A Time to Leave ….
In my opinion, those who are following Christ Jesus will eventually leave the church system (CS) or the institutional church.
There will come a point when static beliefs of human-organized religion limit the pull upon our hearts for something deeper. As a result, there will come a time when the wheat will be separated from the tares, and I feel that time is upon us.
The church system has always had its problems because it’s full of people with problems. But there will come a time when the cries of the prophets who foretold these days will be answered and the corruption of the church will be addressed by God. This judgment by God is why Jesus gives potent warnings to the seven churches in Revelation. It’s a last call to get things straight before God does. There will be a time when there isn’t any more time. There will be a time to leave …
As the end draws near and for God’s people’s protection, He is calling out of the CS those who truly follow Him. They are hearing from the Word of God that it’s time to leave and obeying it. Revelation 2:29
The CS is being consumed with darkness as the self-determined will (our “enemy”) gains ground. Lamentations 2:7 As the CS begins to fill with the darkness of deception, lies and the enemy’s ways, those heeding God’s voice are moving out of the darkness and into the light – for what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corin 6:14 Proverbs 14:7 There are many verses about not being involved with unhealthy fellowship. However, these verses are largely ignored by church goers as they listen to the church leaders who tell them they must be in a church. (Unhealthy vs. Healthy Fellowship)
I left the CS embracing the true church in 2004. (Out of the Church System, Into God’s Arms) As the years have passed, I see more and more believers coming out and embracing the true church, which is outside the CS. The true church is those who hold the spirit of God. Who put God and His Word first. Who seek His face. Who follow His voice. Who trust in God more than man. Who make up the temple built without hands.
A physical church built by man has always been filled with true believers and not, wheat and tares. But there will come a time when those groups will be separated, and if you look around it is happening now.
A couple interesting points I’ve noticed … Those leaving and embracing the true church are being led by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit – not by man’s persuasion. They have the Holy Spirit and follow the Spirit. The Spirit is moving them away from the CS that has corrupted and blasphemed God’s name. It’s because they draw near to God in truth and spirit on a regular basis that they are able to hear His voice among all the deception and follow at their appointed time.
Second, many feel restlessness in their spirits as they start to see a chasm between what is happening in the CS and God’s Word. They sense something is “off” that causes them to seek God’s counsel. When they do, they hear a call out of the CS. However, it’s only when they leave the CS that they see more clearly what it is and what it is becoming. The deception and darkness is great, even to dim a seeking believer’s eyes. Matthew 24:22
You can’t deny what is happening; believers are leaving the CS. They aren’t falling away from God or the true church (body of Christ – that’s not about a building or business), but the opposite – they are drawing closer to them. God is connecting these souls in amazing ways to encourage, support and pray. God told us what the CS would become and there would be a time to come out of it and into His care. Revelation 18 We have been warned. We have been told what to do. It isn’t our decision to stay and fight or to leave. It’s our duty to follow our God who is our faithful Lord and Shepherd.
For those in tune with the Holy Spirit, God calls them out to the wilderness where they become completely dependent on Him. They encounter others who have followed God’s voice out to abide under the protective wing of God. It’s a place where God is the provider, protector, teacher, guide and comforter – and who better? He is faithful beyond words to those who really trust in Him and not man.
Wherever you are, seek God in truth and spirit. For the times we are in, the warnings are vast about the deception that will take place. Seek and develop a love for the truth because is what will save you in the end. 2 Thessalonians 2:10
Examine your heart :
Who are you truly following God or man?
Do you speak of what God has taught you or what man has?
Where is your trust? Your dependence?
Where is your time spent – doing church activities or seeking God?
Do you abide in God’s Word or in man’s opinions and interpretations of God’s Word?
You may not agree with me, but I pray you seek God in all truth for there is no better time to start than now.
Related Blog Posts:
The True Church
Babylon – The Church SystemLeaving the Church Verses
November 22, 2010 at 5:44 pm
I so agree! I feel the pulling in my life at this very time! Keep me in prayer as I am a leader in a CS right now and am getting the beginnings of God’s gentle pull towards something more satisfying, something deeper.
November 23, 2010 at 12:21 am
Hi Danielle – I definitely will be praying for you.
November 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm
I’m afraid that you’re becoming more and more right about this as the days go by, Rachel. Thanks for a timely post.
November 23, 2010 at 12:23 am
Hi Cindy – these are interesting times we are in – there is no doubt. It isn’t easy – but Jesus never said it would be.
November 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm
I really feel in my heart that there has to be “something more” than church as I’ve known it. I’ve read books about other expressions of church, but I’ve nevr found anything like them in this area. I’m torn between wanting to find this “organic church” and feeling like maybe just maybe those who dismiss my ideals are actually right.
