the weblog of Alan Knox

What caused you to start studying the church?

Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in discipleship | 37 comments

What caused you to start studying the church?

Last week, I was talking with someone, when he brought up the subject of the church. He had read some of my blog posts, and he asked me why I started studying the church.

I explained that I began questioning some of my own understanding of the church during a seminary class on the subject of worship. One of my assignments was to write an essay on worship. I decided to write an essay about the “worship service” from a scriptural perspective.

The more I studied the subject, the more difficult it became to write the essay. Eventually, I changed the topic of my essay, but I continued the study the “worship service.” I quickly learned that what I had been taught (either through books, classes, preaching, or example) could not be backed up by Scripture.

This led me to study the church meeting from Scripture. I soon discovered that many (most?… all?) ecclesiology (and then theological) topics are intertwined. Thus, changing what I understood about the church meeting meant that I also needed to examine what I understood about communion (the Lord’s Supper), church leadership, fellowship, spiritual gifts, etc.

But, as I begin to think back about the conversation with my friend last week, and other conversations that I had with other people during the last few years, I remembered that different people begin to examine their own understanding of the church for different reasons.

If you (currently or in the past) have questioned your understanding of the church, what caused (prompted) you to being that study in the first place? If you haven’t questioned your understanding of the church, what convinces you that what you’ve been taught is valid?

(I’m not saying that my understanding of the church is valid; I’m simply interested in other people’s thoughts on this.)


37 Comments

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  1. 3-28-2011

    For me, it was secondary to learning about historical exegesis and theology. As a matter of curiosity, I picked up a copy of Lightfoot’s translation of the Apostolic Fathers, fully convinced I would find people with my evangelical(including ecclesiological) convictions. What I found was something entirely different. I also began to ask questions like, “How did we get the Bible?” – can you imagine if Protestant Christianity had to now decide a canon? I began to find an ecclesiology that made sense in both Scripture and history.

  2. 3-28-2011

    Alan,

    I was recognized as an elder and entered into “the inner sanctum” of leadership of the evangelical denomination of which I was a part.

    That was a shock to the system as I saw the same kind of pragmatism,subtle manipulation of people,lobbying and jobs for the boys, as one finds in politics. The church was their management project.Evangelism was the means of increasing the size and prestige of their corporate entity, nothing more.

    I began questioning the pastor, with whom I was to function, and found that, he too had begun the same journey. Sadly, the pressures put upon him took his life.

  3. 3-28-2011

    There was a 2-year discipleship course I took at my local (institutional) church, and then decided to teach the course for another 2-years.

    In the process of teaching I delve further into the study of what “church” means to discuss it with my brothers.

    After the 4 years of the class (and 11 years total), I am now walking in the non-institutional wilderness and it has been the best decision ever.

  4. 3-28-2011

    I almost hate to admit it but it was the book Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola which we were curious about after reading Eric’s review of it entitled “this book beat me up”. That is what got the wheels to start turning for me. Thankfully, now I am more interested in how to live out the patterns and principles we find in scripture and not so focused on pagan influence in the church. With some experience in a participatory gathering as we try to follow those patterns and principles I have seen the Holy Spirit guide and build our assembly in such a way that I never want to go back to institutional forms as I’m becoming less and less oppositional to those forms.

  5. 3-28-2011

    I came to Christ while in the Navy early 1970. My first year of scriptural studies was pretty much on my own. It geared me up to line up what I saw with what I had studied. I still bought into the cultural stream of things because that’s what there was. In the mid-eighties I saw a misuse of pastoral authority that lead a local “church” to crumble. That drove my wife and I into intensive studies on church leadership and church structure. I’ve come to find that even the most “spiritual” of churches are capable of lessening or even blocking out the headship of Christ in their organizations.

  6. 3-28-2011

    Josh,

    I like the early Christian writings too. Thanks for the comment.

    Aussie John,

    Interesting. So you saw what happened “behind the curtain”…

    Swanny,

    You began to question “church” through studying Scripture also? That’s cool.

