Church Governance or Policy Issues, Going Back to Church Again, Safe Churches, Tithing

What Does Non-Institutionalized Church Look Like?

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We’ve spent the last several days discussing a variety of issues stemmed from Brenda’s very important topic of institutional churches failing to meet the real needs of their people who are suffering abuse.  Quite a bit of the conversation shifted to the subject that church as an institution is the root problem as boatrocker suggests here:

For me, what I believe about the ekklesia is not based upon how the traditional church paradigm is run, but whether it should exist at all. I’m not one who was hurt by “bricks and mortar”, though I attended for 47 years, very regularly and with much involvement, as had my family for generations.

My objection is to the very existence of pastor, assistant pastors, board of directors, running a Christian organization that sits in pews every week to watch the backs of the heads of people who sit and stand on cue. It is the thing itself, not how they run the thing, that I do not find in scripture. And as noted, people are leaving the thing in droves, many of whom fall into atheism or paganism. This is serious and not a matter of mere semantics or personal preferences.

I look at the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, I look at their actions, and I see no organizations, no committees beyond temporary bodies to address specific problems (e.g. the 7 chosen to see to it that Greek widows were not neglected). I see no liturgy, no oratory by one person on a regular basis, no “offices”, no chains, no prison doors for those Jesus freed. I see instead real people living real lives in homes, marketplaces, and public gathering places. I see families, singles, and even vigorous debate.

Above all, I see the traditional, religious structure as the root of many evils, regardless of how benevolently it may be run. It’s an institutional, paradigm problem, a matter of kind rather than degree. It’s very much like the debate over taxes in the US: flat tax vs. Fair Tax. The former simplifies the tax code, while the latter eliminates it. The former still allows the eventual return of corruption and oppression, while the latter keeps them in a very tiny box. Kind vs. degree.

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1 Corinthians 12:18-26

But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now there are many members, but one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;  and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,  so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

 

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 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations,various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?  All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?  But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And I show you a still more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

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There were a number of you who echoed similar sentiments about church as an institution while some (including me), for whatever reason, prefer church as we know it – the brick and mortar building.  It dawned on me that I really do not know what this kind of “church” looks like to those who no longer go to institutionalized churches.

I am tired of the hierarchy that I see.  Sometimes when I hear the words “senior pastor” from the elders at my church I want to scream and say, “KNOCK IT OFF!”   But I excuse it and cut them slack, primarily because our pastor doesn’t introduce himself as senior pastor, and also the guy is a pretty darn humble dude.

So, can we talk about what church looks like – the kind of ekklesia without the hierarchy, the hoopla, the brick and mortar, the business meetings, the membership agreements and covenants?

Where do you go to church?  What does it physically look like?

How often do you meet?

What about the music?  I’m a musician and it dawned on me as I’m typing this that worship is very important to me.

Who runs your churches?

Do you collect a tithe?

Where are the children?  How do you ensure they are safe?  The last couple of churches we’ve gone to have had robust policies to protect children (background checks for those who care for children, rules for picking up kids, etc).

How do people find you?

Do you advertise your “church” anywhere?

Most importantly, what about the Brendas?  How do you address the needs of the many Brendas who have real financial needs?

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Final note:  when searching for scripture to use for this article, I was struck by the last line of Chapter 12 which was discussing the Body of Christ:  And I show you a still more excellent way.   Is this more excellent way referring the next chapter – the chapter on love?   I never put that together before – they’ve always been separate for me:  Chapter 12 = the body of Christ and Chapter 13 = love.   Maybe whomever numbered the chapters had it all wrong and should have kept the love chapter together with the Body of Christ chapter?  Doesn’t that make better sense?

photo credit: Martin LaBar via photopin cc

160 thoughts on “What Does Non-Institutionalized Church Look Like?”

  1. Wesley,

    As usual your description as to how you are doing church is quite satisfying. If what you are doing were the norm, we likely would not be having this discussion as to what church ought to look like. It appears to me that you and your congregation are not focused on a building, membership and looking good in the community. The kind of looking good in the community I am talking about is a kind of drawing-attention-in-a-self-glorifying sort of way, which is not at all the same as what Scripture speaks of when it speaks of being of good repute.

    Still, this is a blog about spiritual abuse survivors. I don’t think I’m too far off to suggest that you tend to come here and open conversations about things that don’t seem to have a lot to do with ministering to spiritual abuse survivors. I’m open to being corrected if you can show me where I’m wrong. I could well be wrong because I have a tendency to concentrate on one thread at a time, and you may have been making contributions I just didn’t read.

    In any event, I also appreciate your irenic approach. And here’s a true confession: I had to look the word up the first time I saw Lydia use it.

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  2. Gary you said , “I don’t think I’m too far off to suggest that you tend to come here and open conversations about things that don’t seem to have a lot to do with ministering to spiritual abuse survivors.” I would disagree with you on this one Gary. I try to make sure that I am responding on topic. Now I will confess that I have cooperated in some thread hijacks by responding to posts that were not on topic. JA never indicated that this was a problem and I have tried to be sensitive to when the conversation has dead-ended.

    I have learned a great deal about spiritual abuse survivors from this blog. I have to confess that the things spoken of on this blog are pretty foreign to me. In the African-American context that I grew up in and currently live in there are no nurseries, Sunday schools are handled primarily by female mission circles for children until they are teens, personal intimidation by leadership is unheard of. Most of the churches outside of ours are real traditional but they still lack all of these things so this has been a real learning experience for me. Since we do not have a monolithic community I do encounter people from different walks of life and I think being on this blog has given me a frame of reference that i originally lacked when I first came here.

    So help a brother out Gary. If you see me hijacking a thread just tell me to let the passengers go or something and I will drop the subject. 🙂

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  3. Boatrocker,

    I am just now getting started on this, but I think we also need to be reminded from time to time that Christianity is NOT a replacement of Judaism. Christianity is an extension of Judaism, not a replacement of.

    That being said, The Jews went to synagogue. It was never the intent to stop going to a building to worship. The Temple was in Jerusalem, and we are now the temple. However a synagogue is NOT a temple. Jesus went to these places on his journey thru out Israel, and he taught at these places.

    Somehow, I don’t see how we are to just ditch a building with the steeple, and bell, etc., just because someone wants to gather in Aunt Bessy’s residence for worship.

    Notice how this is worded. It shows that the place of worship is DIFFERENT than someone’s residence. Having church is NOT about gathering at Aunt Bessy’s place.

    According to the Strong’s Concordance, Ekklesia is NOT ONLY “called out ones”, but also “a meeting place”. A synagogue is a meeting place for the Jews.

    1 Corinthians 11:18-22

    18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

    19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

    20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.

    21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

    22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

    Just because some Christians has some sort of a revelation that we need to get back to the first century way of doing things, maybe we ought to get rid of electricity, and cars, too. After all, there was such a thing called a Sabbath’s Day Journey, too.

    I don’t think they had panty hose, and pumps, or tennis shoes or ties, back in them days, either. Let’s wear our shower robes and sandals.

