Growing Up In Fellowship, Not Religion
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2: 22
This fall my now 16 year old daughter Lydia has been an assistant coach at our middle school’s Five Star program. Five Star is a voluntary character building and equipping program that focuses on 5 key points. Those important points are Respect, Responsibility, Sacrifice, Courage, and Integrity. Last year Lydia was the only one out of 150 students to earn the Integrity award. She excelled as a participant and now has become an excellent facilitator with the help of the Lord. In fact she has been such a successful role model that this past week they asked her to consider becoming their first head coach under the age of 21 next year. The coordinator told me that Lydia was a very special and gifted child; and that she was excellent in supporting and serving her peers. He also noted that she was adept in developing relationships.
None of this surprised me, but to hear such praise of my child did bring me great joy. To me this totally affirmed the effectiveness of totally free & open, Spirit led relational fellowship. All my children were born and raised totally outside of traditional/institutional “church” or religion. My children did not grow up in Sunday school or youth group. They grew up without sermons or conventional bible studies. And guess what? They turned out just fine. I would say better than fine. Do they stumble at times? Sure, but they sure love Jesus and allow Him to pick them back up every time.
All four of my children (ages 31, 27, 21, 16) grew up in totally open & free, Spirit led fellowship. Their teacher has been The Holy Spirit teaching them directly or through Mom & Dad or the other followers of Jesus we have gathered with over the years. To me the true test of any church style is the generational test or how well our children and grandchildren follow Jesus. My children were raised to be free in Jesus and to follow The Spirit and no other Pastor or Leader. They have not been programmed by the “church” system of Babylon. They understand that every member of the Body is a Priest before both man and God and I am so, so grateful for that.
Often the first question people wrestle with regarding leaving the traditional “church” for more relational fellowship is, “What will we do FOR the children?” I say the much better question to ask is “What will we do WITH the children?” True Church fellowship is about relationships and not programs or classes. Both children and adults need deep intimate relationship with both God and their other family members in Christ to really ever grow up into maturity in Jesus. This takes dialogue and interaction, face to face and heart to heart. If we share the Truth in Love with one another instead of listening to preaching, teaching and other forms of monologue…we will grow up into HIM who is the Head…. as EACH part of the Body of Christ does its work. Systems and programs, especially those that look only to recognized Pastors and Leaders for guidance and truth, will all eventually fail.
What we all need is relationship with Jesus and one another. The institution of “church” can never really get you there. It is impossible to make true, mature disciples, from a pulpit. Sermons might give you some knowledge, but they cannot give you relationship with anyone; including Christ Himself. However, when we share our entire lives with one another in a beautiful ongoing, life long, conversation we all learn and grow. It is simple. Live your life out loud in full view of Christ’s Body 24/7, giving your own life and love for the sake of others and you will become His disciple. Don’t go to Church, BE the Church! Be the family that He calls all of us to be. Can’t be done in just an hour a week or with programs and sermons. This one thing I know beyond the shadow of any doubt…It will cost you everything to follow Jesus and it will cost you everything if you don’t. The choice is simple. What will it be? Living and active real relationships or old, dead religion?
Kirk Out !