As a father in the faith, I find myself viewing the Church from that perspective. This kind of assignment slips up on you by mere time in rank and age. The realization I was a spiritual father first visited me about 10 years ago and has deepened its definition in my life during the intervening years. Most of what I now write and teach flows from the heart of a father.
A short drive south from our home in southern Oregon there exists a powerful and culture-impacting church. I first entered the doors of this church with an invitation extended to me from one of the apostles in its relational network. The invitation was to attend a twice yearly gathering of leaders associated with the global movement that had risen from this ministry. People come from all over the world to encounter God during these gatherings.
Seven years ago, when I entered the doors of this church, I immediately sensed the honor of God. The worship was driven from the throne of God and the teaching flowed from the apostolic voices of the senior leadership team. In the course of a few days, I had an encounter with Jesus similar to the encounter that provided a jump-start for my dead spiritual life back in 1979. I came to the meetings as a dry well needing to be filled and left over-flowing with a fresh drink of Living Water. As I looked across those attending the meetings, I was amazed at who else was attending. I saw pastors and leaders from my own family of churches who were walking around the sanctuary with a familiar look on their faces that said, “I want more!”
This church and the movement it has birthed have taken hits from some people, many who have never darkened it’s doors. These kinds of accusations are usually fueled by the undiscerning use of social media and church-sanctioned gossip. The scalpel of accusation has sliced and diced this ministry and it’s leaders without mercy. In the last 7 years, I have attended several gatherings in this church and each time I came away with the same feeling – God is in the house.
I write all of this to say this – be careful what you unwisely indict from a distance. When Festus gave audience to Paul’s accusers the text says, “The Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove.” (Acts 25:7) What we try to “prove” many times comes from the evidence pool of our personal bias and narrow understanding of the real facts. When we finally have our “proof” we gather our supporters to make our case with accusations we cannot prove.
Churches and their leaders, like the one I am obliquely describing, have always taken hits from those who think they understand all the facts. These ministries take hits because they are contending for things abandoned by those in our own circle of fellowship. They also take hits because they are walking across spiritual frontiers into the new and uncharted territory of faith. This is the reality of God’s expanding Kingdom – it will always transport us to a new and unfamiliar destination. Expansion can make some people nervous because it requires we leave behind the status quo and accept an invitation to experience something new.
This is a good time to review the essentials of your faith. Truths like Jesus Christ as the way, truth and life and the only way to the Father would be an essential of your faith. There are a few more essentials, but not many. So much of what we hold as essentials to our faith are only non-essential opinions that can become baseless accusations “proven” only by the evidence of human opinion and speculation.