    Ed

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  4. Julie Anne

    Also had a nice experience with a small group of Philippino Catholics.

    A friend of mine, a believer, worked with a lady who wanted to learn the Bible. She introduced me to these folks and it was wonderful.

    We met in her home, twice a month on Saturdays, for almost three years. The shortest time was 5 hours, and up to 8-10 hours. NO kidding. 🙂 We had some amazing times. Reading the Bible, praying one for another, eating together and talking about Jesus. No one wanted to leave, including me.

    They also found hanging out like this, for hours, quite interesting. Since their idea of church, was once a week, Sunday morning, for only one hour. Then home as quick as possible. I would ask them – How many of you stay after the Sunday Morning meeting to talk to other believers. Well, you probably know the answer to that. 😉

    They would ask – “Why is that?”
    I would answer – “Just maybe – The Jesus in me – Likes The Jesus in you. 😉
    And in His Presence is fullness of joy. And it’s Christ in us the hope of Glory.

    Her husband was a great cook. I would arrive, sometimes with a friend, about 11am. The food would be on the table or just coming out. As the folks would come in we would all be eating – And talking – Having Communion. – And most of the conversation was about Jesus and what went on during the week. The joys and the challenges and Jesus. There is something about sharing a meal together – And talking about Jesus.

    By 12:30-1pm, we would move into the living room for another 2-3 hours – then back to the dinning room for dinner – Friends would stop by that weren’t part of the meeting and new discussions would start…

    They thought the “real” meeting was in the living room. But those dinning room discussions were full of real life learning experiences and the Bible and Jesus. Lot’s of neat stuff went on around that dinner table I tell you.

    Ten to twelve folks would show up, with their different Bible versions. – Some I never heard of – But – These are all Catholics – most NOT used to reading a Bible. My focus was on knowing Jesus, thee Love of Jesus, the Blood of Jesus, Hearing His Voice, and following Jesus.

    And the focus was on everyone participating in the discussion. 1 Cor 14:26. – Everyone reading their different Bible Vesions for the same verse – Out Loud. And shareing their opinions on what that verse meant to them. There is something special when folks read God’s Word Out Loud in front of others and get to partiiapte, share their experiences and opinions. And there were times I would say – “Oh that’s good. I never saw that verse that way.” Yes – we can learn from the least of these…

    1 Cor 14:26
    How is it then, brethren? when ye come together,
    every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue,
    hath a revelation, hath an interpretation.
    Let all things be done unto edifying.

    I often came prepared to get the discussion started – But often…
    Jesus had a different idea – I learned to be flexable. 😉
    Learned to be led by the Spirit…

    Jesus is the best “Leader.” – Yes? 😉

    Jesus is the best “Teacher.” – Yes? 😉

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  5. Your response of 11:30 leaves nothing about which I can legitimately complain. Except I could almost wish that you would stop being such a gentleman about it all. I’m sure you’re putting me in a bad light in everybody’s eyes except my own.

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  6. I don’t want to give out a lot of personal identifying information about myself, so I’m sorry about being kind of vague here.

    Not going to a brick and mortar is really not that scary. I come from a family where my father’s occupation required us to move frequently, about every two years, sometimes three, and there was one time in childhood where we lived in the sam city/state for five years in a row when I was a kid. We went to the same church in that city for 5 years in a row.

    After that, I attended brick and mortars only sporadically here and there as I grew up.

    So, I’ve been exposed to both lifestyles: being a Christian going to a brick bldg once a week, but most often, not attending anywhere.

    For stretches of years when I did not attend a brick bldg, I read the Bible at home. When my Mom was alive (she was a Christian), she and I would discuss the things of God at home, between her and me.

    I also grew up reading lots of books about God, the history of Christianity, and apologetics, and I watched Baptist preachers on TV on a somewhat regular basis.

    I’m an introvert and used to have social anxiety disorder, which made it very difficult for me to go to new places and meet new people. I prefer not to be around people in person, it’s draining for me – the internet I can deal with. I’m comfortable typing messages to people.

    Anyway, I’m very used to not attending a brick bldg. It just doesn’t bother me too much not to attend a building to meet other Christians.

    Someone at TWW blog pointed out that I am fellowshipping with other Christians by hanging out on blogs such as this one or at TWW or internetmonk, which are blogs that are open to Non-Christians, but are mostly by and for Christians. I thought that was a good point.

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  7. Ed has raised the point that numerous people have suggested that we get back to the first century way of doing things or we a NOT with the plan. This direction can turn out both good and bad. When I think of this persuasion, I immediately think about Frank Viola and George Barna’s book: Pagan Christianity. This book gets people ‘thinking’, but unfortunately it has many flaws that need to be recognized before people, esp. those who have been harmed in the church, buy into it wholesale. It is important to discern what these authors are trying to say in light of history and early church practices.

    I am going to borrow from the insights of a reviewer of this book on Amazon.com. See what you think. Darryl Dash is from Toronto and has a website. Darryl begins by stating:

    “This is a controversial book with tons of valid points, and ultimately, at least for me, an unsatisfying conclusion.

    Here, in a nutshell, is the argument of the book:

    1. The origin of many of our church practices (examples: church buildings, orders of worship, sermons, pastors, tithing, clergy salaries) is non-biblical and inconsistent with the practice of the early church.

    2. Just because something does not appear in the Bible does not mean it is wrong. However, our non-biblical church practices often hinder the development of our faith and keep us from encountering the living God.

    3. “The church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical right to function as it does.” (p. xx)

    4. The church must return to its biblical roots. At a personal level, we must ask questions of church as we know it and pray seriously about what our response should be.

    This book threatens a lot that pastors and churches hold dear. But it should be evaluated on the evidence, not on how much it will cost us if they’re right.

    Most of the book traces the origins of common church practices today. They succeed in showing what should be fairly obvious: many of our practices do not appear in the Bible, which in itself does not make them wrong. Barna and Viola argue, however, that many of these practices are harmful.

    It’s when you get to their solution that, in my view, the wheels fall off. Viola and Barna argue: “the church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical right to function as it does.” (p. xx)

    It could be that Viola and Barna are correct, but I don’t think they’ve proved their case. Pointing out problems with a model means that the problems need addressing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire model is wrong.

    It’s one thing to argue that there are problems with our existing ways of doing church. I’m fully prepared to accept this. It’s also OK to argue that other models of church sidesteps these issues, but it could be that they end up encountering a whole set of other issues–as is the case. But, is it possible for institutional models to be redeemed? Viola and Barna say no. I’m not so sure.

    I’d much prefer to ask questions that get to the heart of the concerns they raise, such as if it’s possible for a church to use a building missionally consistent with its true nature. Also, how can we move beyond being pastor-driven, give more to the poor, spend less on institutional maintenance, etc. These questions may or may not lead to shutting down institutional churches, but they need to be answered.

