I recently changed a portion of my bio here on my blog and on my Facebook page to read, “Minister of Organic Faith”. Many may wonder exactly what that is so I’ll attempt to reveal my heart on the matter so you can understand. I am not a part of a particular denomination or religious organization. I do not believe a person has to be a part of one in order to love folks and nurture a positive and uplifting community. I think there is a time and place for belonging to such an organization, if that’s what you choose to do. I spent many years (half of my life) in such places and it is time for me to not be. I know from the depths of my heart that I am not to entangle myself with something that could become religious silly string. I am confident that one of the blessings Christ has given me is my freedom and I plan to fully enjoy that freedom from a place of love.
Paul, the one who was sent to the Gentiles, said he had no need for letters of recommendation. The credentials he had was first from the Lord and secondly, confirmed in his heart and the people whose lives he impacted. Paul certainly had spent many years as a good scribe, preparing himself for the Old Covenant ministry, yet it was the Spirit of the Lord who called him out into over a decade of private study and personal revelation before he hit the streets with the Gospel of grace. A minister is one who attends to the needs of others. No one is obligated to spend a fortune on a college degree in order to minister to (meet the needs of) people. I look at this word ‘minister’ as a verb before I observe it as a noun. It’s descriptive of what a person does. I attend to the needs of people and thus I become a minister. Now, there are people who go through the motions of meeting needs in order that they receive a title of ‘minister’, but their heart isn’t really in it. I don’t view people like that as true ministers. Not that I want to judge what’s in their heart, but rather what I am saying is that if any of us are simply doing the action in order to acquire some worldly title then we have missed the whole point of being a minister.
I have lived my life from the outpouring depth of my heart and in doing so others have told me that I minister to them. Whereas some folks may attend a seminary to get a degree called ‘Masters in Ministry’, then they went out to minister. I have received the confirmation of my gift of ministering from the very lives of the people that I touched with love and grace. For me, I put far more weight in the confirmation of those I have loved, than in a piece of paper that says I past some tests in a concrete building.
So here we get to the part of what kind of minister I am. I use the term ‘Organic Faith’, because it is something that flows from the heart with each step we make in this life’s journey. This organic approach can not be learned in a classroom setting and while I could speak at an event about how I minister, the teaching time in a room is nothing compared to what happens in my real life mission field.
A common conversation in my life resembles something like this:
Me: “Yes, I am a minister. I minister to people in my community.”
“How many people are members of your church?”
Me: ”The people are the church and it’s an unlimited number, world wide.”
“Where is your church?”
Me: ”Did you not hear me the first time? The people ARE the church.”
“Do you have a board of directors?”
Me: ”No need for a board, people stand up for themselves, I don’t lord over them.”
“Oh so you don’t really have an organization”
Me: ”I didn’t say I had an organization, I said I minister to people.”
“So you just walk around town and talk to people?”
Me: ”ummm yes, isn’t that what Jesus did?
I read throughout the New Testament that Jesus walked all over town, stopping at parks, rivers, and living rooms to lounge with people and love them. He had simple yet profound discussions with them and greatly influenced and impacted their lives. His simple words of grace inspired millions to live richer lives, while he sometimes shared pointed thoughts that challenged the self righteous folks to re-examine their motives. He didn’t go out of his way to seek out those arrogant citizens, but when they came near he had some astonishing things to say. The New Testament reveals that Jesus spent more time with people who wanted to be loved and less time with people who thought they had all their jots and tittles in perfect order. He even said he didn’t come for them, but for the others who had been cast away by the pastors of their communities.
So how does one minister organically? Well, I can tell you what I do and what I see of the writings of Christ, but ultimately you have to know for yourself and it must come from within where the Lord dwells. I visit folks in their homes and invite them to mine. I invite them to the beach, to go whale watching, to have breakfast at a diner with friends and enjoy live music together.
We sit around a bonfire to chat about life and share experiences, both good and bad, as we roast marshmallows and help children with the sticky mess they get on their fingers. We laugh and we cry together. We are building community. I babysit for single moms who work long hours into the night and encourage them when they come get their children with these comforting and affirming words,
“You’re a good mom, your children must be so proud of you”.
To the surgical nurse who labors all night to save a drunk driver from dying I say,
“I bet your kids see you as a hero, I do.”
Yet these affirming words were never told to her by the Christian she works with. All she ever hears from her is condemning remarks about her tattoos and disgusted grunts when she shows compassion for a family whose gay son died on the emergency room table.
You see, as much as I would be honored to speak at a large event (and I would if asked to), I find so much more value in touching real lives right where they are as their paths cross mine.
Then there are times when the self righteous come near. At a table discussion among men and women, a man says that he doesn’t think women should be pastors (complete with all his jots and tittles to prove why). Yet he sits among women who are pastors to people who have confirmed them as ministers. It is then that I choose my words wisely as I unfold my thoughts about the many female leaders throughout the Bible, including prophetesses, teachers, and an apostle. My sister-in-Christ shares her story of God’s calling on her life when the community leaders (all men) legally approved for her to preach the gospel in her native country. Had this sweet elderly (female) soul not been here I most likely would have had some more jarring and colorful words for this brother. In some crowds you can be blunt, like when Rachel Held Evans uses the word vagina, and in other crowds more finesse is required and this was one of those times.
A minister is not disqualified because she has a vagina and is not approved because he has a penis. It’s what goes on in the soul of a person that matters and how the sparks of abundant life positively affects and frees the souls of those who are in bondage, in pain, and parched for living water .
So while my formal education is limited, my field experience is rich and full of spiritual community and relationships that are pure as gold. I am a minister who lives in a female body, yet has a genderless soul. God is a genderless Spirit and those who wish to worship must do so in spirit. Calling God a literal ‘he’ is a human tradition and can equally be referred to in the feminine form without violating the Truth of who God is, the Spirit of Love. Yet we live in this physical realm of both male and female, both of which are created in the image of God. We are equally loved and equally empowered to touch lives.
So I shall continue to live my life as a minister and will even call myself a Minister of Organic Faith and no one can disqualify me based on my physical gender, because it is the Lord who qualified me in the genderless Spirit. Some men (and some women) may not like that, but it’s not up to them who I reach out to and love. It is now that I’ll log off this blog for the day and go out into my community and lavish them with affirming love and remind them of how valuable they are. It’s just what I do in my path of organic faith. If you need a jot and a tittle to prove to you that a female can be a minister, then following organic faith may not be best suited for you.