Archive for October, 2014

Chapter 14: What About Starting A Group?

Posted on: October 28th, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 3 Comments

questionmarkThe purpose of this website is to help facilitate a growing conversation about those who are looking to explore the church that Jesus is building in the world. So this is a place to ask questions, share your own stories and insights, and to encourage you to engage others in a way that allows his kingdom to expand. You can comment on the blog postings, or if you have a contribution to the blog itself, you can email me with your thoughts or questions and I’ll be adding those I think will advance the conversation or clarify themes in the book as people seek to walk them out. Here’s a great example:

I got this question the other day from Mitchell:

I’m almost through this book for the first time and already intending to read it again. Having left organized church December of 2013, I’ve been planning to organize a home/organic/simple/whatever church. Chapter 14 talks about Gatherings without Meetings. Are you saying that all get-togethers suffer if they are scheduled? Is it not possible to have regularly scheduled meetings? I am not disagreeing, just clarifying. So far this book is exhilarating! I’m loving every minute of it! I almost feel as though I’ve been kept from committing to anything because Jesus wanted this in me before I did anything.

No, I’m not saying get-togethers suffer if they are scheduled. In fact all get-togethers are scheduled. And they can be scheduled regularly if people want to get together every week or every few weeks for a season. The chapter begs for us to take a bit of a wider view. What do we do when we get together? If our purpose is to have a well-run meeting or to “start something” we intend to be permanent, we invite a number of other factors into our get-togethers that will create unforeseen consequences.

What’s people focus on starting an “it” (house church, organic church, whatever) the priorities will shift away from relationships. Where do we meet? How often do we meet? What do we do when we meet? People will have different views about what to call it, who will be in charge, who can come, and a host of other concerns that will actually draw people away from getting to know each other and celebrating their journeys. The eight characteristics of a new creation environment that I share in the book are not meant to give hard guidelines for people to follow. Rather, they are indicators of where we find that life and were we lose it. We find it more in friendships and less in meetings, more in natural environments than artificial ones. So having a generous heart and a hospitable home will open some amazing doors that will help people connect in ways that will allow his church to take shape. Trying to start a regular group could actually shrink your opportunities to engage people he puts on your heart.

That doesn’t mean people can’t meet, even regularly, but that their eyes are open as to whether or not we’re discovering a place where lives and friendships can grow, or if we’ll just be distracted by creating a “thing” that in the end will fade away anyway and leave an exhausted group of people in its wake. In the end, remember, this is about following Jesus, not someone else’s guidelines, including mine! If Jesus is asking you to start an organic/simple/home whatever church go ahead and do it. Don’t let this chapter dissuade you from following his leading. But before you do, it might help to consider if this is something he’s put on your heart, or is it just trying to fill a need and an identity you lost by no longer continuing to have a regular meeting somewhere else.

Jesus’ church grows out of friendship. If you know some people that would like to get together to share their journeys and celebrate his life, by all means do it. Get together over a meal and see what sharing grows. Just keep your eye out for what feels real and natural and when it begins to feel like you’re imposing an artificial form that goes beyond the relationships. For instance, I have some friends here who are sorting through their own journeys. We can get together for a meal and the sharing is fantastic. If we then move from the table and get into a room where we’re all in a circle, everything changes. They’ve gone from family to meeting mode and suddenly everything is awkward and stilted. We’ve just given up that part of it and share our journeys. The same can be said of how often we get together. If you start doing it every week at some point it will become an obligation that will wear on people. Get together as often as it seems to be in their heart or yours. Most of the growth in relationships won’t come in a regular meeting anyway, but in real conversations with each other in the spontaneity of life.

In as Well as Out

Posted on: October 27th, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen No Comments

steepleI have spent the last twenty years with people all over the world who have given up on the ability to experience a robust community life inside a managed institution.  Most of them have been there for years, many even led them, but found that the priorities of a conformity-based institution proved to be a distraction to real spiritual growth and community.  But in those twenty years I’ve also spent time with people who also find that robust community inside traditional congregations. Most often that goes on in relationships beyond the program, though there are still many who hold out hope that the institutional elements don’t have to win out over more relational priorities.  I root for them, too!