    This book, I think, gets at the right questions, but ends up writing too much off. They don’t make a sufficient case for anyone to say that almost everyone has got it wrong until now. [Barb agrees that this sure makes sense to me!]

    In conclusion: Barna and Viola have raised some valid issues. Some dynamics of church life that should be present often aren’t. We need to take these seriously. However, their conclusion ultimately falls short. There is room for all kinds of churches, including the institutional and the organic. What matters more than structure is the life contained within. Still, I hope institutional churches will take some of the issues they raise to heart.”

    IMHO, right on, Darryl!

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  8. Headless Unicorn Guy said,

    After that piece of news, I don’t want to hear any more finger-pointing tongue-clucking anathemas about the Filthy Rich Catholic Church riding on the backs of starving peasants.

    I do have some disagreements with some Roman Catholic teachings, but there are a lot of problems among Baptists and Protestants, that’s for sure.

    Have you seen some of the exposes from the last two or three years of the lavish lifestyles of the Crouch family (Pentecostal / Word of Faithers who own Christian network TBN)?

    Or, that church in Singapore (I think) that blew church member tithes, $50 million I believe (another source says $11 million, but I’ve also seen the $50m figure in other articles), so the preacher’s wife could launch a secular music career (several million of the tithes were spent on a music video for her, called ‘China Wine,’ you can watch it on You Tube)?

    Her name is Sun Ho. Husband is Kong Lee (might have spelled the name wrong). They have a large mega church in Singapore. She got a two million dollar NY apartment via church funds, according to one news site. Headline: “City Harvest trial: $2.2 million New York apartment for Ho Yeow Sun”

    City Harvest founder Kong Hee and five of his deputies were charged last year with misusing about $50 million of church funds in total to finance Ms Ho’s career as a way to evangelise, and to cover this up.
    Source: straitstimes

    I’m not entirely sure what denomination/ theology they are, except they are not Roman Catholics. They are probably WOFers, like most of the con artists on TBN.

    Suit: TBN board diverted millions from ‘charitable assets’

    Source: OC Register
    February 9th, 2012

    “Observers have often wondered how the Crouches can afford multiple mansions on both coasts, a $50 million jet and chauffeurs,” said Tymothy MacLeod, Koper’s attorney. “And finally, with the CFO coming forward, we have answers to those questions.”

    Ed Young Jr was under fire a few years ago for using church money to buy a personal jet, that he would use even on very short trips, that could have just as easily been taken in a two hour car ride.

    Benny Hinn has been known to take exotic vacations on his member paid for jet, but he claims these are “missionary related” expenses. 🙄

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  9. Hi Daisy

    And I’m a witness – that you are filled with – the Love of Jesus.

    And you are willing to speak up for someone you do NOT even know.
    When you see an injustice…

    Thanks again for having my back. 🙂

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  10. Barb, Viola, Barna and Dash all make their living from ministry in some capacity. I realize most folks don’t think that is a problem. But, I always take it into consideration. That book made a lot of pastors, evangelists and mission folks very upset. And Viola (and Barna) laughed all the way to the bank because it sold well with the plebes and launched some other projects.

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  11. @ ShannonH, who said,

    1. I don’t see what age has to do with it if someone has knowledge. We’re never too young or old to learn something new.

    I see what you are saying, I truly do, but when you get to your middle age, it can be very hard to take direction from a 20 to age 30 year old kid, if that 20 / 30 year old is condescending or arrogant about things, or act like they have all the answers. (I’m not picking on you in particular, this touches on one of my pet peeves, so if you see me as being grouchy in this post, it’s not against you personally.)

    Particularly annoying to me as I get older, as a never married, 40 something woman, is coming across blogs by 28 year old Christian men who issue one- size- fits- all- dating advice to single ladies like me who want a spouse.

    Their advice tends to be simplistic, naive, presumptuous, rude (they always assume never married ladies such as me are single due to being fat and ugly, or strident, man hating feminists, none of which is true for me ), and they lack life experience.

    They think they are experts on relationships, dating, marriage, just because they got married at age 26 or 27 to the lady they met when they were 21 while in college.

    They have no clue what it is like to be single at age 40+, so, in some cases, I think the young need to keep their pie holes shut, particularly if they are condescending or rude about things, or totally lack life experience in an area, or if their experience doesn’t resemble mine at all.

    (BTW, Christian men today who are 40, 50, 65 years old who got married at age 18 to 25 to their high school or college sweeties also need to stop issuing dating and marriage advice to never married ladies who are over age 30 and up. They are just as clueless about what it’s like to be single in adulthood and middle age.)

    I am open to listening to and learning from 20 somethings, though, depending on the topic and how humble they are.

    There are one or two 20 somethings who are regular posters at TWW who I enjoy reading. I think Hesther is one of them? I’ve been to her blog. I like her and enjoy reading her thoughts.

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  12. “I don’t think they had panty hose, and pumps, or tennis shoes or ties, back in them days, either. Let’s wear our shower robes and sandals.”

    Pumps?

    Ed you are dating yourself!

    hee hee

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  13. Barb, I should qualify myself here….I used to track trends in Christendom for some megas. They had to institute small groups in homes because they were losing people like crazy. (Which lead to the who satellite campus thing)

    Why? We found that all the entertainment and cool shows put on were not enough to keep people coming and paying, of course, to listen to one guy who was very entertaining. (the goal was at least 2 audience laughs per 20 min sermon), they want interaction. So give it to them in another venue to keep them coming. The irony is that money does not come in unless the person is in the pew so that has to be the focus. Very little of the money comes from faithful tithers. Maybe about 20% or so. I have seen it as low as 3%. The vast amount comes from the person throwing a 20 in the plate as it passes. Or writing a check right there and then. Some even set up kiosks so that folks can put it on their visa. And pay for a Dave Ramsey seminar at the same time. :o)

    The point of my comment is that “interaction” is a huge issue for this generation and will be more so for the millennials.. They have not been raised on the lecture format so many of us were. Which is why sermons got shorter and shorter. (Some YRR churches are making this a sin issue….you should sit and listen for an hour if you are really saved)

    Now, how do you get money coming in from “interaction”? This is going to be a huge issue for churches in the near future. Unless they can convince this generation that listening to a sermon is righteous.

    So in a way Pagan Christianity was a bit prophetic for a lot of people who said, this is it! While the pastor bloggers took it on big time. .

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  14. Been following this thread. A lot of good comments and observations have been made. Based on what I see in scripture and what my own experience has been as a Christian over the past 30 or so years, I have come to a few conclusions.

    I don’t think there are specifics on “where” the body of Christ should meet. I think we are free to gather in places of convenience, as long as we do gather for the purposes outlined in scripture.

    I do have concerns about many modern church environments and the amount of money that is brought in and spent on salaries, buildings, décor, utilities BUT not spent on the poor, widows, and orphans. In the church environments that I have been involved in, I would have to say the 90-95% of the money I have given as been used for buildings, utilities, salaries, and décor. I have come to the conclusion that “this” is a major flaw of modern church. I am currently of the opinion that my time and money should go to the those in need (outlined in scripture) and NOT to salaries, buildings, décor, etc. I regret the years of giving to churches where my money and time has gone mainly to the upkeep of buildings, salaries, décor, and the functioning of a local church, instead of to the community, the poor, orphaned, sick and widowed.

