“The Matrix” is a film from 1999 that “depicts a future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality created by sentient machines.”
If memory serves me correctly, the movie became a natural analogy used by many hip preachers back at the turn of the millennium. It was an easy connection to the “in this world but not of this world” aspect of our faith.
Recently I’ve been reflecting on the journey of starting a church and leaving established, organizational, denominational religion. Its a lot like unplugging from the matrix.
A quote from Will Mancini:
The rise of church planting networks not only validate the entrepreneurial spirit but enable new groupings of ” the small” from the prior trend to exert more influence. As the new learning, new strategies and new relationships cluster in these front line networks, the knowledge, encouragement and accountability of traditional denominations bring less value. It’s no surprise to most readers that the time and resources from most denominations are woefully tied up with ineffective congregations.
When you first make the decision to leave the established/denominational church there is a lot of fear. It’s a scared-of-the-unknown, red pill/blue pill type decision. It’s inherently risky. I’ve spent several nights pondering whether delivering pizzas was in my career path. Or maybe inquiring about a managerial position at the local Half Price Books. But when you step back and look at the world today, that reality is present in every sector of the job market. So while leaving the established may seem risky, was it ever safe to begin with?
If you leave organized/denominational/established religion to find or create the perfect church, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. Because even the cool church with all the best intentions of not repeating the sins of the big brother down the block is doomed for imperfection. Because the church is made of people. And we all suck (see Romans 3:23).
A quote from Morpheus in the movie:
What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.
The reality is this: God is working in some of the most unlikely places. I think that’s been the point all along, and why the Bible includes liars, adulterers, murderers, and doubters among it’s greatest heroes. When you step outside the matrix of established religion, there is another world. It is the real world and it is filled with people. And God is working in it.
Church planting is what healthy existing networks do. Where the church is growing around the world in leaps and bounds, it is not necessarily being done by church planting networks that are separate from existing denoms.
Thanks for the comment Sam. You’re saying that globally where the church is booming in church plants, it’s usually the work of a denom. That’s a good point and I would probably agree. I guess I was thinking more locally?
I wouldn’t say “usually the work of a denom.” Just that there are plenty of denominational churches that are planting with great success elsewhere around the globe. The point being that I don’t think it’s necessary here to disconnect so drastically from the wider church family to plant a church, either. I want to see denominations shift away from their protectionistic tendencies toward a more planting-as-evangelism mindset.
That’s a good point. Is it really even possible to “disconnect from the wider church family?” No matter how anti-denominational we become, we’ve still got the same Head.
It’s all a matter of degrees, I suppose.
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