where my relationship with God is what is paramount, and I am trusting Him to meet my need of fellowship like He does the rest of my needs. I must confess though that it gets hard sometimes feeling so isolated. I crave relationship with other believers but just can’t make myself go to church. So here I am waiting and hoping that God is going to bring like-minded people into my life! God bless you all and thanks for sharing your insight!

  25. What is at work here are two completely different approaches to being the church in the world. And I wish I could say I have seen at work, people from both approaches, able to accept each other and allow each other the freedom to follow as they see fit without having to condemn those who see it differently. And John, your article doesn’t represent anything different to me. You have named it the scattering and identified it as destructive to the church. Believe me, I know that approach well.

    One of the examples you mentioned, International House Of Prayer, I am very familiar with. My father in law many years ago asked Mike Bickel to come join the fellowship he was leading, and due to the new experiences happing to his little Baptist congregation that was having a brush with what we call the Charismatic Renewal, my father in law felt unqualified to lead them. So he invited the very young Mike Bickel in to take over. Years later he would leave for KC to start up KC Fellowship and begin The International House Of Prayer.

    The little fellowship he left behind has remained connected to him and his work up to this day.

    Myself and a number of friends 25 years ago felt a strong leading from the spirit to leave and to set out on a new journey of learning to live as the church with each other and in the world. And we knew this meant outside the hierarchical structures many had grown to know as/assume was the church. I could no longer in good conscience continue to do what we were doing.

    I say all of that just to say I have seen, and continue to see through some connections, the wheels of this structure continue to turn. And I am not impressed. And it took me moving outside it to be able to see what it was creating. And still to this day, 25 years later, myself and my family face a continual flow of horrid accusations from the people still at that small little version of The International House Of Prayer, accusing us as being outside the will of God because we no longer do what they do. I don’t want to do what they do and I don’t want it to do to me what I see it doing to them.

    I really don’t care what one does in terms of how they gather together with others. What I am interested in is a way of being…..how one carries oneself and how one engages with others they meet along the way……those they are more like….and especially with those they are different than.

  26. My husband, Dave, and I have been having this discussion for a couple of years and are talking about this with friends as well. Let us know when you set up a get together. We are In Mesa, Arizona. I don’t think there is a scattering so to speak just a moving away from the corporate entity that pushes us away from a real relationship with the Father. So loving the freedom being in love with Father and knowing I’m loved!

  27. Wayne I believe a lot of this is accomplished in programs like AA. I have been a memeber for 28 years. We are a community with each of us at different levels of knowing God. WE have but one purpose-to help those alcoholics that are still suffering.That includes those still drinking as well as each of us. We follow the steps which transform us sometime quickly and sometimes slowly. It does transform us and returns us to our homes. I have been sober this long and still prefer a meeting over church, because I am accepted there. I am loved for me there. It may help to study the program. We have no paid leaders just the loving authority of a God who may express himself in our group consciousnesses.
    There is so much to share here, but a review of the program could be helpful to the agenda.

  28. There have always been moments of revolutionary change and evolvement amongst Christ followers. I personally believe that we are in the middle of one of those historical moments of change. Do we not believe in an omnipotent Father who will have his way in the world – regardless of us, our institutions, etc.? If all our historical religious figures had followed apostolic leaders within the churches of old we would never have had the Protestant Reformation and you wouldn’t be practicing church as you are now.
    Lately I’ve been thinking of Christ’s encounter with people in the gospels. I don’t think he ever once told someone, “Now that you have encountered me, (and been healed and forgiven) you must attend church every week, read 5 chapters of scripture daily, and do as your church leaders say.” I think he knew that once someone had encountered him, and I mean more than agreeing with this as a Biblical truth, their salvation would be worked out in cooperation with Father/Son/Spirit. In my experience just telling someone that something is true in the Bible is not a compelling reason for them to live in His love. That is something that must be experienced in relationship with him. I definitely disagree with you – and I do believe it is ALL about relationship!
    I was heavily involved in a church for 20+ years, and spent the last 3 of them wrestling with God about how I could serve him better within the walls of the institution. All the while experiencing what I call real church outside of those walls. Rarely within the institutional setting were the realities of God’s love and transforming power made evident. But with my own God created hunger for Him I went on a treasure hunt for His promises of abundant life and the freedom promised in the Bible. And Mr. Burton, once you have experienced that you will never again settle for anything less. I think there are valid reasons for “church” to exist as you define it, but I have found it to be a shabby substitute for authentic relationship with God and others.
    I found it to be a place of spinning wheels and reinventing wheels in the time/effort/resources that are used to try and come up with programs, plans, mission statements, etc. I’d even venture to say that if each individual dedicated the time/money/resources to what God brought forth within each of them far more for the Kingdom would be accomplished.
    I in no way denigrate you and what you feel God is asking of you, but I do want you to understand Mr. Burton, that some of us have left church because we have fallen so head over heels in love with Him that we have heard Him whispering to us that what He has promised is true. That there is so much more, and by His winning of our hearts we are in a better place to hear Him and respond as He asks us to. In ways that may not look like your way, but is no less legitimate. I don’t feel that we are harming His church, but instead responding in ways that will also further His Kingdom.

  29. John, What is the purpose, goal or end result of your church model? Your views suggest ambition, not love…..accomplishments, not Kingdom ethos.
    What do you think Jesus meant in Mark 10: Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

    Why do you continue in a Old Covenant paradigm of leadership rather that a New Covenant paradigm?
    How accessible are you to the average person in your group. Are you just a regular guy hanging out with everybody else? or is there a clergy/laity divide?

    Is it possible that If you were to entertain the ideas that Wayne suggests, it would threaten your ability to earn a paycheck, therefore, you must defend your system.

  30. There have been horrible things written about me?!?!??! Really!?!??!! Wow, how sad!

    I would like to say that John has been a good sport to come into this forum and let his views be known. Please appreciate that this may be his first time in this conversation with people who are not anti-church, but simply see church beyond the congregational-leadership model,, while many of us have been in it for some time. I see a lot of myself in John 30 years ago and I appreciate that he hasn’t been defensive here or intimidating, but passionate for his point of view. I realize for many others that may sound like he thinks he’s above the rest of us and we should get in line with is model. But I suspect that has more to do with others who have bullied you in the past, more than it is inherent in what John is saying. So, let’s keep it gracious on all sides so that we have the opportunity to grow and discover…

  31. I also feel that John was a good sport coming here and think he has had a good attitude with what he has shred. Forums can be so incomplete in that Rach post in only a paragraph or two can express just a fraction of what we each are trying to express. A real life face to face group sharing instead of writing just a little would be a totally different experience and bring out more where each of us are. Father, help us all with this and may we each come to see YOU more cleary, which in the end is what it all comes down to, the way I see it.

    • John:

      How did you arrive at your premise?

      “This scattering of believers is so widespread that we are seeing theologies and philosophies emerging that support the idea that it’s actually healthy to disband and withdraw.”

      Would you mind pointing me to some examples of the theologies and philosophies that are encouraging disbanding and withdrawing?

      Hopefully you see from all the responses here that it is not accurate in this particular case. We have been encouraged to connect and engage – just not in a traditional Sunday morning gathering.

      In spite of not going to a traditional gathering, many of us have found that we are growing in love for God and love for our neighbor, and we are seeing God in action amongst our various spheres of influence. The only way this is possible, of course, is because we are connecting and engaging, just not in a traditional model. I don’t think there is anything unhealthy about it.

      That said, if there are people teaching it’s best for Jesus’ followers to not meet with each other (in any sense of the word) and to withdraw from each other and the culture at large, I think you will find most everyone here agreeing with you that it is unhealthy.

      – Kevin

  32. My apologies if I wasn’t being gracious. Diplomacy is not my strong suit, but am direct to a fault.
    Yes, John, you are to be commended for taking this on in territory that is obviously of views similar to Wayne’s.

    • Wayne, I have often thought that there needs to be some way by which those that are “breaking free” could connect with like-minded people on the journey. The danger is that too much organization creates another institution which no one desires but in this era of modern technology what about a state by state, region by region database that people could provide contact info by which people could connect and further dialogue the discussion you are proposing?

  33. Roger, I’m working with a couple of different people that think we can utilize some technology to help connect people who resonate with certain websites to connect with others in their area who also resonate with similar content. While it may be helpful for some there ere are lots of problems inherent in it that will ensure it is not THE answer. What’s on my heart is something more organic, a way to live and love with a hospitable heart that and be open to the Spirit’s ability to connect people in a variety of ways. That’s what I’m most excited about.

    What we must avoid is any desire to create a movement of different technologies that still lead to the same end, organizational structures that become the focus, rather than a free people following Christ.

    From a wider perspective I will not be part of a process that looks to generate another “movement” of people who think they’ve got the last, best revelation of God and relate to people as insiders or outsiders of the “real deal.” People who are being shaped by Jesus find that approach to not have the fragrance of Father about it. Whatever God leads us to do, we dare not allow it to create the leadership or institutional structures that become tools for those who wish to market their wares or solidify their influence.

    There’s a larger question on my heart. Not, what can we do to advance a cause in the world, but what is he doing in grace and generosity in revealing his kingdom in the world?

    • @Wayne- Agreed (big time & ten times over) & thus the often discussed dilemma (past podcasts) of how people convinced of the simple beauty of living loved & daily partnering with Father with those they come in contact with can connect with others on the same journey who then can spur them on to love & good works. This was the rationale of wondering about some central database by which those on the same journey are given a way to contact one another if they so choose without anyone (except Father) who controls what or how that will unfold. I envision it as a facilitating of contact information vs. controller of what transpires.

  34. Well, It could have been a different Wayne Jacobson… 😉

    The reality is, although he is being a good sport here, the basis of his article is that I am “causing deep harm to the mission of the church”! Which is why you started the conversation Wayne.
    This is my frustration as well.
    John said above ” I’m very familiar with the opposing viewpoint”
    Therein lies the problem. I am not the opposition. I am a brother in Christ. I would prefer to be treated as such.

    I have been called a heretic on many occasions, all for not attending a Sunday meeting. Last year a local pastor I met, told me, upon hearing that I was not a member of a “Church” that I was not really a Christian. His view was that although I may be saved (and he was not too sure of that) I was NOT part of the body. I needed to repent and come back into the flock. (so yes Wayne, you are correct. I am a bit defensive.)

    I am not writing books and articles that say people are Heretical for not being part of the body due to their meeting in buildings. (nor is Wayne!) That is basically what John, however, is saying about our NOT being part of a club.

    “…they have decided that it’s not only better but actually biblically acceptable to minimize participation in an organized church setting.” John Burton, The Scattering Movement
    The fact of the matter is, The example we have in scripture was that of people meeting in homes. (outside of practicing Jews).
    We know that for the first 300 years of the church (through the writings of the Ante Nicene fathers, some of whom were taught by the Apostles themselves ) that they knew nothing of what John supports. In fact, in parts of the world it was illegal.
    It was not until Constantine that pagans were thrown out of their temples and Christians then REQUIRED to meet in those buildings. So I could say that he is the one operating outside of a scriptural and historical example.

