The following post is a response (by yours truly, David Y.) to an article I read at the following website (you may want to read it first before continuing with my comments below… Also note, I have updated this post with more comments after the original post… see bottom):
The author’s site wouldn’t allow me to post my full response (presumably because, as usual, I’m a bit long-winded – hehe), so I am posting it here with a link in author’s blog to this post. You’ll notice some “slight” agitation with the author’s comments. 😉 I hope I was not unjustly spirited in my response, however, I believe I was genuinely conveying the frustration I know so many of us feel when religious folks so routinely mis-characterize those of us who are seeking to follow the Lord Jesus with all our hearts and without submission to all the typical mindsets present within organized religion regarding what is so often wrongly referred to as “the church”. So, without further adieu, here is my response…
NOTE: Oh, by-the-way, I noticed (as of 9/06/2014) christianlife.org appears to have removed the pastors blog post on this subject. Not sure why, but I was unable to find it anywhere on the website.
In response to the pastor who wrote the “Hate Church” article, admitting he has 19 years under his belt as an institutionalized Christian… I spent over 30 years of my life in the institutional church system before making my exodus. I’ve been involved in “ministry” as well and rubbed shoulders with a lot of pastor figures over the years. My comments come from experience and a heart-felt devotion to Christ and a love for His people, who are His body (regardless of whether they attend institutions of religion or not). I am thoroughly annoyed with the content of this article and I hope you will allow me the grace to speak frankly.
I’ve read so many articles like this where institutional church pastors try to explain why some of us want nothing to do with organized religion anymore and they almost all condescend (and virtually all of them misunderstand and thus make completely inaccurate conclusions)…
The answers they give are also typical; they say we who no longer participate in the religious routine must be bitter, weary, wounded, arrogant, rebellious, deceived, lazy, ignorant, backslidden, not lovers of Jesus, and forsakers of the assembly, etc… Never once stopping to imagine the possibility that we may be following the voice of Jesus Himself (let alone even entertain the idea that they may actually be the ones not following His voice but preferring a system of religion over His body).
The most ridiculous comment I think this brother who wrote the article makes is “You can’t claim to love Him, and hate His wife.” Obviously this brother is under the deceptive notion that the Lord’s wife is a building and a program rather than a people. I challenge this brother to illustrate plainly for everyone reading here where the Bible indicates that the wife of Jesus is an institutional religious system! Where does the Scripture (even once) define the Church as a “house made with hands” and structured with religious programs? It doesn’t… Not once! It doesn’t because it’s nothing of the sort!
In fact, the Lord’s Church is a single household of LIVING stones, NOT MADE WITH HANDS! (Acts 7:48; 17:24; etc.) It is people who are born into the kingdom of God. It matters not what religious denominations they attend or fancy structures they build. We are not qualified in God’s kingdom by man-made religious systems and expensive religiously-dedicated edifices, but by the shed blood of Jesus Christ who made all of us (those who believe His Gospel) ONE body in HIM! The fact that so many pastors overlook the Gospel while elevating their traditional, man-inspired concept of the Church, is disturbing (to say the least).
The author of this article says, “If you fall out of love with Jesus, church will always be boring.” First of all, my thoughts are drawn to Revelation 2:2-3 where Jesus said to the Ephesian Christians, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” Do they sound bored? On the contrary, Jesus said they labored hard, endured, were patient, steadfast, unwavering in their dedication to Christ. No hint of “boredom” anywhere (they were totally into the routine), yet they had left their first love. So, apparently (according to Scripture anyway), boredom has nothing to do with whether or not someone is in love with Jesus.
Again, nothing about Jesus’ words indicate that falling out of love with Jesus produces boredom. I would, in fact, point to the institutional church itself. It is full of programs which are created solely to entertain those in the pews… Why? Because they know to begin with that church IS boring! Why do you think we have all these new kinds of “churches” raising up (emergent, relevant, post-modern, etc.) and rock band worship teams, Sunday morning skits, power-point projector screens, mood lighting, coffee bars, special music, guest speakers, etc? Many sincere Christians who love the Lord and are fully engaged in the program burn out all the time! In fact, many pastors do as well! Is it because they don’t love Jesus? What a harsh presumption. I surmise it’s because the program has largely taken the place of the Holy Spirit. The very way church is presented to people is to entertain them for 2 hours on Sunday morning… It’s kind of ironic. Many people come with the hunger and intention to draw closer to God and then wonder why they feel so empty despite all the non-boring activity!
