We examine some arguments and thinking of people relating to their rejection or disuse or dislike of the local church. Simply put, the method that God has given us to use in the ministry is the local church. That is the method, there is no other method, and there is nothing else acceptable.
“There are better forms and structures out there”
What are they then? We are biblicists in the fact that we draw our authority, the form and structure of our Christian life, the ministry, and everything else authoritatively from God’s word. Where in the New Testament do we find a competing form or structure? There is nothing. What we have is very simply the usurping of God’s methodology by men. Everything else is a creation of man, a fabrication in competition with God.
Specifically Christian schools, universities, Christian camps, Christian welfare organizations, Christian training structures, mission boards, Christian ministries of all types are in competition with the God ordained, God commanded method of the local church. It is galling to see that all of these Christian religious organizations on the one hand “do it better than the local church”, but on the other hand, none of them can sustain themselves. Probably the largest of these juggernauts is the Christian university, but even they always resort to the fall back position, “We are a ministry so please donate your tithes and offerings to us.”
Whereas all of these structures easily will consume Christian personnel, time, energy, money (tithes and offerings), and most importantly they take authority away from the local church. They cannot defend their existence from the Bible in any kind of realistic way. David Koresh demanded that all women in his ministry have sex with him because we should “enter into the joy of the Lord”, and “there is no greater joy than sex”, and since he considered himself a reincarnation of Christ, thus you get his twisted logic “straight from the Bible”! The defenses given by Christian organizations are equally twisted. The verses the use as the foundation of their ministry does not exist as they present it. All are either general verses that Christians should show pity for example, or things specifically understand in their context to be a part of Christians in a local church.
“There are problems in a local church”
Many people have “dumped” the concept of the local church because of some problem that they had at some time in a specific local church. The problem is not in the concept of the church which is God’s command, but in the specific implementation of a group of people in making a church. We still use grocery stores even though at one time or another we have all had unpleasant experiences in a grocery store. One bad experience does not cripple the concept of grocery stores.
WHO REJECTS THE CHURCH AND HOW?
I will not limit this to my experience but I will give some examples. First of all, let’s use the example of the Navigators. They were big in Bible Memorization especially on college campuses. They at first wanted to direct their “converts” and “disciples” into local churches. After a while, they saw problems in the local churches and a cross current or interests and emphases that were not what they liked. So eventually the organization stopped “pushing” their people to attend and get involved in a local church. From there, they just “where two or more are gathered together in my name, I am in the midst of them” with any of their Bible studies is a local church “kind of”. I have heard of Navigator leaders that don’t even attend a local church, any local church.
The bottom line is that they have their type of ministry and because they cannot get pastors to give them control and money for their ministry, they go off and do it anyway, by passing the local church altogether. This is classic with religious organizations. They use the local church when the local church is on their side, and when it is not, they just ignore them having meetings and meals in hotels and conference centers dragging laymen in without the approval or knowledge of their pastors. The point is that if a pastor which has dedicated himself to the work of God sees a problem in the religious organization, why do laymen ignore or by pass this man of God? There are issues, and these issues need to be dealt with, and God’s Spirit discerned and followed.
Most laymen are taught (by religious organizations) that their church, their pastor, and their local church leaders are incapable of making sound spiritual decisions, doing the ministry, and discerning God’s will. This is easily proved by simply looking at the typical church that is looking for a pastor. A man trained in a local church alone or only under a local church pastor is unqualified in most people’s minds. Most Christians consider that they only “really learn doctrine” in a Christian university or Bible school, but not in the local church. This is deeply implanted by the Christian Bible Schools and ingrained over and over again. Talent, blessing, capacity in the ministry is not humble feet washing spirituality, but a great singing voice, musical talent, great oratory skills such as seen in the political realm. Poor Jesus picking ignorant fisherman is rebuked by these great people. (I speak in scorn of what they do to the Bible example.)
We spent many years of our missionary career under a regular mission board. When we decided it was time to find a local church instead, one pastor made the comment, “Well, that’s not the way the Apostle Paul did it, but I guess each to his own. But we demand all of our missionaries be under mission boards.” The stupidity of his comment to this day confounds me. Cannot people read the Bible and see the truth? Apparently not.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
I wonder about the salvation of people who have no love for the truth of God. My conclusion is that many on the judgment day will claim, “Lord, Lord, have we not done great ministries in your name?” and God will answer them, “Depart from me because I never knew you.”
Master Empire Builders
The design of God in the local church is that control by God’s Holy Spirit under the headship of Christ, and the people involved decide this by the Word of God, and by the Spirit of God moving in the hearts of the people of God. God has designed spiritual men of God to lead the people, but my observations is that (1) God hates pride, elevation of one’s self, position in life, or ministry, (2) avarice and covetousness, the desire to get and keep money, wealth, power, or control, is a disqualification totally from the ministry. (3) Those who are willful in imposing their desires on their own life or ministry instead of denying one’s self and following Christ (who set aside his own will to follow the will of God the Father), these people are the epitome of Satan. Unfortunately many big, growing wonderful churches are exactly led by such leaders. These pastors are building monuments to themselves, and they are not serving God. They use the local church for their own purposes, and this produces great anger from God against them (Ezekiel 34).