What You Won't Find In A Christian Bookstore

by David Y.

How frequently have we all heard this question (“where do you go to church”) asked? Unfortunately, for many (in church world) the question tends to be a sort of “qualifier” that will determine whether or not we (who are not longer part of that environment) are allowed to enjoy continued fellowship with them. Those of you who have found yourself outside the traditional four walls of church world know what I’m talking about.

I remember an occasion a few years back where I walked into the local Bible bookstore and ran into an old friend. We started talking about life and about what the Lord had been doing in our lives. It was actually a great conversation… Until another friend from my church days walked up, surprised to see me, and said, “Hi Dave! Good to see you! Where are you going to church these days?” I didn’t have a clever answer, just an honest one. “I don’t go to church anymore,” I said… For a moment, no one said a word. The once joyful environment of fellow saints sharing conversation about the goodness of Jesus in their lives changed to an awkward silence. The person who asked me the question just said, “Oh.” After a few more seconds of awkward silence and nervous smiles, the conversation changed from talk about Jesus to everyone wrapping things up because they had to get going. I was left standing there in total amazement how one simple question could utterly destroy fellowship!

For a long time, after leaving behind my former allegiance to churchianity, I struggled with not being sure how to answer this question about church. At first, because I wanted to avoid the awkward reaction people sometimes have, I would say things like, “Oh, I’m not going anywhere right now…” I knew that most church folks would immediate hone in on the “right now” part of that statement, which generally led to them inviting me to their awesome church and telling me about why their pastor is so incredible. Sigh… At least I didn’t have to explain myself. But after awhile, that answer bothered me. Even though I wasn’t saying anything untrue, it felt dishonest because I knew that most Christians would assume I was just “in-between” churches, when the reality was, I was done with the whole thing! But how could explain that in a brief exchange of conversation? I didn’t want to get into a debate and I didn’t want someone to get the wrong idea about things either; to think I was falling away from the Lord or something like that… because there does seem to be this notion among a lot of church folks that if you don’t go to church, the devil will get ya. I know that plenty of folks thought that about me when I left… It was a process to shake off worrying about what people think and just trusting my relationship with the Lord.

Sometimes I would say things like, “We’re both part of the same Church.” I, of course, meant the body of Christ… I knew that either the person would catch my meaning and agree, or they would mistakenly think I went to their (institutional) church… or, they might chuckle and then continue to want to know what institutional fellowship I belonged to. Often times, my attempt to be clever backfired and I wound up in a discussion anyway.

On one occasion I answered the brother who asked this question of me something like this… I said, “Hey come on bro, do we really want to put that issue in the middle of our fellowship in Christ?” I explained that the subject of where someone goes to church can so quickly change how we look at each other, rather than keeping Christ at the center of the conversation. To my surprise, on this one occasion, the brother agreed and we spoke no more about what church either of us attended and, guess what? IT WAS AWESOME! But that manner of response was not always sufficient to deter the issue or conclude it with a positive result.

I tried talking about my own personal devotions with the Lord in the absence of church attendance. That only raised more questions and criticism. I finally got so sick of trying to manipulate the conversation and avoid scrutiny that I just laid my heart before the Lord and said, “God, I’m just going to be honest and say it… If someone wants to ask more, then I’ll take it as an opportunity to share what You’ve been doing in my life. If they get mad, so be it. I’m just going to tell it simply and trust Your Holy Spirit to guide my words.” So, the next time I was asked……… I said, “I don’t go to church.” Once again, the responses were varied. I quickly discovered that no matter how I answered the question, the response would be different, but in trusting the Lord with the aftermath of that statement, I found that He guided my words and I had some very fruitful conversations.

When my wife was pregnant before her miscarriage in 2010, we went to a Christian organization for some assistance. When they asked us what church we attended, I told them we weren’t affiliated. I also told them I was a believer and had a relationship with the Lord, but did not attend church… So, almost as if they heard nothing I said, they continued to presume I was not a Christian and handed me and my wife some Gospel tracts and started to tell us about Jesus. For a while we continued to visit and attend pregnancy classes, which earned us points to use toward buying baby items. On every visit, they continued to try and evangelize us. I didn’t persist or have an attitude about it. I actually rather curiously enjoyed watching these folks try so hard to bring me to Jesus. The sad part is that it was more evident that they weren’t really listening to the person they were trying to reach and they just held to their routine… and I fear they may be doing the same thing with other folks who come to them for help. I guess as long as the person who comes to them goes to church though, they probably won’t experience the same thing.