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  15. Wesley, Thanks for sharing about your church. Sounds like you all are really reaching out to the community which is what it is all about. I have to admit one of the things I admire about Woodland Hills (Greg Boyd, pastor) is they turned a part of their square footage into a homeless shelter, food bank, etc. And they offer day care for poor single moms. And they also do job training.

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  16. Lydia, thanks for sharing about your tracking trends and things you learned along the way doing that. You have gleaned some interesting insights.

    Sounds like you might be saying that you can’t trust a pastor who gets a salary?? Am I hearing you correctly? Or did you mean something else. So, would you say that someone couldn’t trust Darryl’s critique of V & B’s book cuz he is a paid pastor?

    I felt that Darryl did a great job of raising awareness about the flaws in the Pagan Chty book. His observation was one of many that I chose to illustrate my point.

    I am going to borrow a thought from a pal (who may or may not want to identify themselves as the source 🙂 ) who made this insightful observation yesterday about the church, since we were processing this very thing re this book:

    “The new iconoclast tears everything down and waits to see what happens, which is usually the same thing as what was torn down. An insurrection spreads an idea and lets it grow organically until the desired change occurs; instead of a new structure that mimics the old being built, the old structure is transformed. In that way, I’m more of an insurrectionist at heart than a modern iconoclast.

    If I barbecue your sacred cow, I have something we can both feed upon. If I kill the cow and burn down the barn and farmhouse, how can I cook something for us to eat?”

    So this is what I see happening with direction of the P.C. book.

    Yes, there are a number of us who have been ‘tracking the trends’ in churches. Observing what was the going thing in the various decades and/or centuries is certainly informative. Many others got thrown into this the hard way by having their own ‘muddy tunnel’ church experiences. They began asking: What the heck just happened??!! Out of that, they too have joined the church scrutinizers brigade.

    I have found that this exercise is certainly a balancing act, since we have the tendency to swing our pendulums to one side or the other while processing our frustrations for finding harmony–in what we believe from the Scriptures and what we think that we ought to be seeing. Continuing to keep at it . . . and joining in the process with many others.

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  17. @ A Amos Love, thank you.

    Do I know you from another site or blog, under another name? I usually post on other sites as “Daisy” or “DaisyFlower.”

    Ric said,

    I’m very disappointed. one person said, “I don’t have the answers”. Figures. Proceed to tear down established organizations, many, many good, and then offer no solution,

    Why does anyone who sees flaws in brick and mortar type churches have to have a solution?

    I don’t get the argument that we should all just continue to go along with the same ol’ same ol’ because nobody has another idea.

    I’ve read about house churches. That might be a solution. I’m not saying they’re perfect, because I have read they have their own particular set of problems.
    ———————————————–
    I wanted to add to my post above another reason I feel out of place in church, even the smaller ones, is that they feel weird to me – heck, even watching the church services of churches on television weirds me out.

    That church I went to as a kid for five years that I mentioned? All we had was a little old lady on the piano and a choir in robes. We did not have drums, guitars, or large video monitors. That to me says “church service”.

    Even the smaller church (of around 150 people) I went to for a few months a couple years ago had a video screen that they showed videos and power point presentations on.

    One large mega church I went to in this city (at the invite of a married couple) had a coffee shop and book store inside it. That did not feel churchy to me. I felt as though I was at a shopping mall.

    The larger church I went to (probably had 1,000 – 2,000 members) in the last city I lived in had electric guitars, drum sets, and a big video screen.

    I went to a large-ish (though I would not say “mega”) Baptist church in this city about two years ago that had a “satellite campus” and a big video monitor with rock band on stage.

    I see this stuff in televised church services, too, a preacher who looks like an ant on a huge stage with big monitors behind him, lots of fancy theatrical like lighting, electric rock bands on stage, laser shows.

    I like technology and even rock music as much as the next person, but it seems rather out of place in churches. Church services feel more like impersonal rock concerts than church these days.

    Like

  18. Steve S said,

    Hebrews 10:25. This verse about not forsaking the assembling together is often used as kind of an evangelical 11th commandment, “Thou shalt go to church on Sunday!” But it isn’t a command, but rather a condition. When you read all of Heb 10, you will note that we meet together for 1) stimulating one another to love, 2) stimulating one another to good deeds, and 3) encouraging one another. If a church ISN’T doing these three things when it meets, with all people participating, then it isn’t doing what the passage tells us. When is the last time I attended a church that did these things when it met? Well, never, actually.

    That is a most excellent way of putting it.

    I agree, too. I don’t see a lot of churches doing those things, and I’m tired of Christians who act like the suggestion in Hebrews about believers gathering regularly is an iron clad rule that all must follow, and if you don’t, you’re in sin.

    Like

  19. I see this stuff in televised church services, too, a preacher who looks like an ant on a huge stage with big monitors behind him…

    That’s why they started using the giant telescreens above the stage. So you can actually see the Ant-o-God on the faraway stage.

    Like

  20. Which is why sermons got shorter and shorter. (Some YRR churches are making this a sin issue….you should sit and listen for an hour if you are really saved)

    In this they are just repeating the Puritans.
    Or Fidel Castro’s speechmaking.

    Like

  21. (BTW, Christian men today who are 40, 50, 65 years old who got married at age 18 to 25 to their high school or college sweeties also need to stop issuing dating and marriage advice to never married ladies who are over age 30 and up. They are just as clueless about what it’s like to be single in adulthood and middle age.)

    Daisy, it’s ALWAYS those who’ve never been there who Know It All. Dating all the way back to Job’s Counselors.

    “Oh, I was so much older then;
    I’m younger than that now…”

    Like

  22. To add my thoughts about church communities, one time I phrased my thoughts this way: Churches are families. (So not including mega churches here, since in our area, there are very few.) Church families do things a certain way–just like any family would. Basically, you are trying to fit yourself into an already functioning family and seeing if it might work for you. If you walk in off the street then you see if they are a welcoming and healthy family or not.

    There may be many ‘healthier’ churches around, but how they do things in their ‘family’ just may not fit with who we are. This can be either bricks/mortar or some other configuration of believers. It can be dismal–the whole project of trying to find a new church community. Some people have more choices in their areas, while other towns are much more limited. Some people just give up cuz it is frustrating and stressful. Bottom line, most of us are way more wary about seeking a new church family than we were in the past. This is a good thing, since we are not as naïve as we once were.

    Like

  23. “Sounds like you might be saying that you can’t trust a pastor who gets a salary?? Am I hearing you correctly? Or did you mean something else?”

    That depends on the pastor and the salary. :o) I have a dear friend that pastors a small church for 300 month which barely covers his expenses to do so. He is bi vocational and a very busy man.

