Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Bad Reason for Returning to the Institution: Failure to Find a Small Group

The feeling of leaving the church institution behind is an exhilarating one. The shackles are off and it's time to be the church God wants us to be! Woo-hoo!

This wonderful feeling is often accompanied by an expectation that it will be relatively simple to find like-minded believers. Not so fast. Sometimes it's very difficult to come in contact with Christians who hold to a simple view of the body of Christ. After leaving the institution, believers frequently wander in the wilderness attempting to locate a small group with which to meet. After a while some of these believers even return to the institution due to the lack of fellowship.

The struggle is real.

(This is part three of my ten part series entitled Ten Bad Reasons for Returning to the Institution.)

One of the primary reasons Christians leave institutional trappings behind is that they desire true fellowship and community. Worship services, Sunday School, potluck dinners, etc. fail to provide people with the opportunity to truly get to know one another. Because of this, they depart. Departure does not, however, necessarily lead to a quick finding of community. For many the search takes quite some time.

One reason for this is that simple church does not advertise itself. People who gather simply generally do so without much fanfare. These groups can be very difficult to locate. Therefore, when other Christians say good-bye to the institution, they sometimes cannot find anybody to meet with (even if they happen to live right down the street).

Failure to find a small group can be frustrating and depressing. After a while, some Christians even drag themselves back to the institution (often very unhappily). Let me be clear: this is not a good idea. It will only lead to misery.

But what if you leave and cannot find anybody to meet with? My suggestion is to continue to pray about it and continue to look. Also, pray that God would give you opportunity to share your faith. New believers are often extremely open to meeting simply; they do not have tradition-based hangups. Invite new believers over to your home. It's amazing what can happen when Christians eat together. Food and fellowship truly do go together.

Fact: it is not fun at all when you cannot locate other believers to gather with. It can be a very dark time. This does not mean, however, that you were incorrect to leave the institution. Rather, it may simply be a time that God uses to test your faith. Rely on the Lord and keep looking. Use your own home as a place to gather. Invite new believers. Meet days other than Sundays.

Don't go back to the institution. That decision will only lead to regret, pain, and sorrow. Rather, keep looking for others. And then look some more.


Peter Horvatin said...

Hi Eric,

I know that "now that I know what I know", how could I ever go back? It's just not an option for me anymore even though I've gotten pressure by some to go back.

Just a question for you? There is a Christian bookstore not too far from our house. Do you think that putting up a blurb about home church on their little wall for adds would be effective? I'd appreciate your input. Thanks and God Bless you in Jesus name.


Eric said...


Sure, go ahead. However, I would make sure to add something about believing the Gospel as taught in the bible. You want to avoid the wackos if possible.

Paul G said...

Hi Eric, about 10 years ago the Lord Jesus Christ called me out of the institutional church, He said, "Come you out of her and be separate, lest you partake of her sins", which means that I needed to be separated from the institutional church, otherwise I would have adopted the same practices and doctrines of that church.

Yes there are always brothers who love me so much and try to drag me back to the institutional church. They tried every trick in the book and of course that old guilt trip, but because I am very active and fervent in the Lord, therefore they never have accused me of backsliding, so far so good :-)
My biggest worry and concern was that I might separate myself from the institutional church in order to seek my own ways.
I thoroughly enjoy the fellowship of the Saints and I have been blessed that my family are fully supporting the fellowship of an unstructured get together.
Where two or three are gathered in my Name (JESUS), there I am in the midst of them.

Yes I'm still looking for a public open air proclamation of some sort, not just by myself but with a group of believers, perhaps in a park or a city square where it is possible to address and perhaps reach people who do not go to church and are rarely confronted with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Arthur Sido said...

I have more thoughts on this topic but I would guess that for many people this is the number one reason they go back, however reluctantly, to a more traditional. institutional setting.