Finding my home by leaving it…

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The Spark has been set…

I never in a million years would have thought that the “goodbye video” I made last Tuesday (about my choice to no longer be “Christian” and walking away from the church as it exists today) would have generated such a response. I have been put back on my heels a bit, to be honest. The overwhelmingly positive expressions of empathy and support have healed me in more ways than any of you could ever know.

Does that mean I am “Christian” again? No. And I probably never will be. You see, my shedding of that label is also a protest, as well as a symbol. I want this whole “church” thing to be restarted, from scratch and without any semblance of the imperial monstrosity that came before.

But, as I was asked many times in the comments on my video, “What comes next? What takes the place of Church?”

Honestly, I don’t know for sure. But what I DO know is that what we have doesn’t work. It is set up to fail, because what should have been the source for community, inspiration, love and life in peoples’ lives has become a den of fear-mongering.

So what next?

What Comes Next?

I want to see a very loosely organized series small groups begin to form, one organically sprouting from the other, dedicated to discovering, discussing, and most importantly: enabling its members to live out the teachings of Yeshua on a day to day basis. Can you imagine what 10 groups of 10-20 members in a single city could do for the lives of the people there? Fundraising for various municipal and charitable projects in the area, workforce support of the local soup kitchens and shelters, even rescue of entire families from financial ruin through charitable gifts and aid!

We help anyone and everyone, regardless of faith or lack-thereof. Regardless of wealth, education, addictions, or exual orientation. These groups help everyone who needs it. They find the way, creatively and from the bottom up, to affect change where they live.

How it Grows and Organizes

The possibilities are endless, and as each group begins to discover it’s own agency to affect positive change, then more prospective members will want to join, because effectiveness is intriguing and visible change is inspiring. And due to fact that the groups will be capped at a certain number (I don’t know, 20?), a new group will have to be formed at some point and a new group leader appointed to the forming group by the established small group.

Each group composed of passionate followers of the way of Yeshua, the way of social justice and compassion, will be an entity unto itself, and affiliated by-name-only with any other small groups in the same area. No central authority, no hierarchy, just a shared name and purpose, and (of course) ample cooperation between individual small groups!

These groups’ leaders will not be elected based upon worldly wealth or honors (education, degrees, etc.), but upon who best can work, and best agree! The group-leader positions will not be paid. Passion is a must.

Hold Onto Yer Butts!

The most exciting part? These groups will never be about proclamations of faith in any way, they will only living out the Way of Yeshua.

It should come as no surprise to my readers by now, that I believe that we can learn just as much about the Way of Yeshua through other sources outside the “faith” of Christianity. We can learn as much about how to emulate The Way from examining the life of Gandhi and the writings of Rumi as we can from only biblical sources! Therefore, we can (and should) include and invite our brothers and sisters from all the Family of God to join in our truly universal effort to change the world for the better, through love.

The Only Requirement for Membership:

It is my fervent hope that these small groups will be populated by people from all walks of life, all faiths and non-faiths, all bound together by the single discerning characteristic for discipleship that Yeshua ever gave us: how we choose to love our fellow brothers and sisters.

John 13

34. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We are not known as disciples by parroting the Sinner’s Prayer, not by meaningless proclamations of faith…

…but by love.

All the group’s members can (and should) still attend their own places of worship of their choice (or remain atheist), but still be part of this universal brotherhood and sisterhood of man! Its sole purpose is to assist, inspire and enable its members to walk in the Way of Yeshua…

This is not for your sake, for your pride, or for you own personal salvation, but for the sake of the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.

For the sake of the world.

Something new starts right here:

Our small-group’s first meeting:

  • When: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
  • Time: 6:00pm
  • Where: 6 S. Tejon #450, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 (my photo studio).
Trig Bundgaard About Trig Bundgaard

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts and ideas about what I've written. Especially if it's contrary to my views!

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Grace and peace to you!