    It has become envogue in certain pastor circles to tell the church that he will only preach/teach and not do funerals or visit the sick. So we are seeing a change in that respect, too. More entitlement thinking from pastors than ever before. They are coming out of seminary expecting a middle class salary with no experience because they have a family to support.

    I like your pal’s quote but I don’t think we are burning the cow at all. I think the cow keeps reinventing itself to stay fat. However, we cannot ignore that a generation is coming up that mainly relates by technology, does not miss the personal face time, no matter how much others protest, because it is their normal. I am not suggesting it is a good thing, only looking at it from a purely pragmatic pov. And this technological world means they INTERACT with people. They are not passive listeners. The Disney style kid church only reinforced this. They have also been raised in an education system that uses activities/teams for teaching. Not passive listening.

    This presents a huge problem for those who make their living on stages basically giving talks for money and need nickels and noses in the pews. And I suspect we will see HOW Christianity is marketed change quite a bit. Changing your name to “Revolution” church will only work for so long. :o)

    The big churches are very nervous. They have tried everything except cut pastor salaries. :o) But they see the trend on giving and it is not good. And the worst part is that those who helped build the church growth movement to what it became are now in their 60’s and getting fed up, too. They were once the cool people and now they aren’t. They are also starting to leave the institutions.

    What is the natural outcome of these trends? Some Christians start to rethink everything. As in why pay some guy when I can get the Holy Spirit for free? And that is what we see happening little by little. I don’t think the institutions will ever die out completely at all. There are enough people who do like systems and formulas who will fit. But there are mega churches all over this country sitting empty all week long and are only half as full as they used to be in the 90’s. They just don’t publicize it because growth is the name of their game.

    Like

  24. “In this they are just repeating the Puritans.”

    Exactly. Now here is another example of some wanting to take the church back to the Puritans or 16th century Geneva. It is about control. We are seeing that with church discipline methods/tactics that are draconian as they can be in a free society.

    Like

  25. “There may be many ‘healthier’ churches around, but how they do things in their ‘family’ just may not fit with who we are”

    As in growing up and not willing to obey the family’s dad figure anymore. :o)

    Like

  26. Barb —
    Ed has raised the point that numerous people have suggested that we get back to the first century way of doing things or we a NOT with the plan. This direction can turn out both good and bad. When I think of this persuasion…

    … I think of a similar persuasion in Islam, the Salafi movement. (Which has been an ancestor and umbrella of several of today’s extreme factions in Islam. Such as the Wahabi, the iconoclastic faction that dominates Saudi and strikes me as the Young Restless and TRULY Reformed of Islam. They even strip and whitewash their mosques like Calvin did the churches of Geneva.)

    Like

  27. lydiasellerofpurple said,

    And the worst part is that those who helped build the church growth movement to what it became are now in their 60′s and getting fed up, too. They were once the cool people and now they aren’t. They are also starting to leave the institutions.

    Thank you for mentioning this.

    If I see one more worry-wart article in a Christian magazine (and there are many, many of them) about how the millennials are leaving church for good, I am going to up-chuck.

    I also got a bit tired about ten years ago about hearing how a lot of men are leaving, because church is not ‘manly’ enough for them; they view it as being too feminine.

    A lot of Christian bloggers and some preachers today (such as Driscoll) are still buying into this paradigm, and they go on and on about how churches need to “man up” and stop being so girlie, to attract more males.

    I’ve read a book or two the last few years about people who are leaving church, and it’s not just men who find church too feminine, or 20- somethings.

    It’s people in their 30s and older, and women. Singles of both genders who are over 30 are walking out in large numbers. But do most Christians realize any of this or discuss it, particularly in well known Christian publications? No. They only as of late fixate on 20 somethings and on occasion, why males don’t go to church.

    Nobody seems to notice or care that adult women and adults singles of both genders are turned off by church.

    I also found a blog by a middle aged, married lady who found out through her survey and comments on her blog that many middle aged married couples with adult children are also dropping out of church, due to most church’s focus on younger married couples who have babies, toddlers, and teen-agers (this is also one reason why older singles leave church: too much focus on children, marriage, traditional family).

    Like

  28. Thanks, Daisy for sharing your thoughts about the lack of welcome and engagement found for singles of various ages. It is certainly one of those distressing blind spots in so many church cultures. Some churches actually do get it but so many just don’t. You made many good points over at TWW awhile back which are worth noting.

    The factor that I include among those exiting the church are those ‘wounded’ by church leadership through spiritual abuse. Again, unless people are in the know, they are just not aware of the statistics that have risen regarding how harmfully people have been treated in the church and why so many have exited–whatever their age or gender. Nevertheless, the numbers certainly show that women, and single women, continually get the short end of the stick.

    Like

  29. Lydia, that was funny, “As in growing up and not willing to obey the family’s dad figure anymore. 😮 )” Yes, this is probably true in a lot of cases. What I am thinking of is the whole church culture that goes on with this group. Who are these people? What is their history? How does this church family tick? What motivates them? How do they deal with conflicts? What is their church governance policy? And so forth.

    A visitor needs to do a health check–take the church’s spiritual temperature, feel the pulse, and observe for reasonable health or otherwise. I could go on, but y’all get the picture. A church should be a living, thriving, growing spiritual and social community–however it is configured and however they meet. No place is perfect, but there are enough places that show reasonable health and they tend to draw people. If not, then it is not a good risk as a spiritual community.

    Like

  30. Recovering Pharisee wrote: (https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/09/11/what-does-non-institutionalized-church-look-like/#comment-40620)

    Steve, without knowing your background, and having not studied as thoroughly as you, I genuinely am interested to know how you came to the conclusion that the one anothers and the Hebrews passage pertain specifically to a church “meeting” as you call it.

    Good question, RP. I need to clarify a bit. I understand that there are people who doubt the Heb 10 passage is about the church meeting. I think the overall consensus is that it is. That said, IF it is about the church meeting, then if we are required to “go to church” or “meet together,” the context I think shows that if we do meet together, then stimulating one another to love, good deeds, and encouraging one another are part of whatever assembling together is in view.

    I should say my main point here is that if church leaders demand we “go to church” as an absolute requirement of Heb 10:25, then the things listed in the context should be happening. In my experience they aren’t. Hope this helps clarify.

    Like

  31. “What is their church governance policy? And so forth.”

    This is a big one for me even if it does not guarantee health but I ask if all members can vote and if I can see a detailed budget BEFORE I join. If no, on either or both, no point discussing anything more.

    I am not looking for perfect, just pure. :o)

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  32. Lydia, Yes, in the good ol’ days, who knew that church governance was such a big factor in how a church family functioned. Since everyone was Christian and everyone loved Jesus . . . what could go wrong . . . could go wrong . . . could go wrong?? A lot of us just got the naivety knocked right out of us somewhere along the way.

    Like

  33. Julie Anne

    Now – I believe that everyone has to hear this for themselves…
    From Jesus – But – You have to at least ask HIm if this is accurate – To show you.

