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This is one of those posts I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but I wasn’t sure how to say what I think needs to be said. The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.

I want to talk about church members who attend their home church with great irregularity. These aren’t unchurched folks, or de-churched, or under-churched. They are semi-churched. They show up some of the time, but not every week. They are on again/off again, in and out, here on Sunday and gone for two. That’s the scandal of the semi-churched. In fact, Thom Rainer argues that the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that church members don’t go to church as often as they used to.

We’ve had Christmas and Easter Christians for probably as long as we’ve had Christmas and Easter. Some people will always be intermittent with their church attendance. I’m not talking about nominal Christians who wander into church once or twice a year. I’m talking about people who went through the trouble of joining a church, like their church, have no particular beef with the church, and still only darken its doors once or twice a month. If there are churches with membership rolls much larger than their average Sunday attendance, they have either under-shepherds derelict in their duties, members faithless in theirs, or both.

I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn’t change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25. We should not neglect to meet together, as some are in the habit of doing. Gathering every Lord’s Day with our church family is one of the pillars of mature Christianity.

So ask yourself a few questions.

1. Have you established church going as an inviolable habit in your family? You know how you wake up in the morning and think “maybe I’ll go on a run today” or “maybe I’ll make french toast this morning”? That’s not what church attendance should be like. It shouldn’t be an “if the mood feels right” proposition. I will always be thankful that my parents treated church attendance (morning and evening) as an immovable pattern. It wasn’t up for discussion. It wasn’t based on extenuating circumstances. It was never a maybe. We went to church. That’s what we did. That made the decision every Sunday a simple one, because there was no real decision. Except for desperate illness, we were going to show up. Giving your family the same kind of habit is a gift they won’t appreciate now, but will usually thank you for later.

2. Do you plan ahead on Saturday so you can make church a priority on Sunday? We are all busy people, so it can be hard to get to church, especially with a house full of kids. We will never make the most of our Sundays unless we prepare for them on Saturday. That likely means finishing homework, getting to bed on time, and foregoing some football. If church is an afterthought, you won’t think of it until after it’s too late.

3. Do you order your travel plans so as to minimize being gone from your church on Sunday? I don’t want to be legalistic with this question. I’ve traveled on Sunday before (though I try to avoid it). I take vacation and study leave and miss 8 or 9 Sundays at URC per year. I understand we live in a mobile culture. I understand people want to visit their kids and grandkids on the weekend (and boy am I thankful when ours come and visit). Gone are the days when people would be in town 50-52 weeks a year. Travel is too easy. Our families are too dispersed. But listen, this doesn’t mean we can’t make a real effort to be around on Sunday. You might want to take Friday off to go visit the kids so you can be back on Saturday night. You might want to think twice about investing in a second home that will draw you away from your church a dozen weekends every year. You might want to re-evaluate your assumption that Friday evening through Sunday evening are yours to do whatever you want wherever you want. It’s almost impossible to grow in love for your church and minister effectively in your church if you are regularly not there.

4. Are you willing to make sacrifices to gather with God’s people for worship every Sunday? “But you don’t expect me to cancel my plans for Saturday night, do you? I can’t possibly rearrange my work schedule. This job requires me to work every Sunday–I’d have to get a new job if I wanted to be regular at church. Sundays are my day to rewind. I won’t get all the yard work done if I go to church every week. My kids won’t be able to play soccer if we don’t go to Sunday games. If my homework is going to be done by Sunday, I won’t be able to chill out Friday night and all day Saturday. Surely God wouldn’t want me to sacrifice too much just so I can show up at church!” Not exactly the way of the cross, is it?

5. Have you considered that you may not be a Christian? Who knows how many people God saves “as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). Does going to church every week make you a Christian? Absolutely not. Does missing church 35 Sundays a year make you a non-Christian? It does beg the question. God’s people love to be with God’s people. They love to sing praises. They love to feast at the Table. They love to be fed from the Scriptures. Infrequent church attendance–I mean not going anywhere at all–is a sign of immaturity at best and unbelief at worst. For whenever God calls people out of darkness he calls them into the church. If the Sunday worship service is the community of the redeemed, what does your weekly pattern suggest to God about where you truly belong?