This statement about not loving Christ and being bored with church shows the author’s disconnection from and ignorance concerning those he claims to speak about. I manage a website that covers subject matter on life outside the religious system and I have received hundreds of letters from Christians for whom just the opposite is true. They love the Lord with all their heart, but felt they were constantly hindered by a religious system that stagnates under man’s inferior control. They long for the Lord to be their Leader, but they’ve been pushed around by pastors who have forgotten that Jesus said only ONE is your Leader; the Messiah! Jesus said not to strut around bearing titles, and yet this is what religious leaders do all the time (a perfect example being those who put the word “pastor” or “apostle” or “prophet” before their name as a title). This pastor doesn’t seem concerned about this error (this direct disobedience to Jesus) or how it affects God’s people (the reason why Jesus said not to do it), yet they continue to lay the blame on the people who are weary of this man-made anti-Christ order.
Many others leave, not because of wounds, bitterness or falling out of love with Jesus, but simply from a conviction of faith that God is leading them. Most love their fellow brothers and sisters and find that the most painful part of leaving a church organization is the fact that many of their Christian friends, who have been so indoctrinated by pastors (perhaps like the one who wrote the article called “Hate Church?”), will probably not talk to them anymore because they have been taught as well that if you don’t attend church you are in some form of apostasy. So, most often, it is the typical organized religious mindset that does the damage to Christ’s Church, NOT those who are weary of it and do their best to follow Jesus by leaving it behind.
According to statistics by Barna and others, it is estimated that well over 20 million Christians now have decided to leave behind organized religion, but not Jesus. I love the Lord with all my heart, talk with Him daily, weep and pray for my relatives who don’t know Him, and ask Him to help me grow each day and know Him closer. The fact that this pastor presumes I find church boring because I’ve fallen out of love with Jesus is absolutely foolish.
This pastor says, “if someone has hurt, disappointed, or offended you, and you do not forgive, you will eventually hate that which God loves.” This may be a true statement in some regard; however, it is not true in the context he is using it. This pastor is suggesting that God loves “church” (as pastor knows it) – the program man invented to pacify and also control God’s people by dictation and manipulation. The fact is, God did not invent church… man did. Jesus said that HE would build his Ecclesia (Church), which means His Assembly of people (i.e. the organic, living Family of God) on Himself. He did not say he would start a institutional system founded on creeds and denominational agendas and marked by religious temples. It was men in their own wisdom who tried to improve upon the idea. Man, not God, turned something that was organic and free into a static routine, a religious structure, a building and a system that he could control and direct (not to mention use to qualify his own perception of spirituality and justification as a Christian). In fact, man (in his own wisdom) completely re-defined the Lord’s assembly as this other thing. This pastor, unfortunately, moves beyond Scripture to set his religious ideal in front of everything else. Perhaps he means well and doesn’t realize he’s doing it, but the error is obvious for those who know their Bibles.
This pastor says, “if you are mad at the church, be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Holiness is still high on God’s interest list.” But participating in man’s institutional church system has nothing to do with holiness and God never introduced such a requirement (i.e. “attending church”) for holiness. Once again, this man introduces doctrine that is not found anywhere in Scripture. As for throwing the baby out with the bathwater, this is a typical line used by brain-washed, institutional church zealots. The Scripture has something to say about it…
Paul referred to children born under the slave woman and those born under the free woman. He said that believers are NOT children of the slave woman… Paul NOWHERE said to keep both! Galatians 4:30-31 – “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman AND HER SON: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” That sounds an awful lot like throwing out the baby with the bathwater to me and it’s exactly what God wants! Organized religion typically tries to mix the two concepts of law and grace together to make their hybrid church system.
But if true believers in Jesus accept only Him and His Gospel, then there are no other substitutes and you don’t get to mix the water. The Scripture calls us to come out and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)! The Lord also called to those of His people that were still messing around in Babylon to come out from among her (Revelation 18:4). Hebrews says that we are to follow Jesus outside the religious camp and bear the reproach that he bore because we don’t have a city here on earth (Hebrews 13:13-14). Throughout Scripture the Lord’s call is always to come out unto Him… never to mix with the world’s concepts. So, yes – absolutely, we must throw out the baby with the bathwater in this proper context.
One statement I agree with in this pastor’s article is when he said, “if you allow man to take the place of God, your ‘god’ will always disappoint you. Christ must remain the focus of our lives.” And this is PRECISELY why so many people have left behind the gods of men who govern their own little kingdoms they call churches. Jesus himself pointed out the arrogance of the religious leaders in His day and how they corrupt everything they touch. He told the woman at the well that God was no longer interested in religious meeting places as had become common (i.e. the Temple of the Jews and the Mount where the Samaritans worshiped). He said, from now on, God was looking for those who worship Him in spirit and truth, from the sincerity of their heart.