    But – Here is another thought about “The Institutional Church.”
    And why “The Institutional Church” can NO longer work for me.
    And why I can NO longer recommend “The Institutional Church” to anyone.

    pastor/leader/reverends.

    Todays “Abusive Religious System” also damages – pastor/leader/reverends. And the families of the – pastor/leader/reverends.

    Many say there are – Healthy Churches – You just have to look.

    Well maybe – But – Can you have a – Healthy Church?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverend – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverends – Family – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?

    Today there are over 300,000 congregations in the USA meeting weekly.
    http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#numcong

    Most have – pastor/leader/reverends – running the show – to some degree.

    And the statistics for – Hurting pastors – and their families – Are Horrific.
    Seems “most” – pastor/leader/reverends – Are NOT Spiritually Healthy.
    And “most” – pastors family – Are NOT Spiritually Healthy.

    And Jesus is the only “ONE” in the Bible with the “Title” Shepherd.

    So – Can you have a – Healthy Church?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverend – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverends – Family – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  34. Julie Anne

    This is info from a website helping “Hurting Pastors and their families.”
    Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development
    http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=36562&columnid=

    80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
    77% of pastors do NOT have a good marriage!
    70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
    50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry
    ………*if they could,* but have no other way of making a living.
    40% of pastors have had an extra-marital affair since beginning in ministry.

    And we wonder why? Most “Spiritual Abuse” comes from – Power hungry pastors – Who have NO “Power – Control” over their own lives – So that have to try and exercise “Power – Control” over my life.

    Yeah – These pastors want me to “Obey my Leaders” – Them…
    Why should I – For the most part, these guys are screwed up worse than me?
    I feel sorry for these guys – But – I NO longer trust pastors – At ALL.

    Come on folks – 50% would leave if they could. – Does that sound healthy?
    These stats do NOT instill a lot of confidence in me for – pastors.

    How can I recommend someone to go to – “The Institutional Church?”
    When these guys are so messed up?
    What are the odds on finding a “Healthy Church?”

    So – Can you have a – Healthy Church?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverend – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverends – Family – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?

    No thanks – think I’ll stick with Jesus as the “ONE” Shepherd.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  35. Julie Anne

    Here are more heart breaking statistics for – pastor/leader/reverends…
    These folks and their families are paying a horrible price.
    While taking a “Title/Position” – NOT found in the Bible.

    This “Abusive Religious System” just eats them up and spits them out…

    Pastoral Care Inc.
    http://www.pastoralcareinc.com/statistics/

    # 80% of pastors’ spouses wish they would choose a different profession.
    # 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
    …………..Many pastor’s children do not attend church now
    ……………because of what the church has done to their parents.
    # 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
    # 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.

    #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go
    …. the same direction and goal of the pastor.

    Come on – 50% do NOT last five years – That’s gotta hurt…
    After paying all that money to a Seminary – or is it a cemetery?

    And these guys are required to “Manage Well” their family. 1 Tim 3:4-5.
    And “Manage Well, ESV” and “Rule Well, KJV” is Greek – proistemi
    Which also means to be a protector, guardian, care for – WELL

    Come on – “Manage Well?” You gotta be kidding – with…
    80% of pastors’ spouses wish they would choose a different profession.
    80% say pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.

    They are NOT “Managing Well” their families – That’s gotta hurt.
    They are NOT guarding, protecting, careing for their families – Well…
    That’s gotta hurt. –

    No wonder 70% constantly fight depression.
    And 77% do NOT have a good marriage.

    Can you have a – Healthy Church?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverend – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverends – Family – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?

    Like

  36. All

    A little warning – When you’re looking for a place to fellowship…
    You NOW have to ask the – pastor/leader/reverend – If they believe in God.

    No kidding – There are – Paid – Professional – Pastors – in Pulpits….

    Who do NOT believe if God.

    You can’t make this stuff up… 😉

    ———–

    The Clergy Project
    http://www.clergyproject.org/

    The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for **active** and former **clergy** who do not hold supernatural beliefs. The Clergy Project launched on March 21st, 2011.

    Currently, the community’s 500 plus members use it to network and discuss what it’s like being an **unbelieving leader** in a religious community. The Clergy Project’s goal is to support members as they move beyond faith. Members freely discuss issues related to their transition from believer to unbeliever including:

    Like

  37. .
    Here is another site…

    Preachers Who Don’t Believe in God
    http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/2012/06/21/preachers-who-dont-believe-in-god-2/

    Losing faith in God is common, but what happens when your paycheque depends on your belief? A study from Tufts University tells the story of several pastors who no longer believe. **Some are still working in churches,** **preaching sermons,** and counseling the faithful. They say they do not have the skills for a new job and, in some cases, are unable to confide even in their families for fear of what their newfound disbelief may do.

    Like

  38. Amos, you have given us all kinds of things to think about. I would like to respond, as briefly, yet as fully as I can to a number of your points.
    “Many say there are – Healthy Churches – You just have to look.
    Well maybe – But – Can you have a – Healthy Church?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverend – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?
    If the – pastor/leader/reverends – Family – Is NOT Spiritually Healthy?”

    In the context that I see all kinds of problems with the present day church, I offer these thoughts from my perspective.

    The ideal would be to have a healthy team of leaders, whether you call them pastors, shepherds, overseers, elders, directors, or just ‘the leadership’. I am talking about spiritually healthy men and women who have made Christ the Lord of their lives and are working at pleasing him in all that they say and do.
    Though Jesus is mainly the one given the title of Shepherd, or Great Shepherd of the sheep, if his children love him, then they will model his love and care for his people. Just as he is The Light of the world, so also, his people are to be light in the world.

    God has instituted leadership. It is all throughout the Scriptures. Yes, there is the ‘priesthood of all believers’ but that does not imply that there should be no leaders and a non-leader structure. The problem could be with our ‘expectations’ of the pastor role—both those who feel called to work with and lead as well as the expectations of congregants or just plain everyone else.

    This could be directly related to how men and women are trained to fill ‘this position’ as well as a number of gaps in their philosophy of church leadership and in their training in how to be a competent leader. It may not be the job function so much as the expected job description that needs to be re-evaluated and amended. The old model of a one-man-pastor just doesn’t seem to be working in so many places, so it is time to make suitable assessments in order not to fall into the same patterns.

    What is wrong with a competent, caring, and spiritual team of leaders, made up of men and women from a group who all love Jesus and care for one another? You would have a mix of skill sets, different ages, training, and life experiences. Pastoral couples would be a good start, but not limited to married couples alone. These dedicated Christians would be role models for others, be available for help, care, and counsel.

    Many are choosing the bi-vocational route for a number of reasons. This seems to be working for a number of people and looks to be a better model in the long run for a bucket of reasons.

