Finding Church Finding Church

The Hunger for Real Community

Posted on: March 8th, 2016 by Wayne Jacobsen 3 Comments

These are the Scriptures that make people hungry to see the expression of Jesus’ church on this earth, and why they are not satisfied with our human attempts to create it continue to fall far short of it:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. John 17:20-25

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

Someone sent me those a few days ago telling me that this is what they are looking for. “I have seen many forms of Church but have never found this. Is it possible to find a community of believers who Love Him and Love others and that is their devotion. Do you know of anyone that might have this on their heart or do you know of any churches that this is being lived out.”

Here’s how I responded:

For what it is worth, it is my experience, that no human and no program will fulfill those Scriptures. They describe a work of the Spirit not the work of humanity no matter how well intentioned. I don’t know of any “churches” living this out, but I know pockets of people all over the world who have found their way into that reality and share that kind of life with others. I have many connections that fall into this reality, but none of them would consider themselves a “group.” Instead this is an ever-expanding well of interconnected friendships that do all of those things by gathering sporadically as the Spirit indicates. Sometimes you’ll find pockets of those kinds of relationships in existing congregations, but it is not the congregation that creates it, but the work of the Spirit knitting lives together.

We don’t create it. We can’t create it. It’s what love creates as people learn to love the next person in front of them and watch what comes from that. It’s a lovely process but not one we can control or organize. The more we try the more it seems to elude us.

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3 Responses

  1. Anne says:

    AMEN, those words are words we only spoke 2 days ago as we got together. Love your response Wayne. There is an internal work of the Spirit where we discover we are loved by a God who we have never known. A God who was never portrayed to us by “church”. Their god was small and mean and demanding. At some point that god could not satisfy this deep yearning and from within us there rose up a cry for more and we stepped over the line that religion drew and found ourselves outside. Outside and yet wonderfully loved, discovering a God who calls us beloved and who walks us into love each day. It is after all about love, understanding we are loved by this God of love and expanding His love by loving those he puts in front of us.
    I do wonder if there is more to come though. That grace and love become the air we breath, I wonder if there is a building being built, a building not made with hands, a building that is His church which is currently hidden but which will at some point begin to shine, incandescently. I ask this because although this exit from the broken diseased thing that has been called church is monumental, it is surely only a beginning. We are being rooted and grounded in love, understanding the length, the breadth, the height and the depth and KNOWING this love that surpasses knowledge… so that… “We may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.
    I think that that means we will start to see then what it looks like for the CHURCH, His BRIDE to be one as He and the Father are one. The world will start to see what the true church looks like, the whole body “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” We will see what “greater things” Jesus spoke about looks like. This will be a building where no man or woman is king “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ”. This will then be the Mountain of the house of the Lord, his true church and all the nations will stream to it.
    Is there a growing and a gathering as the cry of the bride begins to grow in the deep places of hearts? I don’t truly know.. but I do wonder.

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  3. kay says:

    My brother in law is a missionary and recently wrote us and asked if we had read, “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore.” Below is my reply to him. At the time of writing it, I had read the book, but had not read or heard anything else by Wayne. My husband simply bought it because we resonated with the title. 😉 Anyway, here is my reply to my missionary brother in law:

    It has been a few months since I read the book, but I can tell you that it left an impression. I finally felt, “We are not alone.” The book put into words many of the thoughts and feelings we have had for years. And I believe it puts into words thoughts that people won’t even let themselves think because it is too scary. Year after year been taught to “submit to pastoral authority,” and “don’t talk badly about anyone.” If you go against the teachings you are considered a troublemaker. We have seen such ‘troublemakers’ finally leave the church and been publically belittled (without names being mentioned of course.) Anyone who leaves the church must be wrong or must be a “dead branch being shaken out of the tree.” Or such ‘troublemakers’ are spanked from the pulpit (as we have been.) One is made to feel that he/she is wrong to have a thought beyond what is being taught. If we question, we are wrong. So we sit and try not to feel what we are feeling and we look around at everyone ‘worshiping’ and wonder if there is something wrong with me? So we pretend, yet all the while we are looking around thinking, “Where is Jesus in all of this? Where is abundant life and rest?” It is Jesus that we miss. What we get instead are guilt trips to improve our behavior that motivate for a while but then, after years, leave us feeling dead, because nothing is ever enough. What is ever good enough?! It simply becomes defeating. So one quits working on trying to become ‘godly’ and sits feeling dead inside because he/she has stifled his thoughts and feelings for so long.

