the weblog of Alan Knox

When I changed churches…

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in blog links, books, definition | 9 comments

When I changed churches…

This post is part of a short series based on Jeremy Myer’s (from “Till He Comes“) book project “Finding Church.” Jeremy asked for contributions in the categories of Changing Church, Leaving Church, Reforming Church, and Returning to Church. As I worked through my own contribution, I realized that my story could fit into any of the categories. So, I’m writing a post based on each category.

This post describes when I “changed church.” This is how Jeremy describes this category: “These are stories of people who, for numerous different reasons, left one church to join another.”

Now, I grew up as part of various different “churches.” In reality, each of these was a organization, not the church. Don’t misunderstand me… the church was there – the people of God were present – but what I understood as “church” was actually the organization, not the people.

During that time, I “changed churches” many times and for different reasons. Usually, we “changed churches” because we moved. Only a few times we “changed churches” even though we stayed in the same city. Interestingly, we never “changed churches” because of problems with leadership.

In reality, I was really changing organizations. I was leaving one organization to be part of another organization. Of course, I was also breaking relationships with part of God’s family and inserting myself and my family into the lives of other people who are part of God’s family. But, I didn’t really see either one was the church.

But, a few years ago, I changed “church” for the last time. Why? Because my understanding of what the church is changed. It’s not an organization that can be joined or left. Church is the people of God, saved by faith in Jesus Christ, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and gathered together by God according to his grace and purposes.

When I’m with the people of God, I’m part of the church with them. And, in fact, we are members together of the body of Christ whether we realize it or accept it or not. Our relationship with one another and our identity as the church of God does not depend upon our decision. Instead, it depends completely on God. We simply interact with one another as directed by the Spirit to help one another grow and mature in our walk with Jesus Christ.

So, a few years ago, I changed to a different church for the last time. I changed from “church” as an organization to church as the people of God. Actually, I have always been part of this church, even though I didn’t understand it. And, I will always be part of that church.

What about you? Have you changed churches?


9 Comments

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  1. 5-15-2012

    I had written about this some time ago (http://dtjsoft.com/disp/devo0013). We transfer to a different assembly for ‘personal’ reasons (i.e. conflicts, etc.), and we think it is for the good, but it really hurts the body of Christ as well as us as individuals. If we flee the brothers and sisters we have conflicts with, how is the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in us (love, patience, etc.)?

  2. 5-15-2012

    “[The church is] not an organization that can be joined or left. Church is the people of God, saved by faith in Jesus Christ, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and gathered together by God according to his grace and purposes.”

    Amen! Good word, Alan. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. 5-15-2012

    Alan, precisely, brother thank You for those words of what the true church is to me the acronyms are : the believers attend the church that God built not man, whether they know it or not! as you said afore in a few words

    C hrist
    H as
    U ttered
    R essurection
    C hoice
    H eaven
    Howard

  4. 5-15-2012

    Andrew,

    You asked, “If we flee the brothers and sisters we have conflicts with, how is the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in us (love, patience, etc.)?” That’s a great question! As Jesus said, true love from God is not what we demonstrate toward those we like, but toward those who seem unlovable.

    Scott,

    Thanks! I appreciate it.

    Howard,

    Yes, “whether they know it or not.” I’m learning who God’s church is, and hopefully, God is using me to help others understand as we all grow together in him.

    -Alan

  5. 5-15-2012

    Alan and this is happening I see and hear in me
    Howard

  6. 5-15-2012

    Yes Alan and I see it coming together
    Howard

  7. 5-17-2012

    It is all very well to advise staying put.
    “We transfer to a different assembly for ‘personal’ reasons (i.e. conflicts, etc.), and we think it is for the good, but it really hurts the body of Christ as well as us as individuals. If we flee the brothers and sisters we have conflicts with, how is the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in us (love, patience, etc.)?”
    You must never have been in ‘a church’ where your continued presence is a reminder to some others of a strong difference of doctrine which apparently over many months cannot be resolved. Leaving then is not for our good but for theirs.
    My recent case revolved around the question of the security of the believer: the majority favored the traditional ‘flogging of the flock’ each Sunday so they would work hard and stay mostly in line till the next weekend. I have come to believe we not only are saved by grace but also walk each day in God’s grace–its scary to trust someone to the Holy Spirit! The denominational leadership dissolved all local authority, so I learned to sit quietly, but nothing was changing from either perspective. Being in the minority, quietly leaving seemed to be the Spirit’s leading (finally), and we bless them, and they seem to be happily continuing on their way.
    The conflict was much more fundamental than the color of the carpet or the worship music choices. Love them…YES; be patient…YES; but sometimes the situation is that of the Dwarves in C S Lewis’ The Last Battle (Narnia series) who sat in a circle fully convinced they were in a dirty stable even when they were actually in a beautiful glade. I pray their eyes will be opened.

  8. 5-17-2012

    Tom, I see from your post that as a man thinks so is he. Proverbs 23:7
    So in opening up our minds I see How can a man discover new oceans unless he takes his eyes off the shore? I know it starts with believe in christ and then we need to renew our minds. And a lot of people here this and go to Church (a gathering) and start this new process, and end up either elated or not, so some leave others stay, and are in bondage to things we do not ever see for we all are good at hiding our troubles behind closed doors, never coming to the freedom, only acting it out. So unbelievers see from our souls our depravity, as we act out this supposed salvation, and they steer far away not wanting anything to do with the religosity that is out here inn this world.

    YOU SEE ALL, The reneweing of our minds is meant for us to seek to see from God’s vantage point not man’s just like it is meant for us to go to the church God built in you, in Heaven, not here on earth man’s building Hebrews 8:2 start at 1 and read the whole chapter, lots of meat here
    Howard

  9. 5-17-2012

    Tom,

    There is a difference between separating from people who you believe to be brothers and sisters in Christ and separating from those who you do not believe to be in Christ.

    -Alan