Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Ronin speaks of loss

I got an email from my old church today (I’m still on the autosend list.) . Its time for the annual “family reunion” when everyone from the all of the house church plants nationwide get together for a week of fun and fellowship.

I heard once that it is so painful to watch someone you love die that it doesn’t even hurt. The pain crosses the threshold of feeling just and becomes a sort of post-amputation numbness, but in the soul. You watch the events happening through your eyes as if they were someone else’s, and don’t remember what happened correctly. The person slowly becomes less of a person and more of the vessel in which a person once resided. At some point, sometimes very clearly, sometimes hidden over long time, the soul is gone.

One of the reasons that I can’t write the church and ask them to take me off of their auto-mailer is… I owe it to my own memories to watch it die. And its dieing. The church dies like the Roman Empire. An organization is not person. The soul doesn’t just go out of it, the soul is changed little by little as the body stays the same. The Roman empire never fell. If you asked anyone who lived there at the time, it didn’t fall. They saw the way it was as the way it should be. Its only when you are an outsider that you can see the truth.

With each mailing I get I see the church turn. The requests for money grow louder as the talk of the providence of the Lord gets quieter. Words about the organization’s oversite into members affairs slip little by little into statements about the the members affairs. The church used to have a revolutionary mission: to be church whose only priest was Christ. The still have a revolutionary mission: to be a church who takes the gospel and American wealth into the developing world. And thats good, but did you notice the change? Once our leadership spoke of training us to replace them so they could take the message elsewhere. Now, they speak of training others to take the message elsewhere. Unspoken but clear is the fact that they stay in charge, and the new leaders they have trained go far away.

Words like “qualified” and “organizationally approved” suddenly precede the words “house church leader” in the church documents. The final statement of the 4 elements of house church is that the organization will guarantee you a perfect house church experience only if you and your other members dwell in Christian perfection. It states that house church can ruin people’s lives if its not done right. All true, but in essence they absolve themselves of any responsibility. If your house church sucks it is from the bottom up, and you need to fix it.
However if your house church is rich, responsibility goes from the top down, as shown by the nature of tithes.

All the money goes to the organization who takes out 10% for the continence of the organization, 50% for the organzation’s missions and returns 40% to the house churches. Each “designated” leader is totally responsible for his house church, but receives only 40% of the money he needs to do his job. We were told when we first got involved with the church to take ownership of our local house church. They said, “Its not just God’s House, its yours! God is looking for people who want to be a part of the Church, not people who want to keep a pew warm. This is a partnership!” Now, only qualified leaders get ownership, and only 40% at that.
(The person who holds the purse string holds the true power in any relationship or organization. Its not about the money, its about who has the right to spend it.)

I broke my heart to believe in the message they preached. I came to believe on a sort of heaven on earth that would come about if everyone who wanted to love people went out and started house churches. Everything we, the church, did was to facilitate that goal. We all read the books and went to the conferences. Moreover, we worshiped with abandon, prayed with bleeding hearts, opened our very souls to each other, and sought the will of God is fasting and prayer in all the things we did. It twas not an easy thing to swallow. Pride in tradition was lost. Pride in knowledge was lost. Pride in sophisticated disbelief was lost. Pride in clever theories was lost. I was dressed like stone and purified like steel (by fire and hammer). And I BELIEVED.

And I still believe. Thats why it hurts to this day, and why I had leave them. I became the sword that my mentors wished to craft, my edge was too keen, and they refused to use me. Now, I am the outsider, watching the dream of a city die from my vantage point on the hill. I remember a wild free place where men and women danced for the glory of God. Where the music uplifted the soul and broke the heart on a holy alter. I remember teaching of hard truths, and healings.

Now I read about qualifications and see my leaders begging for money to continue building their little empire. I sickens me, and I weep for what might have been.

August 1, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. It’s hard to see what you are describing. I often think about the hurt and disappointment caused by turning away from sound logic and faith. I have known many people that go from hot to cold spiritually and the grace the Lord has is far more vast then mine.

    This situation gives Hebrews 6 some personal meaning for you now. I think that at some time or another all of us will con into contact with this and hopefully we have the courage to watch it until the end. I say this because there is always room for repentance.

    Until the day we meet again my friend,

    God Bless

    Comment by Joe | August 2, 2007 | Reply

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