    The fact that they work on a team would prevent loneliness and burnout–which are two of the main griefs of so many pastors and wives called to ministry. They are alone, without support, and without people who they could team together and work with in order to share the load. Church workers need opportunities to bounce ideas and practices off of one another in a supportive context. They can help one another to see where they have flaws in their belief systems and in how they think that certain things should be practiced in the church community. Having the older insights mixed with the younger zeal and think-out-of-the-box ways of doing things, along with the female and male perspective, would go a long ways to getting a Christian group on the road to better spiritual harmony as well as being lights in their local communities.

    I would hope that some of the leaders have had significant training in how to interpret the Scriptures with skill–since this is one of the huge lacks in so many Christian groups—whether in a church building or those meeting in other places. This is foundational to any group’s direction and health.

    I know that a lot of things have gone sour for pastors as well as congregants in various denominations as well as independent groups, house churches, or other small gatherings of Christians. That does not mean that we need to dump everything, but rather to be intentional to find out what and why things have gone wrong and join with others who see better ways of doing things.

    Other training areas leaders should have a handle on is church history. Knowing how theology unfolded over time and at what significant junctures in history are important to know in order to be able to recognize trends and connections with roots in various belief systems. There is ‘nothing new under the sun’. OK, I’ll stop there for now. Feedback welcome.

    Like

  39. Barb Orlowski

    First off, I appreciate your work with the folks who have suffered abuse. And I appreciate your comments to these hurting folks that I have read. I also appreciate the time and effort of your response to me.

    Today – I’m in agreement with many of the thoughts you’ve shared.
    And even some of your thoughts @ SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 @ 2:26 PM…
    “if his children “Love Him,” then they will model “His Love”
    and care for “His People.” Just as “He is The Light of the world,”
    so also, “His People” are to be light in the world.”

    “I see all kinds of problems with the present day church,”

    And – Some of your thoughts, I used to be in agreement with.
    When I was part of “The Religious Sytem” of today.

    I was ordained – I was in “Leadership” – And sounded a lot like you…

    “**The ideal** would be to have a healthy team of leaders, whether you call them pastors, shepherds, overseers, elders, directors, or just ‘the leadership’”

    “God has instituted leadership. It is all throughout the Scriptures. Yes, there is the ‘priesthood of all believers’ but that does not imply that there should be no leaders and a non-leader structure.”

    And I was also looking for “The Ideal.” – “a healthy team of leaders,”
    And I thought – and taught – as you said – “God has instituted leadership.”

    So I stayed in “The Abusive Religious System” trying to one day see “The Ideal.” I Stayed, Prayed, Paid, and Obeyed. – But – To NO Avail. Those with the – Power – Profit – Prestige – that comes with the “Title/Position” – pastor/leader/reverend – Seem to always win. – And those who believe leaders should NOT Exercise Authority like the Gentiles, should NOT Lord it over God’s heritage, and “by love SERVE one another” Gal 5:13 – Often get the left foot of fellowship – See Ya…

    In my experience…
    Power corrupts even the best intentioned – pastor/leader/revevrends…

    And – Since leaving “The Abusive Religious System” of today – In the early 90’s, I now have a different take on “Leadership” and “Titles” – For me – For “WE.” – “WE” – You and Me – the Ekklesia – The Body of Christ – The Church of God.

    I’ll try to explain more in the next comment – BUT – For now…
    Here is where I’m at with “Leaders” For The Ekklesia – The Called Out Ones.

    This has been my experience with those who said they were “Leaders.”
    Again, and again, and again, and…

    Isa 3:12 KJV
    …O my people, **they which LEAD thee** cause thee to err,
    and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Isa 9:16 KJV
    For **the LEADERS of this people** cause them to err;
    and they that are **led of them** are destroyed.

    Today I’m looking for His Disciples who are “Servants.”

    Like – {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  40. Barb Orlowski

    As you can tell by now…
    Today I’m NOT a fan of those who call themselves – “Leaders.”

    Here’s a question for you to think about – and answer…
    Can someone, who calls them self “Leader,” be one of “His Disciples?”

    ———-

    Haven’t you ever wondered why?
    Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    For you have “ONE” leader – the Christ. Mat 23:10 NASB

    And NONE did… 😉
    NOT one of His Disciples called them self – “Leader.”
    NOT one of His Disciples called another Disciple – “Leader.”
    NOT one of His Disciples called them self – pastor/leader/reverend.

    What did His Disciples know? – That many today have missed?
    Maybe, His Disciples, actually believed what Jesus taught them?

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible.
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant.”
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    Then step down. – Be a **Servant.**

    Mat 23:10-12 TM – The Message.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to be called **Leaders** – NONE did.

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    **His Disciples** all called themselves **Servants.**
    None called themselves “Leaders.” None? None.
    None called themselves “Servant-Leader.” None.

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders”
    and someone calls them self a “leader” or thinks they are a “leader;”

    Are they one of “His Disciples?”

    Can someone, who calls them self “Leader,” be one of “His Disciples?”

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? 😉

    Like

  41. Barb

    You write…
    “God has instituted leadership.”

    And that “Leardership” has a name – A name Above ALL names…

    And His name is…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  42. Thank-you, Thank-you, lydiasellerofpurple
    September 13, 2013 @ 2:50 PM http://www.bethelfc.com/messages/warrior-a-study-of-biblical-womanhood/warriors

    O, wow, I’m simply floored after listening to that. You were right on that it would lift me up! My role as a helper is defined by God, as a warrior, not a doormat. More than thirty years as a Christian and that is the first time I have ever heard that I am God’s provision, the mans warrior partner. Ladies need to hear this!

    Thankfully, I am married to a man who is secure & kind. The last church we attended together (10 yrs ago) did their best to teach him that I needed to submit to him, he didn’t buy it for a minute. Thank God!

    Like

  43. @ lydiasop~

    Thanks so much for the sermon recommendation. I listened to the first one and was amening all the way through. Can’t wait to listen to the rest. Have shared. Thanks!!

    Like

  44. Barb Orlowski

    You write @ SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 @ 2:26 PM…
    “God has instituted leadership. It is all throughout the Scriptures. Yes, there is the ‘priesthood of all believers’ but that does not imply that there should be no leaders and a non-leader structure.”

    That is what I believed and taught at one time…
    When I thought I was called to be a “Leader.” – but NO longer…

    Since leaving “The Abusive Religious System” I see, OT and NT, God/Jesus wants to be our “ONE” Leader – As you say – “It is all throughout the Scriptures.” – And – Again, and again, God’s People reject God’s Leadership – For that of a “Mere Fallible Human.”- I’ll give you a couple of examples…

    Have you considered the ant?
    An ant is small and insignificant. – Or is it?

    Proverbs 6:6-9 KJV
    Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
    Which having NO
    **guide,**
    **overseer,** or
    **ruler,**
    Provideth her meat in the summer,
    and gathereth her food in the harvest.

    NO  Guide – Strongs # 07101 qatsiyn – a magistrate or other leader.
    KJV – ruler 4, prince 4, captain 3, guide 1
    Thayers – 1- chief, commander, dictator. 2- ruler (of one in authority)

    NO Overseer – 07860 shoter – officer, overseer, ruler.
    KJV – officers 23, ruler 1, overseer 1; 25
    Thayers – 1 – official, officer.

