It is relatively easy to deconstruct from institutional church-going and thinking. Many of us would echo the sentiments expressed by some of the people quoted in this article:
“I didn’t want to invite the people that I was first exploring a conversation of spirituality with to church anymore. I didn’t want them to see walking with God as a relationship of jumping through hoops – that it was about behavioral management or sin management.”
“It’s hard to demonstrate love from the institution now…”
“[My] training to become a pastor mostly reminded me of the corporate techniques I followed at [General Electric].”
However, beyond deconstruction, the more difficult challenge is to reconstruct a lifestyle with God that is intentional, authentic, meaningful, and impactful. Many people fall through the cracks, today, who have deconstructed and left institutional church life, yet never intentionally develop an organic, significant life with God.
Kyle Rice (same article) describes where his own reconstruction has led him:
“I would say that I am very intentionally engaged with a group of believers who are committed to one another and committed to seeing God’s word make an impact around the world.”
I would suggest that there are three essential rhythms that make up the adventure of intentionally reconstructing an organic lifestyle:
- The God-ward rhythm. Everyone knows that institutional church life does not create inner spiritual life. But we still face the challenge, outside the institution, to find the personal rhythms that move us ever deeper into the heart, purposes, and leading of Jesus Christ.
- The community rhythm. This is a challenging rhythm, but we need the Body of Christ and some shape of authentic community life for healthy growth and alignment with God’s purposes. This is often messy, uncomfortable, and difficult to define. But we need others, we need mentors, we need to be mentoring, we need spiritual family, and we need to be sharpened by difficult people.
- The missional rhythm. Church is always God’s people reaching out with the love of God to people who desperately need to know the love, power, freedom, healing, hope, renewal, and eternal life that only the cross brings. How this rhythm is walked out may be as varied as sands on the sea. But it is an essential dynamic for our organic adventure with God.
I am not trying to dictate forms out of any of these rhythms. In an earlier post I remarked that “if we begin with forms and structures we continue to miss the core reality of relational connection that underlies true church.”
However, I am suggesting that, as God leads us out of institutional forms of spiritual life and into organic ones, we can expect that He will draw us into new ways of living out all three of these essential dynamics. We leave the institutions (or not) with intentionality to join our life more intimately, organically, and purposefully with the Person.