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When Is A Church No Longer A Church?

January 19, 2014
Greetings,
 
“God sets the lonely in families….”  Psalm 68: 6
 
“..for we are members of His Body.”  Ephesians 5: 30
 
“…for the sake of His Body, which is the church.”  Colossians 1: 24
 
Today’s blog post is going to be very short.  The Lord gave me these words last night and then told me not to add or subtract anything.  So here it is…..
 
The church becomes an institution instead of the living Body of Christ when it runs like a business instead of a family, when some members are elevated with titles, offices or positions, when someone starts making money by “serving” it, and when it desires tax exempt status from the state.  The Institutional “church” is wrong and perhaps at times even evil.  When one follows traditions instead of the Spirit’s leading things go all to hell very quickly.
 
Love and….
 
Kirk Out !
 

 

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15 Comments
  1. I admit that this is a great generalization, but to state it another way; “THE Church ceases to be The Church when it becomes A church.” THE Church is a body; A Church is a business.

    I don’t really mean that literally; the Church will always be The Church, and there’s nothing we can do that will change that. However; just as it’s crucial for the follower of Christ to know their identity IN Christ, it is crucial for The Church to know its identity IN Christ, as the body of Christ. When The Church begins to operate as an institution, it seems to lose sight of its identity, and how it views the rest of the world changes. Why is this? What is it about the building that seems to slowly erode the heart of The Church? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the institutional mindset naturally does two things. It divides, and dehumanizes. It turns everything into “us and them,” and turns people into projects which need to be managed. Both are silent killers for The Church. The Church is, by nature and definition, inclusive; institutions are by nature and definition, exclusive. The Church is, by nature, alive and relational; institutions are, by nature, lifeless and mechanical. It seems that the institutional church is the very antithesis of what The Church is.

    Again, this is a great generalization, but it is representative of what people are so repulsed by when they think of church.

    • Skylla Moon permalink

      Isn’t it because the institutional protestant model has so many of catholicism’s lies false teachings rituals and erroneus extrapolations? Doesn’t seem that far removed to me.

      • 2trakmind permalink

        I’m no expert, but I think Catholicism is really just another example of an Institutional mindset. While Catholicism has had a significant influence over the church, as a whole, it is really more of a symptom, rather than the source of the problem. The institution existed long before Catholicism. That’s just my opinion.

  2. True things, but they are just what is naturally fallen into, when there is no mutual revelation of Jesus Christ, and His role in connecting us together as the body of Christ. He is the Alpha and Omega, and everything in between. May there be an increasing hunger and thirsting for Him, and not the things ‘about’ Him. Thank you Christopher, for sharing your post with me.

  3. After seeking this matter out for a good long while, the issue comes down to organization. If you manipulate and control of any organism, as with any form of human hierarchy, living things cease to live.The tipping point was Ignatius of Antioch’s voluntary martyrdom in the late first century. Ignatius was very concerned that followers of Jesus be tightly controlled by authoritative church rule. So much so that he more or less blackmailed the “church” leaders opposed to the hierarchical central church control by using his impending voluntary martyrdom to get church leaders to go along with his plan for church leader domination of the rank and file lesser believers.

  4. Skylla Moon permalink

    I agree 2trak, AMEN Pamela! and yes Marc!

  5. Theology: From Theos and Logos, meaning the study of God’s Word and Logic. I mention this because this post is devoid of it. Study the Bible in context against these words that come to your mind. Judge experience by the Word of God, do not judge the Word of God by experience. So in your mind there is no leadership at all in the Church? I used to think like that. I was wrong. Love you brother.

  6. Kirk, I have never said there is no leading in the Body of Christ. However, such leading is simply by example and totally relational and non-hierarchical. Plenty of thinking about God and the bible in this post and all the other responses too. We disagree. Love you too brother.

