As you can see by the title of this post, I do not go to any church at this point in time. It certainly isn’t for lack of trying, but, sadly, after researching and/or sitting in many churches I have come to the conclusion that no one out there is actually teaching complete Biblical truth…not even close.
A lot of experience
As I mentioned in my previous post, I grew up going from church to church with my mom, who would leave a church because she didn’t like the hypocrisy and the constant money begging, among other things. I was a teen when we stopped attending churches but, unlike my mom, I kept trying to find a church that was teaching the truth because it was the lack of truth that bothered me most. This has continued right up to the present. Keep in mind, I didn’t necessarily try attending all the different churches I researched. Sometimes I just made a phone call, asking what their beliefs were, or, after the internet became more accessible as I got older, I read the churches websites. Rarely did I find anything that I even wanted to try!
What do I want?
What am I looking for? Perfect people? Fun services? People that will serve me all the time? What? What do I want to see and hear? It’s simple. I want Biblical truth and purpose. Whatever a church does and teaches needs to be Biblical. That means no picking and choosing verses while ignoring others. That means getting past elementary understanding…there should be growth in learning. That means actually following the instructions in the Bible for how people are supposed to live, not blending in with the world. I believe that the meeting together of the church is for the worship of God and the edification, correction and inspiration of the people, not for entertainment and a rockin’ good time. I found that such a church is not easy to find. So far, its been impossible.
The last church I tried.
As I already said, it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Let me tell you about the last church I tried, why I tried it and why I quit. ( I won’t name the denomination or the people involved for privacy sake). Then I will discuss the church as defined in the Bible.
I found this local church on the internet. It was a small church. That is important to me because I feel the individual person gets lost in these big churches and the bigger the church, the richer and more out of touch the pastors tend to be. I read this church’s belief statement on their website and, though it was missing some things that I believe are Biblical, it didn’t believe in anything objectionable, so, I called and talked with the pastors wife, a very nice woman. I asked some questions and we (my spouse and I) decided to give it a try in spite of a few misgivings I had.
The first time we attended was telling. For a small church, relatively few people came over to greet us. Lets face it, it’s not difficult to see new people in a small church, so its not like they didn’t notice we were there. Though some did come over and were very friendly, most never did introduce themselves even though we attended for several months, we attended events, and I even sang in the choir.
Back to the first day: We had a seat and waited for the service to begin. They had one of those large screens up front that they showed the lyrics to the hymns on. Not a favorite thing of mine, but at least there was no rock band playing along! Then the pastor got up and made announcements that seemed to go on forever. Then another song and the inevitable offering plate made its rounds. Okay, that is expected. But then it was announced that they were also collecting for something else, and another plate went around. That was a bit much for us, though not the worst we were yet to see. Eventually the pastor got up and gave a 15 minute dry, boring sermon on some verse in the Bible. We didn’t get anything out of this sermon at all. It was dead. There were more songs and then it was time for church school.
One of the things I did like about this church was the fact that the members taught. Everyone was considered to be an equal and were encouraged to speak up and even teach. We would later learn that some of them, including women, even took turns giving the sermon during the church service. But, again, very elementary level lessons/sermons and rather boring most of the time. The whole thing (church service and church school) lasted about 1 1/2 hours but it seemed like an eternity. There was just no excitement about God there and no real learning happening.
We came to find out that they were involved in a lot of projects, many of which we didn’t agree with, and they were constantly begging for money for them. They didn’t just announce it and tell you to send in any donations or put donations in some collection can somewhere. No. They sent a plate around for every single project they were involved in, often using the cute kids to collect it (guilt trip material anyone?) I think they sent four plates around one Sunday, plus were asking for donations of food and other items for a few other projects! It was beyond ridiculous and presumptuous! Who can afford to give to all of that, especially those who live in a poor area like the one we live in?
To top it off, they are doing all these projects as a way to “serve”, yet they were ignoring those in need within their own congregation. I had an elderly member tell me that the church was always doing some kind of project and asking for money yet she and her ill husband needed some help around the house and no one seemed to care. I was to find she was not the only one with a similar complaint. Yikes!
Sadly, that wasn’t all for the negative issues. We later found out the pastor missed a lot of church. He and his wife would often be off visiting their grown daughter for several days. Why they had to be gone on Sundays, I don’t know, but the man was being paid to do a job and was often absent. Even when he was there, his sermons were only 15 minutes long. Thats it. He gave one 15 minute sermon a week (when he was even there) and was paid very well for it. In fact, we were invited to attend their yearly financial meeting with the members of the church. Come to find this man was given a very good salary, health insurance for both he and his wife, a free house to live in, complete with any needed repairs, and even had someone to mow the grass and shovel snow….all for giving a 15 minute sermon a week. Yet they were considering giving him a raise, which had some of the financially struggling members very upset. Lets just say, this whole thing did not sit well with us at all.