Romans 5
"18. Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
19. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

Comments

  1. I am part of a small group within our church that has been trying to model this approach for some time. There have been two hurdles that we just can’t seem to get over.
    One is commitment. Not only commitment to the group but commitment to spiritual growth. Without spiritual growth we are stagnant. Spiritual growth requires discipline, just like any other process. With growth comes hard choices. When faced with these choices, many stop and continue with their comfortable lives. Without spiritual growth, it’s just the same old same old. Discipline also takes time. Make the time because it is impossible to find the time.
    The second hurdle is more of a practical one. Shared wealth. While we are all willing to step up to help the other person, when it is our time to be the recipient, pride steps in and “we don’t need the help”. We also limit our giving so as not to affect our own comfort and security (back to the discipline part). When we can truly give AND receive without any thought or expectation of payback,without limit, we are on the right road.
    “Can you imagine what 10 groups of 10-20 members in a single city could do for the lives of the people there?”

    Within this number, you may find only 2 or 3 willing to make the total commitment, and total commitment is what it will take. Half assed work leads to what we have today. God requires total commitment, and on that road there are few.

    This is an exciting journey that we are all on. Disappointment and abandonment are all part of the cross that we take up, part of the crucifixion.

    The pain is worth it, especially when you look next to you and see God’s own son.

    • Or see him within?

      It is scary to think how much disappointment I might encounter on this path. But I have hope and faith in this swelling tide that is overtaking this country. We want more from this life, and I think we can find IT through love, service, and emulation of the life of Yeshua!

  2. John Waltz says:

    Trig…. I think this is exactly what we need to mobilize grace: http://www.potsc.com/

  3. I love the idea of small groups, after all that is what the early church looked like!
    The smaller groups provides a way to more deeply fellowship and support each other…
    But Trig, it breaks my heart to read that you are opening yourself up to other religions and “sources of authority.”
    The Bible is the only truth, and Jesus is the only way!
    Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
    A group of people cannot be truly life and community transforming apart from Jesus and the life he gives.
    Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[b] ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:5-8). Jesus is the source of true life-transforming power! He is the source of the true and selfless love that can create a community of people who “share everything in common” and who selflessly serve.
    I will continue to pray for you, Trig, that Jesus will take hold of your heart and draw you back into the truth.

  4. Marcie Dillard says:

    Just one little warning from my experience in this place if I may, what I have found in my many years of wondering is ….. the foundation of religion and church as we know it is all wrong. You will draw to yourself people who possibly have not left because they have had the same revalation as you. What I have seen over and over is they left the building but rolled up the foundation and took it with them. Strangley as they build in their living room or somewhere else they once again find need for a building fund.

    I pray for a church (a people) that speaks not from the mind or the reasonings of men but through inspiration!

    Im excited to see what God does.

    • This is why it is so important to be spiritually centered, otherwise “they once again find need for a building fund”. When the number gets up to 10-20 as Trig mentioned, they must split and form a new group.
      The Great Commission says “GO…” It does not say, “build a building, plant a sign and wait for the people to show up”.

      • Yeah, that’s exactly why I did that, David and Marcie: to help resist the temptation to consolidate influence and power with a building and staff. The forced split should help with that, I hope!

  5. Jay Redinger says:

    Dear Trig,

    Sounds like you are on a good journey, but maybe if I share from my experience, what I have been through, may be helpful. The size of the group is not relevant, that is not the problem. No matter how you try and structure a group you will always fall back into what you are trying to leave behind. That’s because that is not the issue. The fact that you have a group and a leader is the problem. You will always morph into what you came out of. You are building on the wrong foundation, in fact you should not be building in my opinion. Christ very definitely said that He will build His church, and the church that He is building does not look anything like the one man builds. In fact you cannot build what He is building, He works in the hearts of men and that is not something we can do. Leadership the way it is commonaly seen in christian circles is nothing like what Christ portrayed. I could elaborate, but it is best if you find this all out for yourself. I would suggest to you not to be to hasty in coming up with conclusions, keep your eyes and ears wide open and you you will receive more and more revelation. Don’t be afraid not to have all the answers. That’s okay, stay encouraged, this journey never ends.

