Why I Love the Church: In Praise of God’s Eternal Purpose

When George Barna and I released Pagan Christianity, some of the early critics of the book (most of whom had never read it) benightedly accused us of not loving the church, but hating her.

Ironically, we addressed this very point all throughout the book, stating that we were writing the book precisely *because* we love the church and no longer want to see her hindered (at best) or sabotaged (at worst) by a human-invented system that has often smothered her personality and robbed her freedom.

Here’s one such place in the book where we make this point loud and clear:

“Why are you so critical of the church? God loves the church. It angers me that you’re so judgmental about it.

This question is a good example of the problem we are trying to expose in this book. Namely, many Christians are confused about what the Bible means when it uses the word “church.” The word “church” refers to God’s people. More specifically, it refers to the gathered community of those who follow Jesus. It does not refer to a system, a denomination, a building, an institution, or a service.

We have written this book because we love the church very much. And we want to see her function in a way that brings glory to God . . . In short, it is because of our love for the church and our desire to see God’s people set free that we have written this book. And it is our hope that God will use it to help change the course of church history.”

(Pagan Christianity, Viola/Barna, Tyndale, 2008, p. 251)

Historically, every reformer and every revolutionary loved the church. Though each one was accused of hating her. In fact, love for the church was the very reason why past reformers tried to change the religious systems of their day . . . systems that they believed subverted the house of the living God. It’s also why past revolutionaries left the religious institutions to which they belonged in order to begin new expressions of the Body of Christ that they felt were more faithful to Jesus, the apostles, and the Scriptures.

When my book From Eternity to Here released earlier this year, some who were under the impression that I do not love the church were shocked. The reason being is that I make the church the center of God’s eternal purpose in Christ. But of course, I’m speaking of the church that the New Testament envisions. Not the substitutes that we have created to replace her.

I recall reading one person who said in front of a group of Christian leaders: “Frank really loves the church. He is passionate about her. He just has an issue with certain religious practices that have been traditionally accepted and called ‘church.’”

This man got it. Precisely.

Yet it’s incredibly difficult to get this idea across to many Christians. The concept that there is a difference between the church (ekklesia) of Jesus Christ and an order of worship (that people call “church”), a pastor preaching a sermon (that people call “church”), a denomination (that people call “church”), a building (that people call a “church”), and a clergy system (that people call “church”) is terribly hard for some folks to see.

The circuitry simply won’t allow that difference to take hold in some people’s minds.

How can it when the word “church” has been so profoundly redefined from what it was understood in the New Testament?

In our day, people who watch a preacher on television give a sermon believe they have been to church. This sort of thinking is the basis for all the “Internet Campus Churches” where people will watch a sermon on the Internet and say they’ve been to church. So “church” has been reduced from a local community of believers who assemble regularly (as all New Testament scholars would argue) to watching a sermon on a flat screen.

My love for the church is so strong that I’m an opponent of the popular “postchurch” view that’s beginning to take root in the West. Christianity Today’s recently published my article on the postchurch perspective.

In this blog post, I’d like to take another crack at trying to distinguish between the system that many call “church” and what I mean when I say “church.” It’s the latter that I love very much. As for the former, while God uses it and blesses His people despite of it, it should never be confused with the ekklesia of God and, therefore, is open for strong critique, massive adjustment, and even disposal in the wake of what God intended for the body of Christ.

Recently, I was in a conversation with a person who was playing devil’s advocate with me regarding my passion for the church of Jesus Christ over/against the system that many people call “church.”

Here’s how the conversation went:

Question: Are you saying that God doesn’t use the institutional church?

My answer: Not at all. As I say in Pagan Christianity, I owe my salvation and baptism to it. But what God uses doesn’t equate His approval. God uses many things that do not reflect His perfect will or His original intention. So God’s “use” or even “blessing” is a flawed metric for determining God’s original intention. Remember, God blessed His people when they were living in Babylon, but that was not His perfect will. Neither were the synagogues that they built while there. God’s perfect will was for His temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

Question: But God’s people are in the institution.

My answer: Right. But that doesn’t make those institutions “churches” or sacred. God people are in hospitals, businesses, school systems, and governments. They are even in the nation-state (which was created and sustained by violence). But that doesn’t make hospitals, schools, governments, and nation-states the ekklesia of God.