    That, however, is so outside of where I am and what a walk with Christ is, as to be irrelevant and completely miss the point. I don’t care if you meet in a building, a house or a swimming pool. Nor do I believe, does God. This walk is a about a personal relationship with the God who loves us. The relationships that surround that walk can, and should be an incredible blessing. Lifting one another up into true life! Into the spirit of God flowing through us, becoming a real part of the body that changes us and lifts us up. God within us as a living example of church. So much so that when people see us they think we are different, not by our outward appearance, not by what we say, but by who we are. That we are the outward hand of God. Our lives being an outpouring of He that is within us! Then the lost will truly see who God is and what he can do.
    God showed me many years ago that it does not matter where that is. I want to be wherever Jesus is! Wherever his followers ( that have true life in him) meet! And I will go wherever that is, at his leading. And I do. If that means two people meeting in a diner, ten people in a house or two hundred in a building, I want to be there. (and in the last year, I have!)

    And all of that is well and good for our edification and growth. But what of the lost.
    When I was in the box it was the rare opportunity I had to spread the gospel, much less live it.
    Outside of it God has worked wonders. In the last 10 years I have had incredible opportunities to be a living example of Jesus in ways that I never did the previous 22 in the box. I have seen people come into relationship. Not just a building. (I realize that is not the case for everyone, but it sure was for me.)
    I imagine that in truth that is what is important to Mr. Burton, for every Christian and the body as a whole, is it not? If people being outside of the box are helping to bring Jesus into the world, just what is your opposition John?

  35. I appreciate the respectful dialogue between everyone. It was courageous of Jon to step in to this arena and express his opinions, knowing that they would not be supported by the majority of those who listen to The God Journey. The thought that keeps coming back to me is the idea that many hold that those not in the institutional setting are “forsaking the gathering.” I think this is a misnomer. Just because people aren’t gathering with tens, hundreds and thousands of other believers in a highly organized and programmed environment doesn’t mean they’re “forsaking the gathering.” True followers of Christ are going to be drawn to other followers and will long for community; real community, not what we typically call community in the organized church. Why? Because it is wired in to humans to relate and we’re drawn to those who have the same foundations that we do. I believe Jon’s depiction of “scattering” is inaccurate, in that it paints with a broad brush, applying the misdirected ideas of a few to the greater community of believers who are seeking and experiencing an organic expression of the Church. Some time ago, I heard a quote from a pastor who said of the various expressions of the Church; “it’s not wrong, just different.” The problem many Christians have is that we feel the need to assign right and wrong to everything, when most of the time, it’s not wrong, just different.

    • Hi!
      Thanks for the support… I appreciate it! It’s rare to find a forum where you can dialogue on debatable topics in a healthy manner. It’s been mostly great here!

      The easy stumbling block is that of presumption. Some have presumed about my beliefs wrongly, and I may have done the same.

      But, that’s OK. It’s fun to hear from different viewpoints… and it’s OK to be bold in our stances as well.

      Here are some quick points that might help you understand my perspective better:

      1. I don’t believe the ultimate goal of the church is community and personal connection.
      2. I do believe the primary purpose of the church is to pray for the nations and do the work of the ministry.
      3. I do believe in healthy rank and order regarding offices and callings.
      4. I do believe the Bible makes it clear that we are to be submissive to humans (God isn’t our only leader.)
      5. I don’t believe the church structure I affirm is old covenant. My book on the structure of the church, 20 Elements of Revival, is based on Acts 2.
      6. I do believe there can be healthy house churches and smaller gatherings.
      7. I do believe each church must have a God given vision that they are all working toward. For example, we are working toward planting 50 churches in Detroit and equipping people to develop them.
      8. I do believe extreme power comes when the masses come together in unity to contend in prayer and action towards a common vision. I see stadium level prayer events bringing a sledgehammer in the spirit to regions. This is why, in my opinion, it’s a threat if people are ‘scattered’ and not together doing the same things… agreed in the mission.
      9. I do believe we are to gather in prayer, fellowship and to receive apostolic instruction, based on Acts 2.

      Someone asked what the purpose of my church model is. They questioned whether I was full of ambition or not. Absolutely! I’m oozing ambition, but it’s not selfish ambition. It’s based on God’s mandate for my life. I’m pressing toward the goal. The ambition is to draw people into intimate encounter with Jesus and to see a city wide revival launch in Detroit. It’s a massive vision that’s humanly impossible. This is why I am training people in our school and casting the vision through my teaching. Detroit is waiting for the church to actively agree with God’s plans for a great end-time outpouring.

      When the outpouring hits, multiple thousands are going to be flooding into the Kingdom, and they will need a well trained, humble, zealous and disciplined team of people to minister to them. This is why precision is so important and we can’t be casual about our participation or casually connected.

      I do see the 24/7 church emerging again, as it was started in Acts 2. We will be together in prayer, apostolic instruction, ministry, worship and fellowship 6-7 days a week. It’s a great gathering together of the city church.

      Anyway, I hope that clarifies my position. I know you all won’t see it the same way, but that’s cool!

  36. I woke this morning with these words running through my head. Seems like good advice for us all to always remember.

    “May your perspective be larger than the view from
    the foothills.”

  37. To Mary Griffy: I am in Gilbert, Arizona — who knows, maybe there are others reading this forum who are in our area! Here is my email address if you would like to communicate further: oldstuff4me@cox.net.

  38. After listening to the podcast and reading the article and responses, it seems one of the real issues involves whose “voice” will a person follow. In my mind, the New Covenant is all about God moving “inside” of a person by means of His Spirit. Followers of Christ are to be “tuned in” to the voice of the Spirit and be “led” by Him. It seems John is of the mind that the voice that needs to be heard and followed by God’s people is one located “outside” of them in the form of an “apostle” (or perhaps some other designated church leader). That model is more in line with the Old Covenant. In contrast, Jesus said the Leader that is most necessary for His followers is the Holy Spirit who would live inside of them. In fact, He said He had to go away so He could come. He didn’t say that about any other type of “leader”. I believe that rather than setting oneself up to be “God’s voice” to people as an “apostle”, it seems that John would do well to teach those around him how to hear and discern God’s voice as he does. And then release them to learn how to live in step with what they hear, trusting Jesus in them to complete what He started.
    If Jesus is our example to follow then we should study how He lived His life and do the same. Is that a fair statement? Then who “apostled” Jesus? Whose “voice” did He follow? Who directed His “ministry”? Who held Him “accountable”? It behooves us all to watch and make sure we don’t marginalize Jesus and replace Him with some leadership structure that pushes Him to the edges of a believer’s life. The New Covenant is about learning more and more to hear and respond to a new Voice (Lord) – one that primarily comes from inside a believer’s life, not outside. That’s the “voice” I want to be accountable to. I don’t believe Father is going to ask anyone around John if he or she did what John said, or Wayne either. As I see it, the goal is for me to learn how to live unto the Father as Jesus did, not how to live under a particular brand of “church leadership” for whatever purpose or mission they decide is biblical. If there is any value for leadership in the body of Christ, then it would be to encourage the former and not the latter.
    Great stuff Wayne. Appreciate you John.

  39. John, I’m grateful you felt free to join us here. You have had a lot of opportunity here to make your beliefs known though I’m not sure you’ve listened as carefully as you wanted to be listened to. People here get where you’re coming from and many might want to engage a point-by-point rebuttal of those same points you enumerated above, since they don’t seem to express the teachings or example of Jesus. His life and priorities were quite different, and so I think were the actions of the early church as we see it unfolded in the Epistles.

    Most of us have heard this rhetoric before, even participated in it for major chunks of our lives, and in the end found it far more used to manipulate people into doing what the institution needed them to do, than it ever did to free them into a meaningful and transformative life in Christ. That’s where submissive talk becomes incredibly dangerous, when it is one-way (toward “leadership”) and not mutual among those who beat with Father’s heart.

    That said, I hope in this forum we can now lay down this part of the dialog. I don’t want us to be distracted by the argument between big-vision institutions and people who are living it relationally. People can’t change their point of view on these things until God opens their eyes. I wanted this podcast to open a conversation with those who are outside the box of organized religion and are experiencing a different way of “gathering” that has more to do with relationships than controlled meetings.

    Can we get back to that dialog and leave this other argument behind?

  40. There is something at work that has proven destructive to the human (the object of God’s affection) and to faith. I think organized religion is more responsible for this then are individuals who have been called out/separated from the herd in order to stand as individuals hidden with Christ in God. The individual who has gone through this transformation will struggle so as to never again loose their separateness to the assembly. And at the same time will experience fellowship with others and engagement in the world with others in ways that just boggle the mind.

    Belief and systems of belief are very different than a living faith.

    “Belief is a refuge and flight from reality. It is seized upon as protection, as a guarantee or insurance policy. Faith is taking risks, leaving behind safety and security, scorning guarantees, stepping out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee. If we live by faith there is no need to plead with Him to save us from danger. It is enough to know that since He is there, even if the danger should prove mortal, whatever God’s love wishes is being done and will be done in us, no matter what.

    Why believe? (Using “believe” for participating in faith.) We have no answer for it. Believe for what? With an eye to what? To achieve what? To get what? We believe for nothing. There is no objective reason for faith; you have to live it. Faith has no origin or objective. The moment it admits of any objective, it ceases to be faith. If you believe in God in order to be protected, shielded, healed, or saved, then it’s not faith, which is gratuitous. This will prove shocking, especially to Protestants, who have talked so much about salvation through faith, about faith as the condition of salvation, that they end up saying you believe so that you’ll be saved. But we have to keep coming back to grace and its gratuitousness. If God loves and saves humankind without asking any price, the counterpart to this is that God intends to be believed and loved without self-interest or purpose, simply for nothing. It is scandalous, and yet so easy to understand when you think of love. The moment that a man and a woman love one another for something, whether it be for money or prestige or beauty or job, it is no longer love. Love is without cause and selfish interests; love is without reason.

    Faith is constant interplay; it never stagnates or settles down. One cannot incarnate faith in some static, definitive fashion. Faith is the perennially new critical point. Faith therefore implies the continual presence of temptation and an ever clearer vision of reality; it implies criticism of Christian religion, of civilizing missions, of Christian moral codes imposed from the outside, of a Christian truth that excludes claims to it from any other area of human culture. Faith is the point of rupture (not with our fellow human beings) but with religions. Faith must proceed to criticize, to judge, and radically to reject all human religious claims. We have to be careful here; it is not people who are being judged or criticized here; it is their will to power and the expression of that in religion. But faith’s critique of religion can be rooted only in its critique of itself.

    Faith leads me to take part in everything, while at the same time it shows me everything in a light that is not that of reason, experience, or common sense. This is not a intellectual operation, but an existential attitude. Faith brings about the “new person” manifested in love and lucidity.

