Regarding the “Done With Church” Buzz

In case you haven’t heard, there is a growing concern in Christendom these days over the droves of people leaving the church. For years now I’ve noticed articles popping up from time to time that have discussed this trend, but lately they are coming at much greater frequency and intensity. The language used to describe the change is increasingly impassioned, too. Just yesterday I read a blog that said our churches are “in many ways hemorrhaging to death”. Strong words, indeed.

The noise of chatter around the issue is deafening, and opinions are of course as hot as they are varied. This is true not only of those faithful church-goers concerned about the shift, but also among those that embrace it as a move of God. Regardless of where your own leanings are, it is increasingly obvious that a shift is most definitely occurring, and that it’s picking up speed. It’s beginning to turn some heads, and NOBODY really knows where this shift is taking us… least of all me.

I myself have been “church-free” for nearly a year now. My feelings, therefore, are as passionate as anyone’s. While I, like many others, have a great deal to say on the matter, it is not my intent to do so as a part of this post. Instead I hope to point out two particular trends I’m seeing in most of the articles being written, specifically in those posts written by people that are faithful church attenders and supporters.

The Switcheroo: A “Church” and THE “Church”

The first trend I want to draw attention to is a problem with definitions, particularly with the word “church”. Most Christians know and would agree that the word church is not used in the Bible to describe buildings or the events held in them. The Bible refers to the people of God as the church. I personally have a real problem with using the word “church” to refer to a building or program (though I’ll resign to doing so in this article), but certainly can respect that most people do in fact use it in this way.

The problem, however, is when someone takes the definition and justification of one idea to reenforce a completely different one. Let me explain. One article I read the other day spent time reminding it’s readers that the church is the bride of Christ, citing Ephesians 5:25-32, just before making the following statement: “…that’s why you go to church. Because Jesus says the Church matters. He loves the Church, and you love Him.”

So here you have verses talking about the Bride of Christ being used to justify the necessity of attending a program; a program you won’t find anywhere in your Bible, I might add. The author manages to get away with this bait-and-switch because the word “church” is used by many to describe both concepts, but this does not mean the concepts are interchangeable.

In a way, the words “church” and “church” are homonyms; two words that are spelled and pronounced the same that mean two completely different things. One refers to the people of God, and the other refers to the institutions we’ve created to systemize those people. Consider two homonyms for the word “bow”; something used to fire arrows and something used to play a violin. These words are spelled and pronounced the same, but I can’t use them interchangeably because their meanings are different. This means I can’t use the story of Robin Hood and his skill with a bow to try and convince you he was an expert violinist.

Yet that is precisely what is done in many articles being written about those “leaving the church”. Such articles go on and on about how Christ loves the church, established the church, and how important the church is all throughout the New Testament, but then they use that to convince you that somehow God himself has instituted the thing we call church today. This is utter nonsense. When someone uses phrases like “go to church”, “start a church”, “dress for church”, etc. they are speaking of an institution unknown to the Bible. I’d advise you to beware of articles that use this tactic to justify human traditions.

The Presumption: They’re Obviously Wrong

The other trend I see is a simple lack of understanding. This is to be expected of course. If the author of an article is a faithful church supporter they obviously don’t share or understand the opinions of those that no longer are. They are left to make their best guesses at what people with differing ideas are thinking.

But my issue with this isn’t that they don’t understand. Of course they don’t understand. It does bother me, however, that there is very little (if any) room left for even the remote possibility that the move away from our long held traditions could be a positive one. It is presumed that 1,700 years of tradition must be right, and there is no way these people could legitimately see something they don’t. I realize this may be too much to expect, but is it really so far fetched to consider that MAYBE the people that are leaving are being drawn out by God himself?

The prevailing attitude I’ve personally encountered is a total unwillingness to entertain questions about the value of our traditions. The Bible says little (and often nothing at all) of buildings, programs, offering plates, or hierarchy among believers, yet these things are too often treated as untouchable sacraments given to us by God himself.

Those that have stopped attending a church are seen as people that either need to be prayed for or guarded against. Some authors talk about them as though they are a disease in need of earlier diagnoses before it’s too late to stop them from leaving. “Solutions” to fix them are offered left and right, but it seems impossible to find an author willing to grant enough respect to entertain that perhaps those who leave are actually seeing something they can’t.

On a personal note, this trend for dismissal strikes home. There was a time not so long ago I was respected as a teacher and one who passionately loved the Lord and his word. People would line up to say how much they enjoyed what I had to say, and go on and on about how God was clearly moving in my life and was speaking through me to them. This changed of course once the questions I was asking made them uncomfortable. I’ll admit I was completely unprepared for how quickly people can turn on you. It breaks my heart that so many have so quickly forgotten who I am, assuming me to be completely deceived and no longer capable of seeing the most obvious truths of God. NOTHING about my walk with him has dwindled at all; it has only intensified since my departure from the church walls.

And yet it’s so clear to me now how little room there is in modern Christianity for the idea that someone could truly love the Lord and simultaneously want nothing to do with church traditions. Many that have left these traditions wish so badly they were able to share freely with other believers the amazing freedom they’ve found in Christ outside of the structures, but all too often they find they’ve already been dismissed by the ones they’d like to talk to. Most people love these traditions and are afraid to entertain anyone or anything that might call them into question.

If I Could Make a Single Request

Most of the articles grappling with this topic attempt to close with some sort of recommendation. The suggestions are diverse: let them go and move on, be more relevant, be less relevant, watch for and remove them sooner, create more opportunity for their gifts… the list goes on. Nobody agrees on WHY people are leaving, but the suggestions on what to do about it all follow a common theme; they are attempts to make it stop.

But if I could throw my hat in the ring and make a suggestion of my own, I’d call for more openness to the possibility that the “done with church” folks may not be entirely crazy and deceived. Is it really so impossible to believe that perhaps God is legitimately doing something in and through them? Is it really a good move to just dismiss them and look for ways of plugging the leak?

Like it or not, this shift is happening. It can’t be ignored. I’m reminded of a story in Acts where the religious leaders of the day were facing a frightening shift of their own. They, too, were scrambling to find a way of controlling it. In their search to stop the rebellion, one of their own, a Pharisee on the council named Gamaliel, reminded them of past changes that had come to nothing and gave them this advice:

“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:38-39)

Wise words. There is so much fear being expressed about what’s happening, but fear shows only a lack of faith. Isn’t God in control? Hasn’t he said of his bride that the gates of hell would not prevail against her? I would remind those looking for solutions that if they are truly executing the plans of God then there is absolutely no need to fear. The present matter will be a memory before long and things can get back to business as usual.

