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Thread: Leave church - wilderness years - back to church - to house church

  1. #1

    Leave church - wilderness years - back to church - to house church

    I recently wrote a friend of mine my testimony and I thought it might be of some benefit here;

    David,

    Thanks for the post. I think I will take advantage of this to gather my thoughts about my “spiritual journey” (that phrase does sounds like a quest in a fantasy novel).

    When I was a kid (5-9 yrs old) it was my ambition to be a Lutheran pastor. This I suspect was a combination of an attempt to gain parental approval and my understanding of Christianity as presented by the Lutheran church. In confirmation class I started a pool among the male confirmation class members to guess how long the Sunday sermon would be. We used 1/2 minute increments and each of us with a second hand on our watch would anticipate wining the pool which was sometimes over a dollar (5 cents each to bet). This was not one of my proudest moments, but I did add considerably to the interest in the sermon.

    Early in high school I stopped going to church and parroting meal time prayers. My parents were able to take this in stride because by this time, they had already written me off as retarded, loser, rebel, worthless. I was never an atheist. Once I heard the term “agnostic” I thought it a good fit. I defined it as “insufficient data”.

    Fast forward to when I was 30. I was promoted into management and suddenly went from 80 hour weeks to 40 hour ones. The immense amount of time this freed up allowed me to do volunteer work, put my toe in the social waters by joining Mensa, and I thought it would be a good idea to get around to reading the Bible.

    There were a lot of boring parts, but there were also some very interesting ones.

    I remember reading for the first time;

    And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. - Luke 4:5-6

    I was struck by the thought regarding the world political systems, “Hey, it’s not supposed to “work”“.

    I began to work my way through TV preachers and as you would surmise, one develops a sense of what is useful, wrong, self-serving, or pecuniary. I remember having waited a long time for cable to be installed and I when I first got it I was turning through all the channels. I came across TBN and thought this is the tackiest country and western show I have ever seen. Then I discovered it was supposed to be Christian.

    After I moved back north, I though TV preachers have taken me about as far as I can go. I searched for a church to go to and sent out 23 letters to churches in my part of town. I got one response from a church which happened to be Lutheran. I visited and was almost instantly transported back to my childhood. I suspect that in seminary they teach these guys how to speak using a sonorous voice to lend a feeling of import to what they say. By then I had run across the verse;

    For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. - I Corinthians 1:17

    I might not have understood much about the difficulties of the flesh, but I could detect the problems of injecting “theater” into Christianity.

    I went to a church on the east side of St. Paul (a 25 mile drive one way) I selected it from the phone book because of two words in the listing “independent” and “fundamental”. I already had some sense of of the debilitating effects of denominations and liberalism.

    At that church I learned about a number of Bible tools such as a concordance and really started to do some research. At the same time I started a weekly Bible study group within the local Mensa group and put in about 5-10 hours a week in preparation. This group met for about seven years and I have to admit that it was probably more beneficial for me than the others.

    The pastor at the St. Paul church left to get more involved with a TV preacher and I started to shop for a church closer to home. I had narrowed things down to two churches. One was pretty lively and had about 2,000 attendees. The other was an inner city church that was kind of dying and had about 150 members. I thought the prospect of dating would have a better chance in the younger crowd of the lively church, but I thought I would instead attend the more dead church because they had a higher view of the Bible and even though more rigid, had better teaching.

    A couple of years later the lively church had a sex scandal and I was glad I had picked the “narrow gate”. I had another reason to be glad in that a special Sunday School class was formed to study Bible doctrine and in that class I met my wife.

    My wife and I changed churches a few times, but as we grew in our understanding, we gradually came to find that we could not fit into any church. We have done “house church” for the last 16 years and have settled into that mode. We have fellowship with other Christian families, individually and like most other things, we are on the fringe.

    At one church I was talking with a friend who had been through seminary and he was becoming exasperated with me and the problems I was having with the institutional church. He asked me, “Okay, what would your system be?” I was surprised to find that I really couldn’t describe how I saw Christianity in “system” terms.

    We have found that the closer we grow to the Lord, the more we grow apart from most Christian practice. For example, there is a source of contention in Christianity by two groups the names of which have been ascribed by their opponents. “Easy believism and “Lordship Salvation”. Each has legitimate concerns about the advocacy of the others doctrine if taken to an extreme. Often neither has any tolerance for the other. I see in many doctrinal battles an intensity as if the fate of the world hung in the balance for the winner. From what I see in the Bible, it is the Lord who directs these affairs in spite of our divisions, contentions, and altercations. The intensity that a person fights is often proportional to the lack of trust he has that the Lord will accomplish his will.