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328 thoughts on “The Scandal of the Semi-Churched”

  1. A. Amos Love says:

    bostonone – Althea

    bostonone – You write…
    “Jesus told his disciples not to call another Father, not leader.”

    Well, depends on which Bible version you use… ;-)
    BUT – Did any of His Disciples call them self “Leader?” Call another Disciple Leader? NOPE.

    Haven’t you ever wondered? Why? In the Bible?
    NOT one of His Disciples called themselves leader? Or called another Disciple leader?

    Could it be because, Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    For you have “ONE” leader – the Christ? Mat 23:10 NASB – And NONE did? ;-)
    And, if WE, His Disciples, are making Disciples? Don’t we teach what Jesus taught His Disciples?

    Mat 28:20 NKJV
    **teaching them to “observe” all things that I have commanded you**
    Well, seems Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called Leader – And NONE did. ;-)

    **The Interlinear Bible- NOR be called Leaders, for ONE is your Leader the Christ.
    **Phillips Modern English- must NOT let people call you Leaders, you have only ONE leader, Christ.
    **Today’s English Version- NOR should you be called Leader. Your ONE and only Leader is Messiah.
    **The Amplified- you must NOT be called masters (leaders) for you have one master (leader) Christ.

    Seems, Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to be called **Leaders** and NONE did.

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    It was after I left “The Corrupt Religious System” of today, tore up my papers, and walked away from “Church Leadership,” that I realized Isaiah, had prophesied about my “Leadership skills.” And the “Leadership skills” of the rest of todays “Church Leaders.” No really… ;-)

    Isa 3:12 KJV
    …O my people, *they which lead thee* cause thee to err,
    and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Isa 9:16 KJV
    For *the leaders* of this people cause them to err;
    and they that are led of them are destroyed.

    Some legacy todays “Church Leaders” are creating for themselves…

    I’m in agreement with King David…

    The Lord is my Shepherd. :-)

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  2. Althea says:

    Amos

    You are saying that not one epistle was written to a leader. Who was Timothy? Who was Titus? Who was Philemon?

    Were they not leaders? This is why I am not listening to you anymore. You make statements that are clearly false to me, and I hope that no one else does. So far, Kevin has not attempted to lie to me over the last 10 years he’s pastored our church, and I do read my Bible to make sure that Kevin is right. You have not shown much reliability to me at all.

  3. Colin Saxton says:

    The problem today is that people don’t want denominations…they want Christ. I preach on the street and meet all kinds brothers and sisters and the number one question they ask is – “What church do you go to!?” – I truly “hate” that question. Its always “I am a methodist, I am an anglican, I am a reformed baptist…I am a baptist…I was baptised by Paul…I was baptised by…” do you see where I am going with this?

    I do attend with brothers and sisters – but probably not like the denominations want me to attend…by looking at the back of someones head once a week!? Its is absolutely true today that the gift of teaching has taken over as leader, judge and juror and we need to “give space and faith” to the calling of individuals within local congregations…If you are going to preach in front of people each week…then get on the streets and preach to the lost first…lets see the metal before we see the phd!

  4. Colin Saxton says:

    I read 1 corinthians 13 to a young believer in Christ and then I asked them “what is the perfect in this chapter” – without any hesitation at all she said “Jesus, that is obvious” – even a young child could see what the most reformed and learned of today refuse to accept.

  5. Althea:

    Are you being fair?

    It is true that Paul wrote to those whom he raised up as children in the faith (and that he wrote specifically to some who were functioning as elders in order to advise them).

    However, it seems clear from a simple reading of the text that, while it is permissible to write to an elder for a specific reason, the prevalent example when writing to saints in a region is to address them all as one body (see the following):

    Romans 1:7: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.

    1 Corinthians 1:2: Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

    2 Corinthians 1:1: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia.

    Galatians 1:1-2: Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia.