This pastor, like so many, sadly use guilt to sway readers with their argument. He says that if you’re still telling the story it means you have unforgiveness in your heart. Apparently, by this logic, only going back to church will cure this problem. Ugh… Such stupidity! (Pardon my bluntness.) What if I applied the same logic to an exodus from, say, the Satanic Church? After having broken free from years of deception, confusion, guilt, sin, shame and maybe some very deep wounds too, would this pastor say that talking about it means I haven’t forgiven the Satanic Church? And the fact that there may be a long period of adjustment, as wounds heal and God works on a person’s heart, doesn’t mean that going back to that environment is God’s will or healthy. This is just another example of a pastor trying to insert his authority over people’s lives instead of trusting the Lord to lead His flock. If the Lord Himself leads someone out of the traditional religious environment some call “church”, what is that to anyone else? Who is this pastor or any other follower of Jesus to judge that believer or belittle them because they have come to a different conviction about some weekly religious routine? To the pastor who wrote that article, I dedicate the following passage of Scripture and relate it as a word of the Lord:
Romans 14:4-10 – “Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let Him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive His approval. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor Him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead. So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
Colossian 2:16-17 (The Message) – “So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.”
Absolutely I believe in forgiveness when wrongs have been done to us by people, but there is often a process of healing that doesn’t happen so quickly as it seems this pastor is suggesting; “Oh, you’ve been hurt? Well your bound in unforgiveness and you better get over it and get back to church.” That’s about how coldly that comes across. The Scripture says to cast your cares on the Lord for He cares for you. If repentance is needed, the Scripture also says that it’s His kindness that leads us there. The answer is not more church. The answer is a deeper walk with Jesus. You don’t “need” church. Church isn’t something you can attend anyway, let alone prescribe as some kind of cure to what ails you. The Church is who WE are in Christ Jesus – REGARDLESS of man-made institutions and religious systems and denominations! Fellowship with the body of Christ is not born nor guaranteed in “church” as man defines it… It’s established in Christ!
1 John 1:7 – “But IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT, as he is in the light, WE HAVE fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
Note, it does not say, “if you attend church,you have fellowship.” The Spirit of God is the Master Assembler of the body of Christ and He is well able to lead people into genuine fellowship, whether or not a “church” (i.e. institutional) is ever involved.
Suppose the institutional church is a junk yard… It seems that a lot of pastors have the idea that if you just pile up a bunch of auto parts together in one place you have an “assembly”. They assume that just because there is this pile of parts, they are meeting the manufacturer’s intention. How sad… The truth is, you cannot simply cram a bunch of parts together or stack them in rows and have them become a working automobile. It takes an assembler who knows the manual (and by analogy I do not mean that this “assembler” figure is the pastor… No! It is the Holy Spirit of God Himself)! The Assembler orders in the correct parts (they may come from all over the world) and He fashions them perfectly together as they are each designed to fit……. and this is done in HIS factory, not a junk yard! Granted, our divine Assembler may fashion His vehicle (i.e. the Church) wherever and whenever He desires. Man has nothing to do with this process, save to obey when called. No pastor can say, “It will happen here and this is how we are going to do it!” That is foolishness and comes from an anti-Christ spirit of influence. To all pastors who have bought into this foolish notion, I plead with you to flush it and turn back to Christ as Lord and Master. This is how it must be; ONE flock and ONE Shepherd!
John 10:15-16 – (Jesus said) In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd.
There is some truth presented in the article and I should probably say that I’m sure the author believes he has good intentions and is merely trying to offer insights to help people avoid getting stuck in unnecessary ruts of bitterness, isolation and pride, but the majority of it is absolutely drenched in a mindset that screams “the institutional church is the answer” and if you don’t agree with this, then you are obviously estranged from Christ. This is unacceptable. There is no redemptive quality to this kind of argument; it’s simply a guilt letter with one solution – return to church. Christ really is not the central focus in this article at all and I think this is obvious.
