Recently, I read an article posted online that sought to appeal graciously to non-churchgoers with an attempt to woo them back into the fold. You can read the article yourself if you’re interested by clicking here. The following is my personal response to the post, which I also shared on the author’s website. Feel free to add your own comments or, better yet, visit this author’s website and share your heart there as well. I believe the author’s intention was positive, although it’s apparent that he is positively influenced by churchianic mindsets (as so many of us have been). My desire to share my thoughts with him and his readers was not to offend anyone but rather to provoke study of God’s Word and encourage a thirst for genuine Gospel liberty and deeper relationship with Christ. I sincerely would love it if this brother discovered what so many of us have also been discovering over the last several months and years concerning this wonderful life in Jesus Christ, unfettered by the chains of religion. So now, without further adieu-dieu, here is the response I shared with the author of the “Letter To A Non-Churchgoer”…
Wow, where to begin with this one… I guess let me start by saying, I was a deeply-involved church boy for 30+ years of my life. I’ve now been out of that environment for over 15. I am still a follower of Jesus and a member of the Family of God (which, in truth, is the only “church” referenced in Scripture). I appreciate the humble tones of this letter and it appears the author is manifesting good intentions; however, he fundamentally misunderstands the non-church goer on so many levels. I’m not sure I can blame his ignorance entirely. I’ve walked in those shoes too. I meant well when I did. The author’s understanding of church has likely been drilled into him by his environment… not by the Holy Spirit, unfortunately.
To his comment:
“But, except possibly for a wedding or a funeral, we never share in the enterprise I call church.”
The author may not even realize how accurately he indirectly described the reason why what he calls church is not what the Bible calls Church when he says, “the enterprise I call church.” The Church of Scripture is NOT an enterprise. It’s not a business. It’s not even a social club. Yet that is everything that today’s church program is… but, if someone cares about what the Bible presents, then “enterprise” is NOT it. According to Scripture, the Church is the body of Christ (the Family of God, the Spiritual nation of the Kingdom of God, the very PEOPLE who are born again and who live in Christ – regardless of whether or not they attend some man-made program we label as “church”).
NOTE: The following article is taken from Chapter 17 of Peter Whyte’s book “The King and His Kingdom”, written in 1979.
The gates of a city in Bible days were the seat of authority. The elders and rulers of the city sat in the gates, and the people came there to hear the reading of the law. The judges gave out judgments and the king’s place of audience was in the gates.
The word Hades means “not to be seen.”
The term “the gates of Hades” therefore denotes the rulers, the powers of the “not to be seen;” the spiritual powers of darkness.
Jesus was saying, “I will build My people that I have called out (My Church), and the ruling powers of the kingdom of darkness from the unseen realm (the gates of Hades) will not overpower them.”
Article by Loren Rosser
There is an article titled “The Rise of the ‘Done with Church’ Population” that has been sweeping across Internet. The writer simply discusses the increasing trend of people who were highly active in church, including leaders, that are exiting and not coming back. Of course, this subject matter is nothing new to me, having tackled it in the four part video series I co-produced with my friends David Fredrickson and Bob Humphrey titled Church Outside the Walls. I can’t believe it’s been eight years now since we produced the final video in that series and the topic is still completely relevant. In fact, it seems there has been a sudden resurgence of interest in this subject recently. I’d like to put in my two cents about the article.
First of all, let me say, it is well written. I appreciate the author bringing up the subject because I think it’s an important one. One thing I really don’t like is the author’s use of the word “church.” But he is not alone in his usage of the word. When the Bible speaks of church it speaks of those who are called out of this world to follow Christ, period. So how can one be “done with church” unless one is done with Christ? But today, for many, church is a building where one goes to attend meetings. Attending those meeting and being involved in activities held in those locations is viewed by many as being a requirement for those who follow Christ. This concept was completely foreign to the writers of the New Testament, but sadly it is the widely accepted definition of church in our culture today.
My family and I are some of those who could be classified as those who are “done with church.” But I can’t tell you how much I hate that phrase. It completely misrepresents the reality in which we live. We are actually not done with church, but chose to embrace it. We stopped attending because we wanted Jesus plus nothing. We grew so frustrated and tired of all the added baggage. 2 Corinthians 11:3 became so real to us. “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (NASB, emphasis added.) We wanted to be able to build genuine relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ but found it was such a challenge to do so with all the meetings and agendas. Most of the things done in those settings became distractions from loving Christ and one another, rather than motivators. We actually left not because we were done with church but because we hungered for the reality of church!