    The faith of Christians in the church today has gone astray. Their obsession with the contents of faith (theologians quarreling over technical terms) instead of with the movement and life of faith is what has triggered our worldwide crisis. But the unchangeable remains unchangeable. The Ultimate One, the Unconditioned, the Wholly Other has not changed. Faith is our responsibility to see to it that the Transcendent, the Unconditioned, the Totally Other Being, becomes an active reality here and now. Faith moves mountains only when it speaks to the omnipotent Creator, and when it also accepts its role of hearing the word of faith.”

    The whole piece can be read here:


  41. After listening to John’s last statement it certainly cements in my mind why I am no longer a part of institutional Christianity. If all we are is tools to be used to accomplish something for the heirarchy and vision of the head guy, it seems little more than serfdom. I do not think God put us on this earth to be just a tool to accomplish something. Where is the relationship in all of this? With God and with man. To what end? Where does love come in? The early church grew because their love was revolutionary, not because of strategies and marketing plans.

    • I just want to make something clear. This is a common accusation, so it’s worthy of a response.

      When we talk about accomplishing something, the immediate response is often, “We shouldn’t be building man’s kingdoms.”

      When I talk about accomplishing, I’m talking about doing the work of the ministry. Advancing God’s Kingdom, not man’s. It’s the Great Commission. Rescuing souls from Hell.

      Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” As we lead mighty missions of God, with great humility and sacrifice, we will see wonders.

      And, regarding relationship and love… by all means enjoy that. But, don’t let that be the final goal. There’s Kingdom work to be done. The laborers are few.

  42. Jesus said “I will build my church…” – that’s what I want to be part of.
    The only way I can see that that can happen is by my being connected with Him.
    Over and over I am challenged by Jesus words “Abide/dwell/remain in Me and I in you….”
    then ” you will bear much fruit – apart from me you can do nothing” [Jn 15] He says lots more too – I keep coming back to Jn 15 and all that Jesus said and did.

    I found the comment about corporations very helpful. Historically, as I see it, we have replaced the person of Christ as head of his church with “corporations – false persons that seek to perpetuate themselves” to paraphrase some of the words you shared.

    When our household was “sent” out of our own area to be part of a new congregation in a “poor” area not far from us I felt a warning from God along the lines of “Don’t expect that what you build within this denominational structure will last and go on” and it didn’t.
    We had ten amazing years there in which we built connection with the local people – and discovered how much God was already there – so many of them already knew Him in some way and that was especially true among the children.
    It is a long story but in the end we were asked to leave “so that we can get the structures right”. The formal congregation jumped at the opportunity to move out of the area with the promise of a brand new building. They haven’t realised that they left behind, abandoned, a people that God was drawing together in their midst – they lost sight of it and moved on.

    I am absolutely sure Jesus is still building His church in that area – but it doesn’t need a building – and it won’t be helped by coming under a “denomination” or under an apostle. I do sense that God will send others to stand with them, to encourage and where needed to support but never to control or own it. But we are brothers and sisters together in Christ.

    I have been greatly helped by the conversations on “The God Journey”, even enjoyed Wayne staying with us for a few days. I look forward to following the conversations, and that includes the comments – as long as they are helpful.
    I constantly remind myself that I am part of a much bigger body – the church Jesus is building – and that includes all those who know Him and are known by Him. Many of these brothers and sisters are connect to the “corporations/organisations” called “church”, I was. I honour them.

    I am also looking for how being part of His body works out locally. There are only a few we are connected to now and are trusting God to lead us in the “body connections” He has for us.
    Shifting out has transformed our relationship with our grown up children and their families and given us a much greater ability to share life with them. We pray that they themselves will really come to see and know Jesus. As we share life with them without the baggage of the denominational stuff I sense they are seeing more of Jesus in us than they was happening before. The barriers have come down.

    So I am not joining a “Wayne Club” or “The God Journey Club” – and I know you would NOT want that Wayne. But I do look forward to connecting here and wherever else God provides connections with brothers and sisters seeking to live life in the love of the Father under the headship of Jesus as part of His body.

  43. John, everyone here is clear on what you believe and you still don’t have a clue what others here are living or believing. I didn’t see the comment as an accusation, it was an experience. No one TALKS about building their own kingdom. They always talk about God’s kingdom, but in the end what they think benefits the kingdom mostly happens to benefit themselves. People have grown weary of the talk because it rarely, if ever, is not overtaken by the needs and demands of an institution and those who lead it. And they are always the last ones to see that their lives live in opposition to their words. When you exalt what you do and demean what others are doing as not being kingdom work or real church life, or truly submitted to Christ, you lose credibility except when you preach to your own choir. Learning to live in love is not just something for our own amusement, it is the only way Jesus said the world would know who HE is. All the kingdom work flows out of loving and if you’re not open that, it makes it very difficult to have a conversation that is going to be helpful.

  44. Unfortunately, I don’t think they do clearly understand.
    I’ll check out with this post, but the reason I have been sharing is to help bring clarity… it has actually been quite rare in this entire thread for someone to accurately understand my position. A lot of what has been said about my belief system is actually quite different than reality.

    • John, disagreement does not equal not understanding. My guess is that everyone here understands you very well, as most have been active in the institutional setting for decades; some of us for our entire lives.

      I find it disappointing that this has turned in to what sounds like you needing to have the last word (be right), since Wayne asked to agree to disagree and yet you continue to press your point. The more you press, the more it confirms for everyone what they are saying.

  45. I think they do understand, I just don’t think they agree with the modality you are so excited about. Most of us have “been there, done that” and found it wanting in so many ways. So we hear it clearly, and even believe in your sincerity, but we also know that hierarchical systems, large-scale events, and submission-based mission or unity are merely human fabrications and not the deeper work of the Spirit. That’s not to say the Spirit isn’t there and does good things in spite of our efforts, but there are other ways to live, love, gather, find unity, and engage mission that are far more effective and far less costly. We know you don’t see that and believe otherwise and no one is coming to your venue and challenging your freedom to do it. So be careful that you don’t condemn those who are finding a different way. We keep hearing from you descriptions of relational life as just being about love and good feelings, or its a resistance to gathering with others, and have come to realize that unless it happens in a system like yours, you can’t discern its validity. I, for one, find that sad and I know ten years from now you’ll see all this very differently…

  46. In yearning for a spiritual gathering outside of a organized religious meeting. . .

    I’m convinced of the importance and value of connecting with and caring for others in an environment where everyone has meaningful opportunities to invest their lives helping one another grow in the grace and love of God in Christ.

    “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” U2

  47. Reading John Burton’s comments (whom we never heard of until today) is like re-reading and re-living the mid to late 1970’s when “the Fort Lauderdale Five”, Bob Mumford, Ern Baxter, Derek Prince, Don Basham, and Charles Simpson promoted this kind of stuff. Having survived those years in the Discipleship and Shepherding movement and others like it, my wife and I are glad to see the viewpoint and forum Wayne is providing here. John, you need to look around you, find those from 30 and 40 years ago that were connected to “the covenant and community flow” that were around then, and get their input before you continue the same error and devastation.

  48. John,
    I have heard all the rhetoric before many times. We are indeed co-laborers with Christ but missional church patterns, visions, plans, etc. are really ineffective and not within the biblical frame of relationship and love. And, yes the gospel is all about relationships and love. Please remember that the story Jesus told in John chapter 15 is based solely on the individual’s relationship with Jesus so that the individual may bear much fruit. John, please remember that this fruit referred to here is not souls, although the fruit may lead to that. The fruit referred to is the love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and the rest that will come from from a life so deeply engrafted in the life of the Father, Son and Spirit that it simply flows from each of us. It is far better to lead someone into relationship and watch them change than to lead someone to an alter to make a decision and leave unchanged. Please understand that in my universe, I have been in that place that you are and as Wayne said, there will be a day when Holy Spirit will reveal the futility of mission statements, church hierarchy and to like. Jesus said He would build His church, I pray that you allow Him to do so. He is a very excellent at doing so, both individually and corporately. By the way, if you are having all night prayer sessions for change, or souls, or whatever, I suggest you cease this and encourage people to see what is going on in their sphere of influence and ask Father to reveal His plan to touch lives right there. It does no one any good to pray all night long for revival when our neighbors are hungry. I will be praying that you may see that the heart of Father for your community of believers.

  49. John, you said “And, regarding relationship and love… by all means enjoy that. But, don’t let that be the final goal. There’s Kingdom work to be done. The laborers are few”
    That statement dear man, is so very sad. Love is the goal. Paul said so.
    It’s like watching a man walking off a cliff, you warn & warn, but they will not listen. I have no doubt that at sometime in your life you will come up against a brick wall, you will be burnt out and wonder what you have been doing and for what. Then maybe the blinders will come off and you will see that what you have been so bent on building wasn’t for Jesus at all, but for yourself. Oh sure, there were some good things that came out of it, people were helped. But then, when everything is stripped away and true motives are revealed for all the “good works”, what will be wood, hay and stubble? We have seen or been what you have been, blind ambition and we know how it always ends, you think you and what you are building will be different. We know what motivates this drive. It may look like zeal for Jesus on the outside, on the inside it motivated by a need to matter, to be recognized, to do enough to deserve or earn acceptance from God or even an earthly parent. And all the while, you were already loved & accepted by your Father.
    John, I hear so little mention of Jesus when you speak, you speak of a kingdom to be built, but not of a Father to have relationship with. He loves you and wants you, not what work you can do for Him. I pray you will some day find rest in Him, because we all know how this ends. We’ve seen it a thousand times.

  50. Sort of in reply to Roger and others looking to connect….not participating in an institution frees us to just be in Jesus and let Him do the connecting. So we don’t have to try to find others who might be like-minded, rather we can be open to all, everyone we can love with Jesus’ love. And in reply to John, Jesus did not call his disciples to lead an army, He called them to follow Him. Jesus was not an organizer, but rather a teacher and healer who made very personal connections with people. He simply said loving God and one another matters most.

    • @ Nancy I don’t disagree with what you say. However in these modern times of social media the fact that I am in conversation with you about “just following” and what it means to be “open to all” is mind blowing but it is also distant and in some ways so very “non organic”. Jesus was very organic in his approach to relationships with people. He went into each day and connected with people but he also spent more intimate times with the 12 in order that they might be equipped to be sent out (please don’t read that word “equipped” using an institutional definition). One time I had an employer that had a motto that there was nothing like “belly to belly” conversation in order to understand, help and work out problems with others. I agree and that’s why it seems logical to find some means by which the opportunity is available that likeminded people have a medium by which they can reach out to one another in order that we might “spur one another on to love and good works.” A caveat is that this medium must be done in such a way as to protect the organic/ Spirit lead/being open aspects of daily partnering with Father. I’m not talking about organizing or controlling or building. I’m talking about providing an opportunity by which people can reach out to one another to move the “one another” relationship of walking with Father to another level. It could be something as simple as adding an optional location field to their replies in a forum like this, along with a pm feature in order that people could connect with each other if so led. Just my thoughts,

  51. Wayne, thank you.I just found you today thanks to another brother. My wife and I just finished your podcast, we were constantly saying amen, right on, I agree ad ah finum 🙂 At 77 years of age and having been in every position possible tying to follw ???? God it’s nice to know we are on the right track. I wish I had your vocabulry. I don’t so all I can say is preach it brother!!!!! My wife & I whole heartly agree and are involved with several others who also agree. May our Father and His Spirit increase your ability to show us how to listen to Him In His love Don & Te-Ata.