Let me use the illustration of an automobile to demonstrate the difference between the *institutional church system* that Christians often call “church” and the ekklesia of God — a local group of believers who assembly regularly and share life together as a community under the headship of Christ.

Follow the logic . . .

God use churches. Yes, but God also uses automobiles. That doesn’t make automobiles churches.

God’s people are in these institutions. Yes, God’s people often drive automobiles too, but that doesn’t make them churches.

God uses institutional churches to save people. Right. But I’ve shared the gospel numerous times with people in an automobile, and I have two friends that have had profound encounters with God in automobiles, one of them being saved in a car. Yet these things do not make automobiles the church of Jesus Christ.

God uses institutional churches to teach Christians. Right. But I’ve had many occasions where I’ve been taught by or I’ve taught someone the things of God in an automobile. Especially on long road trips.

God’s people worship God in institutions. Right, but I fellowship with the Lord often in an automobile, have had some of my best times of praise and worship in an automobile, and I have even sensed God’s presence to the point of tears in an automobile. But that doesn’t make automobiles churches.

God loves the institutions we call “churches.” Really, how can you be so sure? Does He love automobiles too? Reflect on the above and tell me why He would love a religious institution more than He would love an automobile, when in fact He has chosen to use both. God certainly loves His people who are often in various religious institutions, but to say that He loves a system or an institution is something open for debate.

So while God uses automobiles, God’s people are in automobiles, and automobiles have often been used as a tool to save the lost, teach God’s people, and worship the Lord, that doesn’t make automobiles the ekklesia of God.

And so it is with those institutions and systems that we call “churches.”

Point: I deeply love the church, but I do not love the religious systems that call themselves “churches.” Such systems are not the bride of Jesus Christ. My feelings toward them are pretty much the same as automobiles; they can be used for good or bad; but they aren’t “sacred” and should never replace or substitute the ekklesia. Further, I have no loyalty nor allegiance to these systems, just as I don’t have any allegiance to the nation-state. My allegiance is to Jesus Christ, God’s Kingdom, and the body of Christ.

The ekklesia is the fiancé of my Lord. She is the most beautiful girl in the world (to quote Charlie Rich), and God is out-of-His-head in love with her.

Thus a person cannot rightly love Jesus and hate His wife. But neither can they honor Him properly by replacing His glorious wife for a man-made substitute that has coopted her name. Jesus isn’t marrying a building, a denomination, an order of worship, a clerical organization, or a religious system.

There’s massive confusion today because some have confused the ekklesia with a religious system. And if one raises questions about the latter, some confuse it with an attack on the former.

And therein lies the rub.

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Comments

  1. Marion says

    yes, God loves us – The Church – but He also loves the world – so much… Jesus said..
    the Church (us people who are Christians/IN Christ) are not more loved than the Prodigal world – are we?
    Question: Wouldn’t God prefer it if the whole world were part of The Church? (I am not a believer in Universalism, so please don’t think I am coming from there).
    Maybe many more are not in the Church because we are so focused on the Church (a form of navel gazing/perfectionism).

  2. Tracy says

    Hi Frank ,
    I really appreciate you as a brother in Christ for sharing the truth. Normally ( to me) those that are critical especially when it comes to the truth are in mature and try to twist things out of context – they have become part of the system so long that their eyes are cloudy and ears clogged up. I really commend you brother for your book – well all of your books. The church is a beautiful thing when it is allowed to flow freely with God’s Spirit and not become a business nor an organization to rule man’s authority above Gods. I can see more love through you and the organic movement than any other – and you are just trying to educate and see the true church arise. Thanks!!!!

  3. mike says

    hunnybee wrote: “I’ve seen enough people burn out in various ways meeting the needs of the church but this had very little to do with meeting the needs of people…. and even less to do with God.”

    Well said.

  4. hunnybee says

    An Institution did not die for me. Jesus did. I’ve seen enough people burn out in various ways meeting the needs of the church but this had very little to do with meeting the needs of people…. and even less to do with God.
    I gave up on trying to understand ‘church’ and discovered I could learn what it means to know Christ. Then all of a sudden I started being a christian… go figure :) And when I started being a christian… I realized I could love people… even mean people!
    Church began to show up all over the place …in coffee shops, at work, in church, at home , everywhere……. go figure :)
    I haven’t read Pagan Christianity, but I will.

