Church Without Walls

Christian Living

In the West we live in a Post-Christian Society and Christianity is seen to offer if anything, only very little to my generation. Not only are people less likely to happen upon church, just as many are leaving or have left – myself included. Red flags anyone?

It’s a scary thing to hear of someone “leaving” the Church, it sure gets the ole alarm bells ringing and we automatically think that something has gone wrong here, Jesus is being abandoned and she/he must be going AWOL – I assure you that is not my truth.

I still love Jesus. I still love God’s Church. I still love being in Christian Community and offering myself as a part of a whole – these are all essentials to a wholeness in one’s faith – and I’m also pretty sure that I will be planted back in at some stage, but for this season I have been called to continue (not be separate from) church in an expression outside of the walls.

If I’ve caught you off guard, I promise you that I’m not some rogue “New Age” Christian with a loose grip on my faith and I’m not a liberal disaster with no respect for tradition, so as I unpack my story I pray you hear my heart out.

I want to be transparent about where I stand in my faith journey, especially to those who read my blog, and you should want to know whether I’m safe? That’s wise because we should be discerning and not frivolous about who and what we allow to influence us and speak into our lives.

No Room to Grow

I seriously have no qualms with my church of 15 years, I owe so much to God for the roots he laid down for my family and I there and it was a blessing to have a “church upbringing” that I have little to recover from.

We were a family, a small community church with fruits a plenty and with leaders that introduced us to the simple gospel; to Love God and Love people. To be fair, I didn’t really leave my church it was more a case of – as I was on my way out, the doors shut – because April this year our Pastors were called to a new venture overseas and we had our final service.

The closure was recent, but I had been clocking out emotionally over the 2-3 years prior. I started to feel like I was in a box that I just didn’t fit into anymore and I was bursting at the seams. For a while that box, the walls, the structure gave me a sense of security and it provided me the right conditions for growth, but as I matured I felt a bit stuck? I had become stagnant in my early adult years and I had no “go to” from here.

The model of the modern church simply does not allow for every member to be activated the same, we can all enter discipleship but we don’t necessarily have equal opportunity to reach our full potential within that setting.

It’s probably not intentionally that way, it’s just the way things are because it’s the way things have always been. But imagine if how we “did church” supported a model more intentional about really seeing every person operating in their gifts and abilities – Imagine a church fully mobilised! Perhaps then, we would be a church equipped to bring a move of God on the outside?

“The Church is not a religious community of worshippers of Christ but is Christ himself who has taken form among people.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

The Call for Christ-In-Us

Not only had I outgrown the physical model of church, I also felt like my spirit was seeking something beyond Sunday Christianity and cups of teas with biscuits after the service. I get it. We know how to church; Welcome – praise songs – atmospheric worship songs – weekly notices – offering spiel – communion – intro speaker – sermon – closing prayer – “See ya next Sunday folks, have a blessed week.” Sound familiar? We know how to DO CHURCH, but I think we’ve forgotten how to really BE the CHURCH.

We don’t have to look far to see that the world around us is deteriorating faster than we can keep up and the “same old same old” may need to undergo a bit of a makeover, not so that we can appeal to modern culture, but so we are ready and available to give an answer to the unanswered questions of TODAY that many are dying for, literally.

If we took a moment to concern ourselves with what is happening just next door and turned our focus outward, we may actually be accessible to our neighbour in need? If we are ever to point anyone toward Jesus, we would at some point actually need to get up out of our seats – and regularly.

What ever happened to The Great Commission? How casual we have become in our call as God’s Church and how comfortable we have become to remain inside when Jesus beckons our hearts inside OUT, moving us to go beyond ourselves and our comforts to affect the World for the Kingdom of God! Has the gospel lost its sting? I think not.

People still need to hear the old old story, our culture though counter to Christ still seeks something real, a new hope and a peace that only God can provide. They still need to hear some GOOD NEWS, the liberating, chain breaking and powerfully healing Good News of Jesus and we need to keep telling it relentlessly!

We need to tell the story of Jesus with our mouths, our hearts and in the way we live and love, so that every living person can have their most basic need met; to have fellowship and relationship with the living God! We must be the church to exude the very presence of Christ-in-us and our hearts so transformed that it has a multiplying effect in our society.

We must return to the simple gospel; loving the unlovable, lifting the oppressed, giving generously to the impoverished, being a friend to the friendless and a home for the homeless. We need to return to the all-inclusive family heart of God.

“Not for yourself, O church, do you exist, any more than Christ existed for himself.” – Charles Spurgeon

 

Stripped back Worship

Having spent months now on the “outside” I feel I have grown in a way that was just not possible in the environment and conditions I had been in for so long and being replanted in an open field is less about feeling free and more about feeding the personal call of God on my life.

Being exposed in openness to God, myself and others has revealed where I had divvied up my trust (in agendas to tell me how and when to worship, atmospheric songs to cue me to “go deeper, “etc..) but being stripped back to the bare minimum has realigned my trust in Christ-alone and in authentic fellowship and meaningful relationships with other believers over meals, celebrations, spontaneous prayer time and actually sharing our real lives.

I no longer need the noise and the entertainment and the schedules as a vehicle to near me toward God, I have learned to do that now in the quiet, and the still and in the most plain of atmospheres and environments. The Lord has rewired me and retuned me to his voice and made me sensitive to his spirit and his direction because I have little distraction. I no longer need the aids and enhancers to “go deeper” I arrive there every morning that I wake now, it’s where I live and not just a place I go to.

