The Movement

Anyone close to me would NEVER hear me refer to myself as an Evangelical. Even though I am well aware of this word’s origin (one who brings the Good News) and am actually quite proud of what that Good News is and am quick to tell people about this Good News… it is one of those words that has been wrestled in the mud one too many times and is so dirty with meaning that it is no longer recognizable in its essential form. In fact (and to prove my point)…I asked a handful of my friends outside of Christianity to tell me what comes to mind when I say the word “evangelical.” Keep in my that this is THEIR perception. Here is what they came up with:

An evangelical represents religious talking heads, slick televangelists, the religious right, the moral majority, picket signs, the health and wealth gospel, plastic and phony hypocrites, judgmental, blind and hateful zealots, brainwashed and close-minded non-Christians, showy mega-churches, unreasonable and illogical Conservatives, un-persuadable Patriots, and preacher sex scandals.

If that isn’t a punch to the gut…I don’t know what is.

Those are things that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Jesus. And to be honest, those characteristics seem to describe the religious leaders at the time of Jesus, rather than the characteristics of his followers.

So how in the world did we get to this place anyway? How could something so beautiful, so free, and so transcendent turn into something so hideous and ugly and repulsive? And how can this monstrosity be put to death so that a new Body may resurrect to new Life?

The truth is that while there is an entire generation keeping the organized, institutional church at arm’s length, there is now also a movement of those who have actually been in the organized, institutional church… who are now leaving to save their faith.

This movement is a growing undercurrent of people in the United States who want nothing to do with organized, institutional Church, because they believe it has moved so far away from the life-giving, vibrant, spiritual, faith community that models the way, life, and teachings of Jesus and the early church. And many of these people used be regulars in the organized church. But they now believe the organized Church in it’s current configuration has become something it was never intended to be, and has also been instrumental in pushing people away who were drawn to Jesus but repelled by the misplaced priorities, misguided belief systems, tribal thinking, us-vs-them mentalities, and man-made religious structures.

The sad truth is that those things uniquely and supremely of Christ and of the utmost importance for his followers (love, joy, peace, servanthood, and non-retaliation) are the very things that have been hidden and buried under all of the church’s competing interests and misplaced priorities.

I believe with everything in me that the reason the organized, institutional Church…in all it’s religiosity, arrogant triumphalism, political-mindedness, organizational and hierarchical dependence, dogmatic obsessiveness that divides, and slick production and gimmickry…has become so egregiously detestable is so that the entire world will be finally and completely overwhelmed and captivated when it comes face to face with Jesus and his Kingdom embodied through a people who has taken up their Cross, died to every principality and foolish wisdom of this world, and are once and for all a visible demonstration of Jesus Christ in everything we do.

I have come to the conclusion after meeting with hundreds of people outside of the Church over the years that the majority of people are repelled by the organized, institutional Church but are overwhelmingly drawn to Jesus. What an indictment. Even further…the MAJORITY of agnostics and atheists I have met with over the years are agnostics and atheists BECAUSE of their background or history with the Church but they are STILL surprisingly drawn to Jesus. And it is to Jesus and his Kingdom-way that we must return.

I used to think that the answer to the problem of the Church in its current configuration was to help rehabilitate it…but that was wrong and foolish thinking and I no longer believe that. The truth is that the Church must face the Cross of Christ and die…period! It is ONLY THEN that we will be worthy of being called his Church, a people worthy of being a Royal Priesthood in the world, and a people worthy of bearing the name of Jesus Christ.

Ancient religion and dead denominationalism must be crucified and breathe their final breaths. The age of religious talking heads must end. The era of the slick televangelist is over. Christians married to political, national, and ideological persuasions over and above their allegiance to Christ must divorce everything but Christ. The days of the misguided and ill-informed health and wealth gospel are over. This period of consumer Christianity must come to an end. Church pews lined with habitual hypocrites, judgmental legalists, and blind and hateful zealots must be confronted with the Cross of Christ to begin following in his way. And organized, institutional Churchianity must begin to decentralize and awaken to the depths of spiritual hunger in our country and the desperate need for real, honest, and raw dialogue in loving, non-judgmental community.