Hebrews 10:25 (William Tyndale’s Translation, 1526)
The following was taken from a letter I wrote to someone a long while back about the subject of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25), which is a common verse cited by many Christians who believe that if you’re not attending weekly religious meetings of some sort or plugged in to a church organization that you are somehow out of sync with Scripture and, for all practical purposes, “backsliding”. Some refer to the “out-of-church” crowd as isolationists, rebels, or walking wounded and this verse is often given as the prescription. But is “attending church” really what the author of Hebrews had in mind here? I don’t think so. For those interested, I thought I’d share my (not so) little rant.
P.S. Much of the information in this letter is drawn from other articles I have written as well as books and resources from other researchers and friends who have written on this topic.
My desire is to embrace God’s truth (not just for truth’s sake, but because I love Him and desire to grow evermore close to Him) and I, quite honestly, do not care if the traditions of men (even my own) are offended by His truth. If a person is honest, they will have to admit that when flesh is confronted by the Spirit of the Living God and the truth of Scripture it often resists submission and humility. But my response to that conviction of Christ and His Word must be to repent and yield, otherwise I only end up hardening my heart and increasing in stubbornness as well as blindness. I want to see clearly with spiritual eyes and walk full in the grace and liberty of Jesus Christ whose precious blood was shed for me.
We Christians tend to throw around a lot of terminologies as well as operate under a lot of religious mindsets that are, quite honestly, the primary product of human tradition and not biblical design. This is not to suggest that all organization is “evil” but sometimes it is counterproductive to true and essential spiritual growth. Sometimes our traditions can make God’s Word to seemingly have no affect and can even move us to actually reject His commands. Jesus Himself noted this reality. Just as we read in Mark 7:5, so are there “Pharisees” today who are asking the question of those who refuse to follow erroneous traditions at the expense of biblical truth: “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders?” You know well, I’m sure, Jesus’ bold reply:
Mark 7:6-9 – He told them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is empty, because they teach human rules as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your own tradition!”
Before I can answer the question of what I believe Hebrews 10:25 specifically has in mind concerning “assembling”, I feel it is important to look closer at what “assembly” is all about in the body of Christ as Scripture presents it. Too many Christians have been raised with a traditionally-inspired definition of some of these terms and this has served to make them embrace many Biblically-inaccurate concepts. First I would like to look closer at the popular concept of the word “church”as it is understood today in comparison and contrast with the biblical meaning.
by Devon Leesley
In my christian experience of many years, you have to look long and hard to find another believer you can really connect with in the Spirit. Even with those who have escaped Christendom, many of them still hold to pride and jealousy, even as in the church system they escaped. Thinking they have improved on their walk with Christ by leaving organized religion, they have taken on a new form of arrogance; that of seeing all things “church” as being hopelessly inundated by paganism… and rightly so, but their sin of pride is disgusting.
I’ve tried connecting with certain brothers on the matter of all the falsehoods only to be snubbed and rejected still. Sounds off topic but I don’t think so. It all goes back to the same old sin… the pride of life. Esteeming oneself above others. I believe in order to be part of the “remnant”, truth and true humility must go hand in hand. So easy to gain an insight and miss the ooze of self importance seeping in to your spirit.
What a battle! God has ways of keeping us small. That should be a constant prayer… if you want to belong to that remnant.
The following is an excellent article, authored by our friends at ecclesia.org.
Why Believers should not attend Church
[Note. There are many godly people who attend church, and there are many positive things about attending church. Many people have discovered and accepted Christ in a church. This article is not putting down churches as far as a place to gather and hear the word of God, because it does not matter where one hears God’s Truth, as long as they hear it! However, this article deals with the topic of “how” we are to worship God, and addresses the belief that one must worship God in a physical building called a church. There is a difference between going to a place to hear God’s Word, and going to a place to worship God.]
The following is an article that was originally posted on the TruthForFree.com website in June of 2010. I am re-posting it here so it will be searchable from the index… and because it’s good information to be reminded of. Please feel free to share this with anyone. Blessings! –Dave
The Called Out Ones
Is the ecclesia just an assembly,
or is it something more?