  52. This pod cast was truly a breath of fresh air in so many ways. Just now reading through all of the comments.
    I’m happy to help facilitate a conversation in the Stratford Ontario Canada area anytime!

  53. Wow! Just amazing stuff going on here. I am sure that lots of people are digging back to history of their own lives and journey as they contemplate these conversations.

    Many of you might remember the group who are lately, but maybe not currently, known as the International churches of Christ. During the 80’s they became the Boston Movement. They were the “sold out remnant”, and building that NT church! Now that I look back on it, I cannot conjure up any other words to describe the mentality and working of their VERY vertical and tall leadership structure other than arrogant. They were the only ones of God, but arrogant as hell. How can that be? I am referring to leadership.

    I took in their seminars and meetings, and was all oooggle-eyed! I read all their books. I admired their zeal. At that time, I only had a few objections. But to join, of course NO objections were allowed. If you objected, you were automatically rebellious and not “sold out”.

    As a corporate pilot at that time, I knew how absurd and extremely dangerous that view of leadership was. My first flying job was under an unquestionable captain. I remember thinking “if this is corporate flying, than I am in the wrong field”. Fortunately, that job only lasted a short time. You don’t want to be on a plane with one of those guys in charge. And yes, there are many of them in the air.

    So, thankfully, I didn‘t sign up. Now I just feel huge pain for them; all of them. The movement has rightly collapsed, but not before taking with it many human sacrifices. But have no fear; their “apostle” is trying to revive the (less now) number of “truly sold out” ones to get the old spirit back and save the world!

    John Burton, watch out for them. They have their own sets and lists of stared, “biblically” based declarations of what God does and expects; all nailed down biblically tight, they are sure. Since you are playing the list game, you have a real problem, as I don’t think that their lists match yours! What’s one to do?? They will tell you that they do God’s will. You must join them, and give up your strong, independent thinking ways. What will it be? Would you humbly submit to them? I think that I would be better off betting that the proverbial snowball would survive its tour of hell then you submitting to them!

  54. “Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there will be nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words … never really speaking to others.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906–1945

    Is it possible? I don’t remember where I first read the above Bonhoeffer quote but it sure stung me in a good way and as they say, if the shoe fits… More times than not, that shoe has fit very well indeed. It may be a bit embarrassing to admit but on the other hand realizing that possibility may help in maintaining a humble walk before God and others.

  55. Institution or no institution doesn’t really come down to how we see Jesus?
    Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I dug around a bit and came upon this.
    Oh weary, weary, weary it makes me to think that I may be ” falsely saved” and not truly saved.
    I am going to share this link be cause I like to know where people are really coming from and maybe some of you want to know too. My purpose in sharing this is not to stir things up but to stress the importanceof knowing what Jesus REALLY did for us. I think many of us on this forum have come to a place of true rest in Jesus and His work and THAT is a major reason we want simplicity in the ways we hAve
    community. After putting in the link I am going to go rest, rest, rest in the finished work of my savior and yes , grace.
    May all of you rest too, after reading what a lot of impossible self effort leads too.

    arms of Jesus my savior and His finished work and His gift of yrs, grace

  56. So much of this has to do with our individual journey with Father and allowing others to BE on their journey at the pace determined by their fear or faith. I am not promoting Shane Claiborne’s book “Jesus for President” but in it he paints a clear picture of where many Christians are on their journey…led by fear and clinging to what they think is safe. Claiborne is speaking of the Hebrews after God took them out of Egypt. The parallels to those in religion are similar. “God seems to have a knack for hearing the cry of oppressed people. Over and over the Hebrew Scriptures say that the people ‘cried out to God’ and that ‘God heard their cry.’ And so God led them on an exodus, on a journey out of the land of empires and slaves and into the Promised Land….”(page 32) After God presented them with His freedom “it wasn’t long,though, before the Hebrew people were tempted to be like those other nations and wanted a human king, one they could see and touch and worship.”(page 33) “They still didn’t get that they were to be a people ‘set apart’ from the nations and the patterns destroying them.” Claiborne goes on to talk about how the people were held by what they knew, even if it was toxic. They even exaggerated the positives of the known experience. The following quote from the book sums it up well. “Apparently,even being slaves of the empire was more comfortable and enticing than wandering with God in the desert…..As is often still the case with us, it may take only a few days to get out of the empire, but it takes an entire lifetime to get the empire out of us.”(page 34) I can only speak for my journey but there is still a lot of work to be done to free me from the empire. My greatest training with Father has been in the desert where I have had to believe by faith that He desires the best for me. Fear tries to drive me back to what I think I know and tries to hold me captive in the empires of this world. We can’t force people out of the empire but we can share how Father has met us in the desert and what an amazing journey it can.

  57. Quick response at this time to a great “kick off” podcast.

    “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient,” he said. “There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”

    Said ….. Bill Gates.

  58. We need both. How do young people connect and get together. I have children who no longer go to church as they “house church” yet they all met there partners in “church”. They now meet with like minded people and while espousing inclusiveness actually practice a form of exclusivity. People do go to a church for a first time and it is a real opportunity to reach people as well as go out to people. Church communities such as these “force” people to come into contact with people who they might not necessarily like but God has commanded us to love. My reading of the first churches indicates to me that there were both. Communities and then more closer “family like groups”. I agree that churches should not run the “missions” but the small groups, in fact this is why they might group together as a family. The church larger however should play the role as facilitator. Adopt this model and the church administration should be small. The world has changed and church as we know it needs to evolve. Maybe don’t require a building meet in a public hall once a month to pull all the families together in celebration. Corporate prayer and advocacy are powerful. Connection points are really essential. Being with people who come out of drug scene or prison I find they feel threatened in an small group environment but can be comfortable in a larger gathering and opportunity to met like people who have been on the path they have traveled. I can help them connect with like minded people yet still be in a larger community. This leads them to be accepted into a “family” group they are comfortable within a community. Yep Sunday church as most of us have known them have their weakness but so has the scattering groups. Yes large church with a dominating leader on a mission can be less than helpful, or a me church where we go to get what we need and be entertained, but so can a small group of procrastinators sitting around navel gazing waiting to “hear” from God doing nothing to increase the Kingdom. Often waiting to hear what they want to hear and miss what God is calling them to do. We need each other to hear, we need encouragement and discernment. I often found God has lead me when I have step out in faith and starting doing then he has Guided me. We need both. Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water.

  59. Something inside of me rejoices when i think of “gathering” with others of similar spiritual perspectives and life journeys – especially those learning to “Live Loved”. i just don’t know what “gathering” looks like for me during this season of relationship with Father and those inside/outside of the Church.

    I see Father giving my family spontaneous (and sometimes scheduled) opportunities to relate with other Christ-followers (as well as non-Christians) throughout the week, but is this enough? Is this what we call “gathering” or does Father desire something more in our lives?

    Since our departure from the institutional church, most would see us as uninvolved with “the Body of Christ”, but my family and I are routinely looking for ways to invest our lives into others. At the same time, we regularly relate with God through the Bible, we sometimes watch online worship services and messages, and (when the mood hits us) we will visit a local Sunday morning fellowship or Wednesday evenings small group. Is this “gathering”? We don’t “do” these things because we have too, but we participate with these opportunities as our spirit draws us. In essence, we want too.

    I am concerned with myself, though. I have a propensity to “do church” – WHAT are we going to do, HOW are we going to do it, WHERE is this “doing” going to occur… I am so easily drawn down this path, but I’m seeing clearer these days.

    These questions give me great joy in thanking Father for my wife! She can see the old paradigm approaching 500 yards away!

    Before the past few years, the “institutional church” is, for the most part, all we have experienced. It has been a difficult transition – one with a few battle scars. But we wouldn’t trade it for anything! The God we are beginning to see is more beautiful than we ever imagined. Thank you for letting us experience His love through your conversation, letters, and thoughts.

    Please keep dialoging. We are all ears 🙂


  60. Carol, Looked at the link. Sad for those who will deluded by it. There is no fear in love.

  61. In order to ‘draw people into intimate encounter with Jesus’ I believe two essentials need to be a reality in my life. The first being the developing of an intimate relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in my life. Secondly, developing relationships with others after the manner that I see in the relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit, who are the ones authoring that very relationship within my life. The manner and character of those relationships are not militaristic, formal, devoid of true attachment, but of relational, loving and authentic caring for one another, of loving out of the growing perception and understanding of the trinity’s love for me, and the world at large.
    I am extremely grateful to Papa for this community and what has been strengthened, affirmed, confirmed and learned through the podcasts and the comments shared by other listeners. It is only one resource that Papa has brought my way after he drew me out of the confines of organizations that hindered my growth and understanding of life as he wanted me to see and understand it. I am by no means finished the journey of discovery, healing and growth. I do appreciate though that for my life and the things Papa has been leading me toward, far more has been accomplished in the several years since he drew me out of the institutional organizations than during the decades I was a part of them. He definitely knows better the environment in which he can prosper my spirit and soul, and I fully trust in his leading and will continue to do so.

  62. A little bit ago, a podcast and a book raised this thought. It is still one of my favorite things to mull over. It is about how an orchestra achieves unity and togetherness. Those making music together don‘t tune to one another; they tune to one source. In this case, it is the first violin. It provides the correct note. All the instruments then are tuned to that note; not to their group leader‘s instrument or their neighbor‘s. All the very diverse instruments are then in harmony with one another; just due to the fact that they are each listening to, and then tuned to, the Source. Again, the instruments are truly diverse in many, many ways.

    Yes, despite all their diversity, they do come together to make music as an orchestra. But they don‘t have to be a huge group to have an impact. Let the Beatles loose today in a stadium, and you would definitely fill it to overflowing.

    Better yet, David Garrett and his violin will fill it alone!!

    It is an un-thought-through, doubly false conclusion that individuals can‘t have an impact, but that a group will! John Burton might just discover that to desire a change of thoughts and feelings about that would help dial back a needed notch all those certainties and conclusions that he believes.

    Visions and convictions can so easily blind and chain. But John, too, is on a journey. He has surely had his eyes opened somewhat this last week. Such opportunities often come from stirrings, longings and hungerings deep in the heart. Maybe these have been there in him for some time, despite any successes (or hype and bling-bling). I revel in that thought, as it is my history too. John now has more information to add to understanding and help open choices, desires and any other doors God uses to enter our hearts and lives.

    And really, I am truly thankful and blessed to have met him here too.