Even though I’ve found more freedom to live this life of Jesus outside the walls of the religious institutions I grew up in, I always chafe when the discussion turns to an “us versus them” battle of those who “go to church” or those who don’t, as if one side is closer to Jesus than the other.  It’s a false argument and works against Jesus’ desire to bring all of us together under one head.  That’s why I’m incredibly blessed when I hear how this book is connecting with those who are part of traditional congregations as well as those who do not. I hope the themes are compelling enough to blur those lines so that we can connect with our brothers and sisters wherever they may be and engage a growing conversation that gets to the heart of Jesus’ church as she takes shape in our world.

Recently a friend called me to ask if my hears had been burning earlier that morning.  I responded that they hadn’t. He then told me I had been mentioned from the pulpit of a Mennonite church in central California where he had been that morning.  Their preacher that morning was a retired professor of Old Testament studies from a Biblical Seminary who had read the book.  He recommended that everyone get a copy and let it be part of their dialog.

“I don’t know who he is, but this Jacobsen is quite the writer! He writes in a way that grips you! I’m 84 years old and have only known the institutional church but I know he’s right!”

My friend added that he had had a subsequent discussion with this man about the book.  “He keeps thinking about it. He finds it very provocative.   It was a good time for him to read it because the his church is undergoing some changes and the book charged his batteries on the subject.”

My heart yearns for a wider conversation to grow in the world that seeks to reveal this amazing church Jesus is building around the world and throughout the city in which you live.

The Day FINDING CHURCH Went to Seminary

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 3 Comments

seminaryOn my recent trip to the midwest,  I was asked by an old friend to come and share with one of his classes about God’s love and my involvement with THE SHACK.  Though this man is a great friend of mine and we share so much in common theologically, he has been a pastor in a more traditional setting for more than 40 years.  And he’s done it about as well as it can be done, always putting people above structures and their nurturing about his own vision.  He had earlier asked me to not share my “church stuff” but to stick to God’s love.  I was happy to do that for him.

But a couple of days before the class I had given him a copy of FINDING CHURCH, and we joked about how much he would hate it.  Then he started reading it.  He hadn’t said a word about it, when we met just before class on Monday night. As he introduced me to his class, however, he began to talk about the new book and how every so often the church has to take a hard look at itself and see if it is doing things the way Jesus wants them done.  He told them about my new book and said, “Many people talk about rethinking the church, but this guy is actually doing it in a way we all need to give attention to.”

My jaw dropped to the floor.  This man who has considered thinking beyond the box as a threat invited his students into a discussion about the nature of the church and recommended they take a look at this book.  He asked me to share why I’d written it and about its content.   Even though he hadn’t read a third of the way through the book yet,  he was willing to expose it to his students.  I can’t convey how thankful I am that he found the content to this book accessible even for those who are engaged in more traditional congregations.

One of my hopes in writing this book the way I did was to invite all of us, no matter how we live out our understanding of his church, into a wider discussion reaching across normal dividing lines so that we can be part of his amazing process of bringing all things together under one head—even Christ!

We don’t have to agree to have dialog.  We don’t have to come to the same conclusions to celebrate the Jesus who is drawing all of our hearts home to him.  And we’ll all be healthier for it.

Now, Available Everywhere!

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 2 Comments

Good news for those of you waiting for Finding Church overseas. Finding Church is now available everywhere, at least by e-book.  I’m sorry the expenses of International shipping are so exorbitant.  But if you want hard copies of the book sent to overseas destinations, please write our office for a quote rather than trusting the shipping calculator on the website.  It does not work well, which is why it’s best to write us first.   If you do order through the site and the shipping comes up wrong, Sara will refund the difference but there are some merchant fees that get attached to that as well.

We’ve added a new page to Order the Book page at FindingChurch.com so that you can easily order it from Lifestream, Amazon, or the e-books from Kindle, iBook, or Nook.  Happy reading, everyone!  The way this book is touching people so far is way beyond anything we would have hoped for.

 

 

The Exhilaration of the Heart!

Posted on: October 15th, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen No Comments

FCStackthumbWhen a friend of mine was reading an advance copy of Finding Church, he told me the phrase that kept coming to his mind was “an exhilaration of the heart.”  With every turn of the page he would find his own hopes for a church more real than he had yet known could be in the world.  That’s one of the best comments I’d had on this book.  We’ve let our human institutions co-opt the word “church” for so long, that we define it based on how well they are doing, instead of looking for the church whose builder is Jesus and transcends all the institutions we know.  She is all he promised she would be and as we begin to see her, I hope it exhilarates all our hearts.