  5. ej80 says

    Hi Frank,

    My comments don’t have too much to do with this particular blog post of yours, but I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know how much I appreciate your book “Pagan Christianity?” For almost a year I have been struggling with many questions about what I’ve always been taught to believe about my faith and your insight has been a breath of fresh air for me at last. I am fairly young in age and I really have very few people I can turn to for guidance or even discussion since most of my church family are unopen to considering other possibilities outside what we have all been told for so many years and just blindly accept as God’s truth, especially from someone who they see as being young and foolish.

    I am currently reading the section on the sermon and how harmful it is to the real purpose of church. I haven’t read the entirety of it, so you might address what I’m going to mention and I could be jumping the gun by posting this. In any case, I wanted to see what your own observations were based on your larger knowledge of church behaviors in general. In my church, our senior pastors have always been employed full-time and we pay them very, very well. However, I think because we pay them (and so well) it has led us to believe that they should do more than just preach on Sundays (and if we are to employ them, I don’t disagree). However, I feel like it’s left the rest of us off the hook for what we should be doing as well. For instance, my pastor is responsible for visiting with the sick and elderly, going to pray with people before surgeries, counseling people with troubles, etc. Certainly, I feel he should be available to do these things, but it seems that the church’s mindset today is that “The pastor should do it because he’s paid to do it” and I feel that this is an unfortunate effect of what sermons have done to us. We have learned to translate our passivity in the church service with our passivity in church service. I hope that makes sense to you. Sermons have left us feeling unqualified to visit the sick, sit down with a troubled teen, or even pray with someone. In fact, I will even admit that for a long time I have thought my job was to get people to come to church and then my pastor will do the rest to get them saved and keep them coming back. Crazy, I know. Maybe that’s just what I see in my church, but I would like to know your thoughts. Thanks!

  6. Frank Valdez says

    One commenter cited Dietrich Bonhoeffer in support of the ‘organic church’ position. In the name of historical accuracy let me tell everyone that Bonhoeffer was a high church Lutheran who believed that the church is the visible gathering of God’s peple around around Christ present in the proclaimed Word and the sacraments. He explicitly rejected the notion of some sort of invisible church that can be distinguished from such visible gatherings. One can disagree with him on this but we should understand that his perspective on the church was far more Catholic than anabaptist. This did not keep him from teaching the need for a full blooded adherence to Jesus Christ. In fact he felt that we can truly follow Christ only if he is present today as the church in the proclamation of the Word and participation in the sacraments. Otherwise we simply follow our idea of Christ.

    • says

      Frank, I’m not sure who cited DB or how they did it, but a few things should be noted while recognizing that DB was a Lutheran minister. One, DB’s “theology” of church was very much in line with what I’ve written about organic church life. Second, his “experience” of community in his final days (the experience out of which he wrote “Life Together”) was in *many respects* a good description of organic church life. Third, organic church ecclesiology does not separate between visible and invisible church. So while there were certainly differences in ideas of leadership and ritual, in these three respects, DB’s theology and experience of church were very much in line with organic church theology and experience. Furthermore, we cannot possibly know where his experience and theology would have ultimately led him if he had lived longer.

  7. says

    I think that the problem lies in two areas: filters and mindset

    People hear or read something with particular filters on. These filters come from their culture, religious background, doctrines, worldview, etc. If all they have known is instituionalism then that is the filter they are wearing when they read or hear things about the “church”. This is a major problem for anyone trying to communicate God’s eternal purpose in Christ to an individual or a group. The filters must be broken first. This can only happen as one speaks the revealed truth – Who is Jesus Christ. And it usually takes many applications to stick! Thanks Frank for speaking the Truth.