Nobody knows how this is going to play out in the end, but if it’s the Lord will then there really is no solution and all these attempts to plug the leak are at best a waste of time. If it’s not then it’ll blow over and come to nothing. Either way, my suggestion would be not to dismiss your brothers and sisters that have left by assuming they simply have a problem, or worse that you can solve it. My main request would be that you hear us out and consider what we feel the Lord is genuinely doing in our lives.

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88 thoughts on “Regarding the “Done With Church” Buzz

    • there are many of us pastors that have left the church, first of all it is not church, it is assembly. Originally the Greeks used the word ekklesia to describe a city government, like our city assembly or councils. Ekklesia fit in well because Jesus was preaching the kingdom of God: one King and one Domain or body. the ekklesia was the city assembly of the kingdom of God and all together we were parts of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. check out my website http://www.TheRealChurch.com

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    • As someone on the other side of this issue, I’d like to respectfully point out a large part of the reason those who are not done with “small-c” church (a local body of believers, which most certainly IS in the Bible) are so troubled by those who have “left” the church. It has as much, if not more, to do with the tone of the movement, as expressed clearly in this article, the comments and pervasively throughout the movement as a whole. Forgive us, but it’s difficult for your brothers and sisters – if that’s what you still consider us. I honestly don’t know – to see this as a “movement of God” when those who are leaving consistently demean, even demonize, the admittedly flawed churches they are leaving, often with a high degree of self-righteousness (which wasn’t the case with the Apostles in Acts 5). It’s especially difficult to respect their decisions when they throw out every kind of offense, perceived or real, as a justification for their sense of victimhood (which happens to be THE prized status in our society). That’s what I fear this “movement” is really about, a mirror our society as a whole. The “(C)church” (big ‘C’ and small ‘c’) is undergoing the beginning rumblings of persecution. It’s difficult not to view those who are conveniently “done” with the latter (small ‘c’) as being in danger of failing the former (big “C’). Honestly, would you rather we just didn’t care?

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      • Joel, how about taking a moment to sit and listen, really listen to some of the folks that leave and are “self-righteous”, as you say? If you can not talk, but just listen, allow them to pour our their heart, you might hear more than self-righteousness. You might hear a lot of genuine hurt. But it takes being open, even to that which may sound offensive. I would also suggest doing this with someone you know personally. Not just some faceless, nameless person. Try it with someone with whom you have a relationship. There might just be some credibility to their claims and you might be in a position to offer them wise counsel. But when people are hurting, what they say may not always come out sounding pretty. Emotions are raw. That’s what I love about Jesus, though. He’s the one person I feel like I can pour out my heart to and not walk away feeling judged and further condemned. Does He offer correction? When it’s needed, absolutely! But at least I feel heard and loved and comforted. That’s what people need. Not pat, defensive answers. And just consider, if you will, that some of the hurt experienced was genuine. If so, how about going back to the offending parties and working towards reconciliation with the offended one? Volunteer to be a peacemaker in the situation. Don’t dismiss. Also, everyone’s situation is different. Are there those who are “conveniently” done? Probably? A little too easily offended? Absolutely. But there are those who labored long and hard in churches, gave much of their time, talent and energy. Swallowed a whole lot, prayed a whole lot and made their decision to leave after much soul-searching. So, again, I urge you to take the time to listen to the ones who cross your path and see if you can offer something different than what they’ve already experienced. When someone’s already down, the last thing they need is to be kicked.

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      • Unfortunately in our case, it is us that were demonised and even blatantly ostrasised (friendships broken etc) by some of the people in the church organisation, despite our leaving with the blessing of the leaders. It is not what we have done, but the perception by some of the brethren in the church organisation of why we left or what we are supposed to be thinking/saying. Our leaving was a process that took place along with the leaders over approximately 1 year so it was not a ‘flavour’ or just willy nilly. Be careful to say it is ‘all leavers that demonise the flawed church organisation’. That would be like saying all people in the church irganisations are blinded sheep who are not spirit filled. I didn’t realise it was ‘a growing concern’. I just know we had to listen to our convictions. We still care for our brothers & sisters as you refer to the Church body. Unfortunately I have lost what I considered a good friendship as if I had changed religion & become a blasphemer; have been made to feel guilty by well meaning brethren that I am nit in a ‘maun stream’ or recognised church organisation. We were leaders & very involved in the logistics… but logistics took over & robbed us of much joy. I have more peace & communication with my Father now even though I am going through what mist people would call intolerable; yet, He still keeos me stringer than ever. One good thing about leaving is that I found out who among the many aquaintances were actually caring fellow believers. I do believe it is not biblical to be a ‘lone ranger’ and truly hope that ‘the leavers’ will find like minded believers and grow in the Spirit of God as He intends all of us to…and if you are not growing, to assess your own situation and get growing in or out of a church organisation…

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      • Thanks for chiming in, Joel. I don’t wish to debate whether this IS a “movement of God” or not, at least not as part of this post or the comment thread. There are a lot of people out there whom have weighed in on this, and I’ll save my thoughts for future posts. My point here was to focus on 1) the logical error of using verses about “church” as a justification of today’s systems which have hijacked that label, and 2) to at least CONSIDER what is being said by those that are leaving.

        You refer to the “tone” of those that have left, and let me concede that the tone is often ugly. I’m sorry for this. I don’t condone this, even though I think you said that you see something bitter about what I wrote, too, but I certainly understand where it comes from. There is a serious lack of understanding about how deeply wounded so many “Dones” are. The circumstances that drive them out are quite often horrific. I would ask that you take this into consideration, which was my second point. It seems so few are willing to actually listen. Lack of empathy doesn’t help the discussion. I’d agree with what Pat Pope said: listen more.

        You are overreaching in your stereotypes. I’m not sure how many times you’ve actually listened to the people you’re condemning, but I assure you not everyone meets your description. I’d also point out that bad attitudes are not in any way unique to those of us that have left the building. Such attitudes are equally prevalent among those on either side of this issue. There are a lot of raw emotions whirling around the topic, and flare ups happen quite easily.

        My advice is obviously not that you “just didn’t care”. Quite the contrary, I wish there was a lot more care involved, which was what I finished off with when I wrote the post. There is a huge difference between acting from care and acting from fear, though. So many seem to be freaking out that the house is going to fall down, but this really does show a lack of faith. If you believe you are in God’s will, trust the outcome to him and be at peace with it.