November 23, 2010 at 12:25 am
Hi Captain Quaker – thanks for your comment … it is a challenging time we are in – but if we truly seek God and HIS truth and not our own, He goes before us and leads us where we need to be.
November 23, 2010 at 2:16 am
Right on, Rachel
10 years ago I asked the Lord to show me what was on His heart about the true church and the false, and to reveal the subtle distinctions between them. Then I asked what did He want me to say & do about it.
Did I know what I was praying? No. And what trouble it has gotten me into since!! But I would do it all again.
Thank you for this post, The Holy Spirit speaks through you, mightily.
November 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm
Hi Roger – thanks for sharing your experience – I think too few really seek God’s will — instead it has been so impressed upon them they must be in church or God would be upset with them – but they rarely really seek what God has to say about it.
November 23, 2010 at 4:15 am
Oh Yeah, Yup, Uhuh, YES!!!
These are the exclamations you would hear if you are present as I read this post!
Tell it Sister!!
November 23, 2010 at 5:49 pm
Hi Nathan – thanks for your comment 🙂
November 23, 2010 at 5:07 am
The Invisible Church, the Bride of Christ…she is being sifted right now. You know it, I know it, and I only hope others will come to know it as well.
The home-based, organic fellowship is where I fully believe we are headed as a Remnant. I know you understand this. It is possible to return to The Book of Acts and embrace how “church” is supposed to have been.
Mega-churches are coming into The Bride like some kind of spiritual Wal-Mart, seeking to stamp out the smaller fellowships who take away from their numbers. Fah. So be it. The LORD will always keep those closest to His heart who walk in His Truth.
Am I being so bold as to say that I also believe that the mainline churches are full of non-saved “christians”? You bet. Who do you think Jesus was speaking about in Matthew 7? “Lord, Lord, did we not do all that stuff in Your Name….?” Um, well, kinda. But using the Name of Jesus does not make one saved. I have always found it interesting that Jesus tells those folks, “I never knew you.” Never. WOW! Knowing that Jesus is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, for Him to use the word “never” is huge!
It is not about us knowing Him. The mainline churches are full of folks who claim to “know Jesus”. It is all about Him knowing us.
On a side note, please, Rachel, consider coming to The Christian Guild! It would simply be a place where you could link your blog articles for the encouragement of whomever might read them. You would get the traffic and the exposure. It has nothing to do with me, at all!
Please consider it. Please. I’m begging here.
November 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm
Hi Donald – thanks so much for your comments — that verse in Matthew 7 is so powerful – yet so easily dismissed. Those people crying out look like strong Christians – ones Jesus says I never knew you to. It’s very sobering to those truly seeking. I will check it out. Thanks.
November 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm
For me when I left it was actually more productive for me. I found myself seeking, praying and reading more. However there are those times where I find myself graving going back, but when I see in the news this morning a local mega church having one of its previous youth minister under investigating for statuary rape. We are groomed to believe you have to go, its the American thing to do.
November 23, 2010 at 5:49 pm
Hi Mike – well put – we are groomed to think we have to go – and as a result we dismiss all the verses and God’s instruction that says otherwise.
November 23, 2010 at 8:01 pm
I kinda hate to be a cog in the wheel here, but hopefully you mind this perspective. I think you at least know that I have discovered God. After 30 years of Christianity in the organized church, I backed out of all my duties and started my own personal persuit. It has been the richest experience of my life.
That being said, I have discovered there are a lot of pastors and believers within the organized church that is going through a similar transformation. There seems to be a new hungering for what I call authentic Christianity. I know it is true in my church and some others I am aware of.
I had the opportunity to attend David Platt’s (author of ‘The Radical Experiment’) church this past weekend. They definitely fall into that catagory. They are struggling to realign themselves with the example set by the early churches in Acts.
One thing I’ve noticed, as I am now personally studying Acts, is that Paul went around to the churches to ‘encourage and strengthen’ them. I admit there may be some whom we could wash our hands of, but I believe there are many that are hungering for the same thing we’ve found and just need to see that others have found it and shown how to find it for themselves.
Well I could go on and on, but that is the jist of what I feel. By the way, thanks for stopping by again. That really was a cool service and song.
November 24, 2010 at 5:34 pm
Hi Mike – I really do appreciate your comment. I encourage other perspectives. It helps us to really consider what we believe and why.
