My Relationship with the Traditional Church

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Ten years ago, my family and I, along with several other families, launched out in an adventure to start a house church.  Ten years later, we have four house churches spread across our city and I write quite a bit about the phenomenon, actively encouraging other Christians to start house churches. You’d be forgiven if you called me an advocate.

In all of my talking about house churches, there is usually this unspoken elephant in the room when I reference the traditional, legacy church. When I use those phrases, I’m referencing everything from your traditional Lutheran church that meets in a cathedral to your rock out charismatic church that meets in a warehouse and everything in-between. How do I feel about those churches? What kind of relationship can someone who believes the things that I do have with people “haven’t left the building?”

I think it’s important to start here: The universal Church is made up of people who have repented of their sins and decided to follow Christ.  Church is the name of a person, not a building or a meeting. Church is the name Jesus gives to His bride.  And because of this, wherever believing people gather, the church is there in some form.

This is important, because we tend to forget that what makes us church isn’t our doctrine or how meet or our practices. What makes us church is the fact that we have a relationship with Christ.  This Jesus-centered approach will keep us from all sorts of pride and hypocrisy.

Because I believe that Jesus inside of people is what makes us church, I actually have relationships with believers that meet as traditional churches.  I pray with them. I stand with them in times of trouble.  I counsel them. I challenge my pastor friends not to let their ministry be about a paycheck or a building. They challenge me to be a better father, employee, and spokesman for the Gospel.  There is a healthy give-and-take without me having to compromise who I am and this healthy give-and-take is shaping all of us into something better. We all tell the story of a God who loved us enough to become human and take nails for our sins and sometimes we tell it together.

I can do all of this without compromising who I am and what the Lord has shown me through this journey into organic church.  Frankly, the more I believe in radically pursuing Jesus as a spiritual family, participatory meetings, servanthood over hierarchy, simplicity of meeting together, relational discipleship, and incarnational ministry, the better I am for our house churches AND the more useful I become in encouraging my friends in the traditional church.

All of this is to say you can be a part of an organic house church and not have to hate the traditional church that you came from. Continue making disciples. The Lord will build His church. Stop having the argument. Plant Kingdom gardens and let the fruit speak for itself.

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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

5 responses to “My Relationship with the Traditional Church”

  1. riverflowsdown says :

    7 paragraphs without a hint of bitterness from a lifetime of relationship with the church, that is amazing and seldom found I think. You are setting a standard and ushering in a simple idea that Jesus said would happen. A church without spot or wrinkle. Jesus, build it and they will come. It has started in IOWA.

    • traviskolder says :

      Thanks John. I’m hopeful based on the way this post has been received, that I’m not the only one who feels this way. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and being encouraging.

  2. Mike Callender says :

    thank you Travis for this post – I’ve recently started looking at organic church and it often seems that those who share about it have unresolved issues with previous relationships. The feel is often very similar to that in the charismatic movement in the 1970s with an ‘us and them’ undercurrent that feels a little unhealthy. It’s very encouraging to see this.

    • traviskolder says :

      Mike,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving the comment (and by the way, for subscribing). There are a lot of people who have come this way because of pain they’ve experienced and it’s colored what they see and how they speak of the rest of the body. I’m glad you brought up the charismatic movement from the 70’s…I didn’t live through those days, but I’ve been told that the main reason the charismatics were hated so much was the way they handled themselves in the churches that weren’t charismatic. I almost included that thought in the post itself.

      I’m glad this post was encouraging for you! There is so much good in the organic house church movement…I’ve met so many humble and loving people as I’ve been part of it. If I can encourage you in any way going forward please let me know.

      Travis

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