  63. I am thankful for this forum to discuss and learn. I went to John’s link and felt myself cringe . I am sure of his sincerity and diligence to serve his Savour, but I have experienced all of the spiritual pundits and devices for steering the Church into the direction they feel led to do. After 30 years I realized how empty it was to my spiritual growth.
    Maybe it will change for John also. Life experiences often cause us to look deeper into our hearts to know our motivations and to have a thinking faith instead of “following the leader”. I cannot be a puppet in a system. I can know a growing relationship with my Saviour and relationships with others without playing the “Spiritual” acceptance game.

  64. Thankful for all of the responses and the opportunity to follow the “e-dialogue” all the way through. My thoughts are that indeed it was courageous for John Burton to contribute to a forum where most would have a different view than his. I was encouraged to see how the posts which I read were gracious to him and he was gracious in his replies. I’m someone who “processes mostly outloud” and in my appreciation of the forum…I long for actual dialogue. (Rather than expressing criticism…I’m sharing my thoughts and patiently accepting that the forum is the best we have at the moment in “gathering” ppl from across such a large distance). I do hope that John will take Wayne up on having a skype conversation which we can hear. Just sharing my thoughts from Canada and with expectancy watching to see what will take shape : )

  65. Hi Wayne. Love the podcast. I have been on a journey for several years to discover ‘What is Church?’ I am currently journeying outside the established church and, indeed, for the last couple of years outside the ‘established house church’. I am currently part of a small house church of 9 people without any leadership hierarchy seeking to empower and equip one another to be all that God wants us to be 24/7. Covering and accoutability is mutual and in life as we seek to be family together and express God’s love to those we encounter. By the way, we are in Romford, East London. Do you have any plans to visit the UK to continue your conversational journey? Much blessings. Mick.

  66. Hi Mick. Glad you chimed in. I don’t have any plans to visit anywhere yet. We’re going to see where the most interest is and try to have them in enough regions that people can get to it if they want. Europe is definitely on my radar….

  67. Hi Wayne, Been following the podcast for years, and have been blessed by the ongoing conversation. You and I met briefly at an event just outside Concord NH, a couple of years ago. I live in Belmont, NH, (central NH-Lakes Region), and would be happy to coordinate any gathering in our area. Thank-you and Sarah for all that you do.

  68. Ok I know this conversation has run its course but “the great commission is rescuing souls from hell”? Really? That is not about Jesus.

    When people are about to die they tend to gather family and friends close to them and speak about what is truly important. In my journey reading the words that came from Jesus at just such a time, a time just before his death, I heard him very clearly. Jesus prayed the longest prayer over me. (John 17:20). I leapt up filled with so much joy I thought I would pop. I stayed in the upper room discourse for many many months letting it soak deep into my bones.

    This happened to me at a time when I hadn’t read the scriptures in a long time because after 10 years of organized religion I was dead inside and the word was dead. No life in the spirit. My grand daughter had come and asked me to read her a story. As she sat on my lap I was overwhelmed with love for her. I inhaled her smell, I felt her weight and I enjoyed her laugh. And the Spirit whispered to me that is what your heavenly Father wants you to do with Him. Sit in His lap, let Him read His story to you and enjoy you the way you just enjoyed your granddaughter. And that is exactly what I did. I sat in His lap and Jesus prayed that prayer over me and I have not been the same since. My Love for Him has deepened and my Love for others has expanded beyond my wildest imaginations.

    That is the great commission and that is how it is fulfilled. By Jesus not by human effort of rescue.

  69. I greatly enjoyed reading the posts in this amazingly civil discussion. I have much I could add, but for now, I have one question. Does anyone know where the term “Church Service” came from? Is it about someone serving someone/something else? If so, who and whom and/or what? Just curious.


  70. I enjoyed this week’s podcast very much, as it is touching on the same things I have been thinking about for a long time. I’ve been out of the box for many years, and I haven’t had a lot of fellowship with like-minded brothers and sisters for a long time. I’ve been listening to this podcast since it began (I think), or shortly thereafter, but it was in my heart to even get away from it for awhile. There are too many voices that scream for out attention, and too many things that we give our lives to that just don’t bring any fruit into our lives. Wayne, and those brothers and sisters who he has had on the show, have been the one constant voice in my life over the last few years that have encouraged me to trust Father’s love for me. I am learning to love others and trust in His love for me, it hasn’t been easy and it seems as though Jesus asks me to walk away from everything I ever had dreams of. I seem to be in a place on my journey where I just am, and that’s about the only way to describe it.

    Father has been teaching me how to love my family, as odd as that sounds, I just wasn’t and still am not very good at it. I grew up surviving, and Jesus has graciously been loving me out of my fierce stubbornness for years. I don’t mean to be off the subject, but I said all that to say this, it has been stirring in my heart for a long time to be with others that want to walk in the way that God is asking them to. To be a part of a fellowship that doesn’t seek to establish it’s own existence but to hear the Lord together and love one another and those that God is asking them too. Man, I almost went crazy looking for this in the past because I felt so much condemnation because I wasn’t assembling myself together with others. So, I just quit looking, and I became okay with just being where I was. That’s about the gist of it, I was learning of Father’s love towards me (still learning, I’m a slow learner… real slow) and how to love others (see previous brackets).

    I want to be a part of this conversation, and I long for the day when I can be together with others who care to have this conversation. I see church as a family, that shares life together, not solely about meetings and service but about life. Thanks Wayne, you will never know how much you have been a part of my journey.

  71. Awesome Wayne! This podcast is spectacular. I left the church out of disgust before I ever heard of others doing it. I truly felt I was walking away from God.

    Thanks to glorious teachings like those of John’s church I felt God would leave me if I left. My thought was “These guys can’t be right. Here goes.”

    John, ewwwww. Those teachings smell of Crusade. Good luck getting non-believers to join you, aside from a few corporate dudes and some Hell’s Angels. Good luck with that.

    That said, your zeal will bring you to the truth if you keep seeking.

  72. @John Burton (although it seems that he has left the convo:)…

    “And, regarding relationship and love… by all means enjoy that. But, don’t let that be the final goal. There’s Kingdom work to be done. The laborers are few.”

    I don’t mean to be overly simplistic (although I do believe that the gospel is much simpler than we oftentimes make it) but how does that statement jive with 1 Cor 13?

    Five years ago, the Lord led me out of a very traditional, conformity-based anabaptist denomination. Currently my husband and I attend and are members of a small country Southern Baptist church. We’ve built relationships with the folks there, appreciate the leaders and recognize the love they have for each other, but something still just doesn’t set right with me. And I can’t figure out if it’s Satan breeding discontentment or if it’s a result of still seeing people put God in the box of “church” when He has so clearly and sincerely shown himself to me outside that formal structure. It’s a journey alright and one that I am so very thankful HE is leading me on.

    I would so enjoy the opportunity to share face to face with others on this journey! We are located in SW VA near Roanoke but would be interested in a gathering as much as a couple hours away (Central VA, NW NC, etc).

  73. @ Katie:
    John says, “We are called to gather together with other believers primarily to intercede for the nations.”
    First of all, Jesus encouraged us to pray that The Lord would send out *laborers* into the harvest, so I’m not sure where John finds his goal to intercede for the *nations*.
    Secondly, if the the purpose of the church is to be a soul winning army among the nations, the that would mean that at the end of the age, the church will cease to exist, having fulfilled the mandate.
    But the church continues on, not because it’s an army, but because it is the bride of Christ.
    Faith, hope and love abide, not mission statements.

  74. For John i suppose that God is showing him something hes has never meet with different thoughts and different Respones that he has ever incountered but im sure that God will show him. It is like the people who use the word Church this to me is still a word that holds people back, people waste about 65 percent of there energy to explain but in Hebrew and Greek the word was not used except once and it was for Pagen or the Heathens i beleive. Im just a newbe i guess and thats ok. I think that people need to know what Repentence Means like John the Baptist did he did not proclaime the word church it did not come out of his mouth at any time. It amazes me what that word has done to people like myself for many years i would say 30 years or even better. At times when i speak to people the Argument begins with a Word Church then i waste more time explaining it.
    That word Church has done more Damage then any word i can think off to the Human Race except for the Time Of Adam and Eve. I am afraid that i may still be Luke warm at times But i know that God will show me

  75. I meet too many sincere christain who have strong belief, but the question for eternal life is not what we beleive; it is to believe and do what the Bible says; to be exact what did God says and obey it. Believing in God is not a belief system or understanding; it is a relationship. There is no other books to develop and build a relationship with God, then the Bible . This relationship with God will florish and produce another relationship with other God believing people.

    When Jesus answers to the Pharisees (on what is the most important commandments) he said: (parallel) that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind; then other as important commands he said; “love your neighbor as yourself” Matt 22:34-40. Jesus also said: “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” If we love God we obey his commands. John 14:15, 1 John 5:3

    The question is not; should we gather or not, or in what fashion we should gather. The question is why we gather. I once was a leader in an institutional church the bottom line was the number of people gathered; the satistic is more important then the gathering of God people sharing a relationship with God. Some even gather for the sake of gathering together and nothing else.
    Some gather for a man made mission, sound very good at first but when you compare the mission with God’s word it is mission to build bigger group, bigger building, program focus and so on (man based mission). Francis Chan once question “How big will Jesus church be if he is here on earth now?” If you read Matt 7:14, Jesus said “the gateway of life is very narrow, diffcuilt and only few ever find it.”

    Of course, if you are going with the crowd and not trying to find Life then join the crowd. But if you are seriously looking for the way to Life and Truth then Jesus is the only Way. Jesus said: “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.”

    Is not what I way that is important; it is what did Jesus said. We are living near the end of this age. Jesus is returning soon, our only mission is to proclaim the Gospel and make disciple (it is not running some kind of program or start a movement, the only program the Apostle started was a food program to help the poor, read Acts). But you need to know what is the Gospel before you can proclaim it. With this question I will stop and allow those who read this post ponder …
    (Oh BTW, the answer is found in the Bible)

    (Yep, I do mean all other christain books do not lead you to God, why? read John 1:1-5 and 14)
    Are you still hungry after attending so many seminar, courses and reading heaps of christain book?
    Try asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you as you read the Bible. Yes it require faith (but without faith it is impossible to please God). Yes you can read and understand God’s word totally depending on the Holy Spirit and no one else.

    Don’t follow me, follow Jesus. He will guide you because He is the good sheperd.

    • I know that im not good at putting down words on paper but what i was trying to say is this For most people they think that reading His word in the bible that God speaks to them and this is true but his word is not only read God Is Spirit what about hearing him. It states in the Good Book His word but it does not mean reading it all the time what about him speaking to you. All these people that you Read about had to hear him First Gods Word then it was written i hope that people Realize this if not i dont know what else to say at this time. If people think that reading his word is the only way i think that we may have problems here. Im just a newbee here but these are my thoughts. I think that God Is big Enough for him to Talk to you, or me and if he talkes to you then that is his word. not written only. Oh how to live love and Free i think that some may have some pondering to do.
      I am tired of people who want to bring there bibles out and think that this is the only way to hear and understand God the Bible is a Guide line but you still have to live and hear him.
      I will give one illestration I had spoke to a guy and asked him speak to me about God without Bible in hand and he told me how can i do this without Showing you his word he told me he could not with out a written word to prove his point to some degree, but at the same time the People that we Read about did not have Bible in hand. This is what i mean so he was stoped in his Tracts that told me alot. Im not saying not to read your Bible to any one but i hope that people realize that that is not the only way.