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      • Interesting. The Big C Church is indeed undergoing the rumblings of persecution, and has been for many years now. My view is the many of us do not feel we are receiving the tools we need to stand firm against this persecution from the small c church as it is currently organised. We are seeking something so much deeper than the often celebrity centered, pop music style churches are delivering. We want a walk with God which is deeply personal, real and intense. I may be wrong, but as the persecution of the church deepens, the “out of church” folk (of which I am one) may not fail the church as you think. They may be there to play a very important role It’s just a feeling I have.

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      • For Dan, Christian and Pat, thanks for the replies. Question – how can I listen to you more when you’re “done” with me? And when you say you’re done with the church, you’re saying you’re done with your fellow believers, because isn’t that what “C(c)hurch” is? And yes, of course I can always listen more (and better), but be assured I have listened extensively to the pain and frustration of several “dones” that God has brought my way. I’ve even counseled a former pastor with whom I share an on-going ministry. He’s the most vocal “done” I’ve ever met. I suppose I could be “done” too. I’ve had my share of pain from the institutional churches I’ve attended over the years. But I’ve also caused my share. As Dan says, it’s on both sides. But if I have ever bothered to Biblically approach those who’ve offended me (or vice-versa), it’s usually reconciled with repentance and forgiveness, or at least clarifying of misunderstanding. I just don’t see the option, or the Biblical calling for that matter, of airing all our grievances to the world and publicly forsaking the assembling of the saints. And as Christina admits, you can’t be a ‘lone ranger’, so eventually you have to re-connect with other believers. Then you have “C(c)hurch” all over again, with all it’s flaws. What then? And the ultimate question; unless you believe that we’re not you brothers and sisters, will Heaven not be filled with the very same people from the churches you’re “done” with?
        Sincere question for Dan – how did you hear me “condemning”?

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      • “Condemning” was perhaps the wrong word, I’m sorry. I meant only that in referring to those that have left as “consistently demeaning/demonizing”, or “self-righteous”, or flaunting their “victimhood”, there’s a whole lot of labeling and stereotyping going on there.

        I’m sorry you feel that “we” are done with “you”… I hate that distinction you’re making. Your qualification for this statement is that if you (as part of “we”) are the church, but some of us leave the church, then we’ve left you. Again, I’m not going to speak for anyone but myself here, because there are a lot of reasons people have left and some of them are childish and hurtful. It’s more like I’ve been on a soccer team for years, but decided I’m done with soccer. Sometimes people who have made a life out of soccer will take it very personally when I talk about soccer, but I’m not done with the players at all. I’m just done with soccer.

        My own experiences may very well be different from yours, and I don’t mean to imply anything about you; just don’t disqualify my own experiences. I have “bothered to Biblically approach those who’ve offended me”, but on this particular subject it seems the differences override the possibility coming to terms at this time.

        I’m not sure anyone here has said anything of being a “lone ranger”. You argue against “publicly forsaking the assembling of the saints”, but I’m not sure who you’re referring to as having done that. Truthfully you have no idea what kind of fellowship I have with other believers, but I will say it’s far richer than anything I had during the 20 years at my last “church”.

        As to “airing all [my] grievances to the world”: I’ve actually said very little of my own story, though there may be a day I choose to share it. I do not believe that to do so is a sin, though. Outside of the church, nobody gets mad at an abused person for telling their story except their abuser. There are many forms of abuse, and it’s helpful when people share their stories so that others can see how such abuse comes about and therefore know what to look for to avoid it. If I chose to be more detailed about what I’ve seen it wouldn’t be wrong to do so. Perhaps you probably don’t believe that I (or people like me) actually have experiences something that qualifies as abusive, at least to the point of sharing. That’s fine, but we’d have to disagree on that. I wish you could respect that I really don’t feel it’s all that much different from many other forms of abuse, which SHOULD be shared.

        Joel, I don’t consider those still serving the church-system to be people whom I’m done with. That really couldn’t be further from the truth. I respect that they aren’t interested in my ideas and I have no interest in forcing myself on them, so for the most part I’ll leave them alone. That doesn’t mean I’ll respect the universal “no-speak” rule that churches thrive on. I really believe more speaking needs to be done out in the open; it’s the only way certain things will come to light and be dealt with.

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      • Dan
        I hear you on the “condemning” point. Fair enough
        All I can say in summation is that if those who are “done with church” want to be heard and seen as a possible movement of God, please give more Biblical arguments for your ‘movement’. Give us something more than just stories of your pain and then placing the blame for it on us. Either that or give us a sound Biblical reason why pain is a legitimate reason to leave the church, or why your particular pain is exceptional. Because we need you, and I for one see much more pain ahead for those who are not connected with the greater body of believers. Thanks for the good discussion.

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      • God seems done with the “church”. The presence of the Lord seldom seems to be in the “services”. Church people declare with alarm, “you won’t be fed if you don’t go to church! Yet most of them know very little of what the bible says and how to apply it in their lives because most of their teaching comes from “going to church”. I only attend a church meeting when God directs me to.
        Even though I feel our God would not forbid me to go to meetings I will not subject my spirit to bad teaching or empty religious ceremony devoid of edifying scriptural teaching and true spirituality.

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      • Having left the visible church I have found that no one cared. Period. They are content to be lost in their false teaching and apostasy. They don’t want anyone pointing out the heresy that they so easily and willingly embrace. They don’t want to be held to account by anyone! They don’t want to answer to “Thus saith the Lord” that is expressed throughout His Word the Bible. Labeling us as victims and consigning us as members of the world is just a vain attempt to sidestep the reality of why Christ’s people are leaving the visible church. He has commanded us to come out from among them and not to have anything to do with the unfruitful deeds of darkness but rather to expose them. The religiously lost will always chafe at the exposure of their hypocrisy, just as they did when Jesus Christ revealed their lost estate. God bless us.

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      • I understand where you are coming from Joel. It’s hard to see your brethren turn away from truths you hold to be God ordained. I’ve been there. I did not take from this article anything but a respectful and compelling tone of understanding and compassion. It sounded as if the author was saying, if the “big C” would listen to the members of the “Little c” when they question the “sacred traditions” of the “Big C,” and engage in a dialogue with love rather than labels, we just might realize the mass exodus is a God’s movement in them.

