Monday, February 6, 2006

Christians who do not go to church.

This is a significant issue for many Christians and it’s what caused me to lose my faith after a 10 year gap of going to church.
It wasn't the gap that caused the problem, it was the going back to church and not getting any sort of fellowship or friendship over several months (I did not expect it to happen instantly but after a few months it really should have).

Here is how I have identified the problem and how I am overcoming it:

1. The church does not matter.
No one has ever been saved by going to church.

2. People are fallible and make mistakes. I allowed this to cloud my relationship with God. I truly know that God loves me and nothing anyone can do to me can take that away. This is the knowledge that kept me in my faith for 10 years during which I had limited contact with other Christians, and it’s what is keeping me going now.

3. Just because I don't have a live church connection does not mean that God will not use me to advance his kingdom.
I used to think I was "out of the ministry" because I did not go to church. I now know this is wrong. There are many ways in which you can minister to other people outside of church. In fact its easier to serve God outside of the church because that’s where all the unsaved people are (and all the jobs are spoken for in most churches anyway as they have limited opportunities to serve, they basically make 80% of the congregation impotent).

Now, it would be nice to find a church and have my faith strengthened by fellowship with other Christians but if you walk into a church the only thing you have in common with the people there is that you are born again. Yes, its a big thing but its not enough to base normal social relationships on, therefore I think I think anyone looking for a church needs to find one where the people have similar interests, aspirations and personality types to themselves.

BUT, like you I live somewhere where there is no real choice of church.
The church I attend has a warped sense of community. For years they have been trying to reach people who live round the place where the church happened to have been built.
However, if I look at the church its real sphere of influence is the families, friends and contacts of the members, who may live further a field. They just ignore that community and beat themselves up because they are not reaching people in the next street.

I am looking at two areas right now which I hope will address my feeling of not belonging:

1. My personal ministry. How I relate to other people both in conduct, and in sharing the gospel. As someone who is "powerful" by human standards I should have less fear of being open about my faith as I have less to lose, but I don't because I have not always been in the position of having status. I am what is known by marketers as an "opinion leader". I now need to start leading some opinions!

2. Para-church organisations. There may be opportunities to mix with other Christians in other organisations with specific ministries. I may do something musical in this area.


Another area I have been looking at again is money. I gave up everything financially to go into full time ministry and when that was taken from me by illness and other things I got the opportunity to serve others through charity work. This also did not pay well but I was happy. I believe that God has blessed that faithfulness and also the 10 years I had away from the church by making me financially secure and successful in business. My company already gives more percentage wise to charity than most other companies I know of but we could go further. I want to investigate that this year. My problem is that I really do not like blowing my own trumpet. I even conspired to conceal some of our giving in the company accounts so that it was not so obvious even if that meant paying tax on some of those donations.
It has also caused people to see the wealth and go on about camels and eyes of needles when they did not know me in the days when i would save up £5 a month until I had enough to buy a reconditioned Hoover Junior for £50, or when I lived in a house with peoples cast off furniture and sleeping in the pyjamas my grandfather died in.

So....... I think i need to just be more open and honest with people about the money issue. I enjoy life, I enjoy helping other people and I enjoy having nice things, (but I own them, they don't own me and I won't have them forever) and I am not going to let anyone steal my joy.

16 comments:

  1. Hello Gordon, my name is matthew and i have come accross someone with a similar experience to yourself. Inasmuch as they have become disillusioned with church. On reading your post i would like to say i believe that you are "born again", and would therefore like to ask why you became disillusioned with meeting together with other christians in the "church" setting, and what the consequences (if any) have been..?
    Just to outline my current position, i am an active member of a church, and am currently a student in the city of Edinburgh. I believe that church can be a great source of encouragement, and also opportunities to serve the God of the bible.