    The second problem is the mindset. A mindset is an impossible thing to break. Only God can break it. But he uses people to do so. The mind is a powerful thing as we all know. The “mindset” is like a particular template for the mind. It is like a mold or a framework in which the mind finds itself constrained to function in a particular direction all of the time. The mind develops the patterns contained within the mindset and then it is stuck in the perverbial rut. Only God can break this insidious framework and again, this only happens by the preaching of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

    It’s only when these two matters are resolved that one can see with any clarity as far as spiritual things are concerned. Before our minds can be renewed, we first need to see. I’m referring to the vision that only comes by spiritual eyes as Paul prayed for in Ephesians chapter one. First, clear vision; then renewing of the mind.

    But that can only happen as one presents his body a living sacrifice on the alter of the cross. The one thing that we all do NOT want to do.

  8. Lynne Schopf says

    Frank,
    Thanks for your response. Your love for the ekklesia, I think, is evident.

    It breaks my heart to read some of the comments here from those who have been so terribly hurt by those whom they expected to be loved . I hear echos of my husband in many. He also left the ministry and ekklesia for this reason. As David says in ps55: If we are mistreated or betrayed by our enemy, we can bear it but from those we have worshiped with and loved, it is devastating to our very souls.

    I understand, perfectly, why this Internet Campus Church is so popular. .. if you don’t have a real relationship with someone they can’t hurt you. If you don’t like something the preacher said, you can just turn off the computer. It’s easier to write our nasty little emails(in the most Godly way possible, of course) when we don’t have to look anyone in the eye.

    It is true that If we think we can love , honor and worship our God without loving , honoring and forgiving each other, then we are sadly mistaken. We can only do that in an actual ( not virtual) relationship.

    What you propose to us Frank, is intimate…messy… sometimes painful and all necessary to accomplish the will of our God.

    As I’m writing this, I’m sensing the pain in Y’shua’s own heart as we rail against this. He calls us, dear ones, to bear the scars of relationship, just as He does.

    Lynne

  9. Ruth Ann says

    FROG
    Frank, In the last year, hubby and I decided to shrug our new wine skin of organic church concepts, take the path of least resistance and join a local ‘Spirit-filled’ church and ‘be normal.’ We never got around to the joining part. One Sunday on the way home, we both knew…we could…but God wasn’t in it with us. The next day someone sent an email with a link to your website. We have since read “Pagan Christianity” and “Reimagining the Church.” Been saved 54 years, been a teacher/leader in the IC for about 49 and I feel like I am in kindergarten. SO much to learn. So much to unlearn. Have a small group joining us in the learning process. Your books have been such a confirmation. You articulate so much that was in our hearts for years. God help us walk this path!

  10. Dominique Boyd says

    Thanks for the clarification. Sometimes it’s hard to stop at the period. I’m looking forward to reading your books!!!

  11. tommyab says

    failures occur in “non-institutionnal” attempts to do church because christians are not used to walk by faith, without institutionnal rules, without well-defined roles…

  12. says

    Hi Derek. Ergo, wrong assumption: my solution is *not* house church … never has been. My coworkers and I have talked at length about what we perceive to be the problems with the house church/simple church movement for years now. I’m an advocate of *the organic expression of the church* which is a very, very different thing all together. Shortly, an audio message will be up on line where I discuss this in more detail, but parts of it can be found in my books. So what you think to be my solution really isn’t at all ;-) Hope that helps.

  13. Lynne Schopf says

    Frank,

    (I can’t believe that you used that analogy! I thought I was the only one who thought of the religious institutions that we’ve created in that way. Denominations or other systems, I viewed as vehicles that the Body uses to get around the Kingdom. The spectrum being from the big limo(mega church) which uses up a lot of resources and needs special driver to the small economical. )

    Most people who have been re-born into the Body of Christ understand the difference between an institution and ekklesia. How can one read the scriptures and miss that?
    We just have to face the fact that there always will be those who love the institution as well. For instance, I can’t even imagine my brother and sister-in-law functioning in any sort of non-ridgid system of worship or kingdom life. They keep thier lives well structured and get flustered when things don’t go according to plan. They could never navigate the kindom in anything less than a mid-sized economy model.

    When I first began to read your papers on house church (many years ago) I suposed that you were presenting the ‘vehicle of the future’ for the ekklesia but recently I’ve come to realize that is not what you are proposing at all. Please correct if this is wrong but you are saying get out of the vehicles altogether and walk the kingdom with Y’shua and each other.

