I’ve been wanting to write something about this for a long time. Instead, my voice has been fairly quiet on the internet front, other than some goofy Facebook posts. I’ve felt the need to renew my journal writing, so I haven’t really invested in much online writing.
However, this topic should be shared, as it has been on my heart for quite a while. I finally got the gusto to write it down in response to a question on Facebook. Some of my close family and friends don’t really connect with me on Facebook, so I wanted to repost it here, so they can remain informed. For those who already read it elsewhere, it’s nothing new here. Just cut & paste.
I might not post again for a long while after this. Or maybe it will be tomorrow. Who knows. I do know that I am seriously considering a computer fast, and that might mean no “online presence/voice” for a while.
We are in a time of transition. The elders have wisely chosen a very creative path, one I believe even to be Spirit-led. I’ve seen great fruit already. They designed a “Walkabout”, which is for us a series of church visits. We go to a different church together as a group each Sunday. We meet afterward together as a group to fellowship and discuss all that we experience from many different angles. Then, one of our elders interviews a leader of the church to get more specific questions answered.
The foreseen outcome of this Walkabout is that we will choose together to do one of three things (though more options have already surfaced): 1) Together join/merge with one of the churches we visit whom we assess VERY thoughtfully to be a good fit for our spiritual gifts and passions, 2) go our separate ways, after each is given just and caring attention to find a place where they fit into a body, or 3) we all get reinvigorated after seeing all that we see through the process and start something entirely new.
This movement has been amazing so far. I consider it to be revolutionary and undoubtedly a wise course of action. I have no doubt in my mind at all that great and amazing things will come of it. The body of Ethnos already has been a powerful vehicle for movements of the Spirit that none of us who have bound together can dare deny. We know that God will use us, wherever we go, because He has done something very unique within us while we have remained together in community. The extension or outpouring of this is going to be exciting. And to see what the larger Body of Christ is doing in diversity of gifts and strengths has been an amazing sight to see, for sure. We are by NO MEANS “church shopping/hopping”. That is something we all pretty much despise, and our elders have always encouraged intentionality to the nth degree. No, we are going on a Walkabout, and there’s no better way to describe it.
While many aspects of this journey might be discouraging for some of us or challenging beyond our foresight to predict, I see very positive things coming out of it. Not one of us knows what the end will be, but I think the consensus is excitement and faith (mixed with some natural fear and burnout).
While I’m amazingly blessed to be in this community, I only wish our later days “reach” would have been wider, insomuch that others could have remained with us to the “end” (beginning?), so as to join us in this grand adventure. I guess I certainly have enough family to share with already, but because of God’s clear work in it, I wish others to have experienced it alongside us. And that, my friend, is probably what will come next. I’m confident that, wherever we all end up, there will be others to benefit from our story… and us from theirs.
We also have been meeting together midweek in small groups to further discuss the process, as well as get some of that necessary Christ communion and fellowship that we miss through the different-church-each-Sunday experience.
Our focus for the midweek gatherings is to briefly review church history. We discuss various points of how the church formed from the beginning. Not a pointless study by any means. Perhaps the most intentional like study I’ve ever heard of. We are intentionally picking apart this history with discussion that effectively helps us appreciate how the church has developed (or failed/watered-down, as the case might be sometimes) over the centuries. Our goal is to discover – at least for the context of our own involvement and small part of Christ’s Kingdom – what parts of the design of the church are important and timeless, amid other parts that could probably afford to be shaved off.
We are NOT critical or cynical, as I see many unfortunate groups emerging to boast something like this: “We are the extension of the New Testament Church, and you should leave your boring, irrelevant church to come HERE, where we do and reinvent everything right, and everyone else has it totally wrong!” I really do NOT have that feeling in my own heart, nor do I sense it my family. We are earnestly seeking not to create a trendy and new manifestation, nor are we desperately trying to “change the world”, demanding that God make us something outstanding. Rather we are intentional about becoming more faithful to the Spirit of God in the churches, even if it means to cease in our current, much-loved form – or any form at all (though we assert strongly the conviction that we all belong connected, somewhere!). Many forms exist in the church today – many thousands of denominations. We don’t seek to dethrone anyone or discourage anyone or say they are “wrong” or inferior. We just want to see how God wants US to function and serve His Kingdom… and it will require a total willingness to change. Though the elders and people of Ethnos Church have always had this general desire and bent, I believe now is even more a “shaking of the foundations” than ever before, the fruit of which I’m excited to see.