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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.