By David Yeubanks
In a recent e-mail conversation with a friend we were discussing the subject of “ekklesia” (the Greek word used in Scripture that is translated as “church” in our English bibles – sometimes alternately spelled “ecclesia”). Many of us who have come out of the routine of organized religion and institutional Christianity (or “church-ianity” as I rather like to call it) are familiar with this term ecclesia and understand it to represent “the called out ones”. This definition is derived from the fact that ecclesia is actually a compound of two words in the Greek (ek, which means “from out of” and kaleo, which means “to call forth”).
Galatians 4:30-31 – There is a Scripture that tells us what to do: “Expel the slave mother with her son, for the slave son will not inherit with the free son.” Isn’t that conclusive? We are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
Matthew 24:1-2 – And Jesus went out of the Temple, and on the way his disciples came to him, pointing out the buildings of the Temple. But he, answering, said to them, “See you not all these things? truly I say to you that here there will not be one stone resting on another, which will not be pulled down.” (In other words… “Not impressed boys!”)
Acts 7:48-51 – “However, the Most High doesn’t live in a house built by humans, as the prophet says: ‘The Lord says, “Heaven is my throne. The earth is my footstool. What kind of house are you going to build for me? Where will I rest? Didn’t I make all these things?”‘ “How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You’re just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you!”
Okay folks, so I’m not especially brilliant with the titles I come up for blog posts sometimes (haha)… I’m even worse with book titles. I would never make it as a pastor (thank God)… Well, except for the long sermon part. By-the-way, someone asked me if this post could be made available as a PDF eBook, so here you go – just CLICK THIS LINK. I might add that this will be a bit of a lengthy rant (and everyone who knows me said, “as usual” – ha), hopefully not too redundant – although I admit I tend to reiterate things a lot when I am impassioned about something and really want people to sense the intensity of the conviction I believe the Lord has given me. I NEED AN EDITOR! That might have to wait until I get Truth-For-A-Small-Fee.com published. Hey, I’m kidding you! Hopefully some will find this affirming and also encouraging. May God highlight the truth and whatever may be more of me than Him, I pray it will not be a distraction from His truth.
I’ve also got my helmet on today in case of flying bricks (grin)…
To me this is a subject (i.e. “church” & “religion”) that is so “settled” now for me (because of my own journey that I have traveled), yet I continue to get emails about it and occasionally run into discussions with Christians who take great offense at some of my conclusions (or at least are disturbed by them and want to argue). The subject regards whether or not Christians need to (or whether or not they should) attend church. Most of you who frequent this site already know my thoughts on this for the most part. I have heard arguments on both sides of the issue; however, in my personal life, I refuse to let it be an issue at all anymore, since I truly believe that Scripture is so very clear on the matter and God truly has set me free. Nevertheless I will share (or rather I should say “reiterate”) some of my personal convictions on this matter.
As always, I invite each reader to consider these things in the light of prayer, your own study of the Bible, and to lean assuredly on the voice of the Holy Spirit who is the One that guides you into all Truth (John 16:13-15). I would not wish to presume God’s will for any person, but these are my sincere thoughts. To some this will sound like I’m “preaching to the choir”. But since, most of the time, the choir resides in a church service, perhaps that’s exactly who needs to hear this. Absolutely, lean on God and follow His instruction for your life according to the path He sets before you, day by day. With that introduction I offer this as food for consideration for those who have ears to hear. If you would like to respond (whether in agreement or total disagreement), please feel free to do so at the close of this posting.
So let’s get right into this…
Back in 2006, Wayne Jacobsen did an interview with some folks from Dublin Ireland (Collin Langran and David Rice) who felt God leading them out of the church building (and the traditional church mindset) and into a relational family life with Christ at the center. More than 25 years later and they are still functioning together as a simple family, without the need for institutionalized structure and mindset. They meet together as a family and there are no “pastors” the way we know pastors today. There is no ministry staff on salary either. I encourage you to listen to their story and discover how it is possible to experience fellowship as a family without any religious trappings. While so many of today’s preachers tell us that “it won’t work” without a building, without tithing, without pastors on salary, these are guys are proof that the traditional thinking is WRONG! Jesus designed His body to function (and function WELL) as a Family. –Dave (TruthForFree.com)
To listen to the audio file below, just click the link. To download the entire file, right-click on it and choose Save Target As.