    Kind Regards,

    Matthew

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  2. Born a Catholic I have gone thru experiences that challenged my faith. I grew up seeing the hypocrisy regarding church going and praying. I had joined a born again church but felt church is more about music and drama rather than being a Good Samaritan. Now due to change of residence I am still in a dilemma whether to join one since as a single parent I want my son to have some spiritual exposure.cherylan1@gmail.com

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  3. Well i think there are definately two ways of looking at this. It could be a safe bet to just live out your faith as a "Good Samaritan" without getting bogged down in what can be a hard experience of settling into a church. The other would be to seek encouragement through a fellowship, and seek out people in that fellowship who can encourage, and keep you accountable. I guess i would lean towards the second. Although this is by no means easy. People anywhere can be hypocritical, and the church falls within that as well. Does that make sense?

    Matthew

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  4. Hello Gordon,

    It is your walk with the Lord that matters. I doubt some of the Christians I have met would know Jesus if they fell over him. They are simply church goers.

    I became a born again Christian at the lowest point in my life receiving a spiritual experience and revelation in my own home. No clergy here although I had recently received a booklet through the letterbox by Rheinhart Bonnke.

    Since my believer's baptism I have been a member of three denominations. The last being more like a country club than a church.

    The problem with the church and why most people are now outside the church door are the people inside. That and the fact that the apostate church has moved the goal posts to accommodate the
    those who choose to "pick and mix" God's Word.

    The amazing commercialism - pop style venues and cult followings at supposed Worship gatherings, tickets anything from £12.00 upwards - surely under the heading of IDOL, hello, this is a Holy God, and the book culture with every conceivable advice. Don't they read the gospel Matthew 10 - freely you have been given, freely given.

    If I could get to a like minded fellowship I would be there tomorrow, unfortunately the nearest
    one cannot be reached without a car and is an hour's journey away.

    My home has become my place of worship and there I kneel with reverence before a Holy God
    and pray that he will give me the strength to
    keep sowing and shining into this dark world.

    My daughter recently commented "mum you will be surprised who you will see in heaven" she is
    obviously confident I will actually get there, despite being considered by church goers as "BACKSLIDDEN"

    God bless and keep you in His loving care.

    Pauline

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  5. Hello Pauline,

    I have to say it is a bit rich hearing you say that you disagree with those who take God's word on a "pick and mix" basis. . . You are right, and i agree that there are many who pay mere lip service to the word of God, and ignore the core fundamental truths of what we believe.

    "And let us consider how we can spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
    Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the day approaching" HEBREWS 10:24-25

    This is a portion of God's word which i find challenging. I am 22, and have already faced some hard situations in church/christian groups. However i feel even a stupid comparison comes in handy . . . if you are married to someone, you don't have to live with them. Likewise if you are a christian you don't have to go to a local church. It helps no end though.

    Regards,

    Matthew

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  6. Dear Mathew,
    A proper exegesis would tell you that ,this text you quoted says'the meeting together' not 'the going to church'.Although The Lord has used the institutional model of the church for centuries to bring about the growth of his bride, let us not get away from the fact that 'the church' is not the denomination or coming together at a building in larges groups, but is rather the meeting together of believers whether in a hall, church building, home or anywhere for that matter.Our suffiency must be Christ alone and He only is the head of the church.I understand where 'Pauline'& Gordon' are coming from.The set up of organised religion or 'church life' is a man made tradition, and yes God can and does use it by His mercy but it is far from the New Testment's way as Christ intended His church to grow.Don't you think?May I suggest that you research Church history from a christian and secular point of view and also study the New Testement model, there you will have something to base your understanding on, if you want to follow the truth it is the narrow path not the wide path that everyone else doses.Not that I am saying you are doing that. Only do your research and above all commit yourself daily To your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Him alone and let Him mature you not the man made traditional model

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  7. Dear Mysongbird,

    I agree with your view, if a christian is being encouraged, rebuked, prayed for and kept accountable by other christians, that is where all Christians should be.

    Acts 2 is a good example of the new testament church, verses 42-47 outline how they ate, prayed, listened and shared TOGETHER. Not in isolation.

    Proverbs puts it well also, as iron sharpens iron . . . "so we sharpen each other" abbreviations mine. Anyone who is not sharpened by fellow beleivers runs the risk of becoming de-motivated, and losing out in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ changing the lives of those around them.

