Something was wrong. I knew it, but couldn’t put my fingers on it.
Sure. There were things in the natural that I saw that weren’t sitting right. But this was something deep below the surface – something not visible – like slimy things hidden in dark places.
As soon as anyone asked questions, tried to turn the light on, their flashlight was tossed out – X-ed out – including ours.
Yet, the problem seemed even deeper than one place, one building, one enterprise. It gnawed at me. The Holy Spirit had been stirring things up in us for months.
“When Heidi comes, you will know for sure…” the Holy Spirit whispered inside.
Heidi Baker is someone I respect highly, and she was coming to our neck of the woods. After an infamous talk entitled “Don’t Eat Your Family,” (a rebuke regarding Christian cannibalism – verbally tearing your family apart), she pointed towards the back doors and said, “It’s time for you to dance right out of here.”
I turned to my husband in shocked surprise. “I think she’s talking to us.” It was a few weeks later, but…
Then, came the moment.
The moment I thought I’d dread. The moment I walked out of those doors – out of the same place I had said my vows with my husband, raised my babies, walked through for the last twenty-six years of my life. It was surreal.
Yet, the oddest thing happened.
I caught the glance of a friend from across the auditorium, threw my arms around her neck, and instead of tears of sorrow, joy bubbles began to pop up inside me, making me laugh like a little girl.
It was almost embarrassing, except I didn’t care. Like I’ve heard about in the natural (because I’ve never actually been drunk) when you are drunk, you don’t care what others think.
In fact, I could not stop laughing, not even when the well-meaning elder glumly offered his last words to me. Heaven must have been rolling because I could not contain myself.
Kindly, I patted his arm and managed to say, “It’s OK,” snicker, snicker. “We are gonna be just fine.” His shocked look said it all.
I held onto the pew as more laughter bellowed out. I kind of slid across the back wall, holding myself up with my hands, and with a slight skip in my step pushed open the doors, as I met my family in the foyer.
Does that count for dancing out?
So, why am I telling you this?
And no, I’m not going into a church bashing session, so you can let out a deep breath now.
It’s more about something that has been changing and is changing in me.
It’s far greater than me though. It is a change, a shift that I believe will eventually affect us all in some way or another.
I learned a long time ago, that anyone and I mean anyone, especially me, can go stupid. And yes, in my opinion, there was a bit of that stupidity that happened in that season at that church. Quite honestly, since I had been in a leadership position, serving on the prayer team as a leader, I had briefly become a part of it all.
Yet, the problems that this church went through aren’t isolated issues, because of one rogue leader.
It’s a problem I’ve heard about countless times and has shut down every move of God.
I first began to see things differently when I went to hear a woman I had never heard of speak in a hotel room – well, not much bigger than one. She was unlike anyone I had ever met before, and she carried a presence of God that demanded attention or her peels of laughter did. It was both, actually.
By the second meeting I went to, I was up on the front row because I was trying to prove to myself that what I was sensing from this woman was real. As I sat there, it was as if someone stood behind me, took off the top of my head, and poured new information in.
The speaker wasn’t even talking about the church and church structure directly anyway. She was just retelling lots of amazing stories of God moving in miraculous ways, but her point was that He wanted to move in everyone’s lives this way.
Now, I “knew” that, but I guess I’d not really “seen” that, and what I had been experiencing in our church situation had become more of a pyramid structure of performance.
All of a sudden, in front of me, instead of pyramids, either right side up or upside down, I saw a level playing field. Yes, each person had an important position to play and everyone used their gifts in unity for the winning score for the team, but there was only one coach, and it wasn’t the charismatic leader in the front. It was Jesus. He was calling the plays.
This rocked my world, so much so that without even saying a word about any of it, I was kindly dismissed from the leadership role I had held. I don’t think it was coincidental but probably providential.
God wasn’t done though shifting my mindsets. And still isn’t for that matter.
Shortly after this, we were on vacation. On my morning stroll, I was having a little talk with Jesus, and I was telling Him all about our troubles. I began to ask Him what the structure of the church was supposed to look like, and what were His intentions. All I could see was the mess men through the ages had made of it.
It was like God would begin to move and pour out His Spirit, and bam, someone would grab the glory and move of God and try to make it their own. That is a very simplified way of looking at things, but basically that is what seems to happen over and over and over again.
