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 paint I listened to the bible lecture, 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 that I was about to experience a complete course correction for my life. In an instant, in a twinkling of an eye , my whole idea of church community and ministry 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. 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 for my ministry: to be a traveling preacher and teacher to 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) 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 teaching articles. I committed to memory the entire book of James, along with huge sections of other New Testament books and I was so bent on memorizing scripture verse that my wife called me the “walking concordance”. She and I just completed a mission’s trip to Columbia in February 06 as well. The college had the students do our own fundraising for the trip and in the process my wife and I basically 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 for a switch to get flipped in my head. 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 an how I felt in my heart. 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. Thankfully, my initial thought have matured and grown as I’ve sought them out, but they mostly hinged on these two main changes:
One, I felt that God was telling me that he wasn’t looking for another traveling minister. I was supped to stop perusing that life path. In additional, 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 hierarchal one directional.
Two, I felt like I God was completely upending the common held definition of church as being a building where on Sunday people go to watch a show and hear one pastor talk. Instead I was feeing an urge for there to be an outflow or a flowage in the church where the meeting environment and the people have dynamic movement and where each person actively 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 absolute passion about home churches ( some call it simple church, organic church, missionary church, organic expression of Christ, true body life, – there’s clichés within the movement that insist that the other persons label is not painting the “true” picture. I hear what they are saying, but from my perspective it’s really 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 in my mind images of a toilet flushing….which is funny and makes me laugh! Pardon me, I digress…but The flowage for this blog/website’s name should get the job done! J
The idea of a healthy flow to church life back in 2006 was the starting point for many of the ways I think about church life now. Since then we’ve been on this fun ride of exploring community life for over 12 years . The flowage idea totally changed my career and ministry path, and by having this blog it’s also helping me get some personal flow going and getting some of the things in my heart out on paper and into the world. Truthfully I have had some stagnant parts of my faith for a long time and I’m excited to find a place for some outflow. 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!