    Kind Regards,

    Matthew

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  8. Thanks, very interesting. But why do you talk of losing your faith at the beginning, when clearly you haven't? God and church are two very separate and distinct entities - you might find som interest on my site [url=http://www.PhariseeChurch.com]PhariseeChurch.com[/url]. Remember it was the church who crucified Jesus!

    Norman Walford

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  9. God and the church are two very seperate entities? Yes but what does the ordinary person think when looking at church.. yes hyproctites, and do gooder's might be in there, but i still think people link the church with God in many ways.

    I suppose what i would ask someone with your opinion is what do they mean by church? Ultimately the church is the collective cohort of those who have been accepted into God's family through the death of Jesus, by coming to God and laying down their lives to Him that He might take and use them for something much higher and glorious than they ever would have without Him.

    The church in this sense did not exist until after Jesus' death and ressurection (Started in Acts) so i beg to differ that the pharisees were the "church", or indeed that it was the "church" who crucified Jesus. Although He was crucified for the church.

    I agree we do have many people in the church, myself included at times, who act like the pharisees though. Heard hearted, hypocritical and judgemental. Maybe some of us who've acted in this way have made it hard for others like Gordon who have become disillusioned by such behaviour.

    Thats my take on it today!

    Thanks

    Matthew

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts

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  10. I want to hear with exposition the complete Bible and try all my days to practice Christ and the faithful saints excellent example of application. I find it's being freely given and explained on the internet as often as my soul hungers and thirst. It seems to me that a gathering is only a "fellowship of saints" to the measure that how to be holy as He is Holy is taught and expected to be practiced.
    I Thank God for daily new mercies and hope to find a group of studying saints soon but until then I dwell in Christ presence online everday.

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    1. I wish you the best of blessings (Toni) in trying to find a group of studying saints. I'm going into my second year of seeking such. Your comment was dated 2010 so I pray that by now 2015 that you HAVE been royally and mightily blessed (by now) to be in a fellowship of studying saints.

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  11. I didn't go to church for a long time as well, but I regret it. Why? Because I left the few to do the work and pay the bills of the many. It is easy to leave the church after it has given us our fill, but where would our fill come from if the church was not there in the first place? "The harvest is great but the workers are few" applies to conditions inside the church as well as outside of it. Let all who will do double duty in this hour, choose to do it. I must be in my Father's house, to love it, to protect it, and to do my share of the work for those who would enter in. Become the person you would like to meet. God bless.

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  12. Hi Gordon, I have not gone to church for almost a year now. I am happy as I feel even more connected to God then the usual weekly Sunday "routine"

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  13. The emergent church of today is a platform for entertainment and false teachers and teaching. I stopped going to churches because I know better than what is being taught, preached and exhibited in MOST "churches" now. I've been running to and fro trying to find a group with a pastor whom preaches the unadulterated word of God and people who know how to love each other AND visitors and NEW members (it's a joke!). No such blessing has occurred in spite of my beggings and pleadings as I am daily and nightly praying to God to show me a REAL church, so I stay home. The last two churches I was a member of had those kinds of Bible teaching pastors and loving members of the congregation, but the pastors of both these churches moved out of town (first one, then the pastor of the second church). I've looked and looked, but I haven't been blessed to be able to find another church like either of those anywhere in my community. A year ago I had an injury that kept me form being able to drive and the bus system in my city is deplorable. I have been having bouts of just falling down, then unable to get up, so I am now afraid to try to walk to a bus stop. I fell in the streets once and since that time, I said, not again. plus the closest churches I've already made "the rounds" and they aren't worth falling down in the street while trying to get to any of them. The pulpit is now an entertainment stage and nothing of substance is being preached. The preaching is worst than the milk of the word, NO MEAT at all! And all that begging all the time, this prosperity preaching (lies!) PLUS the pastors are using corrupt versions of the Bible now. I close with these 2 Bible verses:

    Amos 8:11-12King James Version (KJV)
    11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
    12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

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  14. Please forgive any errors in grammar, spelling, clarity issues, etc.

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