    Ephesians 1:1: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.

    Philippians 1:1: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. [Here’s one where the elders and men charged with specific acts of care for the saints are specifically mentioned (but after the address to all the saints).]

    1 Thessalonians 1:1: Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Timothy and Titus are written specifically to these two, as Paul’s sons in the faith.

    James 1:1: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

    2 John 1:1: The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.

    Jude (verse 1): Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.

    Peace and grace,

    Mark

  6. Althea says:

    Amos made a statement that was false, you know it, Mark.

    I don’t have to hang around anymore, and I am being right, if not fair.

  7. A. Amos Love says:

    Mark

    Thank you for all those verses, letters, and who they were addressed to…

    “However, it seems clear from a simple reading of the text that, while it is permissible to write to an elder for a specific reason, the prevalent example when writing to saints in a region is to address them all as one body (see the following):”

  8. A. Amos Love says:

    Althea

    Sorry – That you think I “make statements that are clearly false to” you.
    ….. Well, Maybe? Yeah, I’ve been wrong before. What are the statements that are false? From the Bible?
    Sorry – That you say – “I am not listening to you anymore.”
    …..Well, can you still comment on your beliefs? And listen, debate, with the others commenting here?
    Sorry that you say – “I don’t have to hang around anymore”
    …..What about the rest here. – Are they ALL making false statements? Listen, and challenge them.
    ….Or, Are your Traditions? Being challenged? And this is what makes you feel uncomfortable?

    …. I understand the angst, when someone challenges your Tradtions. I did NOT like it either, at first.

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

  9. Althea:

    I don’t subscribe to your point-of-view, but I do believe you are sincere.

    Perhaps, the issue is not that some are intentionally deceitful, but rather, simply semantics, a difference in what a leader is and how that leadership is expressed.

    For example, I would suggest to you that the scriptures teach that there is difference between how ‘leadership’ is demonstrated in the world and within the assembly of the saints.

    Christ has ceded none of His authority to man: therefore, the only power that elders have is 1) their example in the faith and 2) to persuade by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    These powers are inherent to all the saints.

    Conversely, in the world, leadership is 1) power by position in a hierarchical organizational structure and 2) men being in charge of men.

    The difference with the Lord is that the Holy Spirit is the only Authorized Leader [and the Spirit always bears witness of Christ]: and He works through all of the saints in various ways at various times to accomplish His will and reveal Himself among His people.

    The way that plays out in practice is that 1 person is not called to dominate the assembly, as is the practice of the denominational churches today, where people gather and are organized around one, human personality [the lead pastor].

    Big difference.

    Another thing that I notice about believers in the denominational churches is that they are often not comfortable with real conversation: the kind where there is not always perfect, mutual agreement among all parties, and where real differences can be freely expressed in the light of God’s love.

    Real conversation is not possible, unless both parties view the other as a legitimate voice in the assembly on the basis of their relationship with God.

    Honestly, I think people should have a better understanding of each other’s daily lives before they are truly qualified to comment on one another’s character.

    Peace,

    Mark

  10. A. Amos Love says:

    Althea

    You ask…
    “Who was Timothy? Who was Titus? Who was Philemon? – Were they not leaders?”

    Well, have you checked the Bible to see if they were called leaders? Or called themselves leaders?
    If the Bible does NOT call them Leaders – How did WE, His Sheep, His kids, learn that?

    “MY” pastors taught they were leaders, and, then I taught they were leaders. Sure sounded good to those of us who thought we were Special, and wanted to be known as “Leaders” when I was a part of “Today’s Religious System.”

    Today I call them “Servants.” Because, in the Bible, ALL His Disciples called themselves “Servants.”
    And – Feel free to correct me from the Bible? What verses say the were “Leaders?” Of a church?

    And if Kevin is correct when he says in this post – “WE are the church…” “WE… don’t go to church…”
    Then WE, His Ekklesia, His Church, His sons, are to be “Led” by the Spirit – Yes? Rom 8:14
    Then WE, His Sheep, born of the Spirit, are like the wind, pneuma, Spirit, going and coming. John 3:8.