I’ve been visiting churches since moving to Sydney (mostly for community) and despite some beautiful encounters and experiencing some seriously well-oiled mega church machines, I feel this discomfort within the pews and I’m not quite sure when and to what capacity God will call me back in, that’s up to him.

I’m still in amazing community with faith friends and family through social media and have regular face to face fellowship with our Aussie encounters. We each have accountability relationships and are checking ourselves constantly, so we do still have “church” remembering that it’s not a building, but a people.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ” – Hebrews 10;24-25

 

A Great Work Ahead

I’ve become so dissatisfied with being a spectator and I still feel this increasing sense of responsibility to live out a faith that has legs (and guts too). Right now, I feel to continue to deter from being complacent and sinking further into my chair, getting fat and full while there are people starving for life, for truth, for an unconditional love and for a peace that can only come from a heart touched by God and I want to leave myself available to respond to that however God would have me do so.

I love The Church – God’s people, and I am by no means calling the conventional church out nor do I want to depreciate from the wonderful work they do and have done over the years, but the harvest is plenty and the workers are few, we have a massive work ahead and so we need to be willing and able to see Kingdom Come!

Whether we are inside or on the outside of the church walls, there is absolutely no time for passive, apathetic, Sunday, pew sitting Christianity. We are to be a city on a hill, a lamp on its stand, a bright light in the darkness and a people to bring a mighty move of God – So what are we awaiting for?!!!

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus

Kayla H xo

 

 

Wired for Community

Christian Living

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A Weak Connection

We are now living in an exciting time where we can instantaneously be linked to the lives of others on a global scale. Through digital technology and virtual encounters, at the click of a button, tap of a screen, swipe left or swipe right, connections are made faster and more readily available than ever before. So why then is it that in “real life” people are experiencing increasing feelings of disconnectedness?

The ability to connect and share through the lens of technology (as we are right now) is an incredible tool in communicating with and to one another and it can be a beautiful bridging between distance, separation and time. But it’s lack in the richness of human interaction, pure sensory experience and direct access to immediate reality, does not qualify it to be a worthy replacement of face to face, real and tangible encounters. It’s only a simulation of the real thing and it cannot equate to the depth of connection we have when we can look into each others eyes, share embrace and breathe the same breath.

Community – God’s Design 

God in himself, from all of eternity, is the original and seamless manifestation of divine community. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit – three persons perfectly unified as one and the essence and embodiment of perfect relationship. It’s only natural having been made in the image of God, that we have an innate longing and need to belong; to God (our creator), to our truest selves (created in God), and to one another and our world.

At our very core we are wired and created for deep relationship, and to exist harmoniously with God and our neighbour is the ultimate goal of human cohabitation. It’s this beautiful picture of us, as parts of a whole, pursuing an organic and loving integrated life. God himself, saw upon review of all he had made, that is was “not good” for man to be alone.

Having meaningful relationships and the “doing of life” together is [after God] the single most important interaction we could and must ever have in our lifetime. Loving and authentic relationships are imperative for all human enrichment and enhancement. Physically dwelling among, seeing, listening, touching and encountering each other in the flesh, in our day to day existence is necessary in entering into deep connectedness. It’s in the interweaving of our lives and the sharing of our stories – the good and the bad, the calm and the chaotic, the plain and the pain and in celebrating life’s successes with each other, that life becomes more bearable, more meaningful and more deeply bonded to the kind of exchange God intended us to have with one another.

Loving our Neighbour 

The season I’m in right now, is one of unintentional disconnection and [though God has a plan in it) let me tell you, I feel absolutely malnourished being outside of community and I’m glad it’s only for a time, because we just can’t do it alone. We cannot carry the load of life and all that it demands, without the helping hands of our neighbour or the listening ear of our friends. We need to be encouraged and sown into, and vice versa. We weren’t made for individualistic life experiences or shallow, short lived connections inside screens. We need real transparency, we need to put down our devices and disconnect from the busyness of the day to day grind, switch off so that we can be switched on in our real life connections – the ones that matter most.

If we want to build deep and lasting relationships and “love our neighbour” as the Word instructs us to, then we need to actually know who our “neighbour” is. Like really know them. We need to be present without distractions. We need to be available to know what needs they have or what burdens they carry or what good thing to celebrate together. We need to meet without agenda and filters, just as we are and in unhurried set apart time that tells our friend “I love meeting here with you, because you are important to me, and what’s going on in your life, that’s important too.” We need to be there face to face to read that her words say “I’m ok,” while her tears tell a different story, so we can offer a hug and show we cared enough to just be there, in person. And you know, the less concerned we become with ourselves and the looser we are with our own agendas, the more we can impart into the lives of others and the more time we will give to those who need to have that beautiful exchange with us and us with them.

Make the Exchange

So my encouragement to you is this, if there is someone you have had on your heart or in the back of your mind for awhile now and have intended to meet up with but haven’t yet – get in touch today! Maybe you have been sharing and connecting with someone you’ve never met via a social media outlet and would love to know them in person (obviously do this safely, in public and with friends even) – see if they can meet for a coffee! Or maybe you haven’t visited a grandparent or an Aunty or sat down with your kids for more than an hour just playing or reading books – make time now!

Perhaps even one day (when the opportunity presents itself) we can meet in person or as a community in real time and shoulder to shoulder, connecting and speaking into one another and exchanging life. Though I’m incredibly thankful to have access to such amazing means through technology in which I can have a voice and connect with you in cyber community, the end goal and the real desire here at Woven is to cultivate connections and relationships between Christian Women that will eventuate beyond this realm and be thriving and fruitful in the real world ❤️

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”‭‭ – Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25

Kayla H xo