    Lynne

    • says

      Lynne. thanks. Actually, I’m not saying get out of the vehicles (institutions). I’ve never told someone to leave and don’t plan on it. That’s not my place or burden. What I have done is to show that the institutions we call “churches” are in fact not the ekklesia and in many cases, obstruct God’s original intention (a la, “Pagan Christianity”). And … more importantly … that God has an eternal purpose that’s bound up with the ekklesia as Scripture envisions. For many Christians, this is unheard of.

      You wrote: “Most people who have been re-born into the Body of Christ understand the difference between an institution and ekklesia. How can one read the scriptures and miss that?”

      Actually, that’s not the case unfortunately, though it should be as you say. But thousands of Christians equate a critique on the institutional religious system as an attack on the church. Hence this article.

      One prime example of the confusion that abounds as to what “church” is from the New Testament is a recent article in a major Christian magazine which shows the hundreds of thousands of Christians who believe that watching a preacher give a sermon over the Internet is the equivalent of “church.” They’re actually called “Internet Campus Churches.”

      The question we’re addressing is not “is this good or bad?” The question is: “Is this a total redefinition of church and a substitution for it?” And the answer from a New Testament perspective is undeniably “yes.”

  14. mike says

    Thanks Frank for the encouragement…its just a bit hard and lonely at times. I would love to find some folks in my area that feel the way I do, instead the few old friends I have left now from my old church pretty much written me off. Its hard to go through that when you feel the Lord is leading you a direction and everyone is against you and thinks that you are crazy.

    I am going to try to make it to your conference in Nashville in September…

    thanks again
    Mike

  15. Ross Banister says

    I love AA because of its authenticity which I try to bring to church. Often asked at church why I still attend after 27 years clean and sober. I love both and somewhere in between is the “real church”. Thanks for your article and passion for “our church.”

  16. Dominique Boyd says

    Are you comparing an automobile to the institutional church and not ekklesia per se?

    Are you saying that the automobile is a vehicle and not the destination?

    Are you saying that we need to step outside of the automobile to join together in prayer and community and laughter and tears and hopes and dreams to be involved in each other lives not because of duty or have to, but because this is a natural progression of how the spirit of God moves in and through us?

    • says

      Dominique, I must be a much poorer writer than I thought. No, I’m not saying any of those things. I’m making one simple point. That the institution that many call “church” is a man-invented system. It’s not the ekklesia. It’s not the Body of Christ. It’s not the Bride of Christ. It’s instead very much like an automobile. I list specifically HOW it’s like an automobile at the bottom of the article. You may want to go over that again. Hope that helps.

  17. says

    amen !!

    i would say that persecution almost always come from religious people in the Scriptures and history.

    at some point, I came to accept that not everything naming themselves christians are actually christians… some people in there (the institutionnal churches) are commited christians I have no doubt… but I would say less than the statistics… ..
    God knows them and this is His job….

    why the gospel historically almost always become another thing than the gospel ?? why christianity becomes something opposite to Christ ?? because the gospel is a scandal, a shame, a folly. Because of the scandal of the Cross (1 cor. 1 and 2). The first thing we forget as christians is the cross, and then the churches become dead institutions, … human, logical, raitional, without scandal, and “wise” …

    a very good book about that: Jacques Ellul: Subversion of christianity,… and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The cost of discipleship

  18. mike says

    good analogy…church has become something we do and go too. Anything outside of the norm or tradition is considered heresy. I agree with some of the those who posted similar stories. Its not that we don’t want to fellowship, but we don’t want to fellowship in the way we have for years! Not with “pride” or “arrogance” hopefully but with humbleness. Sometimes I want to go back just to stop the questions and fears from others. But at this time I really don’t know if I can sit, go throw the rituals and traditions anymore? Anyone ever think about this?

    Mike

    • says

      Mike, many of the folks who read this blog have left the institutional church. But they’ve not left the Lord. Quite the opposite. Some of them have found organic church life … the *experience* of ekklesia. This year there have been a number of such churches planted in the U.S. and overseas. One more event will be held this year to connect people and give them some practical help on how to begin (for those interested, fill out the ‘find an organic church’ form at http://www.housechurchresource.org)

      Over 700 people have attended these connecting/equipping events this year and a number of new organic church plants have come out of them.

