“This is the way we do things here. If you aren’t being ministered to, there are other places where you can be” said Jeff. In other words, If you don’t like it, leave. Buzz off. Take a hike. I heard this with sadness a couple decades ago because I knew it meant that the Scriptural truth I was seeing in the Word and had tried to convey was being refused. This is a mantra at Calvary Chapels, but it really is a mantra for the whole Church. So why would he say this, and why would every other Church say it?
Well, the root of it, in my studied opinion, is fear. The Church (in general), and most churches, are houses built of cards, mostly representing the philosophies of men. They don’t want the wind of the Spirit of Truth blowing through and knocking down what they’ve built.
What was I proposing that was so bad? Was I a heretic, trying to change or ignore Scripture on the virgin birth or deity of Jesus? What could have elicited such a cold and dismissive statement? In a word, discipleship. Calvary Chapel, and many other churches, have a nice way of attracting visitors but offer very little to keep them growing in grace and truth. They have heart-thumping concerts, speak nifty things from the pulpit, and even read Scripture now and then. They lay out a nice banquet of platitude Twinkies and selected Ding Dong verses providing a sugar rush and making one feel good for the moment, but is sadly lacking in the meat of the Word. If you don’t expect much of a church except as a safe-space social club that doesn’t dish up too many of the uncomfortable parts of the Bible, has a nice music team and some special programs on holidays, then you won’t be told to hit the road. A person can survive for a while on Twinkies and Ding Dongs, right up until the nutritional needs of the body demand something more substantial. Then our starving spirits have to go somewhere that offers solid teaching and examples of living the entirety of the Word.
The problems is, does any place like that exist? After making more than 15 churches in 10 different denominations our home before I was 40, I have to say, no. Every single church is a house of teaching cards built on the sand of personalities and men’s opinions. If a person dares to ask questions after comparing the card teachings to Scripture and discovering gaping holes, that’s when all of them will tell you in one fashion or another to find another ministering place. They can’t change because they’d have to admit they were wrong and pride won’t let them do that.
My family, and now my kid’s families, haven’t been to church in a long time, except the kids for some youth group activities once in a while. And yet it is amazing how much we’ve grown in Scripture understanding and practice. We have God’s holidays, His Sabbath and the whole and balanced Word that ties us together in a true ekklesia with our Messiah Yeshua as the head, nourishing us with His body and blood. Now that we have some distance, we see The Church, and most churches, as the dry wells and fruitless fig trees that they insist on staying. They did us a favor by forcing a trip to another place. We went into The Land, figuratively, while they’re still wandering around the same mountain, unwilling to drop their pride and salve their eyes with all the truth of the Word so they can see the way themselves.