  6. I agree with David at the top of the comments. I have been part of two faith communities very similar in scope and intent to the sort you outline in this post. Both were founded on high hopes, breathless excitement and lofty rhetoric about “revolution”, “authentic spirituality”, and “inclusivity”. Both ‘churches’ seemed to be simmering with potential for a while, before eventually running out of steam and eventually imploding into nothing.

    Even though both churches were totally unrelated, their demises were remarkably similar. After having just come out of a disbanded community, my wife and I saw the same warning signs at the next one we joined. Interestingly, no one believed us when we brought up our concerns – they thought their group was too vibrant and committed for that. Sadly, we were right. A year later, it too shrunk down to nothing and disbanded. Most people either went back to big churches, or remained stranded in limbo.

    Besides David’s points, here are some other pitfalls the communities you describe are likely to fall into. (I’m not saying that all attempts at this sort of thing are doomed to fail…..but most probably are)

    BEING ON THE SAME PAGE

    Statements like “living out the way of Yeshua” are nice and all, but they are rhetorical statements that don’t mean anything. Or, to put it differently, they mean whatever you want it to mean. For some people, Jesus is a gentle friend of the underdog. For some, he’s an angry revolutionary wanting to tear down the walls of the system. For some, he’s a soft shoulder to cry on. For others, he’s the austere, scolding voice of God who motivates by chastisement and guilt. Or a personal saviour. Or a sacred spirit person and a brother to the likes of Buddha or Krishna. For others, he’s a battler of demons who won’t rest until all other religions and false belief systems are wiped out. For some, he calls the lost sheep to return to a wholesome, conservative lifestyle. For others, he’s a crazy radical pushing his followers into new horizons. And so on….

    Each person in your small community – formed mainly from outcasts, misfits and emigrants of many different churches – is likely to ‘know’ a different Jesus. Don’t be tempted to think “great – that’s the kind of diversity we want!”. A club comprised of 3 stamp collectors or 3 car collectors will be one of thriving passion. A club comprised of 1 stamp collector, 1 car collector, and 1 shoe collector won’t last a month. In the case of faith communities, this will likely play out in one of two ways:

    (1) As people inevitably realise that they’re travelling with different compasses, these differences will come to the surface and cause tension. Like minds will band together, and politics will form between rival ideologies. The group will come to an impasse because no one can agree what its true purpose is. Or else it breaks into pieces, forming Christianity’s 356,287th schism. (Maybe the one millionth gets a prize!)

    (2) As people inevitably realise that they’re travelling with different compasses, these differences will be swept under the rug, and people will try to focus on similarities rather than differences. This will work for a while but eventually people start to talk less and less about what really matters to them. Expect to see people internalise their values and beliefs, and don’t be surprised if people stop talking about God, spirituality, politics or anything of particular substance at all. A lack of honest communication will hobble the relationships within the group. Pretty soon, people start wondering what they’re doing there in the first place.

    Take this example: Some gay people are unanimously welcomed into the group. Everyone agrees that that’s great. But some people secretly hope that the gay members will eventually become straight, ‘as God intended’. Others staunchly believe that their gayness is something to honour and accept wholeheartedly.

    In scenario #1, the first group is accused of being Bible-bashing bigots. The 2nd group is accused of undermining the Bible and the values of early church that Yeshua himself founded in favour of pandering to contemporary norms – if we’re making it up as we go along, what’s the point of this group in the first place? they ask. The gays feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. The only solution here seems to be a firm laying down of “this is what we believe”, which goes against the principles of having a loose, non-faith based community.

    In scenario #2, expect unresolved awkwardness. The gay members feel more ‘tolerated’ than 100% ‘accepted’. They may eventually leave.

    COUPLES/KIDS

    Groups like this will likely attract primarily young adults around the ages of 20-35. For a while, that makes it thriving and full of potential. Over time, there are more and more couples. Pretty soon, the single people feel awkward. And then the kids start coming. New parents are infuriating, and their screaming babies test everyone’s patience; in such a small group, one screaming baby easily becomes the fulcrum of the entire gathering. Meanwhile, the parents feel like the rest of the community is oblivious to the new challenges they face.