      Others who regularly read this blog are folks who belong to institutional churches and others are postchurch folks. Still others are in the wilderness. All of whom are seeking more of the Lord. It’s quite exciting to see what God is doing right now among those who want more of Jesus Christ.

  19. says

    Derek, I feel similarly about spiritual Israel, but like Frank said, try reading his book. The Holy Spirit had already been leading me to understand exactly what Frank wrote about and it was all before I ever heard of his book. The Holy Spirit is pouring out on God’s people again as it did the day of Pentecost. Eyes are being opened and people are having revival again. Healing and all. I am sure there are many who read this and can testify it has been going on for a while now. It’s just new to me personally and so exciting. I like the book of 2nd John. He wrote to a woman in her home, praised her and encouraged her. No mention of an institution. As a matter of fact, we never saw Jesus nor our fellow brethren Apostles ever speak about the goal of a building program. Remember we are a spiritual building, not made with rock stones. We are lively stones.

  20. says

    Derek, I’d encourage you to read “Pagan Christianity” … the issue is, do our church practices map to the Word of God or do they violate them. If they violate them, then we are obliged to abandon them. Faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles should be our chief concern here rather than “following the nations,” to use an Old Testament metaphor.

  21. Mary says

    I read a blog the other day where a “pastor” was reviewing a book. He said he really loves this book because he is tired of recent books by George Barna (he did not mention you) coming out saying they have a better plan than Jesus and promoting a churchless Christian. I am not very good at sticking up for ideas very eloquently but I had to try! Turns out he hasn’t even read Pagan Christianity, go figure. I told him that in fact the oposite is true. I have never “met” anyone who has loved the church more and in no means was promoting a better plan than Jesus, and a churchlless Christian is the last thing you were about.

    • says

      Thanks Mary. I always appreciate when people actually read my writings and “get” what I’m saying. I’ve been told that the recent postchurch article (http://www.ptmin.org/postchurch.pdf) cleared a lot of fog for some folks who hadn’t read “Pagan Christianity” and the sequel “Reimagining Church,” but just assumed I was holding to a postchurch/no church position. It’s always best to actually read someone’s work before critiquing it.

  22. Jordan says

    Thanks Frank, I have recently begun meeting with a group of believers ‘organically’ (In Canada woot!). While there is a core group of families who truly desire organic church and true ekklesia but there are a few members who often comment that they want to work within the system that has already been established. This has been a constant struggle for me because I fall back into the patterns of the mainstream institutional church. It may also be that the core group has read and considered pagan christianity and he had not (also him and his parents have been deeply been involved in worship and elder ship ‘ministries’) This post has helped me and will likely assist our conversation when this issue comes up again.

    Thanks again
    Jordan,

    ps. great movie post

  23. Gordon Brock says

    Excellent! Makes me think of something I read recently.

    There are two ways of critiquing the church. We can critique out of love or out of disgust. One pastor says he’s committed to critiquing the church as an act of love. In a recent interview, when asked about the emergent church, he said this: “As a pastor I hear a lot of emergent leaders talk about what is wrong with the church. It comes across as someone who doesn’t love the church. I’m a pastor first and foremost, and I’m trying to offer a solution or a model of what church should look like. I’m going back to scripture and seeing what the church was in its simplest form and trying to recreate that in my own church. I’m not coming up with anything new. I’m calling people to go back to the way it was. I’m not bashing the church. I’m loving it.”

    It appears to me that he had a love for the church as the ‘system with people’ instead of just ‘the people’. He states he is trying to recreate the church from within….I just don’t see how that is possible, especially if you won’t acknowledge that your building is NOT the church.

  24. says

    I totally agree Frank. What we have called the church is not the church. Yet the old mindset is so entrenched, it almost makes me wish we could ditch the word ‘church’ and come up with something totally different.

  25. gdeitz says

    I have had friends called anarchists because they view ekklesia as “church without rules” or without order. I agree with many of the comments posted as well as the initial blog post.

    The simple truth is that people start making their institution a part of their identity. It is to say that the church system they align with (be it Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.) becomes an ingrained part of their being so that an attack against the system is regarded as an attack against them.

