Saturday, April 28, 2007

My Former Underlying Beliefs

This is written to give you a little background about my post Underlying Issues. If you have not read the Underlying Issues post yet, it might be helpful in understanding this post. I hope that I can convey that deconstruction does not have to be reactionary, negative, or destructive.

There have now been quite a few posts in the TPFKATC meme and quite diverse reactions to those posts. My writing about the issues was not to place blame on pastors or on institutional churches. I wanted to point out the issues and topics that influence the way I view church today.

I am fully responsible for what I believed and how I behaved as a participant in my former church. A key element of change is dissatisfaction with the current system of beliefs. Unlike many people, I was not sitting silently in a system I no longer agreed with.

I was fully invested, overly involved, and wholeheartedly promoting a system that I believed in and trusted to be an accurate expression of the body of Christ. I knew that things were not perfect, but that was never my expectation, and honestly, my willingness to adapt was pretty high.

I do not know why God in His grace yanked us out of there, but I am incredibly grateful that he did. My beliefs may not have changed if we were still involved in our CLB. In order to give you a glimpse at what the process of detox and deconstruction has done regarding my beliefs about the underlying issues, let me explain in comparison my take on the issues 5 years ago:

This referred to the people who tended to sit in the back rows, who didn't sign up for our latest class, program, or conference. They weren't on board, they didn't get it, they weren't really with us.

Participation was important, but it hinged on everyone coming in line with the vision of the senior leader. This was the most effective method for us to move forward in unity as a body of believers.

God's blessing and provision in our life depended on our obedience in this area. The only legitimate place for the tithe was the local congregation where you were being fed. Other giving to missionaries and ministries would be considered offerings above the tithe.

Since the prophetic words to our church were that we would be an equipping center, God would provide the resources necessary for an adequate campus.

Attractional methods
We considered ourselves more of an advanced church and accepted that our teaching and flavor were not necessarily for the masses. In fact, being misunderstood by the public was just part of the price of being a cutting-edge ministry. As for the lost, the evangelists were supposed to be reaching them.

I fully believed and taught that involvement in the programs and ministry of the church was the path to spiritual maturity and advancement in the kingdom. Zealous pursuit of these activities was a reflection of commitment and service to God.

The ministry that we did at the church was our calling. Our secular work was viewed as a means to support our involvement in ministry.

Incarnational living
What is that? I had blinders on to everyone and everything outside of the ultra-important sphere of church life.

Following the spirit
We were all about following the spirit. But in following, it was always about deeper, not wider - not beyond our worship services, intercessors meetings, and revival conferences.

Servant leadership
This was probably the first crack in the structure that would eventually break apart for me. While I had been a willing and trusting follower for years, I could not seem to go along with the teachings on rank and position.

Is detox and deconstruction negative? I don't think so, especially when it is the Holy Spirit showing you the error of your ways. For me, detox has not been an angry reaction toward them. It has been a repentant process of recognizing the weakness and falseness of things that I bought into without question. It has been an honest search to understand God's heart and intention for the church in our world today.

These issues matter to me. They represent areas of personal growth and change in my thoughts and beliefs. While they are not meant to be attacks against the institutional church, they are intentional movements toward a way of being church that is different.

Change in its very nature is a rejection of the way things have been. We can be careful to not be inflammatory or polarizing, but the desire for change will always be a challenge to those who do not share that desire.


Anonymous said...


I think I do know you. I think I am you. I could have written this post except for the area of dualism. (We were taught and believed that our workplace could be an area that we lead with spiritual gifts. We were to be leaders there too.)

It was the servant leadership that will ultimately separate us. Our leadership was intent on us starting to call them Apostle so-and-so or Prophet so-and-so. My husband said NO!! I actually went to scripture to prove him wrong. The more I read, the more convinced that he was right all along. At that point I started questioning EVERYTHING. Spiritual covering, tithing, buildings, true love of others in the body of Christ at large, attitudes and so forth.

We now find ourselves completely not fitting, completely lost and yet completely at peace. We are not longer trying to fit God into the church but the church in to Him. It is freeing, scary, wonderful and terrifying.

Keep writing, It makes me realize that I'm not crazy.

A former leader

Lily said...

Thanks for articulating for me. I love it when you do that.

Another great one. Thanks Grace.

Anonymous said...

Good post. I am excited when women really start to wrestle with stuff and give their insights. We have a great group of women leaders in our simple church network and I sense the same heart in you. Keep up the Kingdom posts!

Annie Grace said...

Thank you Grace!

I took your "before" comments and lined them up in a word doc with the "after" comments - essentially combining the two posts to help me get my mind around all you were saying. I have been on this same journey!

You also said, "A key element of change is dissatisfaction with the current system of beliefs." I see that there are a lot of dissatisfied folks out there, but I find that they are afraid to express it for fear of being labeled heretics. But I definitely see more and more people, like you...and me, who are facing that fear and finding freedom.

I am a 4th generation Southern Baptist. There are a lot of "expectations" that come with that in my family. Because you are articulating the process so much better than I ever could, I am planning to use your before and after comments to help me explain "where I am" to my loved ones. I also wonder if you would mind if I posted your comments on my blog in that format (before and after combined), of course giving credit to you...I have already put a link to your blog on mine.

