As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, there has been a mass exodus from the CLB (church we left behind, ht robby and maynard). This has opened the door for many interesting conversations. Mostly we've just tried to listen as people process their experiences and their reasons for leaving.
The basic gist of the teaching now is that in order to access God's grace on your life, you must be properly submitted to apostolic authority. Community is also heavily emphasized. Individual preferences must be sacrificed for the corporate ideal. Under this process of reform, the body can then grow to a place of maturity and perfection.
Some interesting things that I've heard are being taught:
"Agreeing to disagree is unscriptural."
"A true apostle, like Paul, would never put up with people disagreeing with him."
"The apostle is like the brain in the body, and the rest of the body members should respond in instant obedience to the brain."
"Because I represent God's apostolic authority in your life, you should look past me as just a person and respond to the things that I say as if it were God speaking to you."
The scary thing is that the leadership truly believe that they are speaking for God in all that they do and say. There is a pattern of problems within the leadership that existed many years before the church became "apostolic." However, this teaching has empowered the leaders abuse of their authority.
That's all just background.
Last weekend, I attended a simple church weekend. The couple presenting the information have a long history with the people from that church. Due to the timing of all that is happening, many of the refugees from the CLB were at this meeting.
This changed the dynamic of the weekend from not only discussing simple church, but also ministering to the shock and trauma of these exiles. I was amazed and encouraged to see God at work in the hearts of these people. It was not a bitter, angry group.
They were people who had lost hope. Their dreams had died under the heavy authoritarian teaching. The life of the Spirit in them had been stifled. It was so incredible to see that spark restored and encouraged, to see them given permission to dream again.
For me personally, the fellowship was rich. Worshipping with the group was incredible, even though it was only led by a CD. The weekend filled my soul in the ways that I was hungry for. I can't really understand why this feels like family, when I've tried for two years to make my home at the local community church.
I'm not sure what this will mean for our family. I believe that we will continue in some type of transition. The kids enjoy the church we attend, and my husband and I do also. Some of the families at the meeting are pursuing the simple church concept. We may end up involved with them in some way also. We're going to try to stay open to whatever God has for us next.
I feel a sense of closure about the CLB and all that happened there. We have many people asking us now about why we left 2 1/2 years ago. We feel free now to tell the basics (not necessarily all the gory details) of our story.
Yesterday, I typed an explanation of the circumstances involved in our decision to leave. I'm considering printing it for those who have questions, because it is easy to get sidetracked into personality issues when telling the story. I'm also considering posting it here.
Something I wrote to a friend just a couple of weeks ago:
"I think there will come a point someday where we will be in a situation to commit ourselves to another group of believers, and hopefully I'll be ready then."
God seems to be doing things all around us. I pray that we will know and understand what our involvement should be.