Archive for December, 2014

The Meme Continues

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen No Comments

FClobsterI love that so many of you keep sending me comments about how Finding Church is impacting you and pictures of where you are reading it. Let me share one comment here and three pictures that puts the book in some interesting locations.  What I love most, however, is how this book is connecting with people and their own stories, giving language to their own experience of looking beyond the walls of our “church” structures to see Jesus’ hand in the reality of their lives as it did with Christina:

I started reading your new book last night and I cannot out it down. I am into my fifth year outside the church walls and this is an answer to prayer. I feel like it came at just the right time. Not that I was wanting to give up on my faith or walk away for Jesus but boy I have felt crazy at times as people come to me wondering what happened and why did I walk away from “it all.” Thank you a million times over.

In fact the walking away from “it all” has led to the most amazing adventure in marriage and parenting and grand parenting I could have never imagined. As well as connecting into genuine authentic community. I sat on a park bench today with a new friend who lives behind me and I shared so naturally about this book I am reading—Finding Church, she just lit up and in agreement with what Jesus came to give. I could go on and on but I will spare you and leave you with another heartfelt thank you, thank you for this book, for sharing your journey and for your gentle Christ like way of putting into words what so many of us are feeling.

And now some other places this book has been:

FCcruiseRelaxing on a Caribbean cruise

FCTrainIn a train on the way to a business meeting in Japan

FCtrapsIn the shop building lobster traps

Where are you reading Finding Church?

Now Available as an Audio Book!

Posted on: December 12th, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 3 Comments

FC200Imagine you laying back in your easier chair or being caught in an exasperating commute to work and me sitting right beside you reading to you from Finding Church. OK, that doesn’t even sound fun to me. I wouldn’t sit next to you and read, we would get to talk. But the audio version of Finding Church is now available for download, so you can listen to me read it even though I won’t be right there beside you. Maybe we’ll get that chance up the road sometime.
If you’d like to listen to a sample, you will find Chapter 17, “Unity Without Conformity” on the blog at Lifestream. This is the high point of the book, in my view. It demonstrates not only the answer to Jesus’ prayer, but also why our attempts to produce unity through conformity are destined to fail.
If you’d like top purchase the audiobook you can do so from Amazon.com or Audible.com, or download it thorugh iTunes.
Happy listening!

Did the Church Begin With Jesus?

Posted on: December 9th, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 2 Comments

finding-church-sticky2Today’s question comes from Gary and it rises from Chapter Four: “What Jesus Taught Us” in FINDING CHURCH. I’ve had this come up in conversations before, but have never heard the concept actually taught and have never believed it. The idea is that the new creation began at Pentecost. Jesus was living and teaching under the old covenant and thus we can’t look to him for teaching about the church.

Here’s what Gary wrote:

I had a realization recently in response to one of your thoughts, “Maybe Jesus gave us all we need to know to experience Church as He is building it”. I realized that we been taught a few things that conflict with that:

(1) that the “church-age” began when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. Do you see this as a conflict?

(2) that Paul was more the founder of church-life through the revelation of Jesus Christ than Jesus Himself was. While Jesus was on earth because Paul was actually the hand-picked-by-Jesus-after-ascension-apostle most radically redeeming the apostate–Judas’ vacated office–even though the eleven chose to get a replacement with a typical “good-churchy-idea”. Do you see this as a conflict?

(3) Paul’s writings have alot of “intentional-meeting-support-stuff” in them: order,substance,elder selection etc. etc. Do you see this as a conflict?

When you suggested that maybe Jesus lived-out all we have need to see to live as the Church, I had a hmmmm… that’s interesting.? And a hmmmmm… that changes alot!

I’ve heard and taught a lot of things fulfilled in the finished work of Jesus Christ but, establishing a picture of “church-life” is not one of them. That idea is a big deal. There’s a big difference between looking predominantly at Paul’s life as founder thru Jesus’ revelation, and Jesus as founder & practitioner of disciple-making in His earthly life & ministry.

I’ll be honest. I’ve heard this teaching about the church not beginning until Paul, but I’m unconvinced of the hermeneutic involved. I don’t know why people wish to make that distinction. Jesus brought the kingdom and the church is the fruit of that kingdom. If we focus on Paul’s language about church without the reality of the kingdom we’ll end up with the human-managed institutions we do today. I don’t divorce what Jesus said or did as our example for the life of his church, which is his family and his bride. Why would we?

Of those I know who espouse that view they are looking to negate the influence of Jesus in deference to Paul. That doesn’t make sense to me. Jesus is the Founder, the Cornerstone, and the Head of his church. Why wouldn’t he be our chief example, and Paul the one showing us how it fleshed out in the early decades of the church taking shape? Jesus lived between two covenants, honoring one while launching a new one that could truly lead us to life and freedom. The things he taught teach us how to live in the new creation, or the kingdom, as much as this world allows and where we follow him the church takes shape in the way we love and treat each other.

