I have a lot of conversations with people who are struggling with the blind adventure of the simple, organic and missional church life.
I hear things like; ” I don’t really know what to do!”, “I wish someone could show me how this works!”, “I tried that/that, and it didn’t work so what’s wrong?”, “What is this supposed to look like?”, “Is there a manual or something I can follow?”, “Can you give me a blueprint to work from so I know what I’m supposed to do?”
I empathize with these questions. These are real struggles from hearts that want to “do it right” and have been trained to follow models, leaders, organizations, and manuals so that what they do is “successful” and “correct”. I resist the tendency, which is so easy for me, to tell them what to do. Instead, we start talking about what they are learning in the process, what their goals are for living this organic simple life in Christ, what the Scriptures say we should esteem, and that it is okay to try different things and even fail a few times in the process.
God is certainly capable to get us where we need to be, when we need to be there, with all that we need in the process. The bottom line is; He is faithful.
Have you ever heard that saying of on “a need to know basis” ? I think that fits well with His leading of us. He takes us one step at a time. He gives us what we need to know and understand when we need it to lead us forward in faith. He also lets us struggle.
Most of us don’t want to hear that we learn best by what we struggle with and figure out on our own. We also don’t like to hear that failure is a better teacher than our successes. In fact, I recently read a medical study that concluded that we actually grow more brain cells when we fail! How’s that for “organically” rewarding our failures? What incredible Grace!
I believe, God is taking us each on our own wonderful, unique and unmapped “Journey’s of Discovery”. That is what the journey west, of the explorers Lewis and Clark’s into the then unknown, was called.
For those of us who admit to being ” a Trekkie”, you’ll be familiar with the saying; “of boldly going where no man has gone before”. I like to use the Star Trek motto to illustrate what the journey in the lifestyle of simple, organic, missional church is like. No manuals, no maps to follow, no clear guidelines and directions (yet,… just give it a few more years and the experts will have the ‘5 steps to simple church success’ available soon at your local bookstore….sorry, my cynicism again).
We do have some great folks out there who are sharing their own journeys of what they are learning and experiencing. Giving us some understanding of what this whole simple lifestyle is all about. Lewis and Clark types who, are on the “Journey of Discovery”, just like the rest of us, but are a little further along on their expedition and keeping great journals.
Tom and I have been doing something different this summer. We have been taking short three or four day “mini” vacations on the motorcycle, but we’ve been doing it in a totally new way from how we have done it before.
In past years we have had a general plan to our vacations. Not completely, but we would have an idea of where we were going, where the scenic spots were, where the camping areas and the places available to us for lodging, eating, getting gas, etc would be. We would, once in a while, drive off the planned course and see what we could discover, but that was the exception. Most of the time we just followed the mapped course we’d laid out together in the kitchen over a couple of nights.
In these vacation expeditions we’d also have a definite goal and agenda of what we wanted to see, experience and accomplish. We don’t have the name “driver” for nothing, and some days the only goal seemed to be how many miles we could push through in a day!
This summer however, has been different.
Instead of loading up the car and luggage carrier with all our necessities for camping, our suitcases full of “stuff” that we’d maybe use, coolers packed with food and drink, we packed small bags that fit into the limited spaces on the motorcycle. Usually not more than a change of clothes, our rain gear, a couple bottles of water, basic toiletries, a bible and extra jacket. We’d take along a map, but only for the sake of getting us back on track if we got disoriented and lost out on the back roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
We load up and take off in a matter of minutes (verses hours), heading out of the city, in the general direction we wanted to go. We would find some road unknown to us and take it, just to see where it would lead. Often times it would lead to some great and awesome place that we would never of found on our own. Sometimes we would find ourselves at a dead end, where we would have to turn around and go back a bit until we found another road and take that for a while. We found some incredible places and experiences that made us look forward to what new things we’d discover tomorrow! We felt alive and revived. Resulting in thankfulness for all that we saw God bless our journey with each day. A beautiful road, a person to encourage or pray for, finding new friends in towns we’d never of known, creating memories and special times of enjoying life together in the goodness of God. It was simple (unencumbered and portable), organic (let’s see what unfolds naturally in the process) and missional (what other lives can we bring some aspect of the nature of Christ to today in our encounters).
When Lewis and Clark made their journey into the western wilderness some two hundred years ago, they went not knowing what they would encounter with each day and decision of direction. Sometimes, the river they travelled just took them along it’s natural path and when that was no longer possible, they found their way through mountain passes and vast prairies with sometimes the help of those native to the area. They recorded information, observations and drew pictures of what they were discovering and wrote it in journals for those who would be following in the future. Even though this would be the beginning of the westward movement of settlement, each of the pioneers soon to head west on that journey still had to discover, on their own with just a few journal notes of information and helps, the path to where they would eventually settle.
Tom and I driving along this summer on the unknown back roads of MN and WI, not knowing where we would eventually end up that night was exciting, rewarding, adventurous, fun, a bit unnerving, tiring and stressful at times. All of the above and more! I wouldn’t give up one moment of it.
The simple organic and missional church life gives us no GPS, maps and instructional directions. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the direction we are to go. We get to learn how to follow Him in a dependent and intimate way. When He says; this is the way, we go that way. We learn to have ears that hear. We learn to discover, on our own with Him, the unique adventure that Jesus has planned for us to experience more of Him and what He has in store of us while we walk this side of heaven. To know Him, and walk daily in an intimacy that is fresh, alive, exciting and dependent. We have the ultimate “journal”, the Word, that has all that we need pertaining to life and godliness. We have the journals of others on similar journey’s that can encourage and aid us, but in the end, we find our own Journey of Discovery with the Author of it all!
In the vernacular of motorcycle trekking………….”enjoy the ride”!