Occasionally, I will put up a post from a friend, enemy, someone who shares my viewpoint, or perhaps someone with the exact opposite. This post is from a great friend who is feeling what MANY in today's church are feeling, thinking, wishing they had said, or should think about saying...Thanks Joe!
"I am becoming more and more disallusioned w/ organized religion a.k.a. the American church and I'm really considering dropping out of it altogether.
House churches seem to be the way to go. I just don't want to waste any more of my time focused on the non-essentials of the faith, such as budgets, payroll, staffing, grounds, maintenance, programs, materials, insurance, liability, big events, decorations, audio/visual equipment, publications, performances, etc. I know that some people would argue that those non-essentials are supportive of the essentials and are therefore essential if an American church wants to reach people in our day and age, but I'm not convinced that following the current church model is what I want to be doing with my life. I think that people in America could be reached by many different methods and I believe that God isn't limited to blessing certain church models. The house church model is genuine, simple, and easily reproducible w/o the necessity of buildings and budgets. If churches today would become real places of life change, then they'd attract the elect in God's way and timing. (What's That??) Really, if one understand the doctrines of grace, then they don't have to be all caught up in "how are we going to reach them masses." instead they could be focused on "what kind of church does God want us to be" and "how can be good stewards of what we have" and the elect would be reached through the church's regular witness and genuine testimony. God isn't going to stop bringing home his sheep b/c Christians stop following the American church model that necessitates a building and programs.
I think the following is the trap that Christians fall into and what distracts them from the real mission: we need to fellowship with other Christians so we can grow and we need to reach the lost>>>we need to meet together and reach as many people as possible>>>when we outgrow a house sized congregation we need to find a larger meeting place>>>we need to all start giving towards a building fund>>>we need to put together a committee to help us find a good facility>>>once we get a facility we need a leader to help us grow to maximum capacity in that facility>>>>we need to hire assistants for the leader so he can focus on our growth>>>>we need to maintain the facility and pay for its upkeep>>>we need to give to the needs of the building and our leader>>>>we need to grow our congregation so we can pay off our building quicker and hire more staff so we can grow quicker>>>we need to give more to that>>>>we need to run more programs to attract more people so we can increase the giving so we can pay down the building so we can grow bigger and build another building....all for the glory of God. (I think this is SPOT ON)
I think the initial problem is the desire for everyone to meet under one tent. Why is it necessary for the church to congregate regularly in such large groups that would necessitate a large building and large budget? Why can't we just split up into smaller groups whenever we reach a capacity that exceeds a typical house congregation size? If we did that, then we'd reproduce small congregations more quickly and spread into more neighborhoods more quickly. In addition, we'd avoid the need for a sound board, equilizers, speakers, condensers, wireless mic receivers, miles of XLR cable, electrical conduits, microphones, orchestra pits, choir lofts, classroom space, playground equipment, etc. In addition, it would force us to get involved in our community in order to engage in particular programs and thereby breaking down the Christian bubble barrier that isolates us from the world [ie. Upward Basketball, Christian Karate classes, children's drama and choir activities, etc.]. I'm just not convinced that holy huddles and big budgets were the ideal way to evangelize America. However, the trend caught on and it seems to be the only acceptable model, that is, unless you want to be seen as some kind of Christian weirdo that doesn't attend one of the big-give-so-we-can-afford-to-exist congregations with a building of their own.
The amount of money spent each year on American church buildings, staff, property, and programs could feed the world, fund 100x's the current missionary efforts, support the poor among us, and provide for our persecuted brothers in foreign lands. (Amen)
So why didn't we see this a long time ago? Why don't we make a serious change today? It's b/c we like our way of doing things and we'd rather feel religious in our buildings than get our hands really dirty for God in a world of lost sinners. In addition, we like being able to determine our spirituality by our attendance and visible accomplishments rather than real, heart-felt, soul-searching Christlikeness. Real spirituality is a lot harder than building earthly religious kingdoms that are man-centered. reconstructing the church model in America would certainly be a large task, but I think that it might be a real possibility, but more people would have to be on bored. The problem with that is that most church members don't want anything more authentic, they are actually content with their version of church with all it's distractions from God and His mission.
I feel that America doesn't need another single church building or church for that matter, it only need it's current population of Christians to wake up and start to live out the life that God has placed within them. If we'd do that and stop trying to make church appealing to the outsider, then God would allow us to still reach the elect and we'd all be a lot less distracted from Him and His mission.
I'm not against any large scale gathering together of Christians, but I think that it can be done without the waste of resources that I see today and it can be done without the need for permanent large scale meeting places. Also, I know that house churches bring their own set of problems, but i'd rather have those to wrestle with than the junk that i see in almost all churches."