This was the last straw, we stopped attending soon after because we were getting nothing from attending but bankrupted and bored!
Most churches are off track…and worse
This church missed the mark on many levels, but, it is far from being alone. I have attended churches that were much worse, even abusive! But that is a tale for another day.
Sadly, instead of being places where the people gather to worship God and edify and encourage each other, the church buildings are places of money begging, delusion, boredom, and feel-good nonsense.
For instance, many churches can’t just sing to God in worship. Nope, they have to have the rock band playing now. They claim it is to attract younger people. Really? Since when do you need to attract people to worship God? Those whom God calls will want to worship God, they don’t need to be attracted by some gimmick. Churches seem to have forgotten that the singing being done is supposed to be done to worship God, not provide fun and entertainment for the people. It’s not supposed to be about what people like, its supposed to be about God.
They have no idea what serving means.
Another problem is this so called “serving” the churches push. I’m all for helping those in real need, but so many churches ignore those who are suffering within its own walls while “serving” users and abusers. They go out to “serve” in an effort to convert people and bring them to their church, so it’s not even altruistic serving as Christians are supposed to do. There are a couple of other problems with this way of so called serving. First, it will attract those who want to take. They will see free stuff coming their way and figure it would be a good idea to join that church and get some more stuff or money. I’ve heard many stories about this type of behavior. Of course, problem number two will quickly catch the users by surprise and cause them to leave the church in many cases. What is problem number two?: Once you join a church, you are no longer served. Instead, you are expected to serve other people in an effort to convert them too. The attention and the freebies dry up once you join a church, now you are expected to give…and give…and give. Your time, your energy, your money.
If you are a selfish person who is only there for the freebies, you deserve to be disappointed by this reality. However, I have seen this “serve” business go too far and hurt the sincere people more times than I can count. These churches get serve, serve, serve on the brain but lose all understanding of what it really means.
I saw a good example of this on Facebook back when I was still using it. Some person on some site stated that she was lonely. She said she had several major health problems and could only leave the house to go to doctor appointments. A bunch of church folk replied with the brilliant suggestion that she get out and help other people because serving others was good for her and would fix her loneliness. She simply needed to go volunteer.
“What’s wrong with that?”, you may ask. Well, first of all, they completely ignored the fact that she had said that she had major health problems and could only leave the house for doctor appointments. I’m not sure why that was so hard to understand. but they just skipped right over that fact. Second, and I wrote this in reply to these people at the time, serving others does NOT take away your loneliness. When you are serving others, you are to have your attention and focus on them. You aren’t supposed to be discussing your issues and problems because you are there to listen to and help them. So, at the end of the day, you may return to your house feeling good that you helped someone, and that is great!, BUT, you will still be lonely because you never had a chance to be heard. No one listened to you or helped you with your issues, and, you returned to the same empty house. Serving does not cure loneliness. (I will do a post on loneliness soon).
Serving others to feel better about yourself is wrong anyway. As I mentioned above, we are to serve for unselfish reasons and even at cost to ourselves, not to make ourselves feel better or gain something from those we serve. (I’ll probably write a whole post on this later too)
Just the tip.
That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems I’ve encountered in churches. I won’t even go into all the rich, so called, pastors of megachurches, many of whom are right up there with all the crooked, greedy, often perverted, tele-evangelists who live the high life off the money of their followers who they either fill with fear or with unbiblical feel-good nonsense, depending on what that particular “pastor’s” focus is. Far from Christian.
The Biblical Church.
Okay, so you have an idea about what I, and many others, don’t like about modern mainstream churches, but, what does the Bible say about churches?
First of all, unlike today’s definition of the word, the Biblical “church” is not referring to buildings. When the Bible is referring to the church, it is talking about the Christians, not a building somewhere. In fact, the word used for Church in the New Testament is ekklesia and it means “called out ones”, not “building”. So, there is only one church, consisting of all Christians.
Here is a verse:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:8
You will notice this says He will build His church, not churches. In spite of all the denominations you see out there, the truth is, there is only one church.
So this means that all this talk about attending “church”, giving to the “church”, sitting in “church”, etc. is wrong. The building that people meet in is not the church, the people are the church.
Another thing modern churches have wrong is teaching that you have to meet in a building in order to worship God and learn spiritual things. Each Christian has the Holy Spirit within them. We are each a temple of the Holy Spirit:
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1Corintians 3:16
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1Corinthians 6:19-20
The Holy Spirit is what leads and teaches us in our spiritual growth. It is what makes us able to understand spiritual things. We don’t need another person to teach us when we have the Holy Spirit:
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. 1 John 2:27
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
Now, I’m not saying that God doesn’t use other people to help us learn. By reading books and articles on the internet I’ve come to study and understand what some things in the Bible really mean…things like the meaning of Hebrew/Greek words, idioms, traditions, etc…things that helped me have deeper understanding. You will notice though, I didn’t learn any of this deeper understanding in any “church” building. Fact is, the “churches” don’t seem to teach anything that is beyond a sixth grade level of understanding.
