Friday, June 01, 2007

HYBRID? (A Response)

My good friend, Brent Kollmansberger sent this response to me today and it is so brilliant I needed to share it with everyone.

My initial question to Brent dealt with my frustration at seeing so many Christians who attend traditional churches being abused and mislead and basically not cared for or pastored properly.

This is not a criticism, this is a fact. I can give you the names and phone numbers of the people I am speaking of. They are going through severe emotional and spiritual crisis and their churches and their pastors are totally useless and unavailable to help them or disciple them.

This makes me angry. So, I quietly complain to my friend Brent to bounce some of my ideas off of him.

Quickly, my ideas were: A)Build a better traditional church or B)Host a local conference for pastors to kick them in the butt over these issues somehow or C)Morph a house church into a “Hybrid” church (which is basically something between a traditional church and a house church and I’m not even sure what that looks like to be honest).

Brent’s response to me is below. I find it inspiring and dead on-target. Whether you agree or not, I share it with you here.


Hey Keith,

"SO...what WOULD help facilitate change?"

I think the real question is not what WOULD facilitate change, but what
IS facilitating the change?

Just a few short years ago there was no house church movement in the U.S., and all the people that are now
gathering together with other believers in the context of house churches were part of traditional churches. So why did you change? What has so completely shaken me and altered my spiritual direction?

What is causing these believers to share with you their stories of abuse and
dissatisfaction with traditional church? The answer is simple. The
Holy Spirit. God is facilitating the change himself. God is drawing
people in directions that cannot be followed in the traditional church.
Everyone I speak to who is now part of a house church has a completely
unique story about their discovery of house church or more broadly -
their spiritual awakening.

We may see the spiritual corruption and the wounded spirits caused by
our religious organizational culture, but to charge right in and try to
fix it may be presumptuous on our part. God is already working on it,
and he is already using us to play a part. I'm trying to learn how to
stop asking and demanding of God what he wants me to do, and instead
simply tell God that I am here and available for him, and listening
should he desire me to do something for him. I think of myself as a
ready reserve. I'm standing by, refreshed and ready to go. If I
already dove in on my own and am super busy waging war, I'll never hear
God tell me what he really wants me to do - or I won't be available to
do it. I think that's the real problem of identifying a need, seeing
that I have the skill set and presuming that I'm supposed to solve the
problem. This is what it would mean if you launched a seminar or
crusade - unless of course God spoke and told you to move.

Before we can honestly talk about fixing a traditional church or
creating a hybrid church we need to clearly articulate what exactly is
wrong with the traditional church in the first place. We then need to
focus on what behaviors and principles do encourage true spiritual
development. If a house church doesn't create an atmosphere where
spiritual life can be modeled and practiced, then it too needs to be

I'd like to believe a traditional church can be fixed without becoming a
house church network, but since the professional clergy themselves are a
big part of the problem I don't think many of them will sign up. The
key would be admitting what power, prestige and money do to us humans
and stripping those things away and enabling elders to share in ministry
together with mutual accountability. The next difficult hurdle would be
to recreate the church culture so that all believers are encouraged and
expected to minister to one another. This would be amazingly difficult.
It would be far easier to start a new traditional church with this DNA
from scratch.

Now, concerning a hybrid organizational structure - I'm sure you are
already familiar with cell churches. These are churches where much of
the ministry is conducted in small home groups, but they maintain a
large building for weekly celebration meetings. The large meeting ties
everyone to a common identity and places them beneath the senior pastor.
Their strength over a traditional church is that members may be allowed
and encouraged to minister to one another within the small groups. By
liberating saints to BE saints God is able to get more work done by
working through all of the body. Their weakness is the organizational
bureaucracy that exists solely to maintain control over this partially
decentralized organization, and the inevitable jockeying for position
and power that accompanies it. I believe this whole control, career and
pride thing is poison to anyone who would attempt to lead a church.

I see the current church situation as very similar to that in Jesus day.
Jesus didn't waste any of his energy reforming or fixing the existing
church culture. He didn't spend his time trying to get people to leave
the existing church structure and join him. Instead he went to the
sinners, the poor and the uneducated - those whose needs were not
getting addressed by the existing church system and he planted seeds of
the kingdom - whose DNA had nothing to do with the existing church
system. As his work grew, so did the jealousy and venom directed at him
from leaders of the religious system of his day. In time, the seeds he
planted grew so large that the traditional church of his day became more
and more irrelevant until its destruction 70 years later was just a
formality of what had already occurred in the spirit.

If the house church / organic church system cannot replicate what Jesus
did in the lives of the disaffected - sinners who are not members in
good standing of traditional churches, then I do not believe it is the
answer. We need more than a reformation of how we do church - one more
model of doing church. The church needs to be able to facilitate
spiritual reproduction in the fertile soil of the broken lives all
around us - and to do so naturally without conscious effort - its just
what and who we are. House church may just be the best organizational
vehicle to help facilitate this, but if it fails it will become just
another stepping stone toward the true spiritual awakening God is
drawing us to.

Wow - look what you drew out of me. I'm going to have to meditate on
these things.

God bless. Your friend and fellow adventurer,



Jodi said...

I found your blog from a link at another blog...I just wanted to pass on a website regarding church abuse and burnout. It is (or .com). From the sound of it, it seems like you might like the articles....

Ken Eastburn said...

Good stuff Brent and Keith. I'm there with you. How can we all work on this together?

Chelle said...

Got this site off "mix'd equally" and actually remember you from when "Unknown Soldier" was doing some recording. Seems God is doing some stuff and changing things up. praying you are going after ALL of what he has for you, and are not satisfied with just bits and pieces.