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  1. Another excellent read and study Dan, to which I will echo a few of your own points.
    First off, I’m glad you recognize the importance of properly defining terms, especially Scriptural ones. That is another popular trend these days- and in the wrong direction. I don’t use the word “church” in a positive light ever, as simply said, church is not what Jesus is building these days. Even when its assumed by Christians that speaking of “church” equates to the spiritual body of Christ (which of course it doesn’t) not everyone understands this, especially unbelievers. Ask any unbeliever what the church is to them- they’ll say it’s what professing Christians portray “it” to be, the building on the corner where Christians meet. Frankly said, to say one thing and yet do another is outright hypocrisy. That’s how I believe Jesus sees this. We must jettison that word “church” once and for all. Then we can jettison all the words that go with church like “it,” and “ours” and “us” and “them.”

    You say correctly that the majority of those aware of this “shift” view it as a negative thing. This is just as big of a problem as the issue above. How does one judge what is and isn’t from God? By a majority vote, the religious status quo or religious tradition? I would certainly hope not. Just as many assume God must want the conservative candidate for president and their involvement in making that happen, they ignore God and His Word and place their personal safety, concerns and investments above all else. Many young people, even many young unbelievers are open to the truths of ekklesia living, whereas those who have the greatest investment in church are those mostly and vehemently opposed to such. I see the reality of this day after day where I live.

    Possibly the gravest concern in all this is the speed with which professing Christians reject and label those who depart. Wouldn’t this be indicative of the degree to which these individuals actually possess the love of Christ if at all? And if they fail to love as Christ loved then wouldn’t this be applicable:
    “But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” [1 John 2:11]

    I know where this is going Dan- in a very good direction. Granted, our adversary also has his “out of the box saints” too and we must we wary where and how we walk and with whom. But the fact that our Father is calling out His own is very exciting and the answer to thousands of regular praying saints worldwide who long for so much more within the context of our relationship with Him and one another.

    I do love your solution too- the one you quoted in Acts 5. That’s perfect for those in the churches and can I add this one for those without:

    “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them……..” [2 Timothy 3:12-14]

    Glad to see that you and your family are pressing on despite the cost Dan. We know well who has taught us, no?

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    • I don’t expect, of course, that my proposed “solution” will be heeded by many. People will continue responding in fear, though they claim to be standing in faith. To simply presume all the “deserters” are in error is to disregard the possibility that they, too, may be capable of hearing God, reading and interpreting his word, and using the minds that God has given them. Instead it seems that the traditions must come first, and therefore the dissenters must be treated as a cancer. This isn’t always done consciously or maliciously, it is also done with smiles and pseudo-piousness, but the religiosity of it still reeks of flesh rather than love.

      Regardless of which side of the matter we stand on, we ought to be careful not to use our own strength to “help God out”; he doesn’t need our help. It is ours to simply be obedient and faithful in what he sets before us. We should speak the truth in love and beg his mercy, and trust him to work on his own behalf. To the degree I continue dying to myself I get the honor of seeing him move in more and more spectacular ways! Far more exciting than making plans of my own and watching them fail.

      So yes – my advice to all is to just chill out and look to him. Wait and see what he’s up to, and quit relying on human flesh and wisdom to plan out a fix. He knows what he’s doing.

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      • Hi Dan. I appreciate your heart in what you’ve written and what you hope for. Don’t know where you are in So Cal, but I’ve done some writing into this passion as well and if you’d ever want to get in touch it might be fun to see if God has something in a connection. Couldn’t find an email address, so thought I’d try here… Blessings to your journey.

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      • I rejoice in your insite and the input from your readers. I’ve looked for blogs that address the ‘coming out’ but usually find that commenters are too reserved concerning the error of the church or else to harsh in condemning everyone in the system. You and your readers have a very realistic understanding of what God is doing in the body of Christ.

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      • Thanks! I’ve personally been very encouraged to see how many people out there are going through this process along with me. It’s easy sometimes to feel alone. For whatever reason, God seems to think it best (for now) to keep us scattered abroad. It’s not always easy to really sit down and have a heart to heart with someone, at least not face to face. It is encouraging to hear from others!

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    • Excellent. Right on assessment of what’s going on with the Body of Christ. I reject and refuse to refer to believers as the “church” because it is extremely difficult to separate the body of Christ from the political carnal organization called “the Church”. I substitute the correct translated word assembly or congregation when reading the the bible. Thank the Lord our God that He is drawing His people to himself and that we are following.

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    • I greatly enjoyed reading this article. I left the independent fundamental Baptists, and also the Southern Baptists. I never felt like I belonged. In fact, in the IFB churches there was always a judgemental tone for anyone who didn’t follow the preacher’s list of what it means to be a “fundamentalist” to the letter. There seemed to be a lot of this also within the SBC churches, coupled with the attitude that if one wasn’t doing well financially, then there must be something wrong spiritually. In both groups, we were pretty much kept at arm’s length. So I finally just gave up and stopped attending anywhere. Lately, it seems as though God has actually answered more prayer for us, and we have more of a sense of His closeness. I believe I will explore this path of not attending A church, and just seek to converse with God daily and ask for his guidance. I most certainly would appreciate your prayers.

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      • Not always an easy road, but know you aren’t alone in it!! First and foremost, I’ve learned to recognize and appreciate the ever-present companionship of Christ in a way I couldn’t through all the noise of that system. I’ve also gotten to know several people online with whom I chat from time to time. My adventure out was VERY lonely at first, and I know that for some that remains the case for a very long time. Still, it is a path I savor. If you ever feel the need to talk some stuff out, feel free to email me.

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    • I’ve found the cost to be very high indeed, but very worth it. The Lord is my closest friend, and we know that while an enemy multiplies kisses, wounds from a friend can be trusted. I know he is faithful to complete the work he has started! He promised the cost WOULD be high:

      “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ ”

      “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

      – Hebrews 12:3-11

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  2. I’ve been in Church for over 25 years. I left the church in 2006. When you leave something you thought kept you closer to God actually separated you from him, you realize you are depending more on him and your relationship with him has more of a meaning. When I leave the house, it’s knowing I’m taking someone with me and everyone I meet, it’s a divine appointment!