  7. I have often wondered how (and why) God seems to work through the gathering of Believers at so many of these institutions/organizations that have ceased to be a church. It occurs to me as I read this post that it is simple – God promises to be present where two or three are gathered. Apparently He is present regardless of the form of meeting. I think the reason why churches exist like this, and why so many are drawn in to this form of church is simply a matter of comfort and ease. We seek out the gatherings where we are comfortable and we can align ourselves with the particular set of rules (read: distinctive doctrines) rather easily. The our efforts at living for God become entwined with our efforts at supporting the institution. It’s comfortable to stay within the boundaries, let someone else do the heavy [theological] lifting for us rather than working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

  8. Let’s approach this from a different angle. Calvin spoke of the signs of a Church. Such things as Church discipline, Sound instruction, Fellowship and Biblical structure. There is no requirement that we meet in a building or have a ‘Deacon Board’ or even a 501c3. But we are called to submit to those that have the rule over us. In context that is obviously Church leaders. Also doing anything that is counter to the established will of God or the Bible would be an area no one is called to submit. So where is submission in the non-church church? One may say “I submit to Jesus Christ alone” another “I will submit when my brothers and sisters call me to task about something”. The problem is where is the standard? It has to be the Bible or nothing. I have seen a Spirit Filled brother that I dearly love go from sound doctrine to total heresy and back again. Off to one side and then to the other. When I mentioned his error he was certain that God had spoken and that I was in “Bibliolatry”. The Church’s mission, among others, is to prevent that. wavering from the faith. A man might say “But I need no man to teach me” and to that the Church answers “Then why did God set teachers in the Church?” This discussion can go on forever… and it IS helpful to a point. The point is that Christianity is not an undisciplined way to be lived out as we see fit devoid of responsibility to any and all authority. Christianity is Christ who, though equal with God, submitted Himself even to evil leaders to achieve God’s purpose. I do not believe that anyone should go to Church for the reasons Jeff Man gives. The only reasons one should go is to obey God and to bring Him Glory by submitting to the Elders he has set in His Church. Love you all. I have been where you stand but found it to be gross error. Thankfully God granted me repentance.

    • "BK" permalink

      Kirk wrote “I have been where you stand but found it to be gross error. Thankfully God granted me repentance.” I had to smile when I read this, Kirk, because I had the same thought in reverse regarding where you are. I don’t usually make that statement to people but I thought I’d share it just so you could see others see (scripturally and by much study) the error of your perspective as much as you feel you see ‘ours’. The one thing I would add is that God granted me repentance and revelation. I appreciate your thoughts, “BK”

  9. Kirk, we disagree on many points. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth, not the bible. To make the bible THE STANDARD instead of Christ alone is idolatry. All submission in the church should be mutual…submit to one another out of reverance for Christ. The ONLY RULER is Christ Himself and no other man or elder. The true church does have elders, but they lead by example and relationship and not by rule. I will continue to follow Jesus as I have since He came to me when I was 4 years old. You have said your peace Kirk and I respect that, but in my view you are wrong about the church and its leadership. Love and…Kirk Out!

  10. Is the Bible God’s word? If so – How can God ever contradict His word? Not trying to be argumentative here. I’m just asking to better understand where you are coming from. Perhaps you are at a different place than where I was. No offense is intended at all brother.

  11. Thanks BK! Well one thing is for certain and that is He who began a good work in you will complete it! Love you all.

  12. bill permalink

    Kirk, I was like you too, in that at one time I didn’t believe that there was to be any leadership in the church. In my case the Lord allowed me to walk in this error, for a season, in order to pull the rug out from under the *thing* in me that wanted to rule over.

    And then the Lord began impressing upon me that the church is a family affair using those very words. And during this very same time I ended up meeting a fella who possessed an eight-track tape recorder that was previously owned by Sly and the Family Stone. Well Sly and the Family Stone had a #1 hit in ’71, “Family Affair.” I thought it was quite interesting how the Lord saw fit to confirm His word to me. And then of course there’s Jesus’ words, “you are all brothers.”

    Sure there are elders in the church, but they don’t have titles. They are simply the more mature believers that lead by example, like in a family.

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