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***I have recently come out from the ‘churchianity’ system once and for all. This moment has come with much grief…
This is not an article to bash your church or make anyone feel bad about attending the institutionalized church system. It’s obvious to me why I needed to be in it for a bit to see some things. I can’t be the one to convict and/or convince you to leave. That is for the Spirit to do. This is rather an explanation to why I had to leave on the basis of spiritual conviction. This overcame my carnal desire for some of the aspects that were keeping in that system. Those desires and aspects of the system however, have their pull on many still ‘plugged’ in.
If anything, I hope those reading can see some the issues that I present as well as my genuine grief in coming to terms to what the system is, has been, and continues to be. This again wasn’t one of those happy happy fun times in my life. In fact, some of the most profound and meaningful times of my life thus far have been some of the most sorrowful. Much wisdom comes from this sorrow. None the less, I am compelled to share this information and give reference to the people in my life and those I’ve yet to meet in the case the subject matter arises. It likely will come up when they find out I’m not part of a local building.
There may be times in future articles or audio recordings where it may seem like I’m bashing the system. This only out of frustration with the system/ tradition of men and my intent is not hurt anyone with where I stand or with what I’ve come to know. To be honest, I really didn’t enjoy coming to terms with it all myself. I didn’t want it to be true. This is because it means changing my perception on a system I was raised in and came back to after being saved.
This goes contrary to what many would have regarding their ‘feelings’ about something. The truth to some is what ‘feels good’ or what ‘feels right’. In this case the whole idea of ‘church’ feels good therefore it’s truth. This is somewhat of a feminine ideal- perceiving things based on feelings. Well, I’ve come to share that it does not ‘feel good’ to find out that the ‘religious system’ upholds a structure and traditions that aren’t backed up biblically even if some of the theology taught in the structure might be sound. The system is justified by the ways of man and not of Christ. The following are some observations I’ve come to realize.
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
The reasons for seeking a local church after being saved was the natural inclination to be around others in Christ. I was outside of the system as mentioned in my testimony. Naturally, it seemed like finding a church would be the most reasonable way to find fellow born again believers to spend time with, learn, grow, etc. The problem was that even with some discernment as a ‘baby’ Christian,
I didn’t have much first hand experience in the system after being born of the Spirit. I was being drawn to it as mentioned, to seek others of like Spirit, but learned so much in a short time in that pursuit. I don’t speak for everyone, but it doesn’t cease to amaze me how certain convictions will lead to understanding quite contrary to what was initially expected. For example there were cases where I humbly was trying to learn, come to find out I might been teaching others simply by questioning them on certain matters.
Admittedly, when visiting certain churches – I sometimes felt like an in demand commodity; I say this in jest. I don’t say this in pride, but it seemed like a few places were hungry for younger men in their congregations. There were a few instances where the upfront friendliness was near overbearing. I don’t prefer that much attention when visiting. Nonetheless, most were friendly enough to welcome me and it was easy to meet people and get to know them week after week. The main problem for me was the the lack of fellowship OUTSIDE of that building. I was not and still am not satisfied with ‘fellowship’ within the walls of a building on Sunday morning. When I was there, people did genuinely seem to be friendly and willing to consider fellowship outside of ‘church’.
I understand that life happens and we have responsibilities and obligations. This is not what this argument is about. The point is that I love Christ and his body so I was willing to make time for those of Christ. It was tremendously frustrating to see the lack of reciprocation in this desire. It seemed like Sundays were enough for the most part. This was the first initial clue that something might not be fully right. This is not to say that some of the people that weren’t interested in fellowship as priority aren’t or weren’t saved.I am not in a position to say that. However, it did get me to thinking why I felt differently than most of those who I came in contact with. Why did I have such a strong inclination for frequent fellowship, yet many others were content to live life in the world and meet for couple hours on Sunday ?? This didn’t make sense to me at the time and when reading the book of Acts where they met daily in each others homes.
The concept of church ‘membership’ was one the last straws with regards to breaking away for good from the church system. First off, I am guilty of becoming a member of a church prior to this conclusion – so I’m not saying that I didn’t buy into it at one point, because I did. I didn’t look into scripture on the regard at the time either. I have since left that church and moved elsewhere. Besides agreeing to faithfully attend, I made no verbal vow/promise as part of becoming member back then. Recently, I have seen first hand membership requirements that really rubbed me the wrong way.
At a service that presented new members, this particular church displayed certain vows required for membership. Some of the examples of membership were to financially commit to the church. Another example was to seek to bring the ‘unchurched’ to services. While I can’t recall the whole list from memory, these two were enough put me over the edge. This membership list was the catalyst in deep reflection to why I was even attending ‘church’ again after a 9 month hiatus. I walked out early and went to my car to have a private moment with the Lord. I’m thankful for the clarity in that moment.
With that established, I ask : where in scripture was any formal ‘membership’ required to become part of the church? While we might gather locally as a congregation – where does it say that our membership is to be reviewed and established by elders before joining ? Where does it say classes/education will be required before joining? Where does it say that vows or agreements must be made before ? Where does it say we must commit financially to (in most cases) a 501c3 corporation ? Where does it say to bring unbelievers(and their sin) into the gathering of the saints ?
Regarding financial commitment, why must this be pledged ? Where does the money go ? How much goes to the poor ? How much is shared with members of the most need ? Do some proceeds go to a larger governing entity over denominational churches? If so how much & why ?? Why does the structure resemble a business with salaried employees ? Why is a grandiose building a requirement for a few gatherings a week ?
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Regarding bringing the ‘unchurched’, it would make sense to do this to perpetuate the system. In scripture we are tasked with going far and wide with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where does it say to try to get heathen to gather among us ? This is the reverse of what scripture exemplifies. We go out to ‘the world’. We do not bring ‘the world’ to us in hopes we’ll convince them to stay, yet so many churches operate this way. It doesn’t make any sense biblically – but it does make sense in what keeps the system going. If someone is genuinely interested in hearing the preaching of God’s word – this is great sign. At the same time – going out of our way to bring the ‘unchurched’ to the gathering of saints is like inviting sin and discord to a gathering of the body of Christ.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The aforementioned concepts do not align with scripture and are justified by the minds of men. Do you think that the Lord is going to check the memberships records at your xyz flavor of the week church ? He is going to check the Lamb’s Book of Life. Your name is either going to be written there or not. With regard to the body of Christ – we become members when become born again in Spirit. We are joined to the body of Christ in that event. The body of Christ is one body and is a spiritual entity with brethren spread far and wide. Here a little and there a little. The ecclesia is not a building with fancy name on the front constructed by the hands of men. This spiritual body exists on its own for and by Christ. Not for the sake of convenience of men or to perpetuate their idea of the church and the rules therein. Consider Paul’s warning regarding those who might leaven the assembly:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
As existing believers – we ought to use discernment when dealing with new brethren in Christ. Does someone know them that can confirm a noticeable change ? Do they exhibit fruit of the Spirit ? Are they living in sin without regard ? What is their testimony? It is important to make these distinctions. -MD
To be continued in Part 2.