    Then WE, His Church, His kids, are led by the Spirit, and are like the wind. Those born of the Spirit are NOT always planted in the same pew, Weak after Weak. Then WE, His Church, His Disciples, can Follow Jesus. John 10:27. And do what Jesus says to each of us personally.

    Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which “I say?”

    Today I see that teaching, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, are “Church Leaders” – As…
    Commandments of men, Doctrines of men, Traditions of men, that Make Void – The Word of God.
    Mark 7:13, Mat 15:9, Mark 7:7, Tit 1:14, Col 2:22, Eph 4:14, Mark 7:8, Col 2:8.

    Eventually, I had to repent for teaching Doctrines of men – And NOT the Bible… :-(
    For thinking I was a Church Leader, and for wanting believers to follow me. :-(

    When WE, His Ekklesia, His Church, His Kings and Priests, His Ambassadors, His Sevants…
    His Sheep – Hear His Voice – and – Follow

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  11. A. Amos Love says:

    Althea

    And what about Jesus? Who calls Himself – The ONE Leader?;-)
    Are your “Leaders” in compitition with Jesus? ;-)
    Why isn’t what Jesus said – Important?

    You might want to “Ask Jesus” about these verses…
    Where Jesus teaches His Disciples NOT to be called Leaders…

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible.
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant.”
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    Mat 23:10-12 TM – The Message.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    And – Jesus, as man, Gave WE, His Ekklesia, His Church, His Sheep, His sons, quite an EXAMPLE.
    Jesus, as man, humbled Himself, made Himself of NO reputation,
    And took on the form of a “Servant.” Phil 2:7-8 KJV

    Seems, when someone takes the “Title/Position” Senior Pastor/Leader/Reverend…
    They NOW have a Reputation, whether they want it or NOT. ;-)

    Exclusive – Being a Church Leader is “Exclusive” – Only avaliable to a Special Few…
    Inclusive – Being a “Servant,” a King and a Priest, an Ambassador, is “Inclusive” – Available to ALL.

    Seems His Disciples believed what Jesus taught them. And followed His Example…
    In the Bible, **His Disciples** all called themselves **Servants.**
    None called themselves “Leaders.” – None called themselves “Servant-Leader.”

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders?”
    And someone calls them self a “leader?”Or thinks they are a “leader?”
    Allows others to call them Leader?

    Are they one of “His Disciples?”

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? ;-)

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  12. Althea says:

    Amos–I’ve had a bad experience trusting people, so I don’t easily trust people. People have to earn it with me, and I bolt when I feel like I’m being led down a path that isn’t right.

    I didn’t come from a Christian home that honored the Bible, and when I became a believer spent many an hour debating with friends and family. The debates made me think more sharply about the infallible word of God, and I have done my homework. I’ve studied Timothy 1 and 2 as well as Titus in depth, with verse analysis methods, without a lot of biases from past church
    traditions. Timothy is a spiritual son of Paul, but he is a lot more. As well as Titus. I don’t care what they were called, they functioned as men who had the church on their shoulders and Paul entrusted them with much. 2 Tim 2:2.

    As for leadership, Jesus commanded his apostles to make disciples (Matthew 28)and how did they do it? I think they were trained by Jesus for three years as he modeled for them how to disciple.

    Paul was raising up leaders, who were to raise up leaders. It’s not a tradition from the Catholic church, it’s biblical. Robert Coleman wrote an excellent book called “The Master Plan of Evangelism” and followed it up with “The Master Plan of Discipleship”. Yes, they were servants but again, they were functioning as humble leaders who laid down their lives for the sheep, as Jesus did.

    Could there be another approach to church than I know? Sure, but I don’t think you can find another biblical model better than the one that originated with Jesus and his disciples. The church survived all these years because Jesus promised it would, I am not doubting that there has been a lot of problems with leaders.

