JohnSWilson3 Blog

How I Came Out of the Institutional Church
October 31, 2010, 1:02 pm
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

This is a facebook message that I sent a brother about how I came out of the institutional church, with some editing:

I guess if you’d like to read some of my testimonies from my blog of what we have been learning you could get some background:

For a number of years the Lord seemed to have been moving my family and I away from the institutional church, but didn’t realize it. Many years ago I had read “Paul’s Idea of Community” but somehow never got the connection with it and organic church, after this past year it makes all the sense in the world!

The Lord allowed my last seminary class (yes I was attending a seminary extension, lol) to be on Missions and read “Church Planting Movement” and it opened my eyes to cell and house churches, a more relational form of church. Something about relational form of church moved my heart and so began to learn more about it. At the same time I had gotten involved in helping to transition a church to a cell church, and after about a year it blew up in our faces, a lot of hurt people, pastor was “relieved” and I was slandered. During that time I had read “House Church Networks” by Larry Krieder which began some of God’s dealings with me regarding meeting organically, e.g. a cell group that did not have a leadership hierarchy like cell churches do (cell churches are very leader heavy).

I retired from the Army and at the same time was no longer able to afford or attend the seminary extension and realized God had removed that “institutional” aspect of my life. I began teaching 7th grade science and later I got involved with a ministry to a couple churches involving small groups and cell groups, but I was ever the person to organize and administer and got pulled into teaching Bible studies basically.

Our son, Teddy, was diagnosed with lyphoma during the first year after my retirement which was probably some of the hardest times we have had as a family, since we had left our previous “church” due to the cell “explosion” (in the negative sense) so it was also a very lonely time for us, dealing with how to take care of Teddy, especially for my wife. But that first summer after retirement God gave us grace and the lymphoma was destroyed and Teddy is considered cure now after five years.

After a couple churches later we settled into attending a local baptist church and decided to no longer “minister” while attending the “worship services.” My wife and I met some wonderful couples and one whom we love a lot and just focused on relationships. I had been getting e-mail ministry messages from House 2 House and George Barna from previous research into church life and such and began reading a number of books just last summer: Revolution, The Rabbit and the Elephant, and Pagan Christianity and a host of others. My understanding of “Christianity” was forever changed as a result.

I got onto facebook as a result of a friend of mine and started meeting others of similar understanding of the church. I also got connected to and started getting updates on blogs and conferences. At the end of the summer of last year it just so happened that Milt Rodriguez and Frank Viola were hosting an Organic Church Life Conference in Houston. I attended the weekend conference. While there I met the brothers and sisters who lived in the western area of Houston (Katy, West Houston, Sugar Land) and have been meeting ever since. The rest of the story is mainly the rest of the blog under “Discovering Organic Church Testimony.”

Over the past year of reading the Scriptures and looking at them from an organic perspective I have found them to be truly consistent and practical in every sense of the word. I have gotten into reading from Milt Rodriguez, Frank Viola, Jon Zens, T. Austin Sparks and Watchman Nee to name a few and realizing how the Lord wants us to experience the riches of Christ together and only in face to face community and living by His life together is that truly possible, even from the brief time we have been together.

As Frank puts it organic church involves both the gore and the glory of Christ. It involves crucifixion and resurrection. I have found that the Scriptures now truly make much more sense learning to live by His life with other brothers and sisters in face to face community. The flesh and the Spirit, there is definitely a conflict! It is not for the faint of heart, it will test your faith and love for one another and Christ. “With patience, bearing with one another in love” and “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry” seems oft needed words from the Lord for me and the group as we learn Christ together. We are still learning to detox from being religious to being authentic and real with each other, trusting each other, loving one another. It is very difficult since all of us have been in the institutional church for many decades, with the many masks that we learn to put on, and it is hard for many of us to see the baggage and drop it. I could go on but think this kind of spells out where I am coming from. Hope that helps brother.

God bless as you seek Him and live by His life in an organic way with other brothers an sisters in Christ, to know Him better!


12 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for sharing your story, John. :)It’s good to know what path other brothers and sisters have taken in this journey into our Lord.

Comment by cindyinsd

Thanks sister, appreciate your comments. Still learning Christ in conflict, how the flesh and religion war against the Spirit. I may be speaking like Elijah, but how few it seems are willing to risk life with Christ in deep relationships with one another, but stay in the comfort of religion and the flesh. God bless you.


Comment by John Wilson

Through your expression of all the difficulties and pain, also the heart wrenching “gore” of dieing to ourselves, you also express the beautiful heart smile: “Christ in us, “the Hope of Glory.”

Absolutely the dead flesh vs Spirit Life! I can only imagine the importance of “With patience, bearing with one another in love…be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry.”

I hear the above words saying: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Thank you bro!

Comment by Kat

Thanks sister! Your words are always full of life! 🙂 It truly is all about love.


Comment by John Wilson

Thanks again, for an honest and straightforward blog. I was under the impression that you had been involved with organic church life for some time and yet it seems a fairly recent experience, albeit some time in the preparation part. It is encouraging to us, who are yet to find like-minded folk…but it is coming, I feel it. God does not plant a desire, without intending at some point to bring it to fulfilment.

Comment by alan

Thanks brother, love your last comment. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. God bless brother. John

Comment by John Wilson

John, thanks for your post. It’s been very encouraging to me. It’s really amazing to see from the book of Acts that the early church met from house to house. The emphasis was not on organized religion but on living and expressing Christ.

Thanks again for the post, and I hope to fellowship more in the future. Do you live in the Houston area? I’m originally from Irving near Dallas but currently live in Anaheim.

Much grace to you.


Comment by Joseph

Hi Joseph, thanks for the comments! Glad you were encouraged and praise for God! We live in the western Houston metro area in city called Sugar Land. Look forward to the fellowship brother! God bless.


Comment by John Wilson

Just curious, John S. Wilson lll, are you the Scott Wilson mentioned on page 226 Acknowledgements of Neil Cole, in the book Organic Church? Just a shot in the dark. Cheers, enjoy your posts, Bruce Dickey

Comment by Bruce Dickey

Hi Bruce,
I’ve read Neil’s book and no I am not the same person he acknowledges. 🙂 I appreciate your comments, blessings brother! Little slow with the posts as of late because of teaching school, hope to get back in sometime during the Christmas break. God bless!


Comment by John Wilson

Wow, Wow, Wow John. It looks like the eye opening for my family came at about the same time as it did for you. I’ll have to share where we’re at sometime. Thanks so much for sharing.

So glad to hear that your Teddy is free of disease! God is sooooo good.

Comment by linda

Appreciate you commenting Linda. God is definitely good and has been guiding us on His path whether we realized it or not. Would love to hear your story. 🙂

Comment by John Wilson

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