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Posts Tagged ‘The Dones’

by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time.

I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, yet for us, we are satisfied no longer being part of it and we are happy with the decision we made to leave. Yet, that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who are satisfied with the church system and want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church we have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left, we noticed the struggle many people have to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands, but He builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ who is to walk alongside us to encourage and build one another up. We have the Holy Spirit within us who is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give from love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s Day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no particular day is more important than another.

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, and depending on one another. It is supporting and encouraging one another on our daily walk with God and one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in heaven waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church, we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others.

So, do not look down upon those who have left the organization as backsliders or who have walked away from God. Do not look at those who still attend church as stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another. As it reads in John 13:35 by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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For those of us who have left organized religion, I am finding a lot of us go through similar steps in the process.

There are months, or in our case, years of dissatisfaction and questioning. My wife and I knew for a long time something was not right within the church but kept thinking it was just us or the church we were attending. We would try different churches and find our feelings were the same.

Once we got to the point that we considered leaving church was very much a possibility, the next step was to really question ourselves. Thoughts like are we really Christians, are we backsliding, are we losing our religion? We began to feel something was wrong with us and wondered what others were going to think.

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Leaving church

Next was the decision to stop attending something we felt was way off base from what true Church should be. There were feelings to keep this to ourselves, do not tell anyone, just stop attending and keep quiet. In our case that was easy. We had been a part of a large fellowship for several few years but never got involved in other activities. We went to the Sunday morning service but did not attend small groups or any other activity. This made it much easier not having to explain our actions to anyone else because no one ever missed us. To those of you who have made this decision and were very much involved in all the activities, even pastors or leaders in the church, we applaud you for making such a decision.

Next came the ‘us vs. them’ mentality. We wanted to look at the organized church almost as an enemy. We would point out where they were wrong and why they were wrong. We wanted to associate only with those who felt the same as we did and did not want to associate with those still in the religious game. Obviously this is not the way to feel or treat people.

Acceptance of all People

The next step was realizing God loves all people not just those who attend a religious service every time the doors are open. God actually loves those outside the walls of the organized church no matter what line of thought, doctrine, religion or lifestyle they choose. Jesus came to love people and show each of us the love of God. We came to realize that we are called to love and accept everyone no matter what their beliefs just as God loves us. We no longer cared what people thought of our decision, we just wanted to love and accept each of them whether they are in church, outside the walls, or even if they are not believers at all. So many times while in religion we felt we were to love those who were believers, especially those in our own church. We now realize that God’s love is for everyone, not just Christians. We are to love and accept others just as they are, looking past the labels others put on them and seeing them as human beings.

We are sure this is not a complete list of steps, but it is as far as we are for now. We are thankful for the years we had in the church as we learned a lot and made a lot of friends. We are equally thankful for the decision we made to leave the church and focus more on the Church (ecclesia). That Church is made up of people who are saved by grace, following Christ, equally functioning parts of the body, and who touch others day by day with the love of God.

We are all on different paths in life, but we know that God is with us and leading us each step of the way. We continue to keep the faith, keep our eyes on Jesus, love others and be the Church each and every day.

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