    What is the most intriguing and interesting part about any of these discussions and then when the points are laid out as simple facts, many people would agree that the system is not completely Biblical. It is not until you ask them “If you see it is not completely biblical, then why do you continue the practice?” that people become defensive.

    That has been my experience most of the time. Thanks for sharing.

  26. says

    I agree with you Frank. I posted a comment on your facebook page too. I was recently accused of hating God’s people because I said the Church can meet in other places too not just in buildings. I agree with Abel that it certainly is a stronghold of the mind in people. They have been taught a lie when they were told the building is a holy sacred place and must be in membership there to be ‘right with God’

    You know they have a religious stronghold when they defend their man made buildings and man made denominations and refuse to listen to the simplicity in the Gospel that Christ gave us. We need to pray for their eyes to be opened.

    I read John 9 with some of our local Church last night and saw how the religious leaders persecuted the blind man for testifying in the power of healing Christ gave him.

    The end result was they rebuked him and cast him out of the synagogue. I see this happening today among ‘building churches’. It has happened to me. My family is experiencing a revival and we were thrust out of the ‘building church ‘we were in, in a very unholy psychological way. But we were glad to get out. Just a shame that people are so blinded by their denominational leader that they don’t recognize a true revival.

  27. J says

    I love the illustration using the automobile. Definately see that teaching experience come out of you Frank. :)

    I have a brother in law who says that the IC is equally as “good” as a true “organic” gathering. He states that it’s simply a matter of choice for us believers. One “style” is not greater than the other. I just don’t buy that. I don’t argue about it because I think it’s an excercise in futility. Kind of like “I prefer Walmart instead of Target.” We can argue the likes/dislikes with retail stores but when it comes to God’s eternal purpose and the church, there is no comparison to the real deal and the man made system that is so prevelant in our society.

    Anyway, love the post and love this especially: “Jesus isn’t marrying a building, a denomination, an order of worship, a clerical organization, or a religious system.” That is poster board material.

    Peace from the Midwest

  28. Daveg says

    My friends at Voice of the Martyrs posted this quote this morning:
    “Whoever has known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied any more with the emptiness of some Western churches.” ~Richard Wurmbrand, in “Tortured For Christ”

    There is indeed a spirit of complacency, apathy and reliance on systems, traditions and self in Western Christianity today. When once again there is a cost to their profession of faith, believers’ true colors will be revealed–by their zeal, ekklesia and love for each other.

    The sleepers must be awakened, the capitves (of systems and empty self-reliance)freed. As Christ said, “We must work while it is day, for the night is coming when no one can work.”

  29. honest heart says

    I certainly appreciate your writings Frank! It helps all of us “misunderstood reformers” not feel so alone. =) Most of all, I love how you love the church!

    Many blessings to you friend and brother!

    Rebecca Cortez

  30. danceswithklingons says

    Totally agree with you on this Frank. Yet, because of your teaching, I’ve ended up having people hate my visions and think I’ve gone insane.

    Your not alone, Frank. And thank you for helping me to see things Jesus’ way.

  31. Abel Avram says

    The “system” exists in men’s heads. The system might have a concrete external expression, but it really exists and its stronghold is in our mind. Religious systems are very tricky. They partially serve God, they do “good”, but only partially. That’s how they deceive us. We say: “Oh, this ‘church’ evangelizes, it brings people to God. It must be ‘good’” But, if we look carefully, at some point the system starts fighting with God, it does not obey Him all the way, it does not follow Him when He says to go to a new place, and especially, especially, it does not accept to die when God asks so. And so many Christians were asked to put down their lives for God, and they did. But the system will never surrender. That single fact shows it does not truly follow God, but it has a mind of itself. And that is because the system is something out of our heads backed by an independent will, one that has not fully surrended to Him.

  32. jrust says

    ‘Jesus isn’t marrying a building, a denomination, an order of worship, a clerical organization, or a religious system.’ – got the picture in my mind of moses coming down the mt and seeing God’s people worshiping the golden calf and the utter devastation he experienced…can’t imagine Christ feeling much different about what we’ve ‘made’ of his bride.

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