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  3. Wow. I am not alone! You exactly described what I am seeing and feeling. It’s been five years when I first attended a church regularly and I can’t ignore and deny what I just saw and realized. I told my leader about it and she said that the reason I am like this is because of pride, deceived by the devil, disobeying Him, and don’t wait till God take everything away from me before I come back to Him again. She lectured me right away how to fix my problem and asked me to update her about my current status. I want to leave the so called “church” and God just reminded me again that “I am the church”. I shared some to my brother and sister in Christ of what I am going through, but she already bombarded me with so many verses and assumed that the devil is deceiving my mind or working against me. The other one didn’t bother himself to have conversation with me as if the message I sent to him was nothing. I just saw his post online saying, you have the choice not to give up. Of course, they don’t understand. They think just because I lost my interest going to this so called “church”, I’m running away from God too which is not! God is opening my eyes that there is something more than the things you do inside that building and He is bigger than organized system. He can be experienced and lived outside man-made structures. I wonder if the friendship I shared with my brother/sister would be the same or continue if I leave that institution. I admit it’s hard to break all the things I’ve gotten used to, things I believed to be true. Gone are the days when I depend on leaders/humans telling me what to do and what to believe. God is leading me to depend more in Him. Now, I have to unlearn so many things and enter a life outside the walls of structures. It’s hard in the beginning but it’s liberating. It’s embracing the freedom Jesus gave us :)

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    • No, you’re not even close to alone. I’ve been blessed to meet and speak with so many people since my own departure from institutionalized faith, and it’s really amazed me how common the stories are. It helps a great deal to know that we aren’t alone in our struggles, because it can certainly seem that way at times. I’ve heard it said Christians eat their own. That system has a tendency to use people up and then spit them out. It’s hard when people begin slandering you in that way. It happened to Jesus, and he said it would happen to his followers, too. But be encouraged! He has overcome the world!

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    • God drew you to Christ Jesus not the “church” though it may of happened there or you heard of Him there. Our relationship is first of all personal with God and then to others in the body of Christ. Our Heavenly Father can lead us elsewhere than a church group and He doesn’t need the leadership’s approval. So glad you’re free of the bondage of churchianity and able to pursue a satisfying and personal relationship with the Father and His Son.

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  4. Sure is nice to find others who have left “The Church” and actually found God – I left almost
    13 years ago and tho I miss the companionship, I have found such a friend, companion and
    encourager in Jesus within me – He is always there and I can just talk to Him whenever – something that would probably not happen if I could go to other people – and He is with me
    every day, leading, guiding, helping, strengthening – I could go on and on. I know He uses the
    internet to provide conversation and encouragement, teaching and help for those who are
    “outside the camp” – it has been invaluable to me. Anyway – thanks for this article and your
    website.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Great article! I’ve been out for 5 years now. I’m out because God called me out after a lifetime of devotion and service to the Institutional Church System, because I could literally no longer follow Jesus, bound to the System. Will reblog on Called out dot com! Thank you!

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  7. It is good to know that I am not the only one. I met Jesus Christ outside of the church. He has led me the whole way, even when I attended church. I left the church about 7 years ago due to all of the compromise, heresy and apostasy that is extant throughout the visible church. There is so much that is taught, tolerated and taken in that is contrary to the Scriptures. One of the things that I learned from another believer at WordPress is that the word church was substituted for ekklesia, which is the Greek for the called out ones. We are called out by God from the world’s belief systems, whether religious or irreligious, that seek to substitute man’s teaching and traditions for God’s call for all to put repentant faith in Jesus Christ, knowing and trusting Him, and believe what He has revealed to us in His Holy word the Bible. God bless us.

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  8. Thank you for your Spirit led truths found in this article. My wife and I have found our new freedom in Christ and don’t understand why He chose us. All we know is that this new journey has opened our hearts to our “Abba Father” and His grace and mercy are unbelievable. We left the “church system” about 8 months ago after attending several different churches almost 60 years and our eyes have been opened to so many things. (By the way it doesn’t matter which one you are attending, I have been a member in 4 different denominations, they are all the same!) Our heart and prayers go out to all of those who remain trapped by “man-made” laws and regulations who feel that attending a “church” is really what God wants them to do. Read Acts 17:22-31 and pray for the Holy Spirit to open your hearts to His truth. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” v. 30.

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  9. I was in church 42 years, even became an ordained minister. I’ve been out of the “organized” church for 3. It just gets better and better. Yes, the cost was high in the beginning, but the rate of return is enormous! :) I have NO doubt that it was God who led us out. And I could not be more grateful!

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  10. “Like it or not, this shift is happening. It can’t be ignored.”

    And thankfully, it’s not going to stop because people protest. There are those of us who have moved beyond being swayed by the protests. We believe in something greater than towing the line and have decided to take back our independence and start believing in ourselves rather than being convinced that we can’t possibly listen to these nudgings for something greater.

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  12. Dan
    Thank you for your words, have been out of the institutional church now for over five years, what you are saying is felt by many all around the world. You are certainly not alone. Before leaving we had grown up, loved and connectected for over 50 years with a traditional Church. The things said, the ovoidance of you when you pass in a small town, or just never asking how you are traveling or what God has been doing, is hard to understand. I wish I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with those that were once part of our lives, there is never an opportunity or the conversation doesn’t go far because they just don’t understand.
    Perhaps how journey is our journey and we can do no better then keeping our eyes on Jesus, and our trusting in Him, knowing that it is He who will build the Church, keeping our lives in and from Fathers heart, but most of all knowing that we are not alone.
    All the best for your journey, (despite what people may say and do, it is a good one)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Keeping our eyes on him is by far the most important thing, yes. It’s too easy for us who have left to find a new identity in the fact that we’ve left, rather than knowing our identity is in him alone. We trade one prison for another. It’s so difficult to rest in the reality that we are simply his children, earthen vessels made to contrast with his glory, so that he receives all credit and not us! It’s not our job to make converts; we simply glorify him and he will shine through us to those whom he chooses.

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  13. Love this!! I relate to it all but hugely to wanting so badly to share this kind of freedom with those who are so bound to tradition and are terrified to letting go…so much so they cut you off because you are so different. What puzzles them is that my walk with Jesus is so much more real and transparent than when I was so busy in the institution…sad to see so many bound!!

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  14. I have been on this journey for the better part of thirteen plus years. For years now, I have expressed the ills of the “Church” to those who I know. Many understand the issues, but don’t have the courage to pursue true Community in Christ. Why? For fear of being marginalized and or ostracized. Also, the level of intamacy that is called for in true “Church” relationships takes a lot of work. Being able to follow traditions allows one to simply push play and go. Jesus said that following the traditions of men causes the word of God to be ineffective in our lives.