After all this time, I still can’t tell you how to get church folks to stop acting stupid when you try and answer the “where do you go to church” question. As much as it annoys me at times, it doesn’t really make me all that mad anymore. Probably because I know that I used to act the same way and I used to hit people all the time with the “where do you go to church” question… and I used to give them the same “concerned” look when they told me they didn’t attend anywhere… It’s a learned mindset and I think the only way to really see it dissipate is for people to genuinely become closer to the Lord and get a revelation of what His Church really is.

These days I rather like the answer, “Sorry, church is against my religion,” followed by a reference to James 1:27, which says, “What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.”

Most organized churches fail the test right here. While many organizations take in a lot of money, rarely does any of it go to take physical care of the suffering in the organization itself. Widows especially are often overlooked. Sadly, most pastors wouldn’t even know which families in the church are suffering. He might know which ones aren’t tithing, sure enough, and he might know which ones he’ll be happy to give a lecture to on the importance of sacrificial giving and serving the institution’s needs, but he won’t offer a dime of the organization’s money or staff effort to lift a finger himself to help these individuals… especially if they do not faithfully plug in to the program. You’ll notice that James did not say these widows and orphans needed to be faithful church attenders!

Finally, this Scripture gives the charge to keep oneself unspotted from the world. The very fact that virtually every church organization on the planet directly avoids or dismisses the teaching of Jesus on so many basic levels (such as giving, gathering, fellowship, community, leadership, service, etc.) and exchanges His doctrine for tradition and legalism, proves they have not kept themselves unspotted from the world. In other words they FAIL the James 1:27 test for what Scripture regards as “pure and genuine religion.” For this reason, church is absolutely against my religion!

Now, all of that having been said, I hope no one is too offended by my delivery here. I know that, most likely, a few folks that read this will happen to be church attenders and get the wrong idea and think that I’m calling them stupid. Please know, that is not my intention. If it makes you feel any better, my wife and I sometimes darken the door of a religious organization too (and it is nothing more than that to us). We are not “members” and we don’t call it “the House of God” and we rarely even visit. We recognize that there are Christian folks there who express a longing to know God and this much is positive. The social aspect of gatherings like this are, obviously, what attracts many people. Some organizations make way for this better than others and don’t get over-inflated about their invented status as being the so-called “House of God”. There are a rare few out there who simply enjoy the opportunity to gather (and, I think, even to be entertained… though most would probably not be willing to admit they attend “church” to be entertained). God knows what is really in the heart and the heart is what we have to be concerned about. Organization or no organization, God calls us to be a light in this world and to show forth His light to others. He often works through relationships… sometimes in the most unexpected places.

Once I got free of organized religion, I never thought I would find myself even visiting a church again! To this day, it is not even among my least of favorite places to visit. I could really do without the whole thing altogether. But then God opened a door of relationship with the man who occupies the title of pastor at this organization I mentioned earlier and I have enjoyed a number of conversations about the subject of life in Christ verses mere churchianity. This brother has visited this website and has expressed a desire to hear another side of the story and allow the Lord to speak into His life. I have appreciated his openness, his humility and his genuineness… and he has become a friend as well. I know he truly loves Jesus. I disagree with him on a number of issues and we freely discuss them at times. He has been taught to think according to traditional church mindsets, but his heart is to know the truth and allow God’s Spirit to change him. This is my heart as well. He loves the Gospel of Jesus and, as far as preaching goes, I love to hear this brother just talk about Jesus. I wish he’d stay on that simple foundation more often sometimes, but he has a true heart for the Lord and I am encouraged by it. God has encouraged me through the insights he has shared and the testimony of Christ in his life. I’ve also watched as he and his wife have spent a lot of time actually reaching out to people in the community; including the impoverished and spend time with them, help to feed them, and all kinds of cool things. Money is not wasted on a church building, but simply to rent a theater once a week and much of it goes to literally help folks in the community. So long as these folks are willing to relate to me on the simple level as a brother in Christ, without religious qualification or expectation, I am happy to spend time with them on occasion and just let the Lord lead.