I don’t doubt that some pastors are feeling the pull to change. I believe the structure and system itself promotes a passive relationship with God that makes it challenging for people to overcome. People want to be lead by men, they want to be told what to do, they want the easy way, they want the wide road – and this has always been a problem with God’s people. It has always gotten them sidetracked and misled. And the system feeds this mentality whether it wants to or not. The way is narrow and few find it because it is a personal search, commitment and devotion … God should be the one to lead us – this was His desire from the beginning, we should be following the Holy Spirit’s instruction and counsel not man’s. As long as man is providing these things – people will rely on them. I think the church Paul spoke to were believers – not a system – as he said the church is so and so’s house. I don’t doubt people are trying to change – but I don’t see this as what is talked about in the Bible in the end days– it talks about people coming out into the wilderness where God is their sanctuary, shepherd, teacher and guide – not man. This is a meaty topic and we could go on and on … but it all really comes down to each one of us cultivating a real authentic relationship with God grounded in spirit and truth. And I know on this we agree.
November 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm
“This is a meaty topic and we could go on and on … but it all really comes down to each one of us cultivating a real authentic relationship with God grounded in spirit and truth. And I know on this we agree.”
November 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm
Hi Mike — That really is the main point isn’t it? God has a place and purpose for each one of us. No one else can determine that for us. So we have to seek and look to Him for our will for our lives.
January 10, 2013 at 1:39 am
My experience grwoing up in a medium sized church in the US (approx 250) was that it was easy to just show up and leave without anyone really taking notice. I found the experience of attending a smaller church of about 100 in the UK very different. (I was there for three years.) While I had as much freedom to easily come and go, I definitely felt it was more noticed in the smaller church. I began to build relationships there which resulted in me staying longer, led to stronger friendships, discipleship, and eventually the realization that I hadn’t ever followed Jesus, even though I’d always thought I was a Christian. I observed a real community and deeper fellowship there in that smaller church that I hadn’t seen before. In hindsight I think it was a picture of how the church is described in Acts.In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point he talks about the theory that 150 is a magic number where he describes a social phenomenon seen across multiple types of communities (schools, workplaces, etc). I’m paraphrasing but basically the idea is that approximately 150 persons is the maximum number of people whom we can interact with without feeling that we don’t know how we relate to them. When workplaces rise above that number they have observed productivity levels come to a plateau even while adding additional workers. The idea is that above that number, people begin to feel like numbers and don’t think that what they do really matters or makes a difference. I felt that the missional church video above was spot-on in describing church members who don’t think they need to personally prepare themselves to share the gospel, and instead think that bringing someone to church and leaving it up to the pastor is evangelism. I think there can be a real danger in a large church where members can begin to depend on the pastors and elders to do the job that I think we are each called to do.I don’t know if the model of a big attractional church really works I think the people inside the church probably think it’s an attractive model that works but I’m not sure that the people outside would think the same. As to being attractive , the apostle Paul talks about being all things to all men but logically one large church can’t be all things to all men, really it can only be a few key things to only a certain type of people. I think it’s the reason why there tends to be a dominant homogenous group in a church, plus a few attenders in fringe groups. In thinking about how we should do church, I find it very helpful to think about Jesus’ model of discipling only 12 men over the course of three years with the goal of sending them out to be disciple makers in their own right. I think we see the same model followed by Paul as he trains up other men to plant churches. I find it helpful to remember the cliche that God has no grandchildren. I would love to see churches begin to plant when they get too large I feel that this would encourage people who haven’t felt needed before to step up to the plate and reveal talents and gifts we haven’t seen before, or for previously dependent people to realize they too can be equipped to become leaders too. I also feel that large churches can make the mistake of depending on the strength of its people whereas perhaps small churches might by necessity be forced to depend on the One whose strength matters, to His glory!
November 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm
Powerful thoughts, Rachel. It’s hard sometimes not being in the CS when so many react to you as if you have “left the church” and “fallen away.” Sometimes, I have felt a desire to just go back – but I believe that’s always been a reaction to a person’s comments or guidance, not God’s.
Your commentary on Revelation 18 is interesting; I’ve never thought of that “great city” as being the CS, but just this American culture in general, which is supposedly a “Christian culture” but is nothing of the sort! I’ll have to reread that more carefully and in prayer.
It is a glory and a wonder being able to say that God is teaching me, not man, and it’s exciting to see ideas and truths come together and fit and make more sense in my mind than they ever have. But it does take time, a love for the truth, and a steadfast heart for God. He has shown me a lot of division in my own mind and heart; please pray with me that God will mold my heart into one united and passionate for His Kingdom and His Will.
Thanks, as always, for your prayers and your work to encourage others to put their faith in GOD, not people, and to seek Him and His Truth.
November 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm
Hi Ruth – it’s good to hear your thoughts on this — it is a difficult topic because there is persecution for not following the majority – it is all the more reason to nurture an ever deepening relationship with God.
Jerusalem, the great city, is used in reference to God’s people … God’s people, those called by His name, are the ones who play the role of the Great Harlot, Babylon the Great (only those called by his name could and professing to by united to Him can “cheat” on Him). There is so much symbolism in the Bible – it was written that way so God could reveal truth as He desