What is The Flowage?
During a bible school lecture in a windowless inner room with blank white walls I sat and I usually did, utterly bored. Inhaling faint scents of new carpet and new paint I would listen to the bible lectures, occasionally looking over my shoulder to peer at the clock to see when the monotony would end. It was a day like any other. I had no idea I was about to experience a total course correction for my life. In an instant, in a twinkling of an eye, my whole idea of church community and structure dramatically changed.
It was 2006 and I was attending bible college in Colorado Springs, CO. My wife and I moved there in 05’ after spending 2 years in Gettysburg, PA where I had been with a small church as their music coordinator. Without giving my whole life’s story I can quickly summarize that from a young age I’ve always felt an urging to be in some type of church ministry. After two years in Gettysburg, where in addition to running all the music happenings at the church and getting opportunities to preach/facilitate bible studies and what not, I felt a hunger to enter into what I thought was my true calling and desire of my ministry: to be a traveling preacher and teacher in the churches.
Living in Colorado was such a great time in my life in so many ways ( the mountains and scenery, taking a few years seek God fully, no house, few possessions, no kids or anything else to root us down in one place, meeting and serving the homeless) and I was on track to going into the ministry. I purchased a domain and built my own (very cheap early 2000’s looking) website and put big letters on the home page, “VINCENT K. ROSE Ministries.” I had started to write my own commentaries on some New Testament books of the bible and was crafting numerous bible teaching articles. My wife and I just completed a mission’s trip to Columbia and in the process of fundraising for the trip we created the unofficial Vincent Rose Ministries mailing list. I was getting things in order and was eager to graduate and do this traveling ministry thing!
All my plans changed one morning in March 2006. I would never be the same.
I don’t even remember the name of the class I was in, just that it was an elective the school was offering. I don’t remember the subject the teacher was teaching on that day either. At one point the teacher was talking about one of the problems that she saw in many churches – that churches were putting all their energies into increasing their numbers of attenders, while they were failing to equip and send people out of the church to go do the work of the ministry (i.e. care for the poor, share the good news of Jesus, start and grow new communities of believers, etc.). Then she gave an analogy something like this: what’s the problem with a bog or a swamp?..Water flows in, and nothing flows out!… If there is no outflow church life becomes stagnant.
To this day I don’t remember what she said before or after she made that analogy, but that’s all it took. A few little sentences. That swamp vs. fresh water analogy opened my mind up to a Pandora’s box about church and ministry and my own life. I couldn’t believe how much was stirred up and going on in my head. It was as if someone had uploaded gigabytes into the “ah-ha!” part of my mind.
That evening I stayed up all night with my wife and wrote down everything I felt like God was speaking to me from the analogy that teacher shared. I was so excited I could barely sleep! As I unpacked this over the next few days my prospective about ministry and the church fundamentally shifted.
It would be too difficult to express in a just few words the process and evolution by which I came to all my new conclusions. It’s improbable and kind of laughable that this all originated from a bible school teachers lesson the nature of swamps. But for whatever reason, her analogy triggered a whole different way of thinking about church.
I had two main changes: one, I felt that God was telling me that he wasn’t looking for another traveling minister. I was supposed to stop perusing that life path. In addition, I actually felt that God was trying to debunk my whole understating of “formal ministry”. Although I wasn’t familiar with the term then, the idea that ministry should be more organic and flowing, rather than a one directional hierarchy.
Two, I felt like I God was completely upending the common held definition of church as being a meeting in a building on Sunday for and hearing one pastor talk. Instead I was feeling an urge that there was a need for there to be an outflow or a flowage in the church where the environment and the people have dynamic movement with each person participates in the flow. It was also a shift of moving the idea of church from being just one set time of the week on Sunday to more of a day-to-day community based lifestyle.
Which leads me up to where I am today and my passion about home churches ( some call it simple church, organic church, missionary church, organic expression of Christ, true body life, – there’s clichés with the movement that insist that the other persons label is not painting the “true” picture. It’s freakin’ annoying, call it macaroni and cheese church for all I care).
It’s fun to share how a cute little analogy from a little known teacher at a small bible school came to literally change my entire personal life direction and completely reshape what I thought church life and leadership should look like. Especially since this teacher wasn’t even teaching on home church or formal ministry ideas!
So that’s the story of why I call this blog “the flowage” (it would have been called the outflow but that that internet domain name was already taken. The flowage works, although it for some reason the word brings up images of a toilet flushing….pardon me, I digress…
The flowage should get the job done. Most of the ways I experience church life now originated out of this flowage concept that I received back in 2006. Since then I been on a crazy ride of exploring non-traditional Christian community for over 12 years. The flowage concept totally changed my career and ministry path, and by having this blog it’s also helping me get some personal and much needed outflow of my own. It feels great to finally get some of the things in my heart out on paper and into the world. I welcome your comments and your outflow too.
Welcome to TheFlowage
*As always, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind so please drop your thoughts in the comment section below!