Thanks for your help, Grace!!

Anonymous said...

I am glad you wrote this. And excellent addition to your original post. Well done!


Anonymous said...

Keep writing along these lines. It's good to see your journey and where Jesus is leading you.

Anonymous said...

Is there a verse that says that the tithe was given before other offerings? I know the first fruit offering was given first. I never knew this about tithing.

Linda said...

We went through the title thing also. For awhile many were prophets, then it was apostles. At the time that we left the teaching was that it was necessary to be properly submitted to the apostle in order to access God's grace for one's life.
It's amazing where the questions lead, isn't it?

Thanks lily, and vice versa. It's been great sharing this journey with you.

Thank you also joseph. The body is so much richer with many voices participating.

Feel free to link. I'll have to pop by and see it looks. It really does feel dangerous and heretical to change beliefs that we've known for a long time. It helps to know that so many others are hearing the same call to change.

Thanks Jamie, I felt the need to frame my deconstruction more personally and demonstrate that it was an evolutionary process.

Yes Bryan, it is good to see where Jesus is leading me. I wonder what's next? ;)

Most of the tithing teaching I heard was from Malachi, that the first 10% went to the "storehouse" which was interpreted to be the local church.

Pam Hogeweide said...

I fully believed and taught that involvement in the programs and ministry of the church was the path to spiritual maturity and advancement in the kingdom. Zealous pursuit of these activities was a reflection of commitment and service to God

Guilty as charged. I had this mindset for years and years and years. Not that long ago I scolded my husband's forty-something year old sister for not getting involved with church ministry after being a pew warmer for so long. Pew there's a lovely word to roll around on your tongue...

The thing I am thinking about more and more is the grand capacity of the human heart to discover the greatness of God in our ordinary everyday ho-hum lives. And then to connect to others and share together what bit of bread and love we have so as to make a feast of community. The older I get, the more I am thinking that the life of the church, which meant to be the life of Christ, is distorted when it becomes leashed, like to programs and churchy stuff. Of course structure is good and needed, yet when the structured activities become measuring rods of our friendship with Jesus (and with one another) then I think we can say something went wrong in the kitchen.

(great post, as usual eg...i gotta go make dinner now. can you tell from my eating metaphors:-) !)

Anonymous said...

Hi Grace,

Some thoughtful insights that I resonate with. It has been a year of re-examining many aspects of church. Here are my reflections on this topic. See what you think.

I have discovered the following fact: The Road to Restoration is really the Road to Greater Grace in one’s life.

Here is a comparison between what I call the "Mar Factor" and the understanding that might be gained.
The "gift" factor is based on the charis (grace) of God in our lives which is continually at work in us by His Holy Spirit.

The Mar Factor: “Mar” defined as something injured, damaged, or impaired.

1. Mar Factor: Legalism

Understanding gained: The gift of salvation is by God’s grace and one’s identity is found to be in Christ.

2. Mar Factor: A misunderstanding of the nature and work of sanctification by the Spirit

Understanding gained: A renewed appreciation of the work of sanctification directed and executed by the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

3. Mar Factor: A faulty church model/paradigm--one that is inflexible, lacking in love, and in demonstrating God’s graciousness

Understanding gained: The gift of authentic Christian community

Now there is a greater understanding and hope of seeking and finding a healthy fellowship and a place to experience a greater sense of community.

4. Mar Factor: Inability to recognize the affects of controlling leaders. Their experience of biblical, godly leadership has been limited and marred.

Understanding gained: The gift of leaders and the concept of godly leadership. Modeled by Christ; seen in leaders of healthy communities.

5. Mar Factor: Inability to distinguish or recognize error, wolves, and heresies.

Understanding gained: The gift of spiritual insight is available to individuals in Christian community and entails the need to consistently exercise spiritual discernment in order to recognize error and any inroads of aberrant teachings among believers.

6. Mar Factor: The gifts of the Spirit, ministry gifts, and ministry practices

Understanding gained: A corrected view of the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit. This includes an improved understanding of how the gifts ought to work and what church ministry practices are beneficial and those that are not; the ability to walk in greater harmony with the Spirit by being sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.

7. Mar Factor: Personal emotional and spiritual injury

Understanding gained: The benefits of forgiveness and compassion.
Growing spiritually through pain and disillusionment.
Suffering ought not to be wasted in a believer’s life.

That's it for now.
Your "Journey mate", Barb

Linda said...

Great thoughts. I agree that to be the church, free of the leash of religious obligations, really can open us to deeper connections with God and other believers. And once we've been free of the leash, I think we aren't likely to let someone slip that noose around our neck again (speaking for myself).

Thanks so much for sharing your reflections in the way that you did. It is so true that these changes in beliefs are really the process of the Spirit and a greater growth of grace in our understanding of Him. It seems that is exactly what Paul prayed for us, that the eyes of our understanding be enlightened. I could certainly relate to the progression in the thoughts that you shared.

Anonymous said...

hey, I am sure some of you are familiar with the works of John MacArthur..... He's pretty black & white about church politics & this time around he's letting people know how he feels about the emerging church. I saw a preview here: . I have yet to read it but am kind of interested in hearing what he has to say about it.