This is not something I think I would have been able to even consider a couple years ago… and there are even friends of mine now, who are outside the church system, that believe I am compromising by having anything to do with church people at all. The sad part is, while I understand their concerns, I am sad that they have decided to so isolate themselves from allowing God to freely lead them in many ways. Some have made being “anti-church” their identification. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just as near-sighted, religious and idolatrous as the most religious church-attending pharisee out there! When people recognize God’s call to shed their religion and walk close with Him, they need to understand that being free from religion does not mean their new identity is to be an anti-church Christian. I have said this many times; Our true identity is CHRIST JESUS! We are to walk as sons of our Father in Heaven and to hear Him and follow Him. Just because we have been set free from religion or the false concept of church, doesn’t mean we are to be any less a child of God who loves others, prays for others, forgives others, and goes where our Father leads us! I am not endorsing churchianity in any way by saying this. I’m saying, don’t let the church issue become your identity. Yes we must be strong and bold and speak only the truth and live true to our convictions, but we must also walk with mercy, have soft hearts before God, and allow Him to guide us and allow Him to live through us and touch people. Love must rule us, not zeal!

If I was granted three wishes, I can almost bet you that one of those wishes would be that the notion of organized religion and the false understanding of church would vanish from the planet. My heart is so absolutely DONE with churchianity. That having been said (and coming back to reality here where I know that organized churches do still exist and many sincere believers in Jesus attend them for a number of various reasons), I know that Jesus called us to be in the world yet not of it.

Paul the apostle said he made himself all things to all men that he might win some. Is it so strange to presume that this could even apply to some of us that have wondered if God has called us to befriend church folks or even find ourselves in their environment on occasion? Did Jesus do any less? He was found often among both sinners and saints. He hung out with the thieves, prostitutes, and drunkards, but also with the most religious in society. He ate dinner at the home of Pharisees! He taught in the Temple! He called everyone to the Father. He didn’t call them to be the “out of temple” crowd or the “free from Judaism” believers. I think this is a most significant point to consider.

Some have felt a call to return to church world in some fashion… Not necessarily to try and reform it and certainly not to endorse it, but because they’ve felt the Lord doing a work in their heart that just happens to involve that environment. I will not be the one to judge their decision. My hope is to see folks set free from wrong thinking and to follow Jesus wherever He leads them. Where He leads them is His business not mine.

I believe that if a person is walking in close fellowship with the Lord, has a healthy understanding of what the body of Christ is and the fact that it is not in any way related to or defined by the institutions created by men, then a person could participate in varying degrees and socialize or work together to accomplish a unified and godly effort as God’s Spirit may lead. I also think that some measure of godly fellowship is even possible in some groups. The big problem is, so many “churches” blend the notion of holy and sacred along with the very place they gather and the concept itself of gathering at this place. Thus elements of guilt and ungodly pressure to conform, participate or submit are imposed on people. At that point, it ceases to be just an organization in the minds of those attending and leaders often use this to their advantage.

I still do not believe that “reformation” is the answer for today’s church system, though I know many others do believe this. I still believe there is no logic in the notion that presumes God would want to reform something He never created and never called people to submit to… especially when these institutions directly offend the Lord’s teaching and when they define themselves as “the church” (a term and concept that runs completely opposite to what Jesus ordained as being His Church). We need to follow His call – period! (ok… period, exclamation point).

Well, I’ve already gone on too long today and even jumped off subject a bit. To bring this back home, I guess I’ll just say to those of you who have experienced an exodus from churchianity and have been bothered with the question “where do you go to church?” I’ll just offer this. Be honest and trust Jesus to guide your answers. I don’t think there is any perfect way to phrase an answer so that everyone will magically understand. Just don’t let a wall go up that is created by your hands! Others may throw up walls of their own. See the question as an opportunity to share the love of God and the freedom He has given you. You may only plant a seed… Or you may water a seed that has already been planted. It may be difficult to tell on the surface whether anything you say is piercing their heart, but that’s not what’s important. Christ in and through you will accomplish what HE desires for that moment in time. Perhaps some of you will be able to share in the joy of seeing a seed come to harvest. Just trust God and let Him work on His time table. Don’t allow bitterness to overtake you when people disagree or misunderstand. Often times there is a lot more going on in the heart where you cannot see or feel what that person is processing through. Be an instrument of love and truth. Be the Church! Show what that means to those who may not yet catch the revelation!