    I am interested in Kevin’s post about “semi-churched” because my husband and I were “semi-churched”. We, too, thought it was legalistic to be in a pew every Sunday morning. We were the 67% attendance a year sometimes. When we moved to Lansing, we met the elders and deacons and deaconesses at URC (as well as many non leaders who had been with URC for more than 30 years) and were impressed with their knowledge of Scripture, humility, servanthood and commitment. We wanted to be like them. And they invited Kevin to pastor URC about 10 or 11 years ago. I think it was a great fit for us to have him and his wife, Trisha, with us.

    When we became members, we promised to be consistent in attendance. We just want to be faithful, and I think we’ve benefited from it.

    Do I question leaders? Sure, all the time. But all the pastors at URC, not just Kevin, have proven to me that they love Jesus, not just by words but by deeds done in love.

    Like I said, I don’t trust many people and especially not in the cyber world. But I trust most people who serve URC.

  13. Jim says:

    “I don’t think you can find another biblical model better than the one that originated with Jesus and his disciples. The church survived all these years because Jesus promised it would”

    The problem is that denominations, religious buildings, religious titles, pew warmers, sunday service, “senior pastors”, etc are clearly not the biblical model. They are the roman catholic model, and mimic much of the synagogue system, but nothing more. When you say the church survived all these years you are partially right. It is true the eclessia (church = called out ones) has survived despite the man made kingdoms that compete for the loyalty of the true churches members.

    Mans harlot church system is not what Jesus promised would survive, it is what God has promised to destroy when Jesus returns.

    In Christ,

    Jim

  14. Althea says:

    As for this blog post itself, Kevin is challenging members who have made a promise to be faithful attenders. If his tone seems assertive, I think it is appropriate on this particular topic. I have be fortunate to have older women mentor me who asked me about my priorities, and I preferred that they didn’t beat around the bush. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love” Proverbs 27:5 and “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6

    Really, Amos, be more careful in your statements.

    And Mark, I’m not afraid of conversation or even debate. I’m not sure who you are and I prefer talking with people I know. And really, you guys–it’s two against one. Sometimes three. I have a reason to feel uncomfortable here. After awhile, you guys sound like lawyers who found a loophole.

  15. Jim says:

    My friend TJ (who repented of being a religious professional and left his salaried position as a pastor) wrote this. There is no biblical way to refute it.

    People of God, there is no pulpit, no pews, no steeples, no stained-glass windows, no senior pastors, no lead pastors, no assistant pastors, no youth pastors, no boards, no superintendents, no general conferences, no committees, no tithes, no church buildings, no building funds, no church choirs, no worship leaders, no worship teams, no professional staff, etc. etc. etc., in the pages of the New Testament. These are all THINGS created by man to satisfy their fleshly cravings to worship a god in their own image. For what was, will be again….see the Israelites in the wilderness, etc.

    There is the priesthood of all believers who are to build up and edify one another by acts of love and service for one another. There is a plurality of experienced servants/disciples who lead by example and watch over the flock in love and concern. There is the one-anothering of Christ’s servants “ministering” meaning serving, the brethren with all that we have whether spiritual or natural, to include our very possessions if our brethren are in need, etc. There is a total freedom in Christ Jesus that just is not to be found in the modern traditional/institutional “church.” Break loose the shackles of your Babylonian captivity and return to God in spirit and in truth!

  16. Althea says:

    Jim, what makes you think that God cares about any particular structure of the church–even if it isn’t perfectly “biblical” in your estimation? “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9 So, whatever we dream up, God still works through us. Does the church in any of her forms thwart the purposes of God? Isn’t God bigger than the church even if she is less than “perfect”. You sound as though God isn’t in control of anything, much less his people.

  17. Jim says:

    Althea,

    “what makes you think that God cares about any particular structure of the church”

    The words of Jesus and the apostles that I have written over again in this thread. Paul said to mark those who did not follow the apostolic pattern and avoid them. Jesus said they make the commandments of God void by the commandments of men.

    “Does the church in any of her forms thwart the purposes of God?”