      • Raymond. If I understand you correctly, I agree with you. Most Christians don’t know what it is to hear from the Spirit and think that God is done speaking and that what he wanted to say was put in the Bible…His word. In my opinion, there has been a great amount of misunderstanding over the term, “the word” in the Bible. Most people think that when the Bible uses that term, it is referring to the words God spoke that were compiled and bound in the book that we call the Bible. In most cases, when “the word” is used in the Bible, it is referring to Christ and is encouraging us to listen to his spirit, rather than simply reading and following the Bible. Simply put, the Bible is not God’s Word; Christ is. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” Unfortunately, I think we have unintentionally put the Bible in front of God when we approach it as his “word.” While the content of the Bible is God’s story and contains a great deal of his broader purpose and will for the world, it is not his final word. Only Christ is his final word and Christ still has a lot to say to us through his spirit. Listening to his spirit is an art that, I believe, most Christians have lost touch with.

        • Kevin you understood me correctly,for 2 years now i felt like a man in a cage in some ways, with at times great joy and at times with Great anger and the funny thing is this i could not really speak to any one except a freind threw the internet but i still could not understand him some times he has tried but i guess im stubburn or now that i think off it ive had or should say Christ had to take all off what i thought and start throwing it out the window a little at a time. there is much for me to learn how to live at the moment it seems like my life is up side down. When some one sayes they are detoxing i understand what that means now.
          I was in and out of Church groups or to them i was a Back sliden Christain as they say it in which for me im glad that i was now that i think off it. Oh well not to make this into a story Kevin for me there is alot to understand in who i am, what i am, and where Christ wants to take me, When i wrote what i wrotei thought i would get negative feed back and if i did i would of said that they were full of shit in kind words but while you and some one else pretty much confirmed what i had writtten then i knew that my thoughts were not wrong. I figured i would toss a coin and see what happens. For most parts in a way im Glad that God didnt send any one my way as painful as it was.
          Ive asked him to send some one my way many times and he would always say Ray i will show you but i didnt understand what he meant but now i do. I suppose my journey started 2 years ago but now it has really started. Well Kevin thanks for what you have written this answers a whole lot of things for me Ray

  76. Sir Henry i Agree 100 percent with what you have written. But for me and this is only me When i read the Good Book i got total Confused because of what the Instutional Churchs in which i hate using that word Church i was confused. I had to Put the Good Book Down and Leave it alone now this may amaze you and many more Readers that follow this Blog. But you will not find every thing in the Good Book some times you have to learn when The Holy Spirit is directing you also, Many people can Quote Bible Verses from left to Right and Know 100s of Verses to me thats Ok but what is more Key is a Person who can Hear Him and Act on it.
    If a person Reads what is in the Good book i hope that they will relize that God Spoke to them and They Wrote down what he wanted written down. The Good book also tells you this. Jesus went every night to Pray and at times i think it would be to talk to the Father there was no Script for him to read and this Goes with every person that you read about from start to Finish in the Good book. It is written So that you will Know how to Follow Him, who to Follow, and who is Directing your Path and the next thing Is being able to hear and Listen to him.
    Many people Dont have balance in there lives because they dont know how to live. Example When you get up in the Morning and Get ready for your day When you leave your Door step your day is already planned for you if you know it or not God has already set your Path in front of you its up to the indivdual to realize this if he or she can. The People i meet in the course of my day is different every day even if i do the same thing every day.
    For example I was some wheres and had to get Car Parts well it was 15 degrees out but when i went back to my car This Lady came up to me and had asked if she could get a ride she told me that she never asked a strranger but something told her to ask me and She did it was out of my way complety she had 2 young Kids with Her right there i knew God had sent some one my way i didnt talk to her about God because the Door was not open to it but it was open to her for some thing else with may be some one else dpwn the road when i droped her off I gave her 20 dollars to get a Cab so that she wouldnt Freeze with her kids that day. Now thats Not in the Good Book and my Name Raymond that is not written in the Good Book but the People you read about did some thing like it.
    I have a hard time to express my self in writing words But it seems like people need Balance and need to know that every day that you live the Script is already written for you. It is up to the indivdual to relize this. God will not give you some thing dto do until you are ready to do it. When a person really relizes this then to me Thats when Faith will really come into Play.
    This is for me only i may be wrong, some may think im out to left feild. But im here all alone and no one to talk to about what i see Hear, and what ever else i am going threw with my Journey with God. Im a 54 year old man with 52 years of not really Knowing who or what God was really about Except for that word Church in which every one usess today that screwed my life up Its been 2 years now i dont know if i will make it but i will Try that is all i can do. Some times it may be good to know and ask God if i am yours then what. Or show me your way God. There are things in the Good Book that are not there that i have to go threw most off it is but one thing i know is this My name Raymond is not written there it is written else where.

  77. Lots of interesting discussion here! I haven’t even listened to the podcast yet, but I’m already really engaged after reading these comments!

    I clicked on the John Burton link assuming it was an article that the God Journey recommended. After reading the first paragraph, I instantly knew that it’s NOT what I’m looking for. I am not attracted to the polished, pristine, mechanical, army-like precision of “church vision”. It just doesn’t make sense. And if I can be very frank, some of John’s comments sound like a marketing professional. I think people here are looking for simple, beautiful, organic relationship with the Father that doesn’t feel like an army, business, or any other kind of man-made institution! Forgive my harshness, but reading that “Scattering Church” article literally made my stomach hurt. I’ve been so utterly exhausted by the “constantly-trying-to-pray-all-the-time-work-hard-work-hard-be-spiritual” lifestyle. It’s not human. It’s not what God wants. He just wants us, to be US. 🙂

    Thank you God Journey for continuing to post podcasts.


  78. Raymond, you are so right. I love the Scriptures so much and spend much time in them, learning about how others in the past have related to God and have learned to hear and follow Him. However, each believer has their own unique relationship to Him, and I cannot enter into my relationship with Him strictly on someone else’s coattails. No one else can have YOUR relationship with God, and you cannot have anyone else’s, even a biblical patriarch’s. Jesus himself said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” John 5:39.

    The Scriptures say that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and not the Scriptures themselves. I believe that a person can have a relationship with God without the Scriptures, though I would say the Scriptures are extremely helpful. Conversely, I think that there are some who totally rely on the Book, whom have yet to have an actual relationship with the Living God.

  79. Kevin, I’ve definitely had a similar thing happen to me when I would ask the Lord to send someone my way. It’s like He has done the exact opposite, and I believe that some of the reason was to protect them from me. =) I used to be a bit of a “super Christian” if you know what I mean. About 13 years ago or so, I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart and said that, “Jesus wanted to be my Teacher”. So I took that and spent the next 10 years or so devouring everything that I could get my hands on like books, podcasts, websites, whatever. Having done this it would always end up with me burning out and the Lord whispering once again that, “Jesus wanted to be my Teacher”, I was just afraid I would miss out on something so I tried to grab for myself what Jesus wanted to give me.
    So here I am now, after all these years, learning to be content with my Teacher and His desires for me. Reading Scripture now is enjoyable, and the few things I listen to or read other than that are in line with what the Lord is revealing in my heart anyways. I would have to say that to me, the Scripture is a great way to confirm things that the Lord is saying and sometimes new things are opened through them. Other times the Spirit speaks to my heart about truth or shows me in something that is happening or a failure of mine (but the lack of condemnation in the Lord’s speaking to me in these times took me forever to get used to), or a victory. For us to ever put God in a box is a sad thing, I hope to learn to let the Lord be as free in my life as He desires. However He speaks, I just want ears to hear.

  80. Dear Wayne,

    I cannot begin to express how excited, encouraged, uplifted, edified and simply overwhelmed I felt having listened just now to your podcast “A greater gathering”.

    I AM one of those individuals who stopped being a member of a local church after many years, leaving behind in the process special relationships and deeply entrenched habits and practices which had little to do with freedom in Christ.

    When I left I wrote a post on my blog entitled “Why did I stop going to church? Because I was looking for Jesus and I could not find him there” which you can find @ http://anewcreation33.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/you-are-always-on-their-lips-but-far-from-their-hearts/

    I would be grateful if you have time to read it and give me your thoughts on it.

    You speak much truth and make much sense in every single thing you state during that podcast and I am so filled with hope for a large number of people who indeed seek after a relationship with others and with Christ based on the leading of the Holy Spirit and not men and women.

    You speak of whether God uses the Internet to create such relationships and I can testify that He does. I started my blog 5 years ago and through it I befriended a man who lives in California. I am Spanish but have lived in the UK for 22 years. This man spoke prophetic words of encouragement and discernment into my life and that of my family at times when we needed guidance and a strong sense of God’s love and Spirit, and despite not having met this person in the flesh, he shared things with us and about us which only God could have known. We have been praying and encouraging each other for all this time through our blogs, and last August my family and I travel on vacation to California, Nevada and Arizona.

    The Lord put it on my heart years ago that I would one day meet this person, and just as the Lord imprinted this on my heart, so it came to pass. We met and spent a couple of hours together over a cup of coffee. I met his wife and he met my family, and during those two hours I felt the Spirit of the Lord present with such intensity and freedom. God does bring His people together to achieve His purposes. I have various other acquaintances and strong spiritual bonds with other Christians through my blog and again have no doubt I will get to meet in person and love on some of these individuals face to face one day.

    I currently do not have much personal contact with other Christians. My husband continues to be part of the church I left but in his heart and spirit he is beginning to see the things I have been sensing for such a long time. He hosts a Bible study group at our house attended by just three people and there is no real structure to it or anyone leading it. It is simply three people getting together praying and meditating on God’s word. Just as I felt the Lord calling me out of the institutional Church, I feel the Lord calling me beyond house groups. I don’t know where He is leading me in terms of that elusive Christian community all of us crave for in our hearts, but I do trust that just as he led me out of an old wineskin that is no longer able to hold the new wine, He will in time bring me into relationship with others who are on the same path as I am, just as He has brought me to listen to your podcast and to make contact with you all today.

    I am extremely excited by your proposal to have various gatherings around the world to discuss the subject of this podcast and how we feel God can create Christian community outside of the camp, and I would like to enquire whether you would consider coming to the UK, where I am aware there are many others who like me crave to share the Spirit of God and to glorify Him outside of man made and man controlled Christian community and institutions.

    You now have my email. Please let me know if you would consider holding one of these discussions here in the UK and I would be happy to then take it from there and try and find out a venue and other kindred spirits who are sensing the same things coming from the Holy Spirit. I live just South of London.