    Bobby,

    I don’t think I’ve met anyone who read Pagan Christianity and started rethinking church. Usually, people have made up their mind (one way or the other) and either love or hate that book.

    Duchessdad,

    I’ve heard of other people (like you and Aussie John) who began to question church because of leadership issues.

    -Alan

  7. 3-28-2011

    I began to question my previous ideas of church about 6 years ago, when I became interested in the emerging church movement. That led me to read a number of different authors who were looking at church from new points of view. At first, I was in favor of “worship evangelism” and trying to build a big “relevant” church. As i went deeper and deeper into church leadership, I began to see that the mega church model was not Scriptural, and saw so many things that the church had been doing for years that did nothing to produce disciples, just church workers.

    As I’ve studied Scripture and continued to read good books and blogs, I’ve realized the importance of being in community with other believers, and ministering to each other, building each other up and equipping each other to go out and show God’s love to others.

    I’m now part of a small fellowship that meets in a bagel shop, has no paid staff, no “pastor” as such, and is committed to helping each other follow Jesus more closely.

  8. 3-28-2011

    Church unity (or lack thereof) got me started questioning the box I’ve grown up in. I went searching for common basic beliefs across denominational lines, and tried to see past the traditions and divisions that we had created.

    Since I was questioning traditions, Pagan Christianity was suggested reading. It shook that box a bit more.

    Thanks Alan for sharing your wisdom. Looking at Scripture on my own too, and being encouraged by others who are working out fresh new/ancient perspectives of how God’s family can live together under His Lordship.

  9. 3-28-2011

    Fred,

    It looks like your investigation has gone through several different stages.

    Jon,

    This is the second time that Pagan Christianity has been mentioned. (Frank Viola has caused so much trouble!) Unity… now that’s a big one, isn’t it?

    -Alan

  10. 3-29-2011

    Wow it’s amazing how God opens our hearts & eyes isn’t it? I love hearing how He used His Word and your schooling in your life Alan.

    All faith comes from hearing the Word… the more HE draws us into His Word – the more we are changed. His Words of Love & Acceptance to me is what started me on the walk with Him and falling in Love with Him again and desiring for His Church to do the same.

    My spiritual mentor (my grandma) died May 13 2007… I found myself that day outside in my neighborhood – face on the concrete shattered – crying out in desperation to God that I wanted to truly KNOW Him. I wanted to know what it meant to feel His Love, Hear His voice.. I wanted to know Him like grandma did.. I would say I “met the HOly Spirit” that day and He drew me to His Word. I studied His Word on my own – and the more I studied – the more I was changed and realized so much of what I read I wasn’t being taught. It wasn’t being proclaimed. It bothered me. I did my first topical bible study and simply asked God to answer, “God, what pleases you?”…. although it was not an exhaustive study… He blew me away with the answers I found in the Bible. I found it wasn’t any work I could contribute… it wasn’t a self help process…. in fact nothing I was being taught lined up with what God was telling me pleased Him… it almost seemed to be working against what He was showing me… He was showing me that my faith was pleasing to Him. His Son was pleasing. My submission & trust in HIM to work was pleasing to Him. my Thanksgiving was pleasing (again – all about Him and His Work not anything I could offer)…

    Point is… the more I studied… the more confused I was getting about the reality I was living in… I didn’t understand why what I was reading and being taught directly from God – sooo mindboggling, life transforming, world changing wasn’t being taught and lived out by ‘leaders’ around me.

    I wasn’t getting the same message…. shortly after — through an experience of “being called to help launch a church” … I realized the whole system was the very thing that made more of us and less of Jesus. Not pleasing to GOd at all. Whether intentional or not… I felt the organizations I was apart of… and everything it took in our own efforts to try to ‘create’ them were the very giants and idols we then were trying to teach people to slay….

    soo then I met Alan online :) and became even more fascinated with the study of The Church.

    from Ephesians 5… God makes it clear. HE will Build His Church. *He* “will make her holy…will present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”

    I desire so much to be apart of that Church that makes it as easy as possible for that work to happen without our own efforts getting in His way.

