the weblog of Alan Knox

Assumptions about Church

Posted by on Dec 4, 2008 in blog links | 15 comments

Mark at “the untried” wrote an important article a few days ago called “Assumptions #1“. I assume this means there will be more articles on the same topic. In this first article, Mark sets the stage as follows:

Since making the choice to step outside the walls of institutional church I have had many people say the same things to me over and over. They make assumptions about me and my reasons for my choices that are simply untrue.

What assumptions do people make when they find out that Mark is not part of an institutional church? 1) He chose not to attend church because it was inconvenient. 2) He is a failure as a man, husband, and father. 3) He is a heretic with no commitment to Christ. 4) He has been deceived and he is leading his family astray.

Then, Mark says the following:

Convenient would be making a habit of walking back through the doors of church every Sunday morning. All the accusations would stop. All the “I’m concerned for you” talks would stop. I would receive pats on the back from those in the church. They would praise my Godliness for being there. I would receive a hero’s welcome as if the mere act of stepping through the doors had suddenly made me a ‘good Christian’ again. That would be easy. It would be convenient. It would stroke my ego.

When we associate “attending an church service” with maturity or discipleship, then we are making wrong assumptions about the church. The church is much more than attendance or having your name associated with an institutional church.

Its time for the church to stop worrying about whether or not others attend “worship services”. Instead, we need to be concerned about discipleship, fellowship, transformation, service, etc. Can these things happen for a person who is part of an institutional church? Yes. Can these things happen for a person who is not part of an institutional church? Yes. Are there advantages to one over the other? Yes, I think so.


15 Comments

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  1. 12-4-2008

    “Are there advantages to one over the other? Yes, I think so.”

    Please continue…or is that for a later blog post? ;^)

    -Jeff

  2. 12-4-2008

    Alan, you raise some good questions. Can discipleship, fellowship, transformation and service take place without an association with the IC? In theory, most of us would have to admit that they certainly do. In practice, though, I’m afraid we deny that truth.
    Do you think that the IC actually may inhibit those things? If so, how?

  3. 12-4-2008

    My husband and I got (still get) many concerned inquiries about what we are doing and the lack of obvious leadership (okay it really would be better if they were named on a reader board and received a paycheck because that makes them responsible) in our manner of churching. They are sure that we are going to be susceptible to cultish behavior. I’m not sure but could you tell me of a cult that doesn’t have a charismatic leader? But we are being dangerous, very dangerous, according to some folks.

  4. 12-4-2008

    Alan, one of the comments I recieved from an elde when I told him I was going was making sure I was covered. Then later from someone else jokingly the heretic word came out.
    Steven

  5. 12-4-2008

    Jeff,

    I’m sure there will be many later blog posts about this subject – as there have been many past blog posts – such as the recent one called “What Church Structures Hide”.

    Kat,

    I think there are many ways that institutional church structures can hinder the church. In one of my recent posts – “What Church Structures Hide” – I suggested that church structures give the appearance that people are serving in relationship with one another, when in reality there is very little to no relationship involved at all. This is a big hindrance.

    Lanny,

    I’m not surprised to hear that this has happened to you. I’m saddened by it, but not surprised.

    Steven,

    Like I said to Lanny, I’m not surprised.

    -Alan

  6. 12-4-2008

    Alan,

    From experience I have to say that the IC is a huge hindrance to the development and function of disciples of Jesus Christ.

    I have asked several “Pastors” who, some years ago, were my denominational colleagues whether we, as leaders, were responsible for causing believers to be silent, passive listeners rather than vocal, active participants, and thereby working against the command to make disciples.

    I have never received a pleasant response, much less a positive one.

    Never-the-less, I am convinced, we, who claim to be evangelical, have for many decades, been working against the cause of Christ, and against the pro-Christ principles espoused by Paul in Eph.4.

    In John’s day he was able to say, “… even now many antichrists have appeared;…”. An antichrist is one who is functioning against Christ.

    Who or what is antichrist today?
    According to John, such were liars who deny that Jesus is the Christ.

    Can we say it is sufficient to verbally confess Jesus as the Christ, but live and function in the fruitless way which denies that truth?

    I feel like weeping when I read stories of scarred brethren from the IC.

  7. 12-5-2008

    I enjoyed your post thanks so much….pastor gg

  8. 12-5-2008

    Alan,
    Obviously I would agree that there are definitive advantages to one over the other since it is a post from my blog you are referring to.

    There are a multitude of reasons I feel this is the case personally. It’s a topic that will make for a good post sometime soon.

    But I think the biggest reason is that the institutional church is extremely inward focused and self-serving both by necessity and the desire of those who are part of it.

  9. 12-5-2008

    I agree with the sentiments of many of your posts and I have enjoyed reading the blog the last month or two. My question in regard to the quote in the post is, “What alternative to the IC does this believer propose?” I know that Alan has shared about his local church, which I assume he would hesitate to define as an IC, seems to function as a Biblical church (elders, gathering for teaching, Lord’s Supper and Baptism…I assume some new believers have identified with Christ in that way, etc.) My concern with these statements is to throw all IC, as you call them, into one basket and say that ineffect they can never grow disciples. I would be curious to read how those who would describe themselves as outside the IC, define the church based upon the NT and if their discipleship falls within this Scriptural idea.

  10. 12-5-2008

    Brinkman,

    I think someone asked Mark the same question on his blog. He said that he would answer in a post there later.

    If I could ask you a question – why is the IC the default that others have to be measured against?

    -Alan

  11. 12-6-2008

    This serves as a constant tension for me as we church plant. I find that the main reason is that I have never been a part of a church that was healthy. Strange dynamic to say the least.

  12. 12-6-2008

    Brian,

    All churches struggle, since people are involved. :)

    But, we should desire to be part of a group of believers who are growing in their relationships with God and with one another. Thus, it may be unhealthy, but it should be getting healthier.

    -Alan

  13. 12-6-2008

    that is the intention

  14. 12-7-2008

    revolutionaryintent,

    What’s the intention?

    -Alan

  15. 12-8-2008

    Alan,

    That astaemnt was from myself Brian Foulks. I was trying to use the function on the comment page and it used the page name instead of my name.