I was born again when I was around eight years of age. I asked Jesus to save me, out of shear desperation, alone in bed one night. I had known for some time that I was a sinner under the righteous judgment of God but was painfully shy and would not walk down the aisle in the Christian Church we attended. My prayer was short, "Jesus, I don't want to go to hell." I did not know or share what happened at the time but was comforted and no longer under conviction. I later realized that I had expressed faith in Jesus Christ (Heb 11:6) My family left that church and later moved. We were invited and became members of an Independent Baptist Church when I was around twelve years old. I began to grow in Christ under the teaching of the Word and the influence of a couple of godly men who introduced me to teaching by Watchman Nee, John MacArthur, and others. As a teenager I remember sitting in church looking at some of the older members and earnestly praying that God would give me more than they had or I did not want any of it. It took many years but He has graciously answered that prayer. After high school I attended a Baptist Bible College to major in Missions. (The institutional church really messes up our kids - teaching them that the ultimate commitment to our Lord is to be a professional clergyman.) I knew after a year that missions or pastoring was not something you could learn in college. I believed even then that the Biblical model was plural leadership by men who where grown not graduated. I was disenchanted with the attitudes of the students and the system as a whole (I was looking at men rather than God). I came back to my home town determined to do things God's way or not at all, quickly became discouraged (looking at men again) and quit attending church.
I married (by God's grace to a Christian who is now growing with me) and had three children. I was depressed almost every Sunday and laid in bed through a good number of them. I was sure of my relationship to God and of His faithfulness but for fifteen years I was over in Midian, in the desert, like Moses herding sheep.
Then, in 1994, the Lord graciously drew me back to Himself using some family problems and the parable of the sower; specifically Mark 4:18,19 where I saw myself as thorny soil with an unfruitful life. I visited the current pastor of the Baptist Church where I was a member, told him what had happened and became part of the church again. I placed myself under the authority of the church and told the Lord that any ministry he had for me would be under the auspices of the church based on His Word, though I did not totally agree with the Independent Baptist teaching regarding church life.
In the spring of 1999 during a mission conference I was listening to a brother, a missionary, give his report. It meant a lot to him that the Pastor and Deacons had prayed over him and laid their hands on him, sending him out to start Independent Baptist Churches. As I sat listening, the Lord said, "This church will never be able to do that for you." My beliefs about church leadership and practices were different enough that I could not ask my own church to send me out in that way. I knew that any church I started would not be Baptist in name or organization. The Lord released me from my commitment to remain under the authority of my church as I listened to the speaker that day.
The next question was, "Now what?" I had been teaching through the book of Ephesians in the mature adult Sunday school class. When I came to Eph. 4, I began to understand the necessity of mutual ministry in the body. Worldly Christians, broken families, unwed parents, isolated and hurting people who had found little help in our church had weighed heavily on me. I began to understand why the church was not working as it should. As I searched, the Lord led me to the public library and the book The Open Church by James Rutz; then on to resources on some home church web sites. Toward a House Church Theology by Steve Atkerson and Rethinking the Wineskin by Frank Viola also helped define and confirm what the Lord was teaching me. Over the next few months I shared what I was learning with my Sunday school class, the Pastor and other Deacons and waited on the Lord. That fall I resigned my membership and we began meeting on the Lord's day as a house church. We have had occasional visitors but mainly myself, my wife Cindy and our kids, Grace, Jessica and Matthew meet at 11:00 a.m. for an open style meeting and have the Lord's supper as a meal after. Its not perfect but it is real! I trust the Lord will add to our assembly in His time. Its great to be free to serve our Wonderful Savior and Lord Jesus Christ as He leads.
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