You can wake up now… My sermon is over! Love you guys!!!

NOTE: This article (edited) is also featured in the Fall 2013 issue of Plain Truth magazine (download the PDF version by clicking here).

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28 Responses to Where do you go to church?

  • Thanks for the post. I too have been out of the church for a few years. I recently moved to a new city and tried a couple of churches just to try to connect with a few christians. I quickly realized it just is not for me and how knowingly or unknowingly they try to herd everyone into a box. I know what you mean about people not really understanding, but all I know is, my relationship with Jesus is more personal now and not tainted with the stain of religion. Once you have been out of church, its very hard to do the organized church thing again.

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  • Yea, I am past really being concerned about the reactions of others regarding the freedom I have in Christ. It is not my problem if they do not understand. God is my judge. I am going to enjoy the rest of my life now!

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  • I’ve experience many of the exact same scenarios throughout my life.I’ve found too that being straight forth and honest is the best way to answer this question also. The response that “i don’t do church” or “i don’t go to church anymore” almost seems sacrilegious to many. I’m a pianist that plays with a contemporary gospel band and some of my fellow band mates find it difficult to grasp that one can be committed to the Lord outside of those religious institutions. Myself having being a part of this system for so much of my life, can sympathize with why they think the way they do. Taught and condition to believe that unless you are under a so called anointed man of God,(the tutelage of some institutional ordained pastor) (part of that heresy “covering doctrine” that’s taught in practically 95% of these places)a christian cannot grow in there walk with the Lord. I too find it often times challenging but worth it to share the truth in love that Christ is all the anointing any believer will ever need. As you’ve said in all honesty, Christ knows our heart.

    Thanks Dave

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  • Very good article Dave. I’ve felt the organized church today is really missing it and we as Christians have put all the emphasis and responsibility on it rather than us being the Church. We so identify others based on their answer to ‘what church do you go to’ rather than love them and enjoy fellowship with them as brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that each of us will focus on letting the love of God work in us and through us and that we will get out of the churchianity mindset a lot of us have these days.

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  • Hi Dave,

    This was a very insightful post that touched me on many levels, particularly where you talk about not making your life all about “being against the church system” and “love must rule us, not zeal”. I felt convicted by both those statements and began to realise I am treading a very thin line at the moment between freedom in Christ and the pride that can sometimes emerge from being in that freedom and outside of “bondage”, so very timely to read this for me today. Thank you!

    God bless you.

    Mercedes

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  • Just an awesome post Dave! I really appreciate your transparency and your perspectives on this topic.

    I grew up in religious institutions and believe me, fought against the idea of leaving the institutions because I really thought something was spiritually wrong with me as I was being led to do so. At one point, I figured I had a bad attitude and decided that I would change. But I kept coming to the same conclusion.

    It’s been a few years that I’ve disconnected myself from all religious institutions but I have never disconnected myself from the church itself. I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord and I’ve matured because of this time of searching out and discovering my faith with Jesus without anyone else’s prodding and interference. Yet at this time, I am pondering how to reach out to believers that are still in the institutions, which does mean I have to go to them where they are. And even then, it’s not about telling them to leave their institutions but more about showing the example to others of what freedom in Christ can really look like. But I admit that I wrestle with that because I can’t stand churchianity myself.

    Again, thanks so much for your perspective. It confirms what’s been in my heart lately brother.

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  • That is the one thing that I struggle with as well, how to link with other believers when you do not go to church. I am coming to see that this too requires alot of faith; do we believe that God can guide us to the right people? Maybe God is getting us away from the “safety” of our institutions and asking us to really walk by faith, follow his lead. Jesus sent out two witnesses together but this was before the Holy Spirit was given. With ourselves and the Holy Spirit, we already have our two witnesses to go out to the unsaved. Just a thought, but I really believe God is doing something special and we need to shift our paradigm.

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  • Thanks for sharing that my friend! 🙂

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  • I think you’re spot on Shirley. God can and will lead us to the right people! It’s HIS “assembly” (i.e. Church) right? So let’s let the Grand Assembler fashion us together as He so wills. God bless and thanks for sharing your perspective.

