I've been thinking about leaving the church (again). Hear me out. Abandoning my faith is not even an option. I am a Christian who believes in God and trusts in His Word, the Holy Bible. And I am part of God's body, the church. It's the institution that concerns me.
I keep thinking we've confused things within the walls of the church system. Does God want us to build cathedrals to "house" His presence? Didn't Jesus demolish those confining walls when he tore down the temple veil on the cross? [Matthew 27:51
] After all, the Bible does says that "God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands..."
And what about what this guy has to say:
Men who want to sincerely follow Christ must wean themselves from worldly governments and churches. It is the height of absurdity for a Christian to attend and support the very institutions which are destroying his relationship with God. Those who voluntarily support man-made religious church systems, by believing and teaching that they are good in any way, or that they help us, or that we need them, are still living in a dream world of deception. The ecclesia system, with it's Theocratic government and individual responsibility, is capable of freeing us from the bodage of religion. True peace and liberty cannot be found outside of Christ. Christ's system is the ecclesia system. Freedom awaits all those who will break away from the religious slavery of church and become a humble bondslave of Jesus Christ. We must stop idolizing men in their religious hypocrisy and let Christ once and for all be our King! [THE CORRECT MEANING OF "CHURCH" AND "ECCLESIA"]
Yikes. Wrap your head around that!
Six years ago I left a part time position at a local church after I was told to "f*** off" by someone in leadership. Yeah. They actually used the "f" word. It was not easy to leave and I probably didn't exit in the best way. I defended myself to the remaining church leadership and challenged the leader's state of mind - not to mention how inappropriate their actions were. In turn, I was accused of all sorts of things, mainly insubordination: "defiance of authority; refusal to obey orders"
. When I look back at that situation I think that perhaps I WAS insubordinate! And for good reason! I don't want to follow man's ways and rules and legalistic systems. I want to follow God!
I think we have twisted God's Word to mean what we want to hear. I believe in spiritual authority, but won't stand for its abuse; I believe in church
, but that means ME
, not a building!
At that time I discovered Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman's book, So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore
. Interestingly enough, the book is not about leaving your church. Although you might want to find a new one after you read it! It is more about discovering the principles of God's Word and "leaving" the principles of the institutional church system in order to experience true sacred community, fellowship and relationship.
I am re-reading the book this summer and finding it more compelling than ever. Perhaps because of the journey I've been on over the last six years that has included a short sabbatical from church ministry. The more time I spend away from the church, the closer I become to God and my friends who are believers. Seems ironic that the very institution that proclaims fellowship and communion with God is the very place that often hinders my relationship with the Lord. Not to mention the way it continues to hurt people. Another paradox. The institutional church is hurting the very people they think they are saving.
Cue the song Ironic by Alanis Morissette.
"The institution provides something more important than simply loving one another in the same way we've been loved. Once you build an institution together, you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even 'love' gets redefined as that which protects the institution and 'unloving' as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and they never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love."
[p. 60 | So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore
Honestly, I don't know what to do. I currently attend an amazing church filled with genuine believers that love God. Yet I still want to leave the institutional church. Or at minimum, I want my church to take the necessary measures to avoid the principles of the church system. So far we're doing pretty good, as we are a fellowship that is six years young.
And no, it wasn't started as a result of the church trauma I experienced, I simply found it on my way out.