Then, last week while I was in Ohio, I got this email from someone who had just started reading it:

Oh Wayne, the words fail.  Great doesn’t even come close.  Even while I am reading your new book I am thinking the thrill is very hard to communicate—the thrill and the freedom.  Sometimes its just too much and I think my heart will literally explode.

I hope that’s a good thing!  His church is that amazing, “a bride without spot or wrinkle”, “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”,”the temple in which God dwells by his Spirit”.  What could be more exhilarating than that?

The Book Is Out!

Posted on: October 14th, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 1 Comment

I know it’s been a long wait for many of you. I’ve had so many people cheering me to the finish line here in anticipation of reading my latest book, Finding Church.  They have arrived at last and today we were able to get out a good chunk of the first pre-orders. It will take us a few days to get caught up in the backlog, but we are now shipping the book for those who have waited. And it has seemingly been as much torture for those waiting to read it, as for those who got earlier editions to read.  I got this last week from someone reading a PDF version of the book in preparation for my appearing on a podcast that they co-host:

I’ve been reading the advanced copy of your book in preparation for the podcast (I’ll) be doing with you in October and I must say having to keep this under wraps until it’s released has been pure torture!  This is a fantastic book!  It really is a book I’d like to put in the hands of every hungry believer.  I’m only up to chapter 8 and already I’ve come across several quotes I wanted to share with friends.  Reading this book feels the same as when I attended a college football game a couple weeks ago and watched my team throw a beautiful pass and run it all the way down the field as I stood by screaming, “Yes! Yes! Keep going! Yes!”  Then they scored the touchdown.  “YES!!!!!!”  Many head for the goal but don’t quite make it.  This one is a touchdown!

Well, Loren, and others, you no longer have to wait. Feel free to post some of your favorite quotes from the book and let others in on it as well. I have to honestly say this is not the book I set out to write. Of all the books I’ve worked on this one turned out to be a total surprise to me. I discovered so much about my own journey and how all the facets of it brought me to this season of my life. It was a grand discovery for me to write it. I told Brad today on a podcast we were recording, that if I’d only written this book for me and no one ever read it, it would have served its purpose. Doing so has helped me see more clearly into a wider creation than I knew before I began. I never saw that coming.

While I am sure this book will be helpful for those who have already given up on institutionalized forms of church, it was not written for them alone but for anyone who is struggling between the promise of Scripture and the reality of “church” as we’ve come to know it in the 21st century. Since it is Father’s desire to bring all things together under one Head, Jesus, I wanted this book to invite all of God’s people into a more wholesome conversation about what the church is and how generous hearts can engage it most easily.  So this is not only for people looking for more authentic expression of Jesus’ church outside the box of organized religion, but also for those inside of it with the same hungers.  Here’s how I expressed it in the book:

Since you’ve picked up this book, I suspect you might have concerns about the church as we know it today, or care deeply for someone who does. Maybe you’re an active part of a congregation hoping against hope that something can be done to make it more reflective of Jesus’ kingdom. Maybe you’ve already left your congregation and have given up hope that anything can fulfill your longing for his church. Or, maybe your parents stopped attending the fellowship they raised you in and you’re wondering if they’ve lost their minds.

Then I heard from a friend last week who was in a Sunday service recently at a Mennonite church. The speaker that morning was a Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at the local Mennonite Biblical Seminary.  He had read an advanced copy of the book and told them they all needed to buy it when it became available.  He said from the pulpit: “This Jacobsen is quite the writer! He writes in a way that grips you! I’m 84 years old and have only known the institutional church, but I know he’s right!”  Wow! Hearing that it had touched him so deeply took my breath away.

He later wrote me that he’d had a subsequent discussion with this man:  “We did have another discussion today about your book. He keeps thinking about it. He finds it very provocative. I think it was a good time for him to read it because the Mennonite church is undergoing some changes and the book charged his batteries on the subject.”   I’m excited to see who this book might touch.

We are also making them available in discounted bulk pricing for those who’d like to share them with others.   We will be selling a box of 12 for $86.00 and a full case of 46 for $260.00, which includes shipping to any US destination and is less than wholesale.  You can find our quantity pricing here.  If you have a retail business or website and want to re-sell these books to your customers, you’d have our permission and blessing.