The closing sentiments by the author are a little bit encouraging… At least there is some blessing for those who have made a decision based on genuine faith, but the problem I have is that it is quickly squashed out by the presumption (which the entire article just finished presenting) that virtually everyone who steps away from church world is in error. The biggest confusion the article presents is the author’s misrepresentation of the proper biblical, Christ-given definition of the Church. The author relates a building and its religious program as being “the wife of Christ”. This is not only laughable, but disturbing and shows that the author’s understanding of the Gospel has been infected by religious tradition. I say that because attending an institution has NOTHING to do with the Gospel, NOTHING to do with being a member of the Lord’s body, NOTHING to do with guaranteeing fellowship and NOTHING AT ALL to do with being the wife of Christ! And that’s without getting into the detail that the Body of Christ is NOT the wife of Jesus, but rather His Bride who continues to make herself ready until He comes.
It is IN HIM we live and move and have our being, NOT in an institution! Who cares about whether anyone decides to either attend a church or never attend one? I choose to follow Jesus and to relate to my brothers and sisters in Christ based on our mutual connection WITH HIM, not what denomination they belong to or whether or not they sit in a boring church service for two hours a week under some false notion of so-called fellowship. I know there is but one Fellowship and one Body of Christ. The rest is just man’s bright ideas, which are usually just foolish obstacles to faith. God forgive us for trying to mix religion with your holy body. Help restore us all to Truth and bring us together as one body in YOU alone!!!
After making two post attempts on the author’s blog (and both were rejected by the moderator), the author wrote me personally with a response. I decided to post his response letter to me, followed by my return letter to him. While I do appreciate his taking the time to respond, I wish he had engaged the conversation openly on his blog. In any case, you can read his response below and my return response following that. I would greatly appreciate any comments that any of you would like offer. Your honest comments will be posted and not ignored, even if they disagree with me. Thanks friends! Have a great day!!! 🙂
The following was sent to TruthForFree’s email by Dennis Lacheney on October 13th, 2010:
When I got to my desk today I noticed two comments you left in response to my “Hate Church?” blog. Our website requires a moderator to allow comments so that the site is not used to spam unrelated content. (I would guess you do the same thing with your blog site.) By default our moderators normally delete any comments that have URL links to other sites. These posts are usually just spammers trying to promote their own websites, products, or services. Your original comment fell into that default status. When your second request came in (on the same day I might add) it became clear by your comment that you were agitated. We have no desire to get into an online debate with you, and after glancing through your blog rebuttal we realized that such a discussion (or debate) would not benefit us, you, or the body of Christ.
If you would like to discuss the matter via email, I would be happy to continue.
You did misunderstand some comments made in the article, and I would be happy to clarify your concerns if you like.
As a reminder, here is the last paragraph of the article. This is our heart in the matter, and we trust this is your heart as well:
If you have decided not to be a part of a traditional local church body, then take the time to examine your heart and ask yourself why not? If your motives are pure, then may the Lord bless you in your service to Him, and may you truly see countless souls won and discipled for Christ. If you find it difficult to really justify your motives, and you realize that it is hurt, pain, woundedness, or disappointments that have brought you to your current state, may I invite you to ask the Lord to forgive you, and soften your heart once again toward Him and His people.
Blessings to you and your wife. I did read your bio, so congratulations are in order concerning your new baby. I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. My father-in-law passed in 2000 due to cancer, and I know the pain of that process.
May God richly bless you and your family.
The following was sent in response to Dennis by David Y. (of TruthForFree.com) on the same day:
- Thanks Dennis for the personal reply…
May the Lord bless you too bro. 🙂 I do understand the need for moderating posts. Yes, I do this also (to filter out spam and crude content), but NOT to filter out genuine responses and opinion. Isn’t the whole point of sharing a blog post and offering comments to be left to gain honest feedback for discussion? Your reply leads me to think that perhaps you’re not really interested in a open discussion or to allow honest reactions to your post unless they are fully accepting of your view point. Perhaps I have misunderstood your intention, but that is how it appears.
I do apologize if my comments of response came across as overly spirited or if they offended you (my heart is not to offend); however, my frustrations are not isolated or insincere (nor are they sprung from bitterness or hatred for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who may still choose to attend traditional institutionalized churches), for many of us who have pulled away from the institutionalized church system feel the same way and your article (in my opinion) absolutely and overwhelmingly did tend to lump the majority of us in a derogatory category.
I did read your final paragraph and also commented on it in my own post. My feeling though is that after spending an entire article to basically belittle all of us who do not “do the church thing”, the one little line of “if your motives are pure the Lord bless you” is pretty weak. The overall impression your article gives is that if a person is not into church, they do not love Christ. Or, as you put it, “You can’t say you love Jesus and hate His wife.” I also notice that you removed that line from the article. I wouldn’t mind you explaining which comments of yours you believe I misunderstood, providing your explanations refer to your original article, not the revamped one (as that would only be fair).