    The pharisees ‘thwarted’ the purposes of God, they took away the key to the kingdom and hindered those who would try to enter. Do you not know that your church system is just like the unconverted synagogue system that Jesus came and rebuked?

    let me ask you a question, do you think that the mormon church, watchtower church, sda church, etc, thwart the purposes of God?

  18. Althea says:

    “Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that you can do anything and nothing can stop you.” Job 42:1-2

    Jim, are you saying that God is not in control? That mere men are more powerful than God? If you think this way, your God is too small.

  19. Jim says:

    Althea –

    My God is the God of the Bible, the father of my Lord Jesus Christ.

    Don’t think for a moment that he approves of your evil religious system simply because he allows it, and even works in-spite of it because there are some true saints in there. By saying God is ‘big’ I assume you are saying he is absolutely sovereign in which I would agree. Yet he has always sovereignly allowed things he does not approve of such as Isreal choosing Saul for their king. Likewise today his sheep choose to sit in roman catholic styled institutions and disobey his clear teachings by calling men by religious titles, supporting denominations, etc. Make sure your ‘god’ is not so big that he contradicts his own word and clear instructions given through Christ and the apostles.

    This is my last post here as I think everything that can be said has been said. Jesus has been freeing many of his saints from the bondage of institutional churchianity that your leader loves, indoctrinates you with, and of course earns his reputation and living from.

    Steve was killed by the religious in Acts chapter 7 for telling them how corrupt their system was and that God does not dwell in temples made with human hands. I will tell you plainly that God does not dwell in your religious system. Any reality of the presence of Christ is because He does dwell in the few sheep there among the religious goats.

    In Christ -Jim

  20. A. Amos Love says:

    Althea

    You write @ December 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm
    “Amos–I’ve had a bad experience trusting people, so I don’t easily trust people.”

    me too… :-(

    ————–

    And – The Bible warns about 1-False apostles. 2- Many false prophets. 3- False teachers. 4- False brethren. 5- False Christ’s (false anointed ones).6- Decietful workers. 7- Evil workers. 8- Dogs and Swine.

    WE, His Sheep, His Ekklesia, His Church, His Kings and Priest, His Ambassordors…
    Sure have a bumpy road to walk on. Lots of pot holes to distract WE on this path to Jesus.

    Glad you stuck around. Glad you found a place where you feel comfortable.

    I still recommend calling Jesus – MY pastor. :-) And see what happens…

    Psalm 118:8-9
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

    Jer 17:5
    Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man…
    and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

    2 Peter 2:1
    But there were false prophets also among the people,
    even as there shall be false teachers among you,

    2 Peter 2:3
    And through covetousness shall they with feigned words
    make merchandise of you:

    2 Timothy 3:13
    But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,
    deceiving, and being deceived.

    Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
    Mark 13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
    Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived:

    Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words…
    2Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means…
    1John 3:7 Little children, Let no man deceive you …

    I left “Today’s Religious System” in the early 90’s, thru much Pain, Tears, and “Spiritual Abuse.”

    But I never left Jesus or the Body of Christ. It was very painful the first couple of years…
    But the benefit of the Abuse was – I had NO place to go but to go to Jesus. ;-)

    And Jesus is the best – Yes?

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  21. Althea says:

    Amos, honestly, I don’t feel safe here. But I take a risk from time to time and get out of my comfort zone. I agree that we need to look to Jesus, not mere men. Merry Christmas!

    Jim, I read your bio on your website. You’ve been through a lot, and I’m sorry you’ve been through so much pain. Perhaps neither of us are seeing the true picture–we see as through a mirror dimly, like Paul. And I do believe that God has been merciful and gracious towards churches, as he is with me and you–sinners as we are. I read the warnings to the seven churches often, and I know that there are consequences to disobedience. I still don’t agree with you, and you often sound angry to me. Merry Christmas.

    Merry Christmas, Mark. Yeah, we don’t see eye to eye, and thanks for challenging me to say why I don’t agree. Enjoy celebrating Christ’s incarnation.

  22. God bless you, Althea.

    Peace and grace,

    Mark

  23. A. Amos Love says:

    Althea

    “Amos, honestly, I don’t feel safe here.”