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  15. I was raised in the Methodist Church, back in the 50’s. When I turned 15, I left to seek a new one, because the preacher was preaching politics (vietNam era), and not the Word. I stumbled on a small Brethren church which is where I got saved. As an adult, I searched and found a quaint little church home. There was a huge division, and, being young in my faith, I had to leave. I visited every denomination, size, and non-denomination I could, looking for a church home. I really missed the fellowship as a single mom. What I discovered through the years of searching (1975-1985) was that there were doctrinal problems in most (not minor errors that could be over-looked) and self-righteousness was rampant. The greatest offenders were charismatics, who had the WHOLE Spirit! The other problems I observed were the church BUSINESSES, not willing to help unless a “member” or applicant to a “program”

    I have spent the past 30 years walking with my Lord and getting to know Him intimately. I wouldn’t change a thing!

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  17. Thanks for such a good article. You are right about the dual meaning of the word church. My husband is an ordained minister and we left conventional church more than eight years ago. The journey is still ongoing as we try to cut through long established traditions and get down to what God is really saying and how he wants us to live. I refer to us as the local heretics and am careful about how much I share with people these days about my spiritual journey. Most just don’t understand.

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  18. Thanks for this article – it is helpful and articulate. My own concern is that we are seeing this as happening “after 1,700 years”. Actually, all through the last 2,000 years, there have been those who have left the ‘institution’; from the Desert Fathers and Mothers – to the Celtic Monks and Nuns. All of them left the mainstream expression of christianity of the time, to find an new and transitioning place with HIM. We are ‘dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants’ as the saying goes……

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    • Dan,
      I hope you realize the loss that is suffered by those who stay. I will not condemn those who leave, but pray they maintain relationships. Jesus never wanted us to be alone in our worship or service, so to all my friends who have left, please know there are holes in my heart.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Gladys, your comment really moved me. On behalf of your friends that have left, I want you to know you are missed, too. I recently left a church I had served at for 20 years, and I will say of that place that it was a far more relational place than most. I had so many meaningful relationships that were harder to leave behind than I could say. I still think of them often and wish things could have been different.

        I still run into some of them from time to time. Sometimes I can see the tears being held back in their eyes, and I feel the same way. We hold conversations that tiptoe around certain topics, and I hate it. I wish so badly we could just talk plainly about the elephant in the room, but I can tell they don’t want to. I have to respect that.

        I imagine your friends miss you very much. Thanks you for reminding us that we are missed, too :)

        Liked by 3 people

  19. Please consider if the holy text had been translated correctly the word “Church” would not be even be in the Bible. Be assured people surely need a spiritual home where they can grown in the knowledge of God. I suggest God’s people start praying for God to raise up pastors after his own heart which will feed them with real food from heaven. The body of Christ is so divided they can’t even take in milk. Jesus please help your people.

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      • The church as a whole needs a Reformation, just like similar reformations in centuries past. The out of church Christians are hurt and left spiritually undernourished by existing structures, which have become so assimilated to the outside culture that most within them can’t even see it! The author of this article is right to ask that out of church Christians be listened to as they have some very important things to say. Many of them are connecting with other believers in new ways , for example in para church organizations which are actively spreading the gospel while serving the community at the front line.

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    • I often wondered what Jesus meant by the words He spoke in Luke 18:8, I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Revelation 18:4 reads, And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” In Acts 17:30 tells us, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” And again from the Book of Revelation Jesus spoke these powerful words, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[a] I will vomit you out of My mouth”, Revelation 3:16. Question? Why is Christianity growing so fast in China where the have very few churches? Why is are “Followers of Christ” leaving the “church system” in the United States? In John 4:23 Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” We all need to “get right” with our Abba Father and seek Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one![a] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
      6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. This is the only way anyone can grow in their relationship with God almighty. HE MUST BE FIRST IN EVERYTHING WE DO AND SAY. God knew His people would have difficulty in the wilderness if they lost focus on their love for Him. Whatever is keeping you front complete surrender from Christ Jesus, run from it as fast as you can. Run to the cross and Savior Christ Jesus. Love you all and stay focused on Christ, for we do not belong to this world or the things in it. Remember what Stephen saw has he gazed up into heaven as he was being stoned, “and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7:56. WOW! We have an audience of ONE! That would be God! Seek Him with your whole heart and He will guide you toward Him. Until we meet again.

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  20. I, for one, never went into church religion, and so, I never had to come out, except mentally as I grew in the grace and knowledge of God. I grew up in what many call now “home church”, and have pastored a wonderful home fellowship for decades. I/we love all of God’s people everywhere, and strive to build whatever bridges we can into their hearts. But, in our view, they are afraid of “the liberty with which Christ has made us free.” We see God’s people trapped in the religious system called “Christianity”, not liberated by it, and we earnestly pray for them to obey the call of our loving heavenly Father and dare to come outside the gates and bear the reproach of Christ. But if you hear and obey his sweet voice, be prepared to be misunderstood and, yes, sometimes abused by dear brothers and sister for doing so.

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  21. Great article! I am also glad to read the comments and see there are many, many more of us out here. We have been out of church for 2 years now. I felt God asked me to blog about our experiences (I am not a writer). I have faithfully done so and it has been very rewarding. I can also say that I have grown more spiritually and had more real fellowship with other believers than in all of the 35 years I spent in a (c)hurch. That is not being nasty, it is just an exciting, unexpected (by me) truth. I went to seminary, and spent many years on staff as a counseling pastor when God called me away. I can honestly say I did not leave because of hurts, but I have seen how I was causing hurts when I was part of the church machine. :( I was just directed to go, so we sold everything and went. It has been the most rewarding, sometimes hair raising, time of our lives, but we would not trade it for the world. Freedom from fearful living is priceless. Thank you for sharing and bringing so many of us together.

    Liked by 3 people

    • To many church goers anyone who leaves the church system must be backslidden or hurt and wounded, Many stories about “outers” I’ve read are like you (and us) who left by God’s direction not hurt feelings..Very encouraging to hear about your fruitful fellowship and labour for the Lord outside the system.