    HE will build His Church.

  11. 3-29-2011

    Unity, yes a big one for sure. I served the church as a pastor for 20 years, including four as a church planter in the 1970s. My love and interest grew when I began to see the church all over the world in many forms and expressions. Then John 17 hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes, unity is huge for me. If we do not address this in practical, relational and biblical ways we will just keep recreating “new” church and cause even more division than we’ve known. I am all for new models, since the Holy Spirit creates new wine, but I fear we forget the church is not a-historical and all who call upon Christ in faith are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  12. 3-29-2011

    1973. Scripture vs church – saw a growing disconnect that shocked me–I loved “church.”

    My dual interest since then has been grasping the biblical model (which I’ve come to think of as unchangeable principles and functions and how they are adaptable in terms of practices and forms within various cultures) and considering ways to help the church return to the biblical model.

    I have great respect for the sacrifices made by many–especially pastors and their families–to serve the church the way the world has reshaped and distorted it. I have also learned that God generally works graciously and effectively with sinners (even me) where they are, not where they should be.

  13. 3-29-2011

    Art, I am in complete agreement, or at least think that I am, with what you write here. This is why I remain a non-Catholic, non-Orthodox classical, confessional, catholic Christian who loves the WHOLE church while I look for the wind of God in all of them. What I do resist is the evangelical impulse to keep reinventing and offering the “pure biblical model” as if “we’ve found it now.” Reform yes, reinvent no.

  14. 3-29-2011

    Randi,

    Wow… that’s quite a story, especially starting with your grandmother’s death! I’m glad that God could use me in your journey as well.

    John,

    I love the way your book encourages us to address unity in “practical, relational, and biblical ways.” What would you say to those who might suggest that this is what the church had pre-Reformation?

    Art,

    You said, “I have also learned that God generally works graciously and effectively with sinners (even me) where they are, not where they should be.” Yes, yes! God is at work wherever his people are.

    -Alan

  15. 4-3-2011

    Alan-

    The first thing that started me on the road to more critically examining what the scriptures say about “church” was a nasty church split that Stacy and I were involved in a number of years ago when I was “serving” as an “elder” in a “bible church”. From behind the scenes I saw men push a “pastor” out due to differences of opinion over direction, the subsequently “discipline” him for “insubordination” thereby causing the “assembly” to split in two. I saw men recognized as leaders refuse to consider others as better than themselves, I saw these men refuse to love each other, I saw them refuse to show compassion and mercy, I saw them refuse to die to themselves and their agenda. During this ordeal I appealed to seek the LORD and the scriptures to no avail, I resigned from my position and was labeled as weak, abandoning the sheep during a difficult time etc. This was at a so called bible church, its Constitution and By Laws trumped all the scriptures that could be appealed to-a Protestant Talmud of sorts.

    A few years later at another assembly where I was also asked to serve as an elder (this time I refused-I had not crystallized my position that eldership was a hasty compromise by Paul something that he ultimately phased out and a violation of Christ’s commands at that time, but I was not signing up for that ride again) I simply taught SS and preached from time to time in the “pastors” absence. At this assembly I saw the “Pastor” a friend of mine of about 20 years suffer a nervous breakdown from the pressure of the unbiblical position that he so faithfully tried to discharge.

    This and other experiences started my journey to pore over the scriptures, I examined ecclesiology, the main doctrinal systems that help to create these unbiblical systems, The Kingdom/Reign of God and the New Covenant ratified in Christ’s blood.

    Your blog has been very helpful and your emphasis on loving and serving others has taught em a lot.

    I’ve arrived at a place where I can love all of my brothers and sisters no matter what structure they gather in and find unity in the person and work of Christ alone without ever joining any mans organization again.

    It’s been a wild ride.

  16. 4-3-2011

    Hello Alan,

    I’m a seminary graduate and former pastor of three churches; two as senior pastor, and one as volunteer. I’m not exactly sure how it all started for me, but early in my third pastorate, the Holy Spirit seemed to bring some new revelations as to the state of the modern church, and how it was vastly different than what He had in mind.

