Being disillusioned with traditional church forms, it would be easy to fall into the trap of dismissing all that is in them – including many people – as missing God’s intent, or of little value. In more extreme cases, one could argue that one should not associate with them at all – if we think a false gospel is preached or other sinful excesses are endorsed. For example, from my perspective, any church (fellowship of God’s people) that constantly teaches we _must_ tithe to be good Christians is constantly preaching falsehood – and preaching falsehood is a pretty serious thing. I also have numerous concerns about worldly hierarchical approaches.
But if we dismiss people in churches due to these things, are we being too judgemental or divisive ourselves? Are we just contributing to conflict that will never result in reconciliation between various groups of God’s people?
On the other hand, by accepting them all, are we then too tolerant and not judging enough? Surely it is also important to state truth, though not necessarily in an attacking fashion. Some people will not hear it otherwise. (Each side promoting a different ‘truth’ would agree with that, but prefer the other side to stop.)
Here are some quotes from Wayne Jacobsen at http://www.Lifestream.org where he touches on the tension between disillusionment with traditional systems and rejecting anything and everyone to do with them outright:
I know how passionate people can be when they leave an abusive congregation, or even one that sucked out their spiritual passion with religious activities that did little to help them live the life Father wanted for them. And I know how threatening it can be for those who still embrace the congregational form as the only God-given expression of the body of Christ, to see people walk away and talk as if it is unnecessary at best and harmful at worst.
But let’s be real about it. Spontaneously and simultaneously believers all over the world are rethinking what it means to live in the life of Jesus and how the body of Christ takes expression in our world. They have wearied of religious systems that permeates much of our congregational life and are looking for more effective alternatives. It’s not enough to simply say that Hebrews 10:25 requires all committed Christians to be in attendance on Sunday morning in one of the institutions called ‘church’. They know better. ‘Assembling together’ is not a matter of attendance at a meeting, but the joining of lives in a common journey.
Many of those are still in systems their heart no longer supports, and they too yearn for a deeper reality to their spiritual life and a revival in church life. In these days we have far more to gain by keeping the lines of communication open between us all rather than by dividing up sides and rejecting those who disagree with us.
Jacobsen then illustrates why some people have left traditional churches, and why other are still there. He then concludes:
It’s Not About Church
My point is this: there are many wonderful God-loving believers inside traditional congregations and there are many who have spilled out of them. Those looking for a more authentic life in him and with his church have more to gain by staying in fellowship with each other rather than cutting each other off if we’re being led in different directions.
While I love alternative forms of relational life that are often expressed in homes and in more informal groupings, if we only change the locale without shifting our focus we will end up with the same result. If we’re focused on how we do church, even if we find more Scriptural ways to do it, instead of on Jesus himself as the Cornerstone and Head of that church, we will still miss his life. In short, finding our place in the body of Christ has far less to do with how we do church than it does with how we find our life on him.
It’s not about church; it’s about Jesus. Where he captures our hearts and draws us to himself, we will find ourselves growing in the dynamics that allow the life of his church to emerge around us. We will value people being real, rather than pretending. We’ll want to free people from guilt and condemnation rather than manipulate them to get them to do what we think is best for them. We’ll value relationships that illuminate Jesus in our lives more than meetings that often don’t. And those who bear his heart will help equip others to live the life not manage programs for others to be obligated to attend.
In this kingdom the critical question is not where you go to church or how you ‘do church’ it is whether or not you’re coming to know him and walking alongside those he is giving you at any moment to help them on their journey. And if you are, you’ll be far more concerned with recognizing Jesus’ work in others, rather than judging their place in him by their view of church.
Read complete article here – its worth it.