    Thank you so much for taking it upon yourself to take us further into this wonderful journey of discovery called Christianity.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    God bless you.


  81. I’m a tad late in listening to this one, and to the conversation, but, I have to say, it’s grabbed me by the heart. In fact, I listened to it, then hit the replay button so I could hear it all again.

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the above comments, this is really just a quick drop in to say ‘thanks Wayne’. This is something the group of people I spend time with over here (Melbourne, Australia) have been talking about for a while now. How to be more intentional, together, without a ’cause’ or ‘entity’ becoming the focus and taking on a life of it’s own.

    I’m just about to listen to the ‘aftermath’ podcast, and hope to get a chance to read the above comments tonight after work.

    So thanks Wayne! Great stuff (as usual)!

  82. After reading these many posts, I am left with the question that I had before I began reading. Why gather as Christians at all?

    • Alan thats a good Question, there are many possible reasons that i may try to give you and some may hold Ground then some nothing at all but i suppose the one that can really answer you would be Christ himself im not one that is really on a Group gathering My self but then there are others that are for what ever reason. but then im Curious as to what others may have to say i guess. or Whayne Him Self on this one. Ive been alone for a long time with a hi here and there thats all im use to it now, i take what comes as i go.

  83. Alan, methinks you may have missed the point of the podcast. We don’t need to gather Christians at all. “The Greater Gathering” is not another meeting to add to all the other meetings Christians have organized over a couple of thousand years, it’s the knitting of hearts together who are growing to know him. It’s the conversations, connections, and collaborations that the Spirit inspires that allow God’s glory to be revealed in the earth. It’s not something we have to do. It is something he is already doing in the earth.

  84. Wayne, methinks you may have missed the point of my question. I didn’t imply that we ‘need’ to gather. I asked, simply, “Why gather as Christians at all?”. What you can correctly infer from the question is that Christians, like every other sort of people _will gather_. What I honestly (and I don’t mean any veiled irony in this) don’t understand is, why?. I suspect it is almost entirely for the purpose of dispelling insecurity. There is nothing weak or wrong about it, it is in fact very wonderfully human. What is most often wrong is how we dispel it. Someone coined the phrase “Fight or Flight” to describe our options to insecurity. I noticed one day that there are more than two options in that pithy little truism. The transparent option is “or”. It stands in the middle, quite content to leave it’s larger brothers to the anxiety of reaction, while it sits peacefully in between, remaining unaffected. I believe Jesus is the ‘or’. Jesus was the only truly human being that ever walked the face of this earth, with the character of Adam possibly being the only exception. Confident in the guidance of his uninterrupted conversation with his Father, there was no contention for the truth, despite the many who contended with him. He lived in the midst of endless contention, as he still does, in our own hearts. He stands as the ‘or’ of humanity that doesn’t require resolution, just a peaceful place to abide in the midst of the warring contention of this difficult task of living.

    Reading the exchanges here, reminded me of a left handed man disputing the proper techniques of penmanship with a right handed man. In the end, if the righting is legible, it is the content of the message that overshadows the method. If we are not certain of our conviction, we will probably find someone or an entire group to validate it. It is the resolution of that uncertainty that often leads to failure. While one will resolve to displace their insecurity by adhering to a group that is most affirming, leaving the details of their conviction to authorized thinkers, another will cement their conviction independently of others by some reasonable, common sense, perhaps “biblical” thesis that they may promote and defend on their own.

    I heard John Burton reaching for the same goal you are reaching for. The institutional structures he advocates have worked well for him (I presume) in finding the image and meaning of true humanity in the person of Jesus that we are all so desperate to know and be. John’s article is a common insecurity of those who have found their resolution in these institutions, which seem to be eroding away. That is as honest an insecurity as is your experience of the human destruction his institution has inflicted. Any resolution that leaves an “us” and a “them” is no resolution at all though. The resolution that leaves a ‘we’, sets us on the narrow path that leads to life.

    I am very impressed with John’s presentation in the exchange and mostly his ability to leave one final, and respectful comment. I hear great confidence in his words and am glad that he has found a branch upon which to alight.

  85. Raymond, Makes sense. I think I have talked Jesus to death with other people and now, either I hear them say what I already know or am kind of offended at what they make of him. I don’t think Jesus came to create Christianity so I don’t really want to join it. As I said, I think Jesus came to make us truly human again. We have clearly lost most of what that means. I have sat in church groups for 40 years and listened to every sort of Christian belief, conviction, myth, superstition and cultural conditions. It all seems like people trying to make something special out of Jesus purpose when I now think he meant to make things ordinary again. When we believe in God like we believe in gravity, what is there really to say about it, other than to appreciate what it does for us. No amount of gravitational theory or conviction will improve on it. No one gets together to talk about gravity.

    • Hi Alan
      To me the Word Church doent mean any thing to me we have to as people get past this point. Abraham was or should Say he had great Faith because he did what the Holy Spirit told him and he Heard and acted on it to do the word Church never came up. Jesus never spoke it either what he did say many times is this i am here to do the will of the Father not even his own thing. We need to know how to live and we dont know how because of many Factors invovled. Alan why Gather you are Right why i dont know Why.
      Abraham did he go out to Gather in a Service no,Did Jesus go to Gather no none of the Above did this he just did what the Holy Spirit told them to do. One Day it can be helping a person, or given some one a ride, or maybe just having a coffee with a stanger at what ever place your at. I m afraid that to many of us and me at times have got into something that we think we have to do and instead try to listen more and live your Life at where your at. i live in Maine, Wayne i think :ives in Californa there is no way that he and i can do what you read in the book of Acts and get the same result it will not happen. If people read the Book and try to get the same result it wont happen.
      There is nothing wrong in wanting to get together with other people who are on the same Road that you or i am . But for now i feel like Moses im out in the Desert and to be honest with every one thats where i belong for now. i Have to be Happy where im at i have to except it and if i dont then it will take God a lot longer for him to keep showing me or he will leave me there until i hear what he has to say. Hebrews Chapter 3 Verse 7 to 11
      But for the Guy or Female that follows the Holty Spirit there is plenty for that person to do.
      And for john Buxton this is what he dosnt understand and of Course the Word Church he needs to learn to be a servant first like Milking a Cow then you will move up and make Cheese, Ice Cream, etc but first he needs to learn to Milk the Cow first. I think he is over educated, plus when shown how to milk his first cow then he might like it i dont know these are my thoughts what ive pasted in the bottom From Ken Brown in one of his writing i just pasted it. below. People are trying to make things to complecated out there. The Sun Rises and Goes down at the Same Speed every day. Can you image that it has not Changed since God Created it. And then he said this is Good.

      This is what Paul had to say about understanding things that can’t be known through the natural, physical senses. It’s found in I Corinthians 2:9-16.

      “But just as Isaiah has said, the eye hasn’t seen, nor the ear heard, neither has man in his wildest imagination ever dreamed of all that God has prepared for those who reverence Him and are quick to obey Him. But God reveals them to us through His Holy Spirit. For it is only the Spirit Who understands the things that lie hidden well beyond the perceptive abilities of our natural senses. Men tend to understand only what they’ve reasoned out of their own minds. But the Holy Spirit understands only the things of God (He’s not burdened down with a rational mind controlled by physical senses and appetites). Now, we don’t follow the natural senses that reveal only the things of the world. Instead, we follow the Spirit of God, Who has been given to us so we can comprehend the things that God has given to us out of His grace. So that the things we’ve been telling you about have not come out of our own understanding (they didn’t originate in our own thoughts, and we didn’t learn them from other men). But it is the Holy Spirit Who has taught us these things by adding one spiritual concept upon another. Therefore, those who insist on relying on their own natural senses will never understand what the Spirit teaches. They will think these things are absurd and will never understand what comes only through the Spirit. The man who follows the Spirit will understand spiritual things. Yet, those who follow only after their natural senses will never understand Him. And who has ever understood all that is in the mind of the Lord that he could ever tell Him anything? Yet we have the mind of Christ available to us (revealing the thoughts and purposes of His heart to those who are submitted to Him).”

  86. Raymond,
    I hear ya. I sat in church services for 40 years – doing nothing. No body in the building was doing anything except a hand full of people who exhausted themselves for 6 hours every Sunday organizing, cleaning, making coffee, practicing a couple of stage shows and then performing them. Everyone else just sat there and watched.

    Now, I don’t even ‘gather’ with people who call themselves Christians at all, but I am with people all the time. I remodel homes for a living so I am with new people all the time. I am also with coworkers who may or may not call themselves Christians. We gather for a purpose. Together, we improve the living standards for people.

    In the course of doing these things, I spend the bulk of my energy doing these things as an extension or as a representative of Jesus in these people’s lives. I don’t really try and emulate Jesus, I just show up and intend to be, say and do what I have grown into over the decades of endless mental conversations (mostly one sided – but still okay) with God.

    I had breakfast with some Christian friends last weekend. The food was good, they talked about work and kids and life which was mildly interesting. Before they ate their food they closed their eyes and said a few very repetitive words that seemed more like an obligation than sincerity. As we ate, they each pretty much repeated words about Christian doctrine or Christian culture they had heard in sermons or books – that have all been said far too many times and were far too predictable. At one point two of them disagreed about the words and settled like a couple of chickens squabbling over some corn by retiring to their own corners and ‘agreed to disagree’. In the end, we all got up and left. I don’t know what good it did besides helping everyone feel a little less lonely for an hour or so, which was probably the best thing that came of it. I am sure there were some other people sitting at a table in the restaurant talking about soccer or golf or a book they read, accomplishing the same thing.

    I still don’t know why Christians gather at all, other than to feel like there are other people who think like they do, same as Hindus do or Republicans or Construction workers. The only difference between many people here in this forum and John Burton is the form in which the gathering takes place, the former wanting no structure and the latter needing significant structure. But in the end, they seem like they all gather for the same illusive purpose (illusive to me that is).

  87. “The Greater Gathering” is not another meeting to add to all the other meetings Christians have organized over a couple of thousand years, it’s the knitting of hearts together who are growing to know him. It’s the conversations, connections, and collaborations that the Spirit inspires that allow God’s glory to be revealed in the earth.

    I don’t really know what “the knitting of hearts together” means. I guess it means “making friends” in another vernacular?

    I am also confused about “collaborations that the Spirit inspires that allow God’s glory to be revealed in the earth”. Thinking about God’s glory revealed in the earth, man, that’s pretty much all I see, in spite of the conversations, connections and collaborations of people. They are a very small part of it but on the whole, all one has to do is breathe in and breathe out to experience how amazing God is, which I suppose is what glorifying God means. Gravity is the glory of God, we are entirely dependent on it and at the same time, we ignore it all the time.

    What seems to trouble people the most I guess is the idea that we are the glory of God. That he loves us. I suppose gathering together to remind each other of that gloriously redeeming fact is well worth it but if we need to continually meet for that purpose, I wonder if we ever really believe it at all. Once we do believe it, it seems the best thing to do is leave off the meetings and go live it.