    I wrestled with this a great deal initially. Then, as I often did, I immersed myself into a lot of prayer, Bible reading, and meditation. I began blogging, although privately initially, because I tend to learn more through the writing experience than by reading alone.

    I sensed the call out of the institutional church a little over 10 years ago, and have rarely been back since. I probably have more meaningful fellowship today than in all those previous years of ministry combined. I take encouragement in Acts 17:11 which says, “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (ESV).”

    Though it could be taken by some as simply a religious exercise, to me daily time in the Scriptures is crucial. I can’t imagine a day without that time. When one has questioned their understanding of the church, as both you and I have, I know of no other way to come to peace with it.

    Blessings,
    Will

  17. 4-3-2011

    Hutch and Will,

    Thanks for sharing part of your stories!

    -Alan

  18. 4-3-2011

    appreciate very much what Will said… thank you! great & challenging encouragement.

  19. 4-3-2011

    Alan, I believe there always was this “relational” component,or reality, but it is always threatened and easily lost. The Spirit is grieved. The church needs renewing. Pre-Reformation church(es) knew it as well. There is no “pristine” age pre- or post- Reformation. To some degree we are all children of the catholic church, East and/or West.

    I do not wish to challenge anyone here but Will’s comments move me to great sadness. One, I am sure he speaks for many who have had the same experience. Two, if this is what we’re left with then I have misunderstood the Bible very badly and so have 99% of those who named Christ through the ages. The church is, if it is nothing else, a community of people not a private meeting with God. The plural “you” in Paul’s letters cannot be made to fit a privatizing of the grace of God to be me without others coming with me and sharing life with me. When I read such words my heart is broken because the truth is that pain and reality is real or Will would not have written it or know it in others. But it begs for a richer, deeper solution that must include the hard work of dealing with others in a community of some kind; e.g. the form is not the issue (I think) but the reality of “us.”

  20. 4-3-2011

    Brother John,

    You may have misunderstood me. I’m not getting the sadness part. I rejoice that God has revealed what He did to me, and to many others as well. There is nothing “private” about my circumstances, as if I’ve forsaken the gathering of the saints. Like I said, I have quite possibly much greater and more often and more meaningful fellowship today than ever before. We meet in homes and restaurants and wherever the Lord may lead at that time. Don’t feel sad for me, brother, but rather rejoice with me. God is and has been so very good to me and to those we fellowship with.

    Blessings,
    Will

  21. 4-4-2011

    I am currently the pastor of a church that was established in 1949. My family and I have been here for a little over 7 years. Never have been much for tradition unless the tradition has meaning and is still useful, so questioning things is pretty normal for me. It’s probably been 5 years or so since I started studying about the church and what is required for the church to be the church. What we have seen during this exercise has been interesting to say the least for this born-and-bred Southern Baptist boy!

    We’ve transitioned quite a ways from where we started out 7 years ago, but still have a long ways to go to be the church in my opinion. The church is much more than a meeting, no matter how long it lasts, or when it starts… ;)

    I have done quite a bit of reading in the past 6 months or so from the current list of authors – Cole, Viola, Comiskey, and Karr/Bergquist (the best one in my view). Haven’t read as much from older sources as of yet other than the New Testament. Hoping to do a study with the church so that all of us can see what it is that the NT recommends for us to do soon.

  22. 4-4-2011

    John,

    I agree there is no “pristine” age for the church. Even the church described in the NT had problems, otherwise we wouldn’t have most of the Scripture about the church.

    How do you deal with Christians who refuse to unite with you?

    Will,

    Do you find that you are still able to fellowship with brothers and sisters who do not share your concerns about more institutional forms of the church?

    Rodney,

    We’ve also transitioned from a more institutional model to a more organic/simple/relational model. I haven’t met many other people who were making this transition. What has been the most difficult part of the transition for the group of believers you meet with?

