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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

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.

Churchattendance

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 no longer are a part of it and we are very satisfied with the decision we made to leave. But that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who feel the same way we do about organized religion, yet they want to continue to attend services.

Leaving the Organization

In our case, after leaving the organized church I 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 it has been a struggle 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 very 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 pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ, and their message is only their opinion. We have the Holy Spirit within us and He 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 out of 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 one day is more important than another.

The Word of God

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).

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. 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 the sky 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.

We are the Church

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.

LovelikeJesus

So, rather than looking down upon one another: those who attend church thinking we who have left the organization are backsliding from our faith or have walked away from God. Those of us who have left church think those who still attend are stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Rather, we should realize 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. John 13:35..by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

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Those of us who are outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes can’t explain. At least we can’t explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building will understand.

left-the-building

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as they are, only in a different way. We have not left the Church (ekklesia) but have left the building (church).

Having left the church because I felt the system was not the way God intended, I have never left the true Church that is made up of us who are believers. Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body, yet no one is the head or over anyone else. Each of us are priests and functioning parts of the body, and we are all needed and important. Of course only Jesus is the head, not a pastor.

We need to remember that rather than let a feeling of ‘us vs them’ mentality get a hold on us, those of us who used to be part of the institutional church also need to keep in mind that those who attend church usually are doing so because they love God and think they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all parts of the Church that Jesus is building.

Body of Christ

For those still attending, most do not think about how the system is wrong and that it is not what God intended for His people. After all, this is all we have known all our lives. We have been taught all along that this is God’s plan for us, to assemble together in a building, pay our tithes and look to the pastor as God’s spokesperson.

As people of God, we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength, it is by the power of the Spirit within us. The sad thing is we really should not have much of a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet sometimes it seems we have more trouble loving those who are part of a tradition that we no longer feel is right, but are still followers of the same God we love.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let’s focus on our love of the Father, and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among His children. They do not need to see the arguing, fighting and disagreeing that they are so familiar with in their daily lives.

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Although my wife and I no longer attend a traditional church, when I used to say I “go to church”, what exactly was it that I meant.

When we mention church today, most people think of an organized religious service that takes place on a certain day, at a certain time, in a set place. This is further divided into various denominations or independent organizations. In this sense, church is a man-made religion made up of various types of organized services, various interpretations of the Bible, and man-made doctrines that we are expected to follow and obey if we are to be ‘good’ Christians.

Is the modern-day church what God intended church to be? Unfortunately it is not. When we have so many different denominations and so much arguing over whose doctrine is correct, which Bible version is the right one, how we should dress, what rules to follow, what we should do, what we should not do etc. Can this be what God intended? Not when we read that ‘they will know us by the love we have for one another’. Chip Brogden, in his book ‘The Church in the Wilderness’ stated that it was said of the early disciples…. people could look at the disciples of Jesus and would notice that they had been with Jesus. Now we look at religious folk dressed up and going out to eat lunch on Sunday and all we can say of them is that they have been to church.

The true meaning of the Church is….people, each believer in Christ who has accepted the free gift of salvation by faith through His grace. No matter which organized religious building you attend or don’t attend, if you are a believer you are part of the Church.

When I said I go to church, I mean I go to a building where other believers gather for a Christian meeting. I look at it as a Christian social event, and what better place to be than with other believers. Going to church is not going to God’s house. God, through the Holy Spirit, lives in each of His followers. We are His house.

When I went to church, I didn’t necessarily go for fellowship. Fellowship is something that takes place on a personal basis in smaller groups of people. This can happen anytime through the week, whether it is in a building, a house, a park, or anywhere that 2 or 3 or more believers come together and talk, discuss their faith, pray, spend time together getting to know one another. This can’t take place in a Sunday morning church setting when we gather with hundreds or thousands of people for a set program and one person doing all the talking.

When I went to church, I enjoyed hearing a message that was relevant for today. A message that the speaker had spent some time in prayer and fellowship with God to get. We need to realize that we heard a brother or sister speaking their opinion or interpretation of the message. There is nothing wrong with listening to others who are truly trying to speak God’s truth, but let’s not put our focus on them. We are to put our focus on the Holy Spirit, who is our guide and teacher of all truth. It seems a lot of us Christians today are to lazy to spend time in prayer, meditation and fellowship with God, listening for the voice and leading of the Spirit. We would rather go listen to someone else give us what they have learned and then get on with our day. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him lead us and teach us, and not go only by what someone else says.

When I went to church, I didn’t go specifically to get prayed for, or to worship God. That happens at church services, but to think that you have to be in church for it to happen is a mistake. Prayer, worship and fellowship all happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t have to wait until Sunday to get prayed for or to worship God. We do this daily, 24/7.

When I went to church and gave money, it wasn’t giving to God. All the money we have is God’s money and we are to be good stewards of His money every day. We should be ready to give of the money we have anytime, anywhere and to anyone that God leads us to give. If I gave at church, it was to support the organization. It helped pay the pastor’s salary, the mortgage on the building, the utilities and some of the outreach programs that were done.

So it is a bad thing to go to church? Of course not. What is better than spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course I truthfully think there are better ways to do this than sitting in a service looking at the back of someone’s head and listening to someone else do all the talking.

The main point is to realize that church is not the end goal, it is not where we go to meet God or to do all our learning. We don’t go to church to wait on God to show up. He is always with us. We can stay away from the organized religious service and yet be in as close of fellowship with our Father as anyone else.

Our fellowship with God depends on our daily walk with Him. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God is within us. If we aren’t having prayer, praise, worship and fellowship with God on a daily basis, then going to a church building on Sunday isn’t going to make it any better.

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