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  22. A lot of great discussion and comments. If the institutional church was not so dominated by “occupational ministry” there would not be nearly as much negativity towards those who quit attending.As I see it in Scripture,ministry as an occupation should be the exception rather than the rule,but in the institutional church,it is the rule.Local church pastors/leaders worry about losing attendees and income…..a worry that shouldn’t even exist. Ironic too,how pastors/leaders who make their living by local church ministry,expect the rest of us who work full-time jobs to “step up” “pitch in” and minister for free…..after all,their “job” is just to “equip” the rest of us to do the work of the ministry….and of course their definition of “the work of the ministry” is doing things at and for their church. Someone who genuinely equips another would care little about how that helps them out,in work or finances.They would just be concerned that things go well for the other person,enjoying their life with Christ. Multitudes of school teachers care deeply about their students and desire that they be successful.They don’t however expect those students to stay and help them out and give of their time and money,though an occasional visit or note of gratitude is greatly appreciated. In local churches however,pastors/leaders expect people to stay and work,help them out….unless of course one decides that they too have been “called” to the ministry or the mission field. In that case,a “love” offering may be taken for that person,from the rest of us non-ministering folks who are “being equipped”,giving us another opportunity to share in the work of the ministry. My sarcasm is obvious,and I don’t mean to “knock” all pastors/leaders,churches,missions,etc., but I, like many others have became tired of leaving my brains at the door when going to church,basically being lied to, and then made to feel as though we are unspiritual if we don’t accept it.We are not done with the Lord or the Body of Christ,just with all the nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch… now you’re just meddling! You’re so right, Daryl. It’s hard for me to believe how blind I was to all this when I was surrounded by it, but now that I’ve stepped back the things you mention here really just turn my stomach. It all seemed so right and good at the time. Great comment – thanks for sharing.

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  23. One the most important purposes of the local church (assembly of believers) is to give opportunity to excersize ourselves in biblical disciplines like love, forgiveness, grace, compassion and so on. It is easy to be holy and rightoeus and at peace when you are not being rubbed by others. How often scripture speaks of these and issues like unity and bearing one an others burdens. The local gatherings of believers are for teaching and encouraging and opportunity to practice those attributes of the new nature that are contrary to the world and the flesh and are the identification markers of true born again believers. Both marriage and the local church were given to us by God for a blessing and a training ground, we can certainly live our entire life separate from these but will we develope fully in all that God has for us without them.

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  24. I think this is a great topic and I have talked with many done with “church” or organized religion aka using a building to define the word church. There are many hurt by controlling ministries, manipulating pulpits and abusive practices by leadership. There are many who left who are genuine, integral and sincere believers. I understand that many church’s take from people then they give to people. There are many who are tired of the politics in the church, the pressure to give especially to the law of tithing. The controlling mindset of those with titles lord over Gods sheep and many other issues. There are some good ministries out there who are not trying to control others, they don’t pressure people into giving nor tithing and they do more service to the community and the congregation then the pastors doing for themselves. I also agree that someone should be spiritual enough to hear the causes of the abused and hurting and just because someone is bitter doesn’t mean that they do not have a valid cause. Why are they bitter? Does the church even care? Evidently something is wrong and the problem fixed. Sadly there are ministries more interested in getting money from people then the sincere fruit of love by the Spirit. Jesus told us to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and it interesting when Jesus came the leaven was already in the “church” or religious institution. However is a group of believers truly lived by the Gospel of Grace and the Holy Spirit was moving in peoples hearts then I would think there would be less people leave and less people hurt. Christ, love and grace will bring people together but legalism, selfish ambition and hidden agendas can leave people feeling robbed, manipulated, used and abused and when that happens folks get tired of the mistreatment and leave and I don’t blame them. I myself get tired of people trying to pressure me to tithe God has delivered me from such programming. But to each man his own. I don’t condemn those that disagree. I think people are people even if they are bitter and they need someone who is filled with the Spirit and compassion to minister them back to healing. And possibly look into this matter of people leaving. Sad that if some businesses ran their business like some of these churches they would be out a business long ago (in my opinion take it or leave it). Like I said this is a valid issue and it needs to be looked into not criticized and simply ignored with the label of “church hurt”.

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  25. I am so glad I came across your blog, Dan. Your commentary and the comments following have only confirmed that I made the right decision in leaving the church system recently. The freedom I am experiencing in my walk with the Lord is amazing and only continues to grow deeper by His grace. There is a protocol at “church” that can be stifling, and often when communicating concerns to the leadership (i.e., false teaching/error), it went in one ear and out the other, or was considered “troublemaking.” So, in order to get along you compromise and tolerate. This I could not do, due to much conviction. Yes, it can be lonely concerning fellowship, but while attending “church” there wasn’t much fellowship there anyway (unless you were in some form of leadership or in the “right” group). Anyway, I know that I am right where I’m supposed to be and have such peace about it. For those who have been “called out,” if everything was going so well at the church we were attending, we probably would not have left it while at the same time, God was calling us out. Sometimes a (unpleasant) situation is necessary to get us to pay attention and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to move us. A situation at church may have appeared negative as being spiritually attacked at the time, when in fact, because our Lord and Savior is sovereign, he can USE the enemy as HIS tool for His will and purpose to be accomplished. Gen. 50:20, “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Hope this makes sense. Often things are not what they appear and there is usually a bigger picture to be seen after the dust has settled. I never push those who remain in the church system to move out. Oh no! This must come ONLY from the leading of the Holy Spirit. May we all remain sensitive to His leading. Blessings to you all.

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    • Nancy, I’m tracking with you. I absolutely believe that God uses awful scenarios to accomplish his will in us and through us, all for his glory and the good of those he has called his own. I am very grateful for the heartache I had to endure in order to be pushed out of that system, and would gladly welcome it again. It was excruciating at the time, but I can see how God orchestrated it! This is not to say that those through whom he worked are “bad”, of course, at least not any more so than we ALL are; We are all a work in progress, and the work is HIS to judge, not ours. I often say it would have been easy to judge Saul of Tarsus, but that’s not what God saw.

      In leaving programs I believe we learn to better discern our relationship with the Father both for what it is and isn’t. When we remove the distraction of religion we gain clarity to better see the real nature of what it is to have our identity and freedom in Christ! I’ve only been out for a year and a half now, but already things are so very different than they were.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  26. We’ll put. Concise, respectful, but firm. I’ve not attended a “church” regularly since 2009, and was gone in my heart before that. I just couldn’t and still can’t reconcile the system with the scriptures and the Spirit…

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  27. Dan, if I may, I would like to revise one thing I said, “Your commentary and the comments following have only confirmed that I made the right decision in leaving the church system recently.” That “right” decision was based on obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading and NOT on the fact that I just happened to be smart enough to know when to move on.

    Also, I have been considering some of Joel’s stated concerns on this matter within the Church, the body of Christ. While many of us have been (and many will continue to be) “called out,” there still remains small remnants within many, many of these church buildings. Those who have been “called out,” need to be mindful of this fact. I know this is true because amongst all the people at the church I left, there remains a small remnant of true born-again Bible believers. While some may be “called out,” I believe others have been called to stay. They are a witness amongst many “professing” Christians in these church buildings, and can be used mightily by the Lord as prayer warriors. Again, this is why we should never push/convince our brothers and sisters into leaving the church system as we did; it must come by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Where and how Christ Jesus uses us will always be for His glory and His purpose. Who are we to question God’s ways? I am reminded of Job. God Bless!