  88. I noticed the question Why Gather? above several times. So I thought I would express some of the reasons I gather with other believers regularly. First of all when I say gather I don’t necessarily mean a meeting. Also there is never an appointed leader running the gathering of saints that I fellowship with. Thirdly not everyone is like minded on all details.

    We gather around Christ and not doctrine. We are a extended family to each other. It is a place I feel safe to let down my guard and share inner feelings and thoughts because these people have been changed by Christ. I have no need of putting on a front of perfection among these people.

    We gather to encourage each other in our walk with Christ in a world that often is often confrontive to our faith.

    We gather to sharpen each other. Although we all can hear from God we all have special gifts that sharpen each other and help us to see another point of view that we might have been blind to. There have been many times that I thought I was completely right in something and a brother or sister helped me see from a different perspective.

    We gather so we have a fellowship that we can bring other friends to who our seeking Christ. I often find that I cannot provide everything a hurting person needs because of time and physical limitations. However in a body every part does its part and thus it keeps one part from being over worked. Often times a group can minister better to someone than an individual. When someone says something that they are struggling with there is more chances in a group that there will be someone that can relate to it than just an individual.

    If my gathering consisted of different people all the time it would be to me like being an orphan. I need a close knit family so that I can go safely out into the world. I need deep relations with people that last over time. Even Jesus had a close group around him that was fellowship to him that went beyond the crowds and the random meetings with individuals.

  89. Sir Rod
    I understand what you are saying and that holds true for many but on the other Hand I understand Alan as well His Journey is different that is something that you dont understand. i Dont really know him but i can see that he may have some issues that you are not going through or even understand you give the right answers and live the way you read it but for Alan it is different for right Now.
    Now for me for the last 30 some years it has not been a easy Road like many others but at the same time the reason i can understand Alan in some ways is because of where he is in the words he uses on his Journey. What it seems like he is Feeling or going threw. You see i dont have a close Family Because i said i was A born again Christain some 30 some years ago even the church i went to pretty much didnt care if i survived or died. My Flesh family all went in the Dumps,Father Mother so on and on brothers Sisters etc.
    Now for the last 35 years i have been pretty much by myself i ran Crews all over New England and when you Run Men And Women to do work this is a different thing then People who just go to Work every day and go home. I ran Hired and Fired Many people in those years for differenht Companys some crews were 30 to 40 Men And Women Inbetween. I know how Men will React before they do it i knew there Strenghts and Weekness at the same time. So i could get this Job done on time and Under Budget. And at times this was not easy or plesent in any way. But thats how it works in the world.
    I was use to givening orders and making sure it got done. Now 2 years ago While i was looking for Answers God had Showed me a few things that had Sparked my interest. Because i had asked him and he began to show him self to me a little at a time. Just because you read it and some peole can get togethere and share whats going on in there lives this is Great for them and for Many more i read about on the Web Site and a few other web sites i dont desagree with any of it but i will tell you that you havent walked my shoes Rod neither has Wayne. Now Moses Killed a man And god sent him in the Desert for Forty Years, David did many things as well. Paul alsoJesus had to kind of Strike him Down for him to Listen that was the only way. And on his Journey you seem to forget that most of it he was alone except for a few he had around him and of Course the people that he talked to on his Journeys. Paul went out for 2 years to different Countries to witness about Christ before he Talked to Peter and Every one else, Rod Does Your Journey fit Pauls Life Style and i dont think it does. Neither does mine.
    So i have just given you a little about my Life i dont want to write a book here but i will say that i can Relate to Alan because it seems like he has different issues that they may not be like mine but i know how he feels about his life in some Fashion because im going threw the Same thing. But in different ways and some of it may be written and some is not written in the Good Book and there are very few People who do what i do also and following Christ that are living today. I have asked God to send some one to me or talk to but he said i will show you myself i will Guide you Ray. I cant Compare myself To Jesus because im not him but if i am to be like him then the Father and Him will show me.

    To Gather i know How that is done in a Organized Setting every Sunday been there and Done that and it doesnt work. Now im use to having different people around me at all times because i did it all my Life. And Am i a Orphan Rod No im not i Dont know your Level and I can tell that you are not at my level as well. I wish i could Do what you do But Guess what that is not me.
    What i think that many people dont relize is this when God Had a person lay on one side of his Body for a year do you think any one went to relate to him no and then God told him to Change sides And do that for another year no one went on the Second year to relate to him either.

    Im not saying that it would be nice to talk to people and have a Gathering and talk about different things that may help a person out with there problems,issues,or even there Joy but you have to understand is that God has to do this for me i look around and hope but at the moment its not there yet. So can i talk to you about running a 50 man Crew or a 20 man Crew i dont know that unless you are doing this.
    It may seem like im upset but im not really at all. All im doing is giving you some thing to think about thats all and on top of that it is not all written in the Good Book. When i read What Paul Did,Peter,James and what Jesus did i know i dont even come Close i cant answer for any one else but to be able to do what they did my ears have to be really sharp in listening. When Jesus sayes i can move Mountains then i want to move Mountains when Jeus says to heal then i want Jesus to use me as a tool for his Glory with a prayer and he is healed or She. I dont want to read about it. And maybe im asking for to much i dont know yet but i know he has to take the Ray out of himself so Ray can see Him for what he is and can Do.
    For me this place is a good place for me to Gather as you would put it not in the Flesh but when we read what People are Going threw in Life and the Joys and Hard times that any one is going threw. They can relate to some degree here. And that is good Paul was alone many times Rod he even mentiones it in the Good Book a few times. And then what did he say about it. Im just trying to flip the Coin for you to look at thats all. And if you read that last Paragraph that you wrote there are peole that do live alone that dont have the Deep relations that you have with other people. So heres a question For you if God Took your Good Book Away from you for 2 years is there enough in you to live. And if he took all your freinds away from you for Two years would there be enough in you to Live. Now that would be a Journey Its about Faith. Dont Get me Wrong here all im saying is this I understand exactly what you have Written Down but not every person has That luxry that last few lines you wrote down Bothers me for some reason. or Paragraph i Guess. I thinks you are missing The Point Rod. What im trying to tell you is this Your Not Alone My Freind and im not a Orphan either. Every one has a different Gift and Christ calls on different people for different Reason. And they have to go threw things for a reason first.

  90. Rod,
    I need to emphasize, before I comment, my not being in such a group, nor there being no such group in my world right now, does not invalidate your being in one. I appreciate that you have such a group and wouldn’t in any way want to sound discouraging about your meeting together in it. But since this is just a ‘conversation’ my question is an honest one and I am honored that it is accepted here.

    In my 40 year excursion into the world of Christianity, I have been in several groups that I suspect I would have defined the way you describe yours. As I have engaged these groups, I found one thing to be true of them. They were groups. Individuals were it’s components. The sense of security and peace or assurance that came from the group drew individuals to join and to enjoy the assurance of the group. There was a sense of belonging in the group, meaning and ‘place’ and eventually, purpose and perhaps, responsibility. There were old timers in the group, and there were newcomers. If an old timer left the group, it was a significant loss, if a new comer left it was the reasonable exercise of an option and frequently, done much to the relief of the rest of the group.

    But groups always have entry requirements. Not just anyone is as fully accepted in a group as everyone is. We leave a few, precious secrets outside of a groups, so that we can be received into the group. We don’t share everything.

    My greatest fear now is that groups offer a false sense of acceptance that inserts itself. I don’t know where you are from but it no doubt has a significant effect. I am in Seattle. It is a hip, young, wealthy, gay, lonely and isolated culture. Acceptance is compulsory (unless you are a Republican) but intimacy is elusive. We live in our own heads. I don’t say this to our shame but it is an indictment against us.

    I want what you describe. It has been offered to me before and many times, I have indulged in it, but in every case, as I learn it’s culture, it has been more parochial than universal. It has power to mold, shape but most disquietingly, to hold an individual to a common standard. When presented with a group, I have found, as you have, a “world that often is often confrontive to our faith.” I don’t find my world confrontive to my faith when I am true to the expression of who Jesus Christ is, by engaging anyone, accepting everyone and valuing each person. When I represented a group, I felt suspicion and confrontation. It has invariably been a group that has the most power to extinguish Christ in me than any single individual or unscheduled combination of people.

    Does this make any sense?

  91. This is interesting. It is a bit like elevator conversation. Perhaps everyone got back on and traveled to the next floor. 🙂

  92. I had found this the other day and thought i would Share it

    We should not think that man needs salvation merely because he is sinful. Even if man did not have sin, he would still need to believe in the Lord Jesus. Man needs to believe in Jesus not mainly because he has sins but because without Him man has no meaning in life. This is just like a suit that needs to be worn in order to be meaningful. Man needs to believe in Jesus not merely because man is sinful. Even if man were not sinful, he would still need Jesus, because man was created in God’s image to express God, and thus, he needs to receive God. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, but they did not receive God’s life into them. Even if they had not sinned, they still needed to receive the life of God.

  93. Raymond,
    It is an interesting thought. I think the message imbedded in it is pretty solid. I am always a little confused by terms like ‘saved’ or ‘sinful’ or “believe in Jesus” but having been around the vernacular for so long, I think I understand what people mean by them.

    I have been in an email conversation with several friends for some years and recently have been thinking, as a result of these conversations, that what Jesus really did was to simply cast light across the entire world. I don’t know how he did it exactly but I think your quote says it in a way.

    “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – Jesus – The Bible

    I used to think, as many in Christian culture still do, that we are to ‘seek the light’ from the darkness of our sinful lives. But I think the opposite is actually true. Because of Christ, light is everywhere and the only alternative left to us is to find somewhere to hide from it. It is inescapable except if we can find some place of darkness where we can hide our ‘sin’ from others (or at least think we are hiding it). But what I hear Jesus saying is “Come out of your caves, I am not ashamed of your sins anymore. Bring them with you and don’t concern yourselves with them anymore. They will wither and die like the fungus they are when you simply stand in the light that I have come to shine” -err something like that.

    If you would like to ‘be part of the conversation” several of us have been having online (for 3 years or so), send me an email directly at goofyfishing@gmail.com and I will loop you in. We set up a Yahoo group called abbasardentlypeckishbairns and we all met here. You are welcome to join in. I still don’t know what the name means but we had to come up with something so – there it is.

    Then again, this comment section is a perfectly wonderful place to continue the conversation. I am pretty sure you and I (and Wayne) are the only ones reading it anymore however.

  94. Amen Wayne, it is like you have read my heart and walked with me in my walk. Thank so much for your teachings, wisdom and willingness to step and speak truth.

  95. Thank you so much for this teaching….
    Very cathartic and personally vindicating.

    You have successfully articulated my heart in this matter very well.

  96. The Gathering of the Bride? Starting in the Song of Solomon let Christ woo us to Himself that we become the Bride, Church and New Jerusalem! How glad we are to have escaped from Babylon to blend into the gathering of God’s “called out” ones!

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