    -Alan

  23. 4-4-2011

    Alan,

    Just because I no longer attend the traditional institutional church, does not mean that I don’t fellowship very regularly; actually significantly more than I did while in the institutional church. When I tell people that, the ones who most often have a difficult time grasping the concept are those who are still involved in these traditional institutional systems.

    On one of my blogs I have a caveat that says that while I have no use for institutional church systems, the people within those systems I continue to love and care for as much as God enables me to (you can find those blogs on my website). But I still haven’t answered your question. Unfortunately, sometimes people misunderstand and think that my speaking against an institution is a word spoken against them. When this happens, it is usually because so much of their identity is wrapped up with that “place.” Therein is the problem; Christianity was never supposed to be about a “place.” Jesus isn’t a “place.”

    Am I still able to fellowship with those who don’t share my views? Not only am I able to, but I often do exactly that. The only initial difficulty, normally, is on their part, not mine. While I’m open to fellowship with whomever is interested, regardless of their background or denominational affiliation (and I totally disagree with denominationalism), they are the ones who usually tend to have issues with it.

    Why? I think it has to do with the fact that many people still cannot get their heads around the fact that there are many active and God-fearing and Jesus-loving and fellowship-seeking Christians out there who no longer go to institutional churches. They rationalize that, if you are a Christian, then you “go” to church. I would argue, on the other hand, that if you are a Christian, then you “are” the church. How can you “go” to that which you “are?”

    Most of those I fellowship with on a regular basis have long since stopped going to institutional churches. Having said that, there are also a number of believers who, while still regularly going to those churches, also gather with us on a semi-regular basis. I also am involved with the Christian motorcycling community, most of whom also still go to institutional churches. This has not created a problem for me, nor for most of them. We have all been saved and love to spend time together.

    What constitutes a saved believer? Institutional church affiliation? Belonging to one denomination over another one? Tithing? Mode of baptism? Speaking in tongues, or, not speaking in them? None of the above. Rather it is simply, as Peter said in Acts 2:21, “And EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So the criteria for fellowship is one: has that person called on the name of the Lord? If so, I MUST be willing to fellowship with them. This is not an option. Nor is it simply a suggestion.

    John 3:8 says, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” If we are truly born of the Spirit, and listening to Him, it may be that on Sunday morning He leads us to such-and-such an institutional church. It may also be that He leads us to a nursing home to spend time with an elderly saint. It may be that God leads us to a park, because that is where He will sovereignly cross our path with someone else that He wants us to talk to. The point is, are we really open to going where he leads us to go and when He calls us to do so? I wonder sometimes.

    There is a great video (about 10 minutes long) by Simple Churches. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is on my homepage of my website. I think it will answer a lot of questions that your readers may have on this topic.

    Hope I’ve answered your question. Sorry if this dragged on too much. I guess you never really take the sermon out of the preacher.

    God bless.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Will

  24. 4-4-2011

    Will,

    That’s a great comment! Like you, I seek to fellowship with any brother or sister that God brings into my life, whether that person is part of a more organic church or a more institutional church.

    -Alan

  25. 4-5-2011

    One of the more difficult parts of the transition so far has been becoming comfortable talking in church! Most of us have grown up / spent our church lives listening to someone else speak while we pay attention (or not) and go about our business afterwards. Now we’re talking through the text and what it means and how we’re supposed to do what it says. Some folks are kinda surprised that they learn things from other people than the “preacher!” Some consider what we are doing now a “glorified Bible study” rather than a gathering of the church.

  26. 4-5-2011

    Alan,

    A number of things led to me starting to study the church. All my early pastors/teachers said to check everything they said against the bible. I found that many things didn’t match. So I carried that with me in my pocket. After so many years, I started “re-thinking” quite a few things that I had always taken for granted. Just where were Republican politics listed in the bible? Or “tough on crime” legislation? Or church membership doctrines? In due course, ecclesiology just couldn’t be ignored.

