What if the local church has so highjacked people’s lives that liberation from it seemed sinful? I asked that question over 5 years ago and it led to my transition to online ministry from a church where I was an executive pastor and elder. After twenty-five years in church ministry I finally admitted that 95% of the church’s time and money was spent on mortgages, insurance, lights, sound, and staff for the Sunday big show rather than human need. I’m not saying the modern church model is wrong or bad, only that seems inefficient and appeals to a shrinking population of people.
Modern people understand that we don’t go to church, we are the Church. Church is wherever (or however) two or more are gathered (Matthew 18:20).
Over five years ago I began serving people as an online pastor and “un-coach.” I didn’t make the change because I was jaded, angry or rebellious. It wasn’t due to moral or theological deficiencies. I did it out of integrity and love for the Gospel, that wasn’t making it’s way to people in the city.
I left because I’m convinced the present church model obscures much of the beauty and hope of the Good News because it requires untold energy on the external attractions and distractions. It’s overly specific and exclusive to all but one particular expression. This is great if the one happens to be your expression, however, our world (like scripture depicts) has innumerable experiences with God and desperately needs wise guides to cultivate and expand these expressions. I could not do that in the typical church model which invalidates non-Christian experiences. God is beyond our tiny theological frameworks. The Christ experience has always appeared in other religions and even pagan beliefs (consider: Abraham, Moses, Romans, Tax Collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles) but always called something different. The Christ experience causes diversity to converge into unity as we go deeper.
I became an online pastor because what I wanted most for our world is inner experience rather than church attendance. Each framework for belief has it’s fundamentals. These are great formative containers but as we grow we forgo the binary obedience codes and are repotted into the ternary world of grey. Why must we continue to argue and browbeat people into obedience to countless rules when only one rule must be mastered–The rule of love? Duty is a deficient motivator and so is fear. Love is more powerful and frees us to just be who we are. The online model allows us to shed all the husk and focus on the kernel.
My congregation is not made from the herd mentality. Those who value tribal distinctions are best served by the traditional branded model. This online church family is made up from strays and remains undefined. We are zaggers in the sea of zigs from over 50 countries. True Christianity is not an alternative religion, it is the end of religion (Romans 10:4) and the beginning of faith. Our online family meets God in the privacy of our own hearts and minds where we alone are convinced (Romans 14:5). The faith we each possess is kept between ourselves and God (Romans 14:22). In fact that is the only place any of us have any real faith at all. Faith is not a show or a competition. We need nothing more than “yes.”
Mainline denominations are being replaced by the spiritual but not religious, and gurus, coaches and authors are displacing the preacher. What are people to do when the church will not or cannot answer the questions of our culture? Where are people to go if their consciousness surpasses the local church. The virtual Church is an expansive dialogue of progression, not a regressive didactic! I’m so glad more people are catching on and I’m grateful to be on the front side of this wave.
Below is a list of the Top 10 most downloaded, forwarded and replayed posts/podcasts of 2017 and some aren’t even from 2017:
- The Poverty of the Poor
- Part 2, The CHRIST Jesus
- 1-Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth
- Why we Cry
- Liberation Despite Sin
- Dark Days1: Good News, You’re Depressed
- Why the End didn’t Come.
- Part 1: The Ruined Jesus
- The Ruin of Postmodernism
- The issue is NOT Homosexuality
I know it takes a lot of courage to trust the boundary-less, undefinable, approach of online ministry. I know it can feel nebulous and detached if you are just coming from a highly structured environment. What you are feeling is freedom. Freedom to just be and to heal for once. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom to explore big ideas. Freedom from internal and external critics. Freedom to discover the faith that has led you here and which will take you deeper into love. Liberation often feels like falling. (Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:18)
Thank you all for your engagement in this journey and for joining me and countless others in this online ministry. 2018 promises to be amazing as we learn to see beyond everything!