line from Jubilee"
I thought I would drop you a line and tell you about our church, Jubilee. We are in Hartley Valley on an acreage just under the Blue Mountains, loving, enjoying, exulting in the presence of God and in supportive fellowship and love for one another. I have never "pastored" such a small group, nor enjoyed church so much. It has been hard to adjust to the idea of smallness.
It's not a church any more, really, because we now meet in a garage and have no public hoardings or advertising. After 20 years of pastoring in AOG churches I was not only burned out, I had serious cognitive dissonance... my mind would not handle the conflict between the "leadership paradigm" that was being pushed, and the pastor-shepherd model that I had been trained to. At the end of the day, the leadership model seemed manipulative and destructive...people who had come from authoritarian homes fell easily into the hands of authoritarian pastors, and lost their freedom and their own connection with God. Being "in church" and doing church stuff equated with righteousness, so there was an awful spiritual pride associated with being part of a large congregation and the apparent blessing of God that was supposed to represent.
In the past few years we tried a couple of times to plant a traditional congregation in a public place, but it did not feel right.
The decision to not meet publicly freed up a lot of income which we now pour into mission... we love the freedom to give our money to the cutting edge of mission work. We are able to support many more projects than we could when our income was eaten by the overheads of a church with walls.
For me personally, I lecture at one of the universities and do a lot of writing... so my wall-less church ministry has extended in all kinds of ways, not least of all by defining vocation in the secular world, which is the most effective place to be. I have opportunities to get my "preaching fix" in other congregations occasionally, and I must say that the church event is no longer the focus...we're discovering a new spiritual reality that doesn't require any hype.