    I had seen much damage both in my own life and in the lives of others created by man-made church membership ideas encountered at several churches that it led me to study what the church IS as well. This necessarily included why we gathered and what the gathering looked like and how the gathering was supposed to act when it gathered. It just mushroomed from there. I was struck by the idea of my puny involvement in a “Sunday worship service.” My only action, aside from taking perfect sermon notes, was in singing the hymns. With 250 people in the building every Sunday, what would the service be like if I stayed home with a bad cold? Only 249 people would be singing, and surely all of them would notice my absence, right? And if, as Paul says, we are to pour more abundant honor on those members less seemly, and if all members are necessary to the functioning of the body, why exactly DIDN’T anybody notice when *I* was absent? Why didn’t *I* notice when OTHERS were absent?

    These kinds of questions plagued me and I knew I needed to find answers to them. So that launched my more thorough study of the church.

  27. 4-5-2011

    Rodney,

    Yes, we meet with people who struggle with speaking to the church for that very reason. Often, they have very important things to say, but they’ve been taught for so long that they’re job is to sit and listen.

    Steve,

    Those are the kinds of questions that bothered me as well. And, like you, my seminary professors especially told us to check everything against Scripture. I remember one class in particular (called “Pastoral Ministry” of all things) in which the professor began the first class by exhorting us to do everything according to the Bible. Otherwise, he said, it would only be our opinion and it would be no better than anyone else’s opinion. For the rest of the class, we studied topics related to “pastoral ministry” (how to baptize, how to conduct a wedding, how to run a business meeting/deacon’s meeting, etc.) and never once referred to Scripture.

    -Alan

  28. 5-31-2011

    I hear to teach people how to recognize fake money you just let them study the real thing. I have not spent a lot of time studying the church. I just follow Christ and know my Bible. I go where I am led and experience God every where.

    Thankfully I have never sat under bad theology so there were no bad habits to unlearn. I do ask this question in my heart “Where is the power of the Christian church?” Then I look at my life and the things I am going through.

    It is not easy and not glamorous but I see God moving and working on my behalf. It is not always externally comfortable but I know it has purpose and I am committed so I press on.

    God is raising up a generation not defiled by the mistakes of what is currently going wrong. He is equipping them to reach the nations. Our churches need to be less scripted and more Spirit led. Members need to understand gathering together on weekends is supposed to be about celebrating the life lived not getting fed.

    We are the church. We are His Body & Bride. We are supposed to be walking worthy, bold and anointed. We’ve been called and sent.

  29. 5-31-2011

    ToscaSac,

    Thanks for the comment. There are a huge number of Jesus’ followers are have been taught that the church is a hierarchical institution. Those who did not grow up with that and those who did can join together in helping one another learn who we are in Christ.

    -Alan

  30. 3-1-2012

    My view of the church changed as a I realized what a crummy job the USA “church” was doing in advancing the Kingdom. “Church” growth doesn’t even keep up with population growth. I used my skills to help market my church, helped champion small groups and learned about church planting movements. I came to see that church planting is the process by which the Kingdom advances. But as I drilled into that subject, my definition of church and its mission has changed. Basically, church is wherever two or three are gathered and where disciples are being made. That doesn’t preclude large group gatherings with lots of singing and preaching etc. It’s just that we shouldn’t confuse those events with church.

  31. 3-1-2012

    Alan, I am very grateful for your blog as it is safe place to think out loud. I love the comments, and your Shepard heart. I have been passionate about church life for over twenty years. My problem was, at the times I would honestly look at church life, it did not look like, or function like, Jesus or the biblical account of the first century believers. Not knowing that they were options, I just did what others did, and “look past all of the inconsistencies”. That worked until I was kicked out of my ministry and church by a very controlling pastor. He told me that he really did not like “pulling out his pastor badge”and using it, but he did.
    Turns out it was the push my wife and I needed to look for church alternatives. We have never been happier, our lives have been transformed from lives of reading and doing the Word and obeying church leaders, to living in relationship to Jesus. Our families have seen the transformation in our lives and now they are beginning to experience their own freedom in Christ.
    Through tons of Internet research, and reading volumes of books, we are now of the opinion that church was never God’s idea. What we now call church, beginning with Constantine until today, is a spiritual imposter masquerading as the body of Christ. Please don’t get me wrong there are hundreds of thousands of God’s children in bondage in those institutions who we would love to see freed. Still there are millions of God’s potential children who are yet to hear the Good News of Jesus, and that church was not God’s idea, so please don’t blame Him for the imposter and then damage done to the kingdom through church.