    I have found problems in both liberal and conservative Christianity. It should not be surprising that Satan has used a variety of tactics to subvert, distract, discredit, and divert Christians. Once I was working third shift for the phone company in Minneapolis. I was leaving one location to go to a facility in a nearby suburb. As I was leaving, I walked past my boss and another employee talking by the door as they were smoking. They were discussing a guy who worked days at the office in the neighboring town. He has known as a “Christian” because he annoyed everybody. As I past them they asked me, “Hey Tim, you’re a Christian. What’s the story with this guy”. I thought for a bit trying to think how I could explain this character.

    I told them that some churches emphasize rules to follow. Some have quite a large number of rules. I placed my hand near the bottom of the door and slowly raised it saying, “Some people get pretty good at following the rules. They then can feel pretty good about how many they have kept. Sometimes this leads them to be boastful and have contempt for others. O then placed my hand near the top of the door. I slowly lowered it saying, “The way it is supposed to work is that we compare ourselves to Jesus. If we see the comparison in truth, we can only become humble as we see how far short we fall”. By then my hand was at the bottom of the door. I told them that the day shift guy had the problem of using the wrong yardstick.

    I came up with the web site christianpioneer.com as a sort of repository of things I have come to understand in case anyone else is searching through the complexity of modern Christianity as I did.

    This I have come to understand is more important that “correct” doctrine. It is a heart that is actively seeking after the things of the Lord that is the key to the Christian life. A major problem introduced into Christianity was the attempt to prevent error rather than limit Christian practice to correcting error. Prevention reduces to coercion, control, and works based systems of measurement. Correction depends on someone seeking truth, open to changing practices, and willing to be led by the Spirit.

    A lack of interest in following the Lord this way seems to have been with Christians from the beginning. Paul is critical of the Corinthians because they are suing each other in civil court. He asks if there is no one with wisdom within their own congregation that could judge the matter.

    I think we are in a worse condition today as most people do not have much wisdom or are able to recognize or appreciate it in others. Instead we have systems of accreditation and certification that are a poor substitute. Over the years I have seen many people go to their pastor and get advice that causes them more trouble than they started with.

  2. #2
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    Re: Leave church - wilderness years - back to church - to house church

    Hi Tim,

    House churches are often a group of Christians meeting at one house. Is your house church a group of Christians or just you and your wife (and kids if any)?

    In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. - Rupertus Meldenius

    Read your Bible and pray every single day. - Pastor Jon Courson

    If your grace ain't greasier than a bucket full of chitlin's and gravy, you might be a legalist - an internet friend.

  3. #3

    Re: Leave church - wilderness years - back to church - to house church

    Is your house church a group of Christians or just you and your wife (and kids if any)?

    We have done both ways, but usually just meet as a family.

    When we lived in the twin cities our house church would get three or four inquiries a year. Now that we live in a rural area, we get less than one a year. We have some that come for a “church” visit. We met with another family for about a year and a half. However, they wanted to move in a more “social gospel” direction and so we parted amicably. We find that meeting with another family allows a greater, deeper, and more enriching time than many more traditional church/sermon/lecture presentations we have attended.

    Most Christians are content with their existing church systems. They seem less alarmed than we regarding what we see as the incremental generational slide into worldliness and apostasy. Our passion is for our children to grow in the Lord as opposed to fitting into the world so that their Savior becomes distant and even alien to them.

    I suspect that there won’t be much serious interest in house church until increasing persecution drives those who still desire the Lord to seek out places where he could yet be found. I had not estimated that this would occur in my lifetime, but events do seem to be escalating.

  4. #4
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    Re: Leave church - wilderness years - back to church - to house church

    Thanks for your testimony. I wish more people will go on this journey, as you can never be the same again after such a journey.

    This is something that you do not find many Christians even think of. I have included some links to articles and a book that will explain your journey to you. I trust that it will bring you even more peace than what you currently experience.

    http://shamaministries.org.za/wp/esc...m-christendom/

    http://shamaministries.org.za/wp/mos...mer-look-like/

    http://www.shamaministries.org.za/bo...hteousness.pdf

    There is also an article that I think you would enjoy called settlers-and-the-pioneers. it is at http://shamaministries.org.za/wp/set...-the-pioneers/
    See the section on going into captivity. I believe this is where you are currently.

    Blessings on your road ahead.

    Louwrens
    Shama - A primitive root; to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.; causatively to tell, etc.): - X attentively, call (gather) together, X carefully, X certainly, consent, consider, be content, declare, X diligently, discern, give ear, (cause to, let, make to) hear (-ken, tell), X indeed, listen, make (a) noise, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, (make a) proclaim (-ation), publish, regard, report, shew (forth), (make a) sound, X surely, tell, understand, whosoever [heareth], witness

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