Thursday, May 29, 2008

I hate organized church, now what?

So how do we solve all the problems in the institutionalized church? It is so irresistible to our humanity not to provide a solution. Even to the problem of organized religion. We think we have solutions. But the truth is we don’t. I don’t think home churches are a solution. Any solution other than the total abolishment of institutionalization is just another system. Who wants yet another system? Where there are two or three gathered in the name of Jesus, there are also rules, principles, schedules, plans and all those things we hate inside a church building.

One of the stunning things I notice in New Testament is that, though Jesus resisted the monstrous hands of religion, He did not try to fix it. He simply went on with His purpose. We cannot fix any system, no matter how badly we are tempted to do so. I think the legalism in Christianity will be on the rise as we approach rapture, because that’s a very attractive tool Satan can effectively use against God’s children to bind them by taking away their freedom in Christ. He is using it today and he will continue to use it.

When I left organized church few years ago, I thought about a replacement (substitute) system all day long. I was so badly addicted to religion and though I left it, I didn’t feel free of it. So I wanted another system so badly. But thankfully, God did not give me an instant answer. I am glad he did not, because I learned so much more about walking by faith. In my desperation, I cried out to God for a community. I wanted that human security or support system. It is so easy to find security in a group, church or community than trusting Jesus. Trusting Jesus requires courage, and I didn’t have it.

I am not against the fellowship of like-minded believers but all I am saying is that, it is not a substitute for walking by faith. I have fought legalism in general, but now I fight only the ones coming on my way. Not that I agree to the legalistic teachings in church, but I am totally done with it. God has put me in a position where I am not controlled by Christian laws (at least for the major part), so I have a less need to fight against it. That is not to say that I am totally free from the performance mentality. It still creeps in once in a while.

Though I am discouraged by the amount of legalism in Christian circles, my hopes are on the high to see the tremendous number of people who are coming into the understanding of unconditional love and grace of God through Christ Jesus. It is an awesome thing.

Going back to the original question: I hate organized church, now what? The answer to that question in its most simplistic form would be: do proclaim truth. I have no solutions to fix religion, and I don't think it is my job to fix it either. My job is to expose truth, and when truth does its job, there is freedom indeed.

8 comments:

Joel Brueseke said...

Hi Bino,

I've thought many of the same thoughts and asked many of the same questions, having been 'gone' from the institutionalized church for over a year now.

In a sense, I was "gone" from the IC long before I left, if you know what I mean. :) My heart simply was not there. But I know that I know that God had me there and that it was a good thing, so in that sense, by faith, my heart was there.

I think overall for me the main thing now is asking, "Father, what do you want me to do?" "Where do you want me to go?"

I don't mean "what church do you want me to go to?" but what people, what activities, etc, do you want me to be involved with? I've received no clear direction, and I think that's all right.

I think I've grown more in the past year than in all the previous years, and I've also realized that the 'fellowship' that I do have from time to time with other people - non-structured, non-planned - is more rich than I ever had at the weekly meeting.

I think I would enjoy a regularly planned meeting with other people who don't want to live in the bonds of religion but rather in the true freedom of life in Christ, but as of now I simply haven't had that fortune. Again, it's ok. I look back on my life and I see how the Lord has led me in so many ways that I never would have planned or imagined, and I trust that He's continuing to do that whether I understand it or see visible signs of it or not.

This morning I had an unusually strange sense of fear, uncertainty and sadness, and it just hung there for a few hours. We've had some major expenses suddenly come our way, and on top of that I kept thinking of various false doctrines that are out there in the world, and I was overwhelmed with thinking about "me" confronting them.

But I realized that it wasn't up to me to save the world and it wasn't up to me to figure out how all of our problems would be solved and I said something to the effect of: "Father, I trust in you and I rest in you." I simply let go of carrying the burden upon myself. The reason I bring this up is because I've found it's the same thing when I try to figure out God's plan for my life. If I don't see what He's doing, then there's just no way for me to figure it out! I simply have to rest in Him and keep on believing the truth that He's working it all out. It's He who works in me according to His good pleasure, and that's something I can rest in.

Anyway, sorry so long, but your post spurred a lot of thought in me over the past day or two and it's been neat to lay some of these burdens down in the form of writing. :)

I think you're right... simply keep proclaiming the truth, in faith, knowing that it's really God's truth and He'll do with it what He wants to do in the lives of people.

Matthew Daelon said...

I agree home gatherings aren't the answer either. They are really good in order for the Church to become more of a family and to be free of the burden of paying for a building, but moving into homes definitely isn't the key.