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  • Meredes, you’re awesome! 🙂 I’ve enjoyed your writings on your page because I relate so much and I appreaciate your transparency. I shared what I did about love ruling us rather than zeal alone because I struggle with this very thing too. That having been said, I do think it’s very natural for us to want to exhibit a bit of zeal about our newfound freedom and to want to speak up boldly about our intent not to be bullied by religion anymore. I think there is a place for this as well and I believe the Lord gives us much grace as we are beginning to stretch our spiritual legs in our newfound freedom. It’s part of finding our confidence in the truth we have come to realize and not wanting to let anyone trample on it. I believe the Lord will teach us how to temper our zeal with His love. To be honest, I miss the mark too often… but I’m growing a little each day. Nice to know I’m not alone! 😉 Thanks for sharing sis!!! God bless you too! –Dave

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  • I noticed that a couple people marked this article as “Average” and “Dislike”. Actually, I might even consider “average” a compliment (hehe)… In all seriousness though, if you are reading this, I hope you’ll consider sharing why you disliked it… If you don’t want to share your thoughts publicly, I would be very happy to hear from you privately via email. It is helpful and interesting for me to hear how different perspectives hit different people.

    If perhaps you felt I was too strong, or not strong enough, or if you felt I overlooked some detail, was way off base, or maybe didn’t elaborate enough with Scripture or just whatever, feel free to let me (and everyone viewing this page) know what you think! 🙂 I read EVERY reply I get through email and do try to respond to everyone as I have time.

    I sometimes take a very long time before posting articles because I tend to be fairly meticulous when I write (some folks just call this being long-winded haha), but recently I’ve been posting a little more frequently since this is (after all) a blog format and intended to be less formal. As a result, I’ll probably tend to be less thorough at times and not place as much actual Scripture reference in my posts as I am basically writing whatever is on my heart for that day. Believe it or not, I don’t quote Scripture verses all day after every sentance (hehehe).

    Some days I tend to feel a little more “scholarly” than others when I’m writing and have more time for posting, so those will usually be the days you see a lot of Scripture references in the posts. Ultimately, I am not trying to be a professional. I’m just a normal guy who wants to share my heart with other people who are on a similar journey and maybe even cause some of those who happen upon this site and haven’t heard this kind of perspective to stop and think about it. Perhaps there will also be those who are presently in total disagreement because of their traditional religious influence. Naturally, something shared here may rub that kind of person the wrong way. But maybe it will also cause them consider a perspective beyond what is merely traditional and instead look deeper at what I would happily argue is biblically defensible and which may in fact be quite spiritually profitable. I don’t mind if truth (of its own accord) offends someone. That is simply the nature of truth when it strikes against ignorance or arrogance; However, my heart is not to offend just for the sake of offending.

    I know not everyone will agree with me and that’s fine. I do want you to feel welcome to post your disagreements as well. It may get the discussion going and I think that can be a positive thing. I’m not like other website authors who only allow the positive, praising comments to be posted. If you have an honest objection to something shared here (so long as you do not use profanity), I will be more than happy to allow the post for all to see. (Note: If profanity is used in disregard of this request, please expect that I may edit your post slightly before allowing it to display on the site.)

    Even if your view is 100% the opposite of my own, I will happily post your disagreement… and please allow me the right to also freely post a response to that disagreement if I so choose (and expect that others who are viewing this page will likely post responses of their own).

    1 Corinthians 11:19 – For divisions (disagreements, arguments, even heresies) are necessary among you, in order that those who have God’s approval may be clearly seen among you.

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  • I appreciated your words very much. I have been out of institutionalized church for several years as well. Since doing so the Holy Spirit has helped me to learn from His Word. I did not realize until He led me out of churchianity that I was so hungry for the Word.

    I don’t believe that most of those in the Institutional churches are truly born of His Spirit. The Lord is giving them what they want. This is judgment being poured out on the people. They have turned the “pastors” and the “church” into idols and worship them, instead of the One True God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ.
    The Lord is revealing to us who is of us and who is against us, 1John 2:18,19. Not all claiming “Lord, Lord…” are of us. Many are the “tares” amongst the “wheat”.
    He is perhaps making the separation of the two as we speak. These end days we find ourselves in are the “apostasy” we are warned to expect, 1Timothy 4:1, 1John 4:3