    Expect to see a steady exodus of new parents. They may give all sorts of reasons for leaving the group, but observe where 90% of these drained, sleepless parents go: to big, established churches……churches that facilitate an easier form of spirituality that is based around routine and ritual…….and that have baby-minding and children’s programs.

    This contributes to the next problem:

    AVERAGE AGE
    The average age of your faith community will probably be quite young. This will lend the group the strengths of youth: vibrancy, energy, vision. But it will also taint it with the weaknesses of youth: naivete, short-sightedness, frivolity, inexperience. One of the things that I most yearned for when I was in a young faith community was contact with old people who could share their wisdom with me, and whose humility I could learn from. Instead, I found myself surrounded by snot-nosed gen-X or gen-Y airheads just like me who were overflowing with opinions and lacking in experience. Not an ideal place for spiritual growth.

    JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE WANT CHANGE DOESN’T MEAN EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A PATH-BEATER

    Anyone with their eyes open can see that the Church is deeply flawed. But only a minority of people have the sort of personality that thrives on exploring new territory, experimenting with new models, reinventing the way they live their lives, and taking every day as it comes. Expect this small minority to do the brunt of the work (and expect them to eventually give up – especially if they are entirely unpaid and are committed to other faith communities as well, as you recommend). Expect the rest to feel burnt out, pressured, uncertain, aimless, and/or craving structure.

    JESUS IS STILL THE CENTRE

    Talk about Ghandi and Rumi all you want, and fiddle with the terminology till the word “Christian” disappears and the loaded “Jesus” is camouflaged as the more neutral “Yeshua”. But what you are describing is still focused around Jesus. It wouldn’t even qualify as being “inter-faith”. You claim your central motivating force to be the teachings of Jesus, and ask the groups you speak of to do the same. You cite a biblical reference as your credo. You talk about the urgent need for the kingdom of Earth to be as it is in Heaven. That’s an overtly Christian concept – about as Christian as you can get. And you closed with it. And put it in bold. And in italics.

    Yet you voice a hope that atheists and people of other faiths will feel comfortable as equal contributors to such a group. It ain’t gonna happen. The equations don’t add up.

    You seem to mirror a belief that’s wide among emergents and others: that Jesus’ teachings are just so amazingly unique and attractive that if we could only strip them of their religious baggage, the masses would trip over each other flocking to them. I don’t think that’s true. For one, he was a poor, homeless, penniless, despised vagrant who frequently scolded his disciples and urged people to follow him along the straight and narrow path of suffering and sacrifice. Few people (whether “Christians” or “followers of Yeshua”) are willing to heed such a calling without a truckload of caveats. Maybe that path was more attractive to Palestinian peasants who longed for freedom from a tyrannical empire, but it doesn’t seem that attractive today.

    Secondly, if you strip all the religious stuff, the Jewish flavour, the Pauline theology, all the talk about God and Lordship, all the nasty parables about masters and servants and burning in hell, and any other unattractive stuff, you’re left with a pretty thin and distorted Jesus. Yes, this thin Jesus still has some profound things to say, but they don’t stand out that much compared to what Confucius or Buddha or the 1960s hippies had to say. Why would non-Christians flock to a figure like that? You might be excited about shedding your “Christian” baggage, but they couldn’t care less. To them, you’re just another type of Christian in sheep’s clothing who’s trying to persuade them to your worldview.

    Maybe there will be an exodus of people leaving the church and creating your Brand New World. Or maybe there’ll just be an exodus of people leaving the church.

    • Ugh. I just read over my post and realised how depressing and pessimistic it was. Let that be another warning: don’t become as jaded as me!

      • A good warning, Dave. You can find jaded believers in every group. Yeshua talked about becoming like little children (Matthew 18). He was talking not only of humility, I believe, but also of simplicity. We adults have a wonderfully wicked gift of complicating the crap out of things. Yeshua came so that ALL may have life. If Yeshua is for all (and I believe that this is so), then even the “simple minded” can know him.
        We experience God according to our gifts, and our gifts are to serve others. I think that we become frustrated/jaded when we try to go beyond our gifts/abilities and lose sight of Yeshua.

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