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  28. Dan,

    So glad you get it. I’m going to start blogging about my experiences ‘in church’ soon as I can’t keep it in any longer.

    You are a brave guy to write about it.

    It doesn’t make you popular with those still ‘in the club’

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Unfortunately their are few resources to help those who decide to leave the IC to find other like minded believers to assemble with. How does one find other like minded believers to assemble with??? It is so disconcerting. :(

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    • If you’re on Facebook, there are some online groups where you can talk with like-minded people, and if you’re lucky, you may find someone in your area to meet with in person. One that comes to mind is Recovery from Religious Trauma. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s a large group consisting of people from various backgrounds and experiences, some traumatic, others not necessarily traumatic, but nevertheless have left an emotional or spiritual scar. Also, try Meetup.com . There are groups out there of those who are done and are on a more spiritually freeing path that you may be able to meet with. Another online group with members from across the world, some of whom have met in person and struck up real-life friendshps is TheLastingSupper.com .

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    • Here are a few places you can try, too:

      http://biglifeathome.com/fellowship-search/
      http://www.housechurchcentral.com/fsearch.html
      http://www.housechurch.org/registry/
      http://www.housechurchdirectory.com
      http://organicchurchdirectory.com
      https://my.simplechurchathome.com/house_church_finder

      I’m part of a couple Facebook groups, too. That’s been extremely helpful. I’ve also met a few people through my blog, twitter, and just emailing people that write things online. I’ve actually met some really great people through the Internet!

      All that said, though, I wonder sometimes if difficulty finding “like minded believers” is God’s way of helping us to seek authentic relationships with other people, instead. Just a guess, and I’m not positive I’m right, but I know he has his reasons. You’re right though, Jimbo, many of us are quite scattered. That seems to be the way God has set it up for the moment.

      My two cents: don’t put too much stock in having “spiritual” gatherings. Just love whatever people are in your life, whether they are believers or not, and let God’s love work through that. Most of us go through some season of isolation after leaving Churchianity, some longer than others. I’ve always heard people say in hindsight, however (myself included), that it was a necessary and beneficial period of their lives where God stripped them of a lot of broken paradigms. It’s in that season that we learn to rely on him exclusively. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much we are leaning on other people. I’m not saying relationships and times of fellowship aren’t fantastic, but learning to really lean on him without all of that is even better.

      Hopefully, after a season, you can have both. :)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dan, you wrote:
        “I’ve always heard people say in hindsight, however (myself included), that it was a necessary and beneficial period of their lives where God stripped them of a lot of broken paradigms. It’s in that season that we learn to rely on him exclusively. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much we are leaning on other people.”

        Well said. The church systems of men teach us to be reliant on people for our spirituality, but when God draws us out it is unto HIM that He calls us, so there is a lot of stripping involved to get us to fix our eyes upon Him alone. I have been outside the camps of men now for over 20 years and He is STILL stripping me of being too attached to and dependent upon people. As for Him putting us together with others, I have learned that unless God builds His house, they who build it labor in vain. In Ezek. ch. 37 the prophet observed, “And bold the bones were VERY dry.” It seems that we must go through a drying out period that is meant to kill all life that was once ours separate from Him before anything else can happen. We can put together the most “New Testament” model of a church gathering possible, but even if God not only brings the dry bones together, “bone to his bone,” and then lays on sinus and flesh, that is still not enough. He has to breath HIS life into us for it to be a living organism with Christ as its Head. It is ALL His doing and all we can do is pray and wait and follow HIS leading, totally dependent on Him.

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      • Pat, Dan – Thank you for the encouragement and resource links. Its a lonely journey to leave what many consider “biblical” without them realizing they are perpetuating an unbiblical framework for knowing God and living in concert with Him. So many seminaries of all evangelical stripes have filled us with systems to live by rather than the simple in depth teaching relationships the apostles practiced. We are taught to to buy into the system and then you are accepted. If you question the system, you’re never at the right level of “growth” for them to entrust themselves to you in a deeper relationship with each other. You have to believe in the system they hold fast to for them to truly love you and draw close. Otherwise, you remain the odd man out on so many levels that they cannot connect with you, even when you hold to the same essential doctrines that they claim to hold to. Church has become an announcement, 3 songs, a prayer, a 20 minute lecture, a prayer and dismissal to enjoy life with God. So depressing, but if your depression is apparent to them then they brand you as the one with the problem that you have fix first before they can embrace you. (further depressing the one who wants to live within the body by His truth). Isn’t it strange how oftentimes unbelievers outside the body of Christ can be better friends and accept you better than believers inside the body? (So much cognitive dissonance!!!) Arrgggh – its so maddening. Nonetheless, I will continue with this journey and hopefully find an oasis apart from the those on the well trod path to spiritual perdition. Again, thank you for the links, but more so for the ear that at least listens to the tears of others.

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  30. Pingback: Done with Church: Now What? | Podcast

  31. Reading all these blogs are very encouraging and refreshing. I’ve been out of the church system for about 8 mos. I’m so glad that I had the courage to leave. Still unlearning all the false doctrines and scripture twisting I was taught. I haven’t found like minded believers yet. But one thing I have a desire to do is to do my part in discipling others outside of the system.

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    • Many are seeing through the falsehoods of the 501(c)(3) corporations falsely called “churches”. I left the Independent Funnnndamentalist Baptist CULT in 1992 and have never looked back. The Southern Baptist churches aren’t much better. I’m just done with them. There is no Scriptural COMMAND to “JOIN” a church. Believers ARE the Church…

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      • We aren’t the “church”, we are the “ekklesia” or “the called out”. Church is a thing, the Body of Christ are people redeemed by faith in Jesus. Rather than have bad feelings and great anger at the church club, why not read and do the scripture and grow up into “Christ enjoying fellowship with the Father and the Son.

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      • “Ekklesia” is the Greek word from which we get the word “church”. We are the “called out assembly” i.e. “church”. I have no interest in arguing semantics.

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      • Church is a misinterpretation that lends to the debacle of the institution ruling over much of God’s people. Ekklesia is about people, church is buildings, hierarchy, and control. Its only semantics when you don’t understand the Body of Christ consists of saved souls.

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