The Church has lost it’s way.
Simply put, the church has lost its way and turned into a confusion of denominations and beliefs. They don’t even recognize that they are the church anymore. Instead, they think the building they are sitting in is the church. They have quit growing, and actually regressed in their learning because they no longer have an interest in learning anything spiritual. There is no real worship, love, correction or encouragement. Instead, on Sundays, they pay someone to give an elementary level talk on a bible verse and they clap along to some music and then go home and live their lives no differently than the unconverted live theirs. The Christian is no longer distinguishable from the non-Christian.
I’d love to meet with other Christians!
I want it understood that I am not against meeting with fellow Christians. If I should find a congregation that actually teaches Biblical truth…not denominational beliefs…and is operated in a Biblical manner, I would attend. Why? For the fellowship. Christians are supposed to edify and support each other and assembling together would certainly make that a lot easier. However, I don’t see any of that actually happening in “churches” today. The meetings are all but totally dead. The people really aren’t encouraging and helping each other in their spiritual growth (any encouragement seems more worldly related than spiritual), their worship is pitiful at best and has largely been replaced with “fun”, they have a perverted definition of “serving”, and they learn nothing spiritual once they pass the sixth grade level of learning. There is no spiritual meat there because they are still drinking milk.
So, my point is, I have nothing against assembling together with other Christians. I would love to do so! However, I cannot find a truly Biblically oriented assembly and I refuse to be milked dry of my limited time, energy and finances for ungodly purposes.
The churchgoers favorite verse…and Preterism.
Lets end this by taking a look at the verse that church goers always throw at people like me.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
Doesn’t this verse tell you you should go to church? Well, no. It actually tells you to meet with other Christians. That doesn’t have to be done in a “church” building on Sundays. But, lets for a moment say this verse is telling us to go to church on Sunday. Why is it saying this to these people? The people this is being addressed to are being told to meet together to “stir up one another to love and good works”. Right there is a big problem. I have not found a congregation that stirs each other up to love and good works. I have not heard many sermons that were aimed at that goal either. Instead, the whole church service usually consists of announcements of activities, an elementary sermon and some entertainment. I’ve rarely ever encountered anyone, pastor or lay person, that even tried to stir me up to love and good works. I have even been looked at strangely for even trying to talk spiritual matters at church and the conversation usually ended very quickly! Fact is, most church goers are not interested in actual spiritual learning and growth.
The second problem with this verse is that it was being addressed to a group of Christians shortly after the time of Christ’s death and resurrection. This verse is NOT being addressed to us in 2022! Notice it says they are to meet together as they see “the DAY drawing near”. This, of course is referring to what is often called, Christ’s second coming. However, the people of that time are being told that the Day was drawing near for them, not us. If this wasn’t the case, that means that the Apostles, who most Christians will admit were being led by the Spirit, were confused or lied to, and they, in turn, were lying to the people they were preaching to at the time. They were telling them that Christ’s return was about to occur very soon…in their lifetime. Yet here we are, 2000 years later, and people are applying these verses to us today. They feel we need to meet in churches, no matter how bad they are, because Christ is about to return.
This makes no sense. If it was spoken to people back in the time of the Apostles but was meant for us today, then those poor people were given false hope. On the other hand, if the return of Christ they were referring to back in the Apostles time occurred in 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed, then they were telling the people of the time the truth and this verse doesn’t even apply to us.
(The belief that Christ has already returned is a belief of Preterism. This belief system will be addressed in further posts, but you can look under the book/article/website tabs on this website to find immediate further reading on the subject.)
The point is, though it is still good for Christians today to meet together and stir each other up to love and good works, it is not as urgent a need as it was back when the people were being told to do this. At that time, Christians were under going severe persecution, being tortured and killed for their faith. They were being told to meet together to encourage and support each other in an effort to get them through to the day that Christ returned and put an end to their suffering. This verse, though still helpful to us, was not addressed to us.
In summary, I don’t attend a “church” at this time because I don’t get any spiritual benefit from it. They have no resemblance to the church in the Bible. Most of the people I’ve encountered in “churches” aren’t even interested in real spiritual matters. “Church” is just something they do on Sunday and then they go out and live their lives just the same as the non-Christians. You can’t even tell them apart, so it is obvious the church goers are not getting the instruction/learning they need to be mature Christians.
I’ll stay home for now.
Until I can find a congregation that actually resembles the Biblical church, I’ll stay home and put the time to better use. Thanks to the goodness of God, there is a lot of spiritual material to read and digest out there!