Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's Not Because of Bad Church Experiences

I've both read and heard it said that the main reason people switch to the simple church model is because of bad church experiences they have had.

I obviously cannot speak for all those who have departed from the traditional church for a simpler, organic model of church life.  However, I can tell you that our family most emphatically did not leave because of "bad church experiences."  In our lives Alice and I have been a part of several solid, evangelical, traditional churches.  We've had a few negative church experiences here and there, but who hasn't?  Overall, we were pleased with and didn't give much thought to the traditional model until a few years ago.

I've written at length about why we made the decision to leave the traditional church; I won't bring all that back up again here.  Let me simply say that we did not leave because of bad experiences.  Rather, we left because of the bible.

Alice and I began to study at length what the bible teaches about the church in command, principle, and example.  After much thought, discussion, prayer, and angst, we finally came to the conclusion that if the early church functioned in a certain manner that was approved of by the apostles, then we should do the same.

In the end, our reason for embracing simple church life was biblical conviction.  It wasn't a decision based on experience; rather, the bible directed our conclusions. Since the bible is sufficient, we determined to follow its model.

I'm not suggesting that everyone else will come to these same conclusions.  I have many family members and friends who love the Lord Jesus, respect the scriptures, and at the same time have not moved to simple church life.  That's fine.  I do not fault them for it.

However, our family had to follow what we read in the bible.  We looked to this model in the hopes of most fully living the church life God wants from us.

It wasn't because of "bad church experiences."


Tim A said...

It seems in my situation as well, not matter what scriptures you share with saints that show them church gatherings are designed by God to be much different than they are, they throw in about how you must have had a personality struggle or something. They just don't get the obedience issue. They are so convinced they are being obedient, that they are doing exactly what the Bible says when they are not even close.

My brother in law is a missionary church planter in the Philippines (where I grew up as an MK). We have gone over the scriptures many times. He says, "We're doing what you suggest here Tim". But they go on building buildings with pulpits and pews and hired men. They may start of in a home, but they NEVER intend to stay that way or for the leader to be fully reproductive in his development of the saints. They will ALWAYS be perpetually dependent, just like the Catholic church in the town plaza. The Filipino saints consume 99.9% of their giving to pay the preacher. They have thousands of believers ready to be sent all over Asia with the gospel, they would adjust so much easier than Americans on 90% less funding and learn the language 80% faster. There are thousands of institutionalized churches in the Philippines but they can only collect enough pesos to send about 20 missionaries. They have a spiritual burden to do this but the American institutionalized version of church we have handed them will not let them do God's calling. Soooo tragic!

My brother in law insists that either "model" is good with God. He sees no obedience issue one way or the other. He just thinks I'm a loose canon with authority issues or something.

Eric said...


Thanks for sharing your experiences.

It is so difficult when we discuss scripture with Christians who either cannot see what we see or refuse to see what we see. I'm not sure what to do in that situation other than pray about it. At the deepest level it seems to be a spiritual issue.

It amazes me how we can show scriptural example after example to folks, and they refuse to come to the conclusion that they should follow that model. They act as if we have ultimate freedom in how we function as the church. They are not being consistent in how they interpret the bible and they don't seem to care.

Arthur Sido said...

I might have shared this before, but that echoes what happened when we left mormonism. People had to assume that there was a sin issue or that we were deeply offended by someone else. Anything but that we had found it to not be true.

Eric said...


I'm not surprised at people's response. Sadly, it's not the norm, even in the church, for most folks to make hard decisions based on scripture.