    NO Ruler – 04910 mashal – dominion, governor, reign, rule, have power.
    KJV – rule 38, ruler 19, reign 8, dominion 7, governor 4, 81
    Thayers – 1-to rule, have dominion, reign 2- to exercise dominion.

    Seems Jesus has a unique take on “Leadership” for **His Body.** “ONE”

    And I’ve found, for me, “The Ideal” Leadership Team… 🙂
    The Father – The Son – The Holy Spirit…

    So, when you say..
    “that does not imply that there should be no leaders”

    I would add – Some scriptures imply – NO HU-man Leaders…

    Why “Follow” a “Mere Fallible Human” who thinks they’re a “Leader.”

    When you can “Follow” Jesus?

    Like

  45. Barb Orlowski

    Here’s another example of God’s People rejecting God – Reigning over them.
    And wanting a “Mere Fallible HU-man” to – “reign over them.”
    “That we also may be like all the **Churches**;” ooops – Nations…

    Hmmm? Was the idea of having a King rule over the people God’s idea? Or man’s idea? Seems God gave the people kings because they didn’t want God Reigning over them. Oy Vey! ;-(

    1 Sam 8:7 KJV
    And the LORD said unto Samuel,
    Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee:
    for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me,
    that I should not reign over them.

    And how did having Kings turn out for Isreal? My.. My… Tsk… Tsk…

    1 Sam 8:11 KJV
    This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you:
    He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots,
    and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots…

    Your King will take your sons.
    Your King will take your daughters.
    Your King will take your fields.
    Your King will take your vineyards.
    Your King will take your oliveyards.
    Your King will take the tenth of your seed.
    Your King will take your menservants.
    Your King will take your maidservants
    Your King will take your asses.
    Your King will take the tenth of your sheep.
    and you shall be the Kings servants…

    (Hmmm? Reminds me of many of “The Institutional Churches” of man.)

    1 Sam 8:19-20 KJV
    Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel;
    and they said, Nay; but **we will have a king over us.**
    That we also may be like all the nations;
    and that **our king** may judge us,
    and go out before us, and fight our battles.

    Wow – God was offering to reign over them,
    To go before them and fight their battles for them…
    Like He did against Egypt…

    And these humans decided another human would be best for them.
    Kings don’t look like such a good idea now, do they?

    How come us “Mere Fallible Humans” do NOT believe…
    God Can Lead Us? Lead “WE?” Lead His Ekklesia? Lead His Sheep?

    Who taught “WE” that?

    Did “WE” forget???

    For with God nothing shall be impossible??? – Luke 1:37

    Like

  46. @Lydia.
    “Barb, Viola, Barna and Dash all make their living from ministry in some capacity. I realize most folks don’t think that is a problem. But, I always take it into consideration. That book made a lot of pastors, evangelists and mission folks very upset. And Viola (and Barna) laughed all the way to the bank because it sold well with the plebes and launched some other projects.”

    Hi Lydia.
    I will need to find a link, but I have heard and read more than once from Frank Viola that he takes no money from the sale of his books. It goes to charity of some sort and he makes his living in other ways. Also, I completely understand the issues that Pagan Christianity as brought up for many. I read it over 2 years ago and it changed my life for the better in terms of my walk with Christ and church experience. But to be fair, P.C. is the first in a series and really should not be read alone. I have read all the following books on these important issues and I highly recommend them to other believers as well. Here are a couple of links that talk about the other books along with answers to the many critiques. 🙂 http://www.paganchristianity.org/answers.php http://frankviola.org/2010/02/01/10-straw-man-myths-about-pagan-christianity-reimagining-church/

    Like

  47. My church experience has gone the full gamut since I gave my heart to Christ as a 12 year old back in the mid 70’s on my neighbors back porch. I had attended their medium sized Baptist church’s vacation bible school. Over the years I went from that church to a mega/prosperity teaching/name it and claim it black church, to a Pentecostal storefront, back to the ‘name it and claim it’, then to one of the largest suburban mega churches in the country, to a small ’emergent’ type/full of college students church, to what I now call an organic-ish church experience. I came across the books of several house/organic/simple church practitioners(including Felicity Dale, Keith Giles, Frank Viola) and it has indeed changed the lives of my husband and I for the better. We meet in 2 different, yet related lifegroups(small groups). One, we host in our home and the other where we rotate homes throughout the month. Those groups were actually groups that we helped facilitate when we were on staff at our former church. When we officially left, the groups stayed the same. We just continued to meet. I realize that we also have special circumstances in that we are still friends with many at our old church(most of them are in our groups) including the pastors. Yet, their set up includes several elders(male and female) without the hierarchy common in the typical institutional system.

    Our meetings include studying of scripture with everyone taking turns to share(if they desire to), sometimes going through a book together, sharing struggles and praying for each other, reaching out to others in need, and often just having fun together. Over the last 4-5 years we’ve become like family to each other.

    For me, reading the works of those who champion house church and the like has not made me into someone who views the church building as ‘evil’. ( But I have come across some pretty extreme stuff in my journey through this topic) I can see the value in the IC(institutional church). I found Jesus there. I have made many friends and learned much about the Lord. And even discovered small groups in that suburban mega church we used to attend. So, I guess my point is that God can use anything and anyone, anywhere. I do believe though that we in the West especially have turned what was supposed to be the Body of Christ, in essence a family, into a business. I think we can be addicted to the Building. Every other religion on the planet(please correct me if I’m wrong) needs their temple. When the Church was born, the Holy Spirit moved into US. The people, WE are now the temple. The same Holy Spirit that can speak through the pastor, elder, priest, evangelist, etc can speak to and through us, even if we don’t have an official ‘calling’. If you get right down to it, we’re all called anyway, just with different gifts.

    And let’s face it, those buildings, big and small cost money. Salaries cost money. How much more could we feed and clothe those we’ve been called to, if those expenses weren’t seen as so essential by our modern church mindset. And tithing? Don’t even get me started! lol
    Sorry for being so long winded my first night posting. 😉 Love your blog JA btw. Been lurking for months.

    Like

  48. Hey Val – Thanks for your comment – glad you are silent no more 🙂

    I loved reading your church history and how you are doing church now. It is sure diverse. It sounds like you’ve got something going on that is working well for you.

    This comment had me woohoo-ing:

    I do believe though that we in the West especially have turned what was supposed to be the Body of Christ, in essence a family, into a business. I think we can be addicted to the Building. Every other religion on the planet(please correct me if I’m wrong) needs their temple. When the Church was born, the Holy Spirit moved into US. The people, WE are now the temple. The same Holy Spirit that can speak through the pastor, elder, priest, evangelist, etc can speak to and through us, even if we don’t have an official ‘calling’. If you get right down to it, we’re all called anyway, just with different gifts.

    Like

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