I personally think that your article confuses the biblical definition of “Church” with your own traditional understanding of “church”. I believe you mixed these concepts in your article, leaving the impression that you believe the “wife of Christ” is an institutional church system. Forgive my blunt reaction here, but I view such a concept as heretical at worst and grossly ignorant at best. Jesus did not die for a religious program, He died to save that which was lost and restore relationship with the Father. His sacrifice, as you know, brought us who believe together into one holy family. There is not a single hint in any of Jesus’ words about attending a church or participating in religious routines, worship services, or listening to sermons each week to validate one’s love for Christ, so for you to suggest that someone who has a distaste (or even disgruntlement) for institutionalized religious practice is essentially a person who “hates the Lord’s bride” is appalling (to say the least). Brother, you should be ashamed for such a statement.
Believers in Christ can absolutely grow spiritually and thrive spiritually even if they never set foot in a church building their entire lives! While there is nothing inherently wrong with a “traditional church service” (as it concerns singing songs of worship, listening to teaching, or engaging in prayer), the Bible does not tell believers (at any time whatsoever) they need to be joined to a religious program called “church” for these things to transpire or for genuine body fellowship to manifest. When a person understands that the body of Christ IS His Church, why should there be any intimidation put on them to observe any kind of religious routine outside of the Holy Spirit’s direct influence and guidance? This, I believe, is the great error of what your article implies; that church (as man, not God, has defined it) is somehow essential.
Biblically, there is not more than one Church (i.e. one spiritual assembly) of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus is His body (not His bodies). It is the family of God. It has nothing to do with buildings and programs and weekly religious routines. Again, I am not saying it is wrong to gather with other believers who are members of Christ’s body (certainly this can be a positive thing), but whether they gather in homes, by the river, over dinner somewhere, or by talking over the phone or computer (and whether or not they gather once a week or once a year) they are still the Church and their right standing with God is in Christ and their process of spiritual development is dependent upon their level of obedience to the Holy Spirit, not by listening to sermons or attending meetings. I think your article places far too much emphasis on the institution and not enough on Christ Himself.
Anyway bro, thanks for the personal note and thank you also for the congratulations toward my wife and I. 🙂 God is awesome!!! Thanks also for your condolences about my father and I offer the same to you. I do miss dad very much, but I thank God that He gave me a father who raised me up to follow Jesus. I look forward to seeing him again one day!!! What an awesome day that will be!
I hope you’ll understand that my principle frustration is not directly with brothers like yourself who hold a different viewpoint on things, but my frustration is primarily with the system mindset that works its influence on so many brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not unfamiliar with several aspects of your expressed perception of “church” and that of how you tend to view the rabble of us who do not do the church thing anymore. I lived with that same type of perception for many years myself. In fact, I was much harsher toward others who disagreed with me than anything I have read from your article. In fact, you are far more diplomatic, gracious and respectful in your presentation than I was many times. God broke me of a lot of pride and, with His help, I had to mend a lot of relationships with people that I wounded through my spiritual arrogance. That’s also not to say that I suppose I have fully matured yet either… I know I am still rough around the edges. 😉 My emotions sometimes get revved up and I speak with less grace than I ought to. Like anyone I have some strong convictions in areas and when I see things that I perceive as unjust, untrue or damaging I react. I do believe it’s possible to be angry and not sin in the process; especially when that anger comes from a righteous conviction that God stirs up in us. My prayer is that God will help me not cross the line of letting my own identification with that conviction of truth cause me to act without mercy and love toward others who do not yet see that truth.
I guess, part of the reason for my writing, is just to let you know that LOTS of God-fearing saints exist out here in “out of church” land. We have no taste for organized religion anymore and it is true that many of us no longer meet in traditional fashion…. But we love Jesus with all our heart and we love His people! We’re tired of being lumped together as “the bitter backsliders” who “hate the wife of Christ”. I guess those kinds of accusations are par for the course in some respect. Jesus said we would be hated by men for His name sake. He also said, woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers of the false prophets. Hebrews tells us to follow Him outside the religious camp and bear His reproach. The early believers were certainly reproached for following Jesus and not aligning themselves with the religious expectations of the day. We’re open to let the Lord change our hearts and help us to grow in love and truth… but, in all honesty, we feel too and so sometimes we react to the constant beating down and disrespect of many who are supposed to be members of the same family in God.
Thanks for hearing me out. I do pray God’s very best for you bro.
In His grip,