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  • I agree with you Shannon. In fact, one of the things I often say to those who seem so zealous about engaging a “reformation” of the Institutional church system is, “why would God desire to re-form or repair that which He never ordained to exist in the first place, but which man in his own wisdom created as a substitute for, or improvement upon God’s design? (which of course it can’t and it isn’t)” I fully believe that God is far more interested in us following HIM and doing HIS will than He is interested in fixing the messes we’ve made that are the direct result of our forming our own way and ignoring His leadership. That having been said, I know God is merciful and long-suffering. I know He reaches out to us, even while we are wallowing in the midst of religion. This is why I believe God also brings periods of “revival” that touch the institutional churches… yet, the purpose is not actually to revive those institutions at all, but the people within them. God even got my attention in this manner and today I am free from the grip of religion (however ironic some people might regard that). The hard part for many folks in those churches to understand (when periods of revival come) is that they often see this as an endorsement of their program… nevermind the fact that rarely to revivals endorse anything about the program. In fact, they generally upset the program as people start refocusing their attentions on Christ. The leaders in many of these churches quickly scramble to find ways of capturing this new excitement and using it to the advantage of the program… after which it always seems to driy up, leaving many to wonder why the revival fizzled out. That’s my opinion anyway. People often have good intentions, but that doesn’t always mean their intentions involve God’s will, let alone make way for it. We all need to humble ourselves and learn to let Him lead us. Lots of people always seem to ask, “Well that all sounds great, but what does it really mean or look like?” Skeptical pastors often ask me this… The thing is, most are not really willing to seek out the answer. They want an instant formula they can put into practice. Many are willing to “update” their program, but not leave it totally in God’s hands (on the possibility that He may let their program die altogether or take the people in a completely different direction). They would rather get on with their program in haste than wait on the Lord and be content with His timing and His way. I think many are afraid to even try, because God might not endorse their way at all. Thanks for sharing your comments Shannon. Now more than ever we need to be listening and watching. God bless! 🙂

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  • In reference to what pastors will say: “Well that all sounds great, but what does it really mean or look like?”

    You are right about that statement. In other words, how can this benefit the church in a positive way?, ie., bring in the numbers and the money. I just wish I could connect with other christians that feel the same way and not just on the internet. As I am saying this, it occurs to me that maybe this is of God too. We are to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. Maybe this is a training ground of sorts, representing “spirit” and “flesh”….

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  • I was looking at your words, Shirley, and just want to encourage you that there are many many others in the same position. The Lord has given me great comfort through the internet. He is allowing His children to be right where He wants us right now. John 10:4,27.
    There is a big difference between “alone” and “lonely”.
    Yes, we are learning to walk in His Spirit and not according to the flesh. Taking us into the wilderness is to grow us to learn to walk in the Light, instead of this flesh. Trust Him, Shirley. He knows why He is doing this for us.
    It wasn’t until He led me out of “church” that I realized I wasn’t being fed. I was a “starving” sheep, if you will. Only when He drew me out and to His Word did I find any satisfaction.

    In Him,
    Shannon

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  • I am really liking the conversation that has developed here as a result of the topic Dave brought up. It’s a lot to consider and I’ve noticed that many of the things all of you are thinking are things I have considered myself.

    For those of us who are free in Christ (meaning free from institutional religion), I believe that God can use us to touch those still a part of an institutional system. What I’m contemplating right now is starting to attend more informal events the institutions offer and just meet people and talk to them. I’m not going to go in with guns ablazing so to speak but perhaps God could use me to help one person there. Just something I’ve been pondering lately.

    Some people have a heart to reach the lost that carries them into evangelism and my heart is to reach those within the church who are still under bondage to a system that puts itself before Christ. Because I am so far removed from institutional religion, I have no desire to go there but God is working with me in my heart on this for even Jesus Himself went to the synagogues during His day.

    My advice to everyone is to seek out God for direction as to where He wants you to be and even be willing to be taken out of your comfort zone. He will need to our Comfort.

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  • I agree that we must allow God to guide us in whatever direction or person/persons he puts before us. We too were once in “darkness” to the deception and we know that it is God’s heart for all to hear the truth which sets us free. From recent experience, I realize that it requires alot of humbleness of spirit and seeking God’s purpose in these circumstances. I see the results of the Holy Spirit’s work when my attitude is God centered and not self-centered. May this be our prayer, that we can be in that place spiritually that God can actually use us.

