Crossing Jordan

As folks progress from institutional podium churches toward organic participatory churches, they often allow themselves to continue being defined by the institutional church (“IC”). This arises not so much because they retain the attitudes and practices of the IC, but because they are still holding onto the disillusionment that emerged when they began to see the IC’s shortcomings and unbiblical traditions.

Organic Church

For many of us, when we finally leave the IC there is a season where we perceive and react to things not out of freedom, but rather out of not wanting to be like the IC. When we remain in a reactive mode, however, we remain in bondage to our past IC experiences.

In that place of reaction, our reality is still shaped by the IC rather than by who God wants us to be and by His promises for us. By reacting to the past, we are not able to grasp the future.

The best analogy is Israel’s journey out of Egypt and slavery, into the wilderness, and finally into the promised land.

Eventually, in my own life, I had to get to the place where I not only was delivered from Egypt, but was willing to let God take Egypt out of me. Like with Israel, that happened in the wilderness. It was hard, and took several years, but it was necessary in order to then cross over the Jordan River into God’s promises – where there is life and freedom and joy.

The resulting fellowships that are emerging in our area, among those who also have made it to the other side of Jordan, are renewing and refreshing and were worth the journey!

For those still in transition, don’t expect to be able to bypass the wilderness. The wilderness is dry and scorching, but God uses it to burn out of us those things from Egypt that otherwise still define us. It is part of God’s plan, because it is not enough to take a person out of Egypt. Rather, we also must allow God to take Egypt out of us!

13 responses

  1. Jim, I wish you weren’t so wright! I’ve been leaving my institutional church baggage behind for getting close to four years now. There is a wilderness between where we were and where we are, so true. One thing I found helped a lot was to reach out to those less fortunate. I found that opportunity in Haiti doing relief work in Haiti in 2010. I’m going back in January, care to join me? I bet these missionaries in Grand Goave have never experienced a team of organic believers. They are pretty cool though. Renee is white and from a Jewish background. Her husband Lex is black and from the island of Gonaives. They love Jesus and the church there with all their heart. Right now they are building a school at Mission of Hope International in Grand Goave, as the earthquake damaged the old one. Give it some thought, Bruce


  2. Great post Jim. The wilderness can be very rough, it can be lonely and frustrating. It is a continual process of Jesus revealing what needs to be brought to the cross and nailed there for good. I think pride being the hardest of thing we need to die to as it is at the root of so many problems. Iv’e been out here almost 2yrs. and He is continually working in me. If you co-operate, it goes much more smoothly!


  3. Wolfgang Simson calls this “Death Valley” because there is a period of time when you have to die to the good things about the legacy church–the kid’s programs, the professional worship etc. It’s a tough time for many people and often lasts for several years. But when you get through it you enter into all the benefits of a more organic lifestyle.


    • Thank you for gracing my site. Your writings helped lay the foundation for me to begin understanding and embracing a renewed vision of the Church – especially The Rabbit and the Elephant. We have been quietly moving forward here in Virginia, and there is fruit coming forth. However, we still have a long way to go.


  4. Thanks for this post Jim. I’ve just recently left IC and my husband isn’t quite there yet. We are talking and praying through all the issues/things I have been seeing and trying to explain to him. It’s been a hard process but this Friday we are attending a home church together and I’m excited. However, the IC I have left is starting to make “threats” toward me because of my decision and that’s been hard. I have been feeling “shunned” or “ex-communicated” and it’s been interesting to process those thoughts and feelings. Anyway, this blog post, along with others I follow and have read in the past couple of weeks, is super helpful in this wilderness time. Thanks Jim so much for your posts and insights.


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  7. Hoi Jim, Can you explain more about “crossing the Jordan”? How did you know you crossed the Jordan? what was the difference? I left IC 3 years ago – yes it is wilderness -But God himself led his people into the wilderness and I belief he did with me – us.
    Thanks for your words , it brings clarity.


  8. Additional thought: I have always understood the exodus from Egypt to represent freedom from world systems–and as you accurately describe–it only takes 24 hours to get geographically out of Egypt, but it usually takes years to get Egypt out of us. But I have also understood that whereas Egypt represents the world, it is Babylon that represents religious bondage–and I think the scriptural model bears this out. When God moved Cyrus to free the Babylonian captives, all were free to go, but very few chose to do so (a remarkably small percentage). This meant another inconvenient and difficult trip through the wilderness back to the promised land to (re)build a habitation for God to dwell in (that could not be built in Babylon). And once again we are faced with the paradox–it only takes 24 hours to get out of Babylon, but it may take years to get Babylon out of me. I am about two years into the journey myself, and it is decidedly inconvenient but necessary to become truly free.


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  10. Jim,

    I am really keen to hear more about the network of fellowships you are involved in. I have previously read about your exploits at the prison, but don’t think I’ve read you share about your experiences elsewhere.

    Could you maybe just post the links to some of those articles if you have?

    Thanks, appreciate it!


    • Andre, good to hear from you. (Andre and I are friends on FB, but never met.)

      Nearly everything I blog about comes out of the real life experiences of our fellowships. In fact, I am very careful about not doing what too many do, which are aspirational blogs that do not reflect actual life.

      However, I am also very careful about not presenting anything that might be taken as a “formula” – beyond basic principles. Every fellowship we have looks very different, although they share the same foundational principles I often talk about here.

      As a result, I tend to shy away from describing meetings and the like. The closest I’ve come is more of a composite, in Part 3 of my series “Diverse Gifts and Church Meetings” at

      Our “network” is really just some fellowships that connect to each other relationally. We have no superstructure or “organization” over them. There’s lots of cross-pollination as folks often attend multiple gathers, which we think is good. Some meet in homes, some in jail, some in the homeless community, some meet for breakfast at a diner, etc. It’s very varied.


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