There is a kingdom movement outside of the church walls being embodied and coming to life in a hungry and desperate people who have crucified the old conception of life and who long to be God’s new creation people. And this Kingdom undercurrent is ALIVE, SPREADING, AND GROWING. It is through this Body of Christ that every man, woman, and child in the world will once and for all decisively know the Lordship of Jesus Christ through a people who are dying to demonstrate and extend the self-sacrificial love and salvation of God no matter the cost.

In the most prophetic sermon I have ever listened to, Art Katz described the pattern and shape the Church will take before the End of the Age:

I have a feeling that the final revelation of the mystery of God in flesh which Jesus demonstrated in his own body is to be reserved for us (the Church) at the End of the Age. And despite the tens of thousands of bumper stickers, rallies, campaigns, and every kind of cheap evangelism, none of which have saved the world, the final witness for which God is reserving, and is indeed preparing us, is another Body impaled on a Cross in ultimate suffering for the ultimate revelation of the Truth of God in flesh [so that the world] will cry out, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

The time is upon us when the world will finally and decisively know the true Christ. Our great love in the midst of great evil will not retreat or hide. We will fearlessly and tirelessly rise above and offer love, salvation, and hope to the world. And it is this LOVE that will rise victoriously and will swallow whole the hatred, vitriol, accusations, divisiveness, antipathy, racism, and every other form of slavery and oppression that exists in this world. People may be leaving the organized, institutional church… but the CHURCH… is coming to life!

3 thoughts on “The Movement

  1. And so the first response comes from a good Catholic boy. I Love the Love expressed here and the yearning to align and help the root intention of Jesus, The Christ. The last 15 years have been definitely difficult and as the hierarchy did everything wrong with the abuse cover up that blew open and I was among a group of 18 bringing a canon law case against the then Bishop of New Hampshire, McCormack, the thing that kept me going was the Spiritual Renewal going on within the Church through Cursillo and the like. The Spiritual Renewal thread was what kept me in. From the ashes and amongst, the uppers doing every possible thing wrong in reacting to a body of bad for children that was done in every possible wrong way, the ground level was and is bursting forth with The Holy Spirit. In the end we are asked to gather corporately in addition to separately. I say we are all one Church and have no separate denominations. My foundation for this stand is the question, “Who owns your church?” The answer is “Jesus.” That is the same answer for all Christian Churches. So we are all the same company with different brands. I Love my brand with all of the Sacraments and the compliance with Jesus dictate of needing to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have life. And I know we have our statues and that is not so compliant but remember James 3:2. Anyways, just as I don’t think what we need to do with all of this worry about end times being isolation but rather reaching more and more out to all of God’s Children. I think it better not to run away from or pull the plug on all of our brands but to light them up with some new ways to package the Love of Jesus, God, and The Holy Spirit for each and every person that is, was, and will be. Here is my stab at one way of repackaging The Good News: Basic idea is an attempt to boil down the far superior Love product that we have in to a digestible and sellable package. We have the Love that enables, and strengthens, and frees, and optimizes, and liberates, and cheers, and leads to flourishing and peace and joy. The world offers a lie based love that is slickly incessantly sold that enslaves, disables, impoverishes, addicts, and leads to violence. We have the far better Love product and need to get better at selling. And the very root of selling this well is to sell it cheerfully, joyfully, and playfully to each and every person. James 2:1 …. To the ends of the earth. So I say run together and be Open, Asking, Joyful, and Cheerful and Build Each Other Up, then Receive LLJJ, Grow, Shine and Share. LLJJ, Tony 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for the great reply. I really appreciate the heart of it and we are certainly aligned, as the Church, through Jesus Christ. I think you may have misunderstood at least one part of what I was saying. I am not proposing that individuals neglect “corporate” meetings and venture in isolation, but rather for individuals to break the shackles of the corporate church, which significantly limits or inhibits the “priesthood of all believers” and seek out smaller, more intimate gathering of believers. In America, finding the heart of the early Church is absolutely essential… or we will only see more and more people abandon the organized, institutional church. Here is a recent article describing the trends in America…

      Thanks brother…



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