Church On The Edge
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Church On The Edge

Navigating the Church Maze

We all need to be yoked, in harness, and moving forward with a clear purpose in our lives. Without purpose, there is no place to plant our feet, no stability, no familiar ground. That’s how I’ve been feeling for over a year now.

In my most recent post, I shared with you the vertigo I am experiencing both literally and spiritually in my life. For over twenty-four hours, I lay flat on my back in bed, unable to open my eyes. The room just would not stop spinning! A prolonged, mandated meditation session was forced upon me by God.

As I said in that last post entitled “Vertigo” (you can read it here), instead of asking God, “Why?” I began asking, “What?”

I’m a big believer in signs, that is, in God using circumstances, events, and life experiences to get our attention and speak to us. It was only natural, then, that I took advantage of my mandated meditation time to ask God what it was I needed to hear. At least, that’s what I did in between my whining and complaining!

Did God answer? I think so. Of course, as I’ve said, while hearing God can certainly be a one-time event, it is most often a process that takes place over time. Personal choices and unfolding events tend to clarify or redirect, if necessary, our steps in accordance with God’s will for our lives.

Having said that, I want to share with you where I believe God is leading me in the days ahead.

Spiritual vertigo is an excellent way to describe my dilemma in this past year. When I returned from Korea, many advised me to apply to teach at one of our Southern Baptist Seminaries. Others suggested I engage in leading pastorless churches through their transition to new leadership. I also received several invitations to preach at various international conferences. Because of the global pandemic, none of these opportunities proved possible.

Meanwhile, before returning home, I was able, with the help of some good friends, to launch Church on the Edge. If you have visited the site (danarmistead.com), then you probably know that my purpose and vision for this ministry is what I like to refer to as “outside the camp.” What I mean by that is that I believe, as a whole, the structured, institutional church in much of the world today is out of step with the kingdom of God and the ministry of Christ. In fact, in many cases, it is directly opposed to it. What that means for those who are willing to count the cost of true discipleship is a willingness to follow Jesus outside the rigid confines of religious institutions that hem God’s people in while shutting others out.

About the same time, I wrote an article entitled “The Cost of Authenticity.” In that article, I shared that I expected to pay a high price for my willingness to break with camp Christianity. I have, and I am, but I’ll share more about that later. For now, I want to return to something I mentioned in my last post, “Vertigo,” and that is that I want to speak directly to those of you experiencing your own spiritual vertigo when it comes to the visible, institutional church today.

Where do we go? What do we do? Are we simply supposed to pretend nothing is wrong? Do we continue to attend lifeless churches, doctrinally accurate but spiritually bankrupt?

I know that not all feel this way. Many are attending great churches where Christ is glorified, and the Holy Spirit is at work among his people. All I can say is, God bless you! Cling to the richness of that fellowship, and rejoice.

But for those lost in the labyrinth of a Christianity where misplaced zeal has replaced godly wisdom, that has become more political than personal, and that demands conformity rather than the wonderful diversity that God calls us to in Christ, I want to invite you to join me as we seek to find a way forward in these difficult and godless days.

Next time, I’ll be sharing some ways that, together, we can join with Jesus, outside the camp.

In Christ,

Dan

Check out my podcasts from Church on the Edge and my books on Kindle.

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Dan Armistead

Dan is the former pastor of Seoul International Baptist Church and Adjunct Professor at Torch Trinity Graduate University in Seoul, Korea.