It is imperative to remember the art of being patient when living and meeting together with other Christ-followers as a family in
which everyone is equal and Christ is Head through His Spirit.
You will sometimes want your spiritual family to slow down.
You will sometimes want your spiritual family to speed up.
You will sometimes want your spiritual family to turn left instead of right (or vice versa).
You will sometimes want your spiritual family to understand you better.
You will sometimes want your spiritual family to pay attention to something right now.
And many times, they will do the exact opposite.
And ye shall be frustrated.
In Frank Viola’s book Finding Organic Church, he highlights the need for patience as one of the “five unmovable principles” of body life:
Be patient with the progress of the group.
Meeting in a home doesn’t constitute the birth of church life. A church, in its purest form, takes time to be born. It took approximately nine months for you to be born. In that time, your mother experienced growth pains, sickness, uncomfortable positions, and major adjustments to her wardrobe and to her eating and sleeping patterns.
It’s similar with the birth of an ekklesia. The church is a living organism. Therefore, it takes time to be born. Starting something is human; but birth is divine. Birthing a church is territory staked out exclusively by divinity. It is not a human proposition.
I entreat you, therefore, to be patient. You will be learning to use instincts you have never before used. More important, you are beginning a journey to discover your Lord like never before. Not as an individual, but as a people.
This all takes time. Lots of time.
Laying hold of authentic body life is the 100-mile walk rather than the 40-yard dash.
Therefore, body life demands infinite patience. You may think at times that it can’t possibly work. That it’s hopeless. That the die has been miscast, and you were handed the wrong bundle of people to church with. You may feel at times that the group simply refuses to do what you want them to do, the church will not grow fast enough for you, etc.
Impatience with the birth of church life is a monumental hurdle that those who subscribe to a microwave-on-high-for-two-minutes philosophy will have to face squarely. Task-oriented, program-driven people will have a run-in with the slow pace of body life. But no one can hurry the birthing process. That is God’s business.
Let me remind you that you are moving away from a religious service on Sunday morning where you mostly sit and listen – toward an organic gathering of new creations, discovering afresh how to express Jesus Christ corporately. That’s no small shift. It’s as large as the universe.
So I exhort you to stick with it, regardless of how slow the pace. If you can manage to endure, you will discover a Lord who is all-sufficient. But remember – He moves according to His own clock. And His clock almost always ticks slower than ours.
Whether you are new to living as a spiritual family in this way or if you’ve been doing it for years, it is important to remember to bear with each other in patience.
Being patient and giving up your desires, demands, and preferences:
- Prevents anyone from holding the group hostage
- Creates a safe environment for people to grow in Christ
- Keeps people from becoming defensive
- Allows for better clarity and understanding of each other
- Enhances intimacy
- And generally gives birth to freedom in the life of the church
Ask Christ to show you His patience in you, and…
Follow the Life!
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