  32. 3-2-2012

    Dan and Tony,

    Thanks for sharing part of your stories with us!

    -Alan

  33. 8-21-2012

    I’m not sure if I can pinpoint the time I began questioning our current model of church in America, but I had a complete paradigm shift about 18 months ago that’s continuing to evolve.

    I didn’t grow up in a Christian home so I was never involved in church. We believed in God and knew Jesus was God’s son, but that’s about a far as it went. When I was 20 years old God saved me in the parking lot of a Southern Baptist megachurch. (I can explain that story if you want.) Therefore, I started attending their services. I eventually led small groups, Sunday School and even started a ministry for young couples. But I never felt like “I fit in their box”, as some of my co-laborers would tell me.

    My wife and I eventually left to join the launch team for a North Point partner church. After that church launched I started planning an inner-city church. I gathered a launch team and raised a significant amount of money, but something wasn’t right. I think that’s when God started nudging me to look at scripture. You see, I read the books, went to the conferences, passed the church planter assessments, but there was something in me that wouldn’t let me continue with our plan. The thought came to me that I didn’t want to create another place for people to gather on Sundays. So, I decided to take some time to just study scripture. No other books, no commentary, no podcasts, and definitely no conferences. Just the Word. Here’s what I found – the word “church” is mentioned approximately 113 in the NT, but not once in the context of “go start one of these” or “invite your friends to one of these”. That was huge for me because I had “be taught” that in order to reach more people we need to start more churches. I had also been taught to just invite your friends so they can experience God, as if God only works on Sunday.

    This ongoing study is creating a lot of change in the way I view church as well as the way I view our culture.

  34. 8-21-2012

    Chris,

    It seems like you and I have a lot in common.

    -Alan

  35. 10-30-2012

    For me it was simply studying the Word. I began to see the discrepancy betweenwith what is written & what is taught. Once I shared with leadership it become time to move on. Still exploring this undiscovered territory of Biblical church. In fact, I’m working on a possible blog series now.

  36. 10-30-2012

    Grew up in the NE, in & out of organized church bodies growing up…from Russian Orthodox to many Protestant denominations, to visiting Catholic churches with my friends when young, even Jewish Synagogue, I can remember. My family always had a sense of GOD being in ALL denominations and we were let to explore in our visitations. I had a very loving, Bible believing grandmother, who attended Billy Graham crusades in the 50’s, and who prayed for the salvation of the whole family for years…As an older teen I came to really know JESUS, by the personal witness of my mom after she accepted the LORD into her life, through a door to door visitation of a new Baptist Pastor who was trying to build his local church body.
    It wasn’t until I was married and had children that I really started to notice something wasn’t quite right in the places of worship that we attended…started to seek out fellowship through small bible studies & gatherings and then later, when my children were of accountability, I had a falling away from church membership of any sort…found & sought the Calvary Chapel movement & their radio broadcasts that helped me to understand the most, where I had a lot of my questions answered…these days my husband & I travel for his employment to different locations, and are able to find the LOVE of Christ and participate in where ever we’ve been.

  37. 10-30-2012

    Kevin,

    That’s very interesting. I’m looking forward to hearing more, but that’s very similar to my own story.

    CS,

    Thanks for sharing part of your story with us. Many have certainly been disillusioned by various religious systems and organizations.

    -Alan

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  1. Comment Highlights for Week of March 27, 2011 | The Assembling of the Church - [...] (among many others) left a great comment on my post “What caused you to start studying the church?” Here’s …
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