Kathie Walters says as soon as someone says God is moving HERE, in US, like WE have anything to do with, it’s done. God will move somewhere else because He refuses to have men’s hands on it. He knows what men will do with it. Make it their own.
So, I digress.
I was having a hard time seeing things through a positive frame at that time of kicking sand. So, again, I was asking, “What’s it supposed to look like?”
As I shuffled my feet near the ocean’s edge, I had a matrix moment. I didn’t see numbers break through scrolling in front of my face, but as I asked the Lord what His idea of what His church should look like, I began to see something very different in my mind’s eye.
At first, I saw what looked like bubbles or circles. Then, as it clarified more it was like cells, lots of them, interlocking, exchanging energy, living, breathing, growing. Honestly, I was stunned. What did this mean?
I pondered the cell image, and as I began to ask questions, the Lord began to speak about it.
It wasn’t about a certain church building or land that the Lord wanted to pour His Spirit on.
It wasn’t about a man’s kingdom or enterprise at all. It was about His body, His Bride.
All the cells were comprised of families of people, believers from all over the world, functioning together as one body, in unity, answering to the head, Jesus. It was and is an ever-moving, growing, expanding, beautiful body of Jesus.
What we had become involved in was seemingly a one-man show, an enterprise as it was put to us.
The move of God had morphed into a man building his kingdom because he claimed the move of God as his. He took off the gloves of humility that the Lord had instructed him to keep on, and touch the Holy, held onto the glory, and made it his own.
What the leadership had wanted was a charismatic leader who would take their God-given dream to make it a reality. Though I believe their original intent was good, in my opinion, it cost a lot of people a lot of pain, as building any man-made kingdom usually does.
Some structure is good. Throwing off all restraints is not. That leads to chaotic anarchy. This is not some rebellious attitude that all forms of leadership are bad and should be overthrown. That’s fascism.
Yes, even family needs structure. There are relational lines and some rules laid down by the law of love that we abide by, and as we mature and grow, we should all be flourishing in a culture of honor, in mutual submission, not lording over each other.
The parents want their children to outgrow them, to excel and succeed in life. It is an ever-growing, living, thriving unit.
When one hurts, we all hurt. When one celebrates, we all celebrate. When one falls, we all go down to help the one who is hurting.
There are boundaries and consequences in family – in learning to grow up. In fact, if we lovingly held people to some consequences and did not look the other way, we might have a healthier family unit, and abuse would not thrive.
This is what it was meant to be, what it was meant to look like – a lot like love. A lot like washing feet. A lot like lifting one another’s burdens. It’s what Jesus said would make us irresistible to the world – the way we love each other.
After I danced out, the Lord took us on a six or so month journey of going to almost every denomination and some non-denominations.
Do you know what we experienced?
His Spirit is alive and moving in them all. All of them had a piece, a beautiful color to weave into the master design. All of them….
So, whether you go to St. Such and Such or Bedside Assembly as we used to call it in college, or whether you have believers in your home or meet at a coffee shop, the Holy Spirit desires to be poured out through all of us, for all of us to be the living, breathing, growing thriving body of Christ.
It’s not about the four walls, the great programs, the charismatic apostle, the amazing sermon, or the women’s luncheons. Those can be good things, as long as it doesn’t become a self-gratifying social club, and those things aren’t stealing your focus from Jesus, your time from true intimacy with Him and others?
These days, I still find myself seeing the Kingdom from a much broader, life-giving view.
We fellowship on a regular basis with other believers because it’s important. Isolation is not a healthy course in the long run. We need each other. We need accountability. I know I do.
You are a king under King Jesus. You are a priest under His Priesthood. There is no Junior Holy Spirit. We all get to play on the same field together.
Until we come together as one body, as one Bride, I don’t really think we can accomplish the full mission that we are here to do.
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and let Him pour His Spirit out on all of us, not just the church leadership. When we are looking to them instead of Christ, it is a lot of expectation and pressure to put on them anyway.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself dancing out of some pyramid one day to a healthy family cell outside of traditional structure or maybe you’ll find your family cells within more of a structured environment.
The point is we are all the body, the Bride of Christ. He is our head, and we answer to Him.
We walk in love, honor, and mutual submission with all our brothers and sisters, honoring and developing the gifts in each one we meet. That’s family, and a Kingdom Family is what we are called to be.