I don’t think there is a lot in Paul of intentional-meeting-support stuff. There is far more about relationship and his example in Acts is about dialog not monolog. Honestly there’s nothing in the Gospels or Acts that commend our mini-concert, mini-lecture institutions that use the tools of conformity to try and administrate a transformative-based community. There’s the problem. We can have elders, gatherings, support, and care, without our human-engineered systems if people learn to live in him and respond to the will of the Head. If we have those things without him at the center, we end up with empty institutions.

And if anyone can help me see a good reason to skip Jesus and go to Paul for an understanding of the church, I’d be all ears. But as of yet I haven’t heard that case in any way that makes sense to the story of Scripture and the person of Christ.

Thank You for Helping

Posted on: December 2nd, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 2 Comments

FCrustyThis has been a great journey so far. I am daily blessed by hearing reports of people who are recommending the book to family and friends, quoting from it on social media, posting a review at Amazon.com, or getting them by the box to pass out to others. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your enthusiasm for this book and a growing conversation of what it means for all of us to participate in his church instead of trying to build our own versions of it.

Here’s some of the recent reviews on Amazon.com:

“This is the book I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Wayne Jacobsen has written the book about what it means to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.” GKG

Fantastic!! This certainly sounds like The Church that the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against!! This has been long overdue.” Mitch

“What Wayne writes about is so thrilling and full of freedom sometimes I think my heart will literally explode. Christ died for this freedom for us. There is much wisdom and genuine love for the church packed into this little book.” Joni

“Wayne Jacobsen puts words to things I have thought about for a long time. It is truly a conversation about God’s heart for his church.” Ginny

“Wayne encouraged us to think outside the box with his book, “So you don’t want to go to Church anymore”. That book was like a great salad that beckons you for more. Well, with “Finding Church”, the more has arrived in the form of a great steak!” Jeff

It’s also been fun having people send me pictures of where they are reading the book. It has become a bit of a meme at this point. Where are you reading Finding Church? Here are two more:

fcfire
How about by a campfire in Cleveland, TXFCStack
Or, with some other light reading material in Corpus Christi, TX

Where I’m at My Best

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by Wayne Jacobsen 1 Comment

steepleA few weeks ago I received an email from a pastor who has been reading Finding Church. He told me that the timing of this book was critical for events he was facing in his own life. It has renewed his passion by reminding him why he does what he does. He’s also in the midst of a growing conflict between members of a growing leadership team on which he also serves. He sent me a copy of the email he wrote them, quoting from Finding Church as he invited them into a more constructive conversation. The last paragraph of his letter is solid gold:

So, I’ve been thinking, some praying, but definitely reading in regards to what’s happening with our leadership team right now. As I watch and listen to women and men whom I deeply respect, as I consider my own reactions and feelings, I see a growing movement away from the agape love that we have all experienced in Christ. Four of you who have had a tremendous impact in my life as Jesus followers seem to have a growing frustration with each other and in the different ways each approaches our process. Differences of opinion, not about Christ or the importance of love in community, but in how we go about creating the institution we are trying to run.

As I have tried to wrap my head around this, I read this passage from a book called, Finding Church: What If There Really Is Something More? Check this out:

In the end, Christian history may not prove to be all that different from Israel’s in the Old Testament – brief seasons of God’s visitation followed by generations of unfaithfulness to him. As institutions age they tend to harden into intransigent systems and displace the simplicity of life in Christ for their own needs. Our two thousand year old experiment proves that whenever we convey the life of the Spirit to an institutional arrangement, the institution wins – not always quickly, but eventually. While I’m grateful for the good they have accomplished they don’t seem to be able to sustain a community of love nor display an accurate reflection of God’s character.

How many congregations, mission groups, and Bible studies began with a small group of people in a home burned out on the rigidity of their previous group, hopeful for a better reflection of his life and love? Soon they grow into the very organization they had fled with the hope that this time all will go well because they have better people in charge. What they don’t realize is that organizational needs shape leaders, not the other way around. Many start out well-intentioned, hoping to reform the institution and bring it back in line with the priorities of Jesus. That effort is usually short-lived as the needs of the institution to protect and influence and resources of the group require greater control in the hands of fewer people. (Pages 56-57)

Personally, I was convicted by these words – both for our life together and my leadership at my fellowship. I feel the constant call from the “institution” to create good policy and good order, which at times pulls me away from what I know to be the ways of Jesus to build Christian community.

I am at my worst when I ask, “What does the church need and how can we get people to meet that need.” I am at my best when I say, “I, along with all my leaders are broken people, who need love, how can I love them even if that means the institution gets second priority?”

Isn’t that true of us all? When we look for what we think we need out of others, we are wandering back in to the old creation. The life of the new creation lies down the path where I look to love others the way God wants them loved.