I am looking for people's stories of deconstruction from traditional church. What caused you to begin looking at the way you were doing church? What was the process you went through? What were the difficulties you faced? How was your thinking and understanding changed? What has been the result in how you understand and experience "church" today?
I am looking for more than "I was hurt by this church or that person so I decided to do a house church." I want to hear about how your paradigm, understanding, and values surrounding church changed and what catalyzed that.
I would love for you to share a link or reference to someone else's story, or share your own story here in two or three paragraphs (comments below).
I suppose it is only fair that I re-share just a bit of my own story. The brief version...
I often tell people that I experienced the full cycle of traditional church life: I gave birth (founding pastor of a church in California); I helped build (buildings, services, and staff over a ten year period); and finally I completed the cycle-- I burned out!
At the ten-year marker I suffered from a very severe burnout/depression that was so debilitating I was unable to continue in my role. Given a long-term sabatical, I was able to begin the recuperation process and the re-evalauation process. What had gone wrong? Why would ministry lead to burnout? How had I gone from being a simple pastor of a few families to a CEO of a business budget, a staff, a ministry team, building projects, and a vision for more and more of the same. I simply thought I was advancing the kingdom by building the church! Yet this type of church I had built just about killed me off! One thing I was able to grasp was that I was not doing what I had been designed to do.
There was certainly much to look at on a personal level: my own insecurities and need to build a bigger-is-better type of church, for example. But I also began to look at the whole package I understood as "church." What part of the organization and buildings and staff and structures and programs really are essentially church? If they are not essential, are they even helpful for truly advancing kingdom life? These types of questions got me back to the basics: church as people empowered by a living God. It is people filled with God who impact other people, not services and events. I began to see the potential of God's people released to just be his people with simple, relational gatherings to support each other. I began to see the power of every person living missionally, relating authentically, and caring for one another in the process. To use an analogy I have used before, I began to see how much effort I had spent trying to build a beautiful fireplace to contain just a little bit of the fire of God when God wanted to unleash a wildfire.
That's just the beginnings of what has become an awesome, freeing journey.
What I am really, really looking for here is to hear the stories of others...