Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Some Conversations With Non-Church-Goers

I've had some interesting conversations lately with people who have given up on going to church, but have not given up on God or Jesus.  These conversations would not have gone well for me before.  Since I've realized following Jesus does not always mean "going to church" God has given me more opportunities than before to discuss spiritual matters with those who have distanced themselves from religion.  I still have much to learn, but I'm thankful for where God is at work.

I can't pinpoint how these conversations get started. I used to pray for opportunities, more along the lines of evangelizing the lost.  I think one difference now is I don't start with the assumption that someone is lost just because they don't "go" to an evangelical "bible believing" church.

It feels like a God thing how these conversations emerge from places I would not expect.

I am getting the feeling there are a lot of people who are open to Jesus, but have been turned off by institutional religion for one reason or another. Some of the reasons may be valid, I see some real problems with how church is normally done.  Others may have given up for reasons that may be more a reflection of the individuals lack of maturity.  I don't know.

I fear some people that have distanced themselves from going to church have decreased their spiritual health as a result.  If that time was the main time they spent connecting with God and other Christ followers, cutting that time out may have stumped their spiritual growth.   I don't know.

However, I wonder what would happen in our culture if the message got out there that following Jesus does not have to include going "to church".  There are many things Jesus commanded His followers to do. Going to church was not one of them.  As we follow Jesus we will hopefully find others who are following and want hang out, encourage, teach, and support each other to follow Jesus better.  But that may look different than what we are used to.

Anyways, I just thought I'd share these thoughts.  I have been encouraged by the work God is slowly doing in and around me, and I am hopeful God can use me more to share Jesus with others.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Frank Prescott said...

I feel that my comments could also go with your 09/03/2012 posts, "My Role in the Church."

I am one of those who has left the IC. It has only been a couple of months but was not a sudden move. There were things that were building up for a number of years which led to this current status. There would have been a point years ago that if I would had made this move, where I could have felt guilty of such a thing. That is not an issue now. I know who I am in Christ and continue to seek to be taught by Him. I know that Christ does speak through other believers and I do not believe that a person can live as an island. I do miss the fellowship of other saints but I still have people who I am in regular contact with which is a good thing.

Permit me to ramble here:
It can become a tendancy to follow the teachings of other people to where, I sometimes wonder, it can become a detriment to actually learning from Christ. I say this from personal experience. In the first several months as a believer I was not attending any local church. The things God was showing me in the scriptures was simply amazing. It was good that I did eventually join with a church at the time. There I was able to discuss the things I was learning and discovering that it indeed was God who was teaching me in those early months. I will say that unfortunately I was sucked into the system and came to believe that I had to do the things they were saying to effectively follow God. It was only a few years that past when I began to realize the ways of the IC were not always beneficial to growth. A number of years ago I had a local pastor asked me what could he do to get the people to grow. That question was only fuel to my fire. I did not answer what first came to mind in that conversation. That local church was all about the pastor's ideas and passions. His teaching was solely focused on how he felt believers should look and act. He could not take people past where he was at. That seems to be the problem in most churches. There is no input from the lives of other believers and Christ cannot effectively be expressed to the building up of the body when it seems to be all about the one man.

I am trusting that God will eventually lead me to a gathering of believers. I do not see that being in another local IC. Of course I have to be willing to go there if He is directing me to do that.

There is so much more I could say but then I probably should start my own blog to do that.

Jonathan said...

Thanks for sharing your story here. I think you are right that the way the IC is structured gives one man most of the say. It works great if the goal is for that man to teach everyone else the truths about God. But if the goal of the gathering is for each of us to mature and build each other up to become more like Christ... the way it is structured does not help.

Allow me to ramble back. :)

One thing I still wrestle with is balance during these times of change for the church. I recognize that many Christ followers attend an IC, and it is unlikely they are all going to leave with us to practice some ideal type of fellowship.

Where am I resting for now?
- I am done serving IC church programs
- I will still visit programs enough so my brothers and sisters don't forget I exist
- We need to take initiative to invite people into our home and lives for fellowship. Some of these people may be brothers and sisters who still like the IC - we can still encourage each other and pray with each other. I am finding that it is good to connect with some like-minded people from time to time - even if we have to drive a bit to find them. It is important to find someone you can be open and honest with - without being judged.
- We need to think outreach. If Jesus is leaving the building - it may be because he wants to reach the people who are not in the building.

Thanks for the comments! God bless you on your journey. Have a good day.

Steve Martin said...

Keeping the Sabbath Day holy, for me, is a command to go to church.

Where else are you going to hear God's law, receive His promises and His Supper?

I know it's tough out there to find good cross centered, Christ centered churches and preachers (one's who don't throw everything back onto your lap and make it all about 'you' ) but I do think that they exist.

You could always get together with a few of your friends and family in your home.

"Where two or three are gathered".



Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve Martin. I think you answered your own question well. Where 2 or 3 are gathered. Ideally I think we could "be" the church in our homes and wherever we get together with other believers - kinda like we see in the New Testament. However life isn't always as simple as I dream, and there are many different ways the church assembles today. Thanks!