    Yeah, we’re a tough bunch for sure.

    And you did well. You held your own. Kudos

    Jesus loves us this I know…

    Be Blessed in your search for “Truth.”

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  24. Jessica says:

    Listen to yourselves. You’re all arguing over whether going to church is important – which means you are totally missing the point. It’s not about whether or not we go to church – it’s about whether or not we live our lives as close to how Jesus led His as possible. Did anyone really try to live by the whole WWJD thing or was that just a nice slogan to put on a bumper sticker? Jesus is looking down on us now with tears in His eyes because instead of just doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason, we are focused on pointing the finger at everyone else for whether or not they go to church. If you go to church 52 Sundays a year, but then you get on blogs like these and make others feel horrible for their choices and beliefs, then what’s the point? We aren’t here to judge others, lest we be judged ourselves. Bryan said “people need solid teaching regularly and should not be left out there all “alone with Jesus”.” Why on earth would you spend your life believing in a God that you don’t want to be left alone with!??! Lastly, and most important of all, God commanded us to love one another. Not just on Sunday. All day long every day of the week 52 weeks a year for the rest of our lives. Let’s start now. Let’s love each other and stop being so rude to people who share a different point of view than we do. After all, if Jesus could stay nailed on a cross and dying and yet still say “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,” then the least we can do is remain kind when we disagree with someone on the internet. LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!!

  25. A. Amos Love says:

    Hey

    All you “sock-puppets” – A “Jesus New Year” to ya-all.

    And to all those who reject this idea that “WE are the problem” WE, His Sheep, His Disciples.
    of “The Scandal of the Semi-churched” and WE, His sheep, do NOT show up often enough for some.

    Shouldn’t these Religious Leaders be gleeful that anyone shows up – at all?
    Seeing that much of what they proclaim is “Tradtions of men?” And NOT in the Bible?

    And for your New Year edification – Check out this blog that has referenced this “Scandal.” ;-)
    You might enjoy some of the comments – And might want to comment yourself.

    “Start Taking Attendance at Church and Make Those Disobedient Members Show Up!”

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/01/03/start-taking-attendance-at-church-and-make-those-disobedient-members-show-up/#comment-126278

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  26. Eagle says:

    Althea-

    When you reference God being in control the one challenge with that kind of sovereignty is the Problem of Evil. If you’re going to be a Hyper-Calvinist than you have to come to the conclusion that God foreordains evil and desires it. So what does that mean?

    If you are a Calvinist then when you’re child is molested and sodomized then you take the molester out buy him a beer and praise God that he was obedient to molesting your child. Remember that molestation is an act of faith since God foreordained that.

    If your a Calvinist and you had a family member who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald who was lost in the World Trade Center on September 11, than as a Calvinist you should thank the Lord that terrorists flew 767’s into skyscrapers as that is what the Lord desired.

    If you’re a Calvinist and your husband was stabbed 67 times and killed, then as a Calvinist you should praise the Lord that your husband was murdered because again the Lord wanted that.

    Get used to the determinism…it goes along with that faith system. And I’m not speaking as an Arminian either they have their own problems.

  27. Steve D says:

    Two thoughts:
    The assumption that one has to meet for a Sunday Morning Worship Service to not neglect Hebrews 10:25 is fallacious. We know that where two or more are gathered together there He is also. So, a gathering of two or more believers satisfies our need for gathering.

    Second, whether you realize it or not, you have followed the Roman Catholic concept of Holy Days of Obligation. Only you’ve made you obligatory day every Sunday.

  28. Chris says:

    My father was a Minister for over 50 years, and there are two things I have no recollection of him doing: 1. Missing 8-9 Sundays a year 2. Guilting people into going to church.

    My father was a man who didn’t preach grace as a required doctrine, he lived it. When he moved from Oregon to Arizona, two families followed him, along with an elderly member who switched nursing homes to do it!