In my opinion, having not grown up religiously attending services in a building, it's not a big deal to move out of a building into smaller ones. You can make another system out of being in homes.

I've also noticed that sometimes in plans and systems people come up with for Church growth and whatnot that it starts to sound like we're recruiting Christian drones or something. It gives the idea that people are no longer people. They're just numbers in a system of mindless discipleship in order to score points in God's kingdom.

That could just be my interpretation of it. I don't want to bash anyone but that the feeling I get when I hear new ideas for Church growth and such.

Matthew Daelon said...

Maybe we should start our online Church service! LOL

We could all meet up in Yahoo chat and fellowship LOL

Bino Manjasseril said...

Joel,

Thank you for sharing. Writing is a great way of expressing ourselves, sharing the burdens and lightens our soul.

Though my spiritual journey started from the church, it was almost stagnant, being in an infant stage, without the understanding of God's love towards me regardless of my badness, imperfections and inabilities. On top of it, institutions contributed towards a great deal of legalism and self righteousness. In effect, it was terrible.
It was when I left the IC, the real struggle (in a different dimension) started. I went through the insecurities of lack of community, isolation and loneliness, but I was also excited about God's love and grace and I didn't want to compromise grace with any form of legalism. You know, when grace take root in our heart, it can't help but to grow.
No matter what I went through so far, when I look back, like you said, I can only thank Him. I am convinced of the verse: that He will cause everything for good for those who love Him.
I too am very aware of the fact that I cannot change the world. I think God is doing what He wants to do through me now, anyways. In whatever fashion He want to use me to extend the impact of His truth in this world, I am available.

Bino Manjasseril said...

Matthew,
...sound like we're recruiting Christian drones or something.
I agree. The moment we register a fellowship as a organization (doesn't matter whether it is non-profit), it in fact becomes an organization. It involves money transactions, material stuff, building (mortgage or rent), then when it comes to us, we become 'human resources'. They assign titles and duties, though we take such positions passionately in the beginning, we lose such passion quickly and become mechanical. It is so easy to fall into this. I remember, I joined a campus outreach program in the church where I used to attend, with a lot of excitement. Within no time, It became a burden. Because the way I operated was as a 'snack provider' or 'transportation provider' etc. As a person, I couldn't do anything authentically. My roles were assigned.
Another issue is hierarchy. I hate hierarchy when it comes to ministry. Hierarchy ruins the realness in people. They will be forced to act as per their hierarchical title.
Well, I can go on and on... But my point is that.. all I want to do is to be in a relationship with Christ and making myself available to Him as a living sacrifice and if He wants to grow HIS church using me, why not? I am available.

Bino Manjasseril said...

BTW Matthew, meeting in yahoo is not a bad idea. My id is bino_b.

Nicole said...

Hey!
I would love to meet up on Yahoo I just need guidence in setting up an account! I would love to chat with you all! It would be a blast!

So, Bino! You hit the nail on the head for me in this post! I loved it! I agree, I don't think we can do anything to 'fix' organized religion in the IC, and you are right when you say its not our job to do so! Father is big and has the ability to do what he will with all that stuff regarding religion. I do think he desires to show grace to each and every single person, but I am thinking that he will do it in his own way and own time! This freedom that we all experience is contagious if you actually understand and grasp how free we are in Father. For me it boils down to not just being free from going to church on Sunday, but, experiencing Father's grace and freedom on a day to day bases, and living with no obligations to conform to what men have made.

Its just me and Father, and brothers and sisters to share life with in the journey!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Bino Manjasseril said...

Nicole,

My temptation to find a substitute system was much higher than my temptation to fix the existing system. By the time I left the IC, I pretty much knew in my heart that I can't fix it. You go and tell them about grace, it is as if you are talking to the wall. They don't get it, and I can't teach them. I fought into desperation and disappointment.

Then I thought to myself, how am I going to live without 'fellowship'. Now, God is slowly teaching me something that all I need is Him. I am also thankful for my blog fiends. You guys are my primary source of encouragement. And this is the (only) way I fellowship now.

BTW talking about yahoo, I just received a invitation from Joel to join his messenger. Do you have yahoo id? Now there is a way you can talk to your messenger buddies directly from the yahoo mail page itself. If not, the first step would be creating a yahoo id at here

Then you may download the yahoo messenger here and install it.

Now you are ready to add buddies to your list and start talking. There are ways to do group chat etc which we can get into later.

Hope that helps. My yahoo id is bino_b, joel: jsbreeze111