The following is a NEW RELEASE post by Jay Ferris. It is taken from a letter he wrote to a popular “church planter.” In it, Jay takes issue with the mindset that God’s church can be planted by organizational methods. Instead, Jay lays out an argument that the way God does life is altogether different, and more in line with natural principles.
This letter will probably appeal to a limited audience, but do pass it on if you know someone who might be interested in reading it.
InLove – Pamela
Thank you for the book you recently sent; I enjoyed it very much. It was good to see so many fragments of light in one volume. I have several observations which struck me:
First, people who see everything through a “ministry” lens. This expresses a truth which I saw some years back, that professional clergy are often this way. When they see people, they see ministry instead of relationship. Or in other words, they see people as something to do, instead of someone to love.
And the next is somewhat related: the so-called necessity of church planters. I think based on personal experience, that there is another, less dependent-on-man, (if more laborious) approach to have instead. Once we see the church, not as something for us to do, but as a miraculous new creation of God — we realize that the old (physical) creation is a flannel board revealing to us truths about how God structures and nurtures life. That is what we are after, and what Jesus came to bring us, is it not?
However, if the question is, “how does God structure and nurture new life?”, we have to look more closely at creation. He begins with one man, one woman, and puts the rest in order by reproduction. Surely an accomplished church planter would understand this much. That is, God begins with a family, and He “puts the solitary in these families,” (Psalm 68:6). He does not put them into brotherhoods. Brotherhoods are not designed for reproduction — families are. As long as reproduction is still required, the basic unit will be the family or “household.” When reproduction is no longer required, then we will all be brothers. Is that where God’s church is at? No more spiritual reproduction? I hope not!
As I see it, the identification of a group of believers as brothers is more a statement of faith than a present reality. For the present there is an authoritative dimension on the horizontal, that is not contained in our identification as brothers.
Again, the old creation reveals, (for anyone who will stop being religious long enough to take a look) that healthy parents raise children up in a healthy way. For example, they do not raise children to sit in pews and watch the parents do everything. Instead they teach their children how to take over the business of living, and if possible, go “farther up the mountain” than they have gone. We are not talking a long-distance kind of relationship here as to “authority,” but something that swims in the muck and mire of everyday relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have you in my living room as well as in my life, but if I can learn this lesson from the old creation, it is not as critically important to have (name withheld), “church planter,” in my household of faith.
Finally, another thing that I have come to see from Matthew 24:23-27, is that I do not need an “out-of-town christ.” Rather I need a revelation of the Christ who is in the midst of the believers where I live, including the weakest members, (one of whom may turn out to be myself). An out-of-town christ invariably divides the local body of believers. The sectarian and institutional, (I know, redundant) mindset is constantly using out-of-town christs to buttress their strongholds. It’s good for business. Out-of-town christs reinforce the institutional retardation of the saints so necessary for the financial support of interminable preachers.
Enough said, lest I shoot myself in the foot.
For all of this, let me say once again, that I have the utmost appreciation for you and your insight concerning the church, and the centrality of Christ.
Yours in Him,