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  • Thank you Shannon for your words of encouragement, they really did speak to me. God Bless You.

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  • I would like to throw in a couple of spanners. I am part of a local church and regularly attend meetings and get along very well with the ‘pastor’ though I do struggle with the title as pastor is a gift and not an office. I was offended one time when I was was asked if I came to this church. First of all, I don’t ‘go’ to church and it was like being at a party and being asked ‘are you a member of this family’?

    I didn’t attend any place of worship for about 5 years but when I hit a crisis I found it very helpful and I am committed to our small band of people with all sorts of ideas about what church is. I think church is very much a performance and people who see it as a selfless act of worship are deluded. However, I also see a danger in thinking that by ridding yourself of the church as an institution that you are any less prone to institutionalism.

    There are many godly people in stuffy institutional churches and many who think they are free but really have no idea what spirituality is really about. The church is the weirdest thing going and, as an institution its prone to corruption just like any other. I feel its right to be part of a local congregation (I walk less than 5 minutes from my door) and respect those who feel otherwise.

    Thanks for the post Dave. I really appreciate your views and thoughts.

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  • Did the picture above come from I-65 in Alabama? It looks like it.

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  • I used to be anti-church, now I’m pro Jesus. I have one life to live and will be a friend towards any person who as at enmity with my freedom in Christ to live sin free.

    I’ve been bitter towards the institutional church and spent a great deal of energy telling why the IC (institutional church) is bad. That’s before Jesus saved me from all this mess last Christmas and I was washed clean for a pure conscience Memorial Day.

    Going to church doesn’t make one hell-bound; sin does. I learned a great deal about God and his redemptive plan in the IC that gave me the knowledge of God’s Son. Of course going to church has never been a picnic to me … even as a pastor. However, Jesus is my peace that passes all understanding even while sitting in a church service.

    I don’t offer any kind of argument to anyone in regards to church going. The best I can do is be so kind and loving to those enmity with my spirit that it’ll be like dumping burning coals on their heads.

    Good job Dave!

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  • I’m not sure where the photo was taken. I just pulled it off Google images because it tickled me. 🙂

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  • I am the church 🙂 TY Jesus!!!

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  • You are not the church, you are a part of the church. I’ve just read Ephesians and from beginning to end the letter is all about the body of Christ. In fact most of the letters in the NT are about the body and how we relate to each other. If you read the NT you will find no mention of a saint (singular) only saints (plural). The notion of an individual with a personal saviour is quite alien to the NT – its in fellowship with other believers that we discover our true identity.

    If someone offered to fit new windows in your home and the brickwork was falling apart you wouldn’t fit the windows until the brickwork was fixed. On their own the windows are useless and in a condemned building they’re pointless. I believe that God’s intention was that we all belong to a community of believers and its through that community that we will reach the world because ‘they will know that [we] are [his] disciples’.

    We need to fit. The problem with the church is its insistence on making God in its image whereby its members worship the god of the church. Its a massive problem and will never be fixed while the church is full of sinners like us, but the gates of hell will not prevail. Jesus was a Jew and lived according to the Law but throughout his life he challenged the institutions and their manmade rules, calling us to worship in spirit and truth. When people saw that he taught with authority they recognised that he fit perfectly within the Law and that they fit much more comfortably than those who ran the show.

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  • Thank you. Very well said. My brother is coming for a visit today and he is a modern day Pharisee so some of the things you shared will be helpful to me when he brings up the subject of church. I love your final position of sharing the truth and letting the Holy Spirit worry about any fallout. Thanks again.

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  • Dave,

    like, like, like! I love what you did with the brightness of the home page! Looks great. Much easier on the eyes. Thank you!

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  • You are welcome! 🙂 Of course, I can’t promise I won’t mess it up again in the future (hehehe), but I’m very happy you like it. Have a great weekend my friend!!! 🙂

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  • Thanks for a really good article Dave… And I’ve also enjoyed reading all the comments, am very encouraged about how Big and ever growing”The Church Outside the church” is…All over the world brothers and sisters are on the same or similar “Freedom from man made religion” Journey as me and many fellow Aussies are on down here!!!
    It’s pretty exciting Being HIS Church 24/7 out in our everyday lives Living Loved by an Amazing Father God, and Loving whoever, however and wherever HE LEADS!! 🙂

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