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Growing Up In Fellowship, Not Religion

December 6, 2015
               “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?
             Love and….
             Kirk Out !

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  1. Once again I apologize for the formatting of this blog post. WordPress would not allow me to publish it with paragraph breaks, but it would allow me to place extreme indentations at each paragraph start for easier reading.

  2. Amen. .. it read fine as you wrote it…. I didn’t even notice deep paragraphs… I guess I am old enough to have read many books formatted like that.
    As t what you wrote… spot on.

  3. Tom Ball permalink

    The church system of Babylon? Chris, that is just too harsh for me. I’m supportive of the blessings available in free style worship. But I simply do not see the organized traditional church as the enemy. Like any organization, it can sometimes get off base. But, one of the very real challenges of free style is the inordinate influence a strong charismatic personality can have… sometimes leading people astray. I value the connectional system of the Free Methodist Church. It is a strength to have a means in place to prevent a leader from getting too far off base. I think we differ on this one.

    • "BK" permalink

      I also respect ‘correctional systems’, also known as prisons, but that certainly isn’t what I would wish for humanity. Jesus stood in the synagogue (the organized, traditional church of His day) and quoted Isaiah 61 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”, then said that scripture was fulfilled that day, as He spoke in the synagogue. What Christopher says is true, as we move from the prison of organized religion and correctional ‘systems’ and into the Melchisidec priesthood of believers then the accountability to life really, really does flow. This isn’t about wild asses in the desert, every man for himself, do as you please….it is about the ability of the Body of Christ to be a living organism; so far beyond an organized, smooth running machine. I say this with respect and carefulness, but with the resolve of having seen and experienced the difference between the two, “BK”

    • Reformed by the Spirit permalink


      I have experienced the “connectional” system of a denomination. What I have discovered is that once you are not in that inner (upper) system, you are no longer connected in the same way.

      I have experienced being with other church leadership in a connected framework (on a denominational scale). However, when the pastor I was “serving” under decided he liked the idea of being married to my own wife, instead of his own, I experienced what it is to be “un-connected”. Instead of making an effort to keep me active in my service and help the “congregation” to understand what had actually happened, blame was allowed to be placed upon me and as I was devastated (and it showed), I became a vacuum in that circle. It went to the point of my being told to get over it and find a Christian counselor (I was already in counseling) when I asked for appropriate support.

      After trying and trying to find my place again (for more than a decade), I have become of the “done-s” (however that is spelled). I am thankful God led me (albeit painfully) out of Babylon. Staying to enact change is out of the question. The expectation is that I should return to this system and submit. If I do that, what is left of my faith in God will be crushed. ( I do not blame God for what has happened, but I have had it rubbed into my face that I need to accept responsibility for what has happened; which only serves to remove the actual responsibility from those who need to take it up).

      It does not matter what denomination it is, if there is connectivity amongst leadership that is used to keep itself in check, then the balance that Christ intended for us, is broken.

      • Tom Ball permalink

        I am so very sorry you have had this horrible experience. It is, I believe, even worse when a minister of the Gospel is involved. FWIW, in my church this pastor would have been disciplined, and had he not desisted from this behavior he would have been dismissed from the church and his ordination in the denomination cancelled. Being a pastor is a sacred trust. Over the years I’ve personally known three pastors in our denomination who have experienced this kind of outcome. People who do bad things can be found everywhere. Perhaps the free-worship house church movement may have experienced similar incidents.

      • "BK" permalink

        An old friend of mine had a saying, “My enemies have succeeded in kicking me UPstairs….” and that is what I tell people who have had similiar, horrible experiences (myself included, actually!). Be thankful, God just used them to push you out from where He wanted you to leave. A systems inherently flawed, and on record that God hates. That of the Nicolaitans, “clergy OVER laity”. As I was pushed in a ‘if I go back there and do as they say I will die’ I used to tell the Lord “You have me in a Catch22!” Twice I had a vision of the Lord carrying me limp in His arms from a lake” and the second time I told Him, “Lord, I have no idea where You are taking me. I am so confused so all I ask is when I get wherever I am going I will find You there.” I am glad to say He was. And so together we walk on. “BK”

  4. Dr. Ball, Part of the beauty of totally free & open, Spirit led, relational fellowship is full mutual accountability. Another thing is that leadership is shared in the open relational setting so that no one person could ever exert power or control over others like what many times occurs with traditional Pastor’s in the institutional “church”. The safe freedom I speak of is hard to describe and must be experienced to really have a mature understanding of its outworkings. In practice I do not think we differ as much as you think we might. I appreciate the portion of the truth in love that you bring to the table as we jointly seek that “mythical” thing called balance together.

    • Yea I’m with you on this kirk.. but respect that others who have never experienced this find it difficult.

      • "BK" permalink

        Oh! and WAY TO GO, Lydia!!! I am so proud of you. Hugz, “BK”

    • "BK" permalink

      I have to say amen to Tom’s portion of truth in love he brings to the table (not meaning to talk ‘around’ you, Tom!). And also that as Romans 14 tells us, each one has to be free to be where they are in the Lord, as they feel the Spirit has led them….including you, Tom, in your denomination. If the Spirit has not said, “Come out!” and you find life where you are, then far be it from me to question that. Your spirit tells me you are right where God wants you to be and you are His, not mine, to guide and lead! Blessings, “BK”

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