    Why? They felt L.O.V.E.D. By an Arminian no less! :)

  29. Althea says:

    Eagle-

    You don’t know anything about me, my life and my sorrows as well as my faith in God. Why do you think I’m a Calvinist just because God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, as described in the Bible? I lived most of my Christian faith without knowing much about Calvinism, but when I finally did, I didn’t discover anything new than what I studied in the Bible. Especially Job.

    Evil is a problem that Christ dealt with on the cross. If there was no Gospel, there would be no comfort at all. I look to the cross, and everything I need to know about God’s love for me and the world is right there.

  30. Joe Bigliogo says:

    Proud apostate.

  31. Grahame Smith says:

    I would challenge this article in many areas. Its stating that those who don’t attend ‘religiously’ on Sundays should questions whether they are Christian’s? How disturbing… how legalistic and disappointing. Our walk IN Christ hopefully is a 24/7 relationship, we should take up our crosses daily and live our lives constantly in his presence… not just for 2 hours on a weekend?

    We should aspire and delight in gathering as the body of Christ, Christ is the cornerstone and foundation on which his body is built and function… he’s not talking about a physical building (or a place) but a spiritual house! We should not just gather regularly, but be drawn together as the spirit leads and love one another as much as we can. Seeking first God and his kingdom and then encouraging, loving and supporting each other as a every-member functioning body. (I do not agree with leaders who take pleasure in there own views and teaching, forgetting Christ as the supreme and preeminent head of the Church (ekklesia- his body, They need to be teaching his body how to function and they be built up into him) Rebuking the body should only occur in one way – pointing them at Christ and his teaching, every letter written in scripture has Him in sight.

    This article places judgment and creates sectarianism, its leads its readers away from any position of Grace and acceptance where Christ identifies with His people (ekklesia, gathering as his body)

    Jesus was clear that what the religious leaders of the day considered sacred (Sabbath) Gods also considered sacred, but not to sit still, but put love and faith into action (Jesus himself demonstrated that faith without action is dead) – Jesus healed on the Sabbath and refused to let religious law prevent Gods grace from extending to his loved ones. What did he say the sabith was made for man not man made for the sabith. I have spent 25 years as a Church leader and Pastoral Overseer and not once did I try and replace the yoke of Christ which is much lighter than teh cares of this world with weight generated by calvanistic legalistic view of the CHuirch of Jesus Christ. We need unity of purpose and shine the light of Christ into peoples lives.

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  33. Awakening Every Believer says:

    Its awful that this article fullfills the very staement it tries deflect its attention away from “The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real”

    The basic biblical theology in this article is very construed, we dont go to church – We are the Church! the modern day church is just a building, its a religious symbol of a certain flavour of christianity but not the core reason or expression of the NT ekklesia. To bring attention to those who dont legalistically attend a building for a miniscule 2 hrs each week is a waste of ekklesiastical energy. We are meant to be built up into Christ every day and function in every gathering, both in our personal walk with Christ and corporately. We have a powerful expressions in our locale where copius devoted followers gather regularly, the are functional and impact daily the lives of people… im proud to say they even seek Christ in spirit and in truth daily and dont let the ‘church building’ be there only restricted place of gathering. If I can show love to you today brother, it would be to understand firstly who Christ is and live IN Him.. focus on that instead on passing judgment on those who from a distance may not be attending your club.
    “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” – Heb 3:12-13

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  39. Grahame Smith says:

    It has been with great interest following this dialogue in regards to church attendance. What can get lost in this debate is the fact the we as believers are the ekklesia. Historically we have been conditioned to think the ekklesia can only function under 4 walls and a roof being run by a leadership team. consider these verses:
    Hebrews 10:25 Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Ultimately where we gather and who chooses to be there is not important. As we are His body its the gathering that is critical not where nor who attends as long as they are part of His body. So be encouraged as His word tells us….. test all things we are told against His word. So Meet under a tree, in some ones house, in the street or in a church building. Its His body that counts. We are called to be His body 24/7, to meet and do good works. So go for it and don’t allow yourself to be condemned for meeting somewhere else. Blessings

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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