movement, movement

More On The Church

Posted in christianity, conversation, quotes, religion by amoslanka on November 30, 2008

 I feel my last article about the Church, which began with a lengthy (and dense) quote from Tolstoy, ended on a bad note. Or perhaps not completely bad, just incomplete. I’ve been holding a small discussion with some of my closest conversationalists on the issue, and attempting to iron out more precisely for myself where I believe the proper place is for a non-church-attender to stand on the issue. Or more precisely, what form my tone should take on the issue. I hope to be posting some of the highlights of that discussion in the near future, particularly after I’ve allowed my own thoughts on the matter to become more clear.

All this to say that it is incomplete, though my friend Stephen posted this link on Twitter earlier today, and I found it quite honest, calm, and relatable, more or less what the shape of my tone should, perhaps, be in love.

The article isn’t dead-on with how I feel, but I believe we share many honest sentiments.

Here’s a few lines I pulled from the article:

Periodically on this journey we may go through times when we can’t seem to find any other believers who share our hunger. That’s especially true for those who find that conforming to the expectations of the religious institutions around them diminishes their relationship with Jesus.

Scripture does encourage us to be devoted to one another not committed to an institution.

I make no secret of the fact that I am deeply troubled by the state of organized Christianity. Most of what we call ‘church’ today are nothing more than well-planned performances with little actual connection between believers. Believers are encouraged toward a growing dependency on the system or its leadership rather than on Jesus himself.

Most of us on the journey are accused of being divisive because freedom can be threatening to those who find their security in a religious system.


8 Responses

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  1. ash said, on December 1, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    well certainly i agree with these thoughts and one reason i stepped away from attending the four wall building on a regular basis…not to say that it’s wrong or necessarily b/c i dislike it, but the truth is i see Jesus as someone who went OUT to the people, i may have mentioned this in my email…..and i think too many folks in the evangelical world today are more about bringing people IN…and getting them hooked to their bells and whistles which doesn’t offer a relationship w/ Christ, rather just entertainment and you cannot live faith on entertainment or systematic, routine value. God is outside the box…

  2. amoslanka said, on December 2, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Indeed, Ash, I especially appreciate how you put it that Jesus went OUT to the people.

  3. subversivechurch said, on December 3, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Read Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. A short but profound book. I find myself going back to it because his tone. Isolation and sadness come through, especially in the first part. I wonder sometimes if he wrote it as consolation for himself.


  4. Stephen Stonestreet said, on December 3, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    i havent been reading many blogs lately, kind of making a random post here and there, and i didnt see that you posted this. im glad that you got something out of it as i did. the book, “so you dont want to go to church anymore”, really blessed my socks off. amazing book, one i recommend… anyways, glad you enjoyed it. blessings, my friend :)

  5. bradruggles said, on December 5, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Wow, that’s a great quote. It’s so hard to balance out extreme frustration with the state of the church with the realization that the church is the bride of Christ. I hate when people just jump on the bash-the-church bandwagon without offering up any ideas or insights on what they’re doing to help make it better.

    The church is a collection of beautifully broken and messed up people but it is the vehicle that God chose to reach the world. Remembering that helps fuel my passion to breathe new life into this local expression of who Christ is to my community.

    Great post.

  6. amoslanka said, on December 5, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    @brad — Thanks for commenting brad

    The big problem is the mistaking of The Church for the church, and the assumption that they go together seemlessly. It is possible to have the lowercase church without the upper case, and that idea is core to the idea of non-church-attendance.

    The bash-the-church bandwagon, as you say, is an easy bandwagon to jump on, but the problem is underlying assumption of the structural church in general.

    Simple negativity and cynicism toward the church is a bad idea, but assuming that the [organized, hierarchical, power-oriented institution and group of institutions we can in general call The Church] is a system instituted by God or is even mostly favorable toward him and his will is a mistake as well.

    At least thats our hunch. The key is how we act and react in response to it.

    Church bashers (some might label me as such) are often misrepresented as such. It is often that we only wish to sternly point at the wrong, not “bash”, which implies angst and non-love.

  7. subversivechurch said, on December 8, 2008 at 9:25 am

    @ brad,

    I have to say I’m with Amos on assuming the church is the vehicle God chose is a mistake. It seems to be more a vehicle humans have chosen than God, especially considering his words and actions throughout the scriptures concerning buildings and temples. It also seems to be a vehicle we continue to flog in local communities, even long after the people have stopped coming. It is also a the form we in our western forms of missionary work force on other cultures as well instead of using the funds to help heal, feed, and clothe people. It seems to be a very limiting view of God and honestly, of ourselves.

    And in regards to the people inside being broken and messed up, I have to respectfully disagree. At some point we/they need to take hold of the fact that Jesus said he came for the broken and sick. At some point we need to be healed of this mindset of being “beautifuly broken” and “messed up”. The church as an institution tends to propigate this condition in order to keep people in the seats. The church in its institutional form acts more like a home for the infirm, than as a place to heal people, provide life to the fullest and send people on their way.


  8. amoslanka said, on December 15, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    I can greatly appreciate Mike’s word, “limited”.

    Attempting to define church ourselves, we’ve so vastly limited it that its precisely what puts God in our box. Our safe little blessings-box that we can rub anytime we need to feel better.

    Ok I’m sure thats a bit of an exaggeration on the blessings-box, but you have to admit that this is a fantastic description of how God has been placed within our box, and within the scope of our minds.

    Is your god really God?
    Is my god really God?
    I think our god isn’t God
    If he fits inside our heads.
    – As Cities Burn

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