    We have left our ‘church.’ Yes. Finally. We left it even before we read the book. It seems that many are leaving. We have talked with many about why they left. Strangely, we all seem to have different reasons. Many reason are very petty. Some have to do with relationship issues with people in the church, or they don’t like the youth pastor or the music, or they actually want more standards and personal responsibility taught from the pulpit. Some want more of a stance taken against sin….etc…etc.. even more law. However, my husband and I have wondered if people are all leaving for the same “unconscious” reason. And that reason is that they aren’t being fed what they need. Their need is to know their identity in Christ. Their need is to know that Christ’s work was complete–done. There is nothing anyone can do to add to it. Christ is all sufficient. The good news is that where I fail, He didn’t. He is peace and rest, not guilt and shame. In fact, He took my guilt and shame so I wouldn’t have to feel it. He is my righteousness…I don’t have to try and become it. He is the One who determines my value because He is my Creator. He valued me so much that He bought me with a huge price…the blood of Jesus. And knowing this Identity would then motivate the desired behavior better than any guilt trip in the world or any motivational speech to call to duty and self discipline. His love would compel us. ‘Self-discipline’ only leads to self effort which leads to self righteousness and boasting in self. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord!

    In our failed search for a ‘church’ we have found much of the same everywhere we’ve looked…guilt motivation to bring about improved “godly” behavior. We have found that most of the teaching stems from an lack of understanding about our union with Christ. The sermons are based on a Christ that is just a cheerleader beside us as opposed to our very Life.

    In this ‘churchless’ meantime, we have taken this time to teach our girls the Truth. You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free. And we have found that being out of ‘church’ has brought about true growth. We find ourselves actually desiring to know more about Christ and digging into scripture because we want to, not out of some duty or obligation or guilt….not because we think God will be displeased if we don’t…and not because we think He will be pleased with us if we do. His love and grace compels us.

    We have felt at times like the institution called the church has become a monstrosity—which is what the book points out. It isn’t unlike the US Government. And all of the problems that stem from keeping such a huge institution up and running have become such a distraction from Christ. The many ‘spiritual programs’ offered at the institution require man power. And to have the man power to fill all the roles, more guilt trips must be preached from the pulpit. And out of those guilt trips, many come to work and teach who have no business teaching because they have no understanding of the Truth. And the whole thing perpetuates itself. I should add that we felt many of these things even before reading the book.

    That being said, the fact is that if Christ had been the focal point in our church, we would have stayed despite building or program issues or relationship issues. If our girls had been hearing the Gospel in their SS classes instead of how to please God or legalistic rules and religion, we would have stayed. The fact is we love those people and miss them. But freedom in Christ is so much more.

    We recently watched a movie about Martin Luther and it has led us to the thought that even if all the people in America were to stop going to ‘church,’ that it couldn’t stop the true church. Christ does indeed grow His church. Perhaps He is growing it in this way?! Instead of being ‘churchless, ‘ we are the church. The gates of hell cannot overcome it. Some of the problem lies with the thought that we are the ones building the church…as if the God who spoke the world into existence needed anything from human hands. He can open the eyes of the blind and bring revelation. So instead of leaving “church” on a Sunday morning feeling that God is depending on us, we can depend on HIM.

    My husband and I have discussed the 23rd Psalm lately. To truly be shepherded, we would not be in want. We would have plenty of food and be beside quiet waters resting. Our souls would be restored. We would fear no evil.. and we certainly wouldn’t fear the rod and staff. Our cups would run over with thoughts of the goodness and love of the Father and the knowledge that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

    We do not know where all of this will lead us, but in the meantime we will rest in Christ and His life in us.

    That is the end of my response to my brother-in-law. But I want to thank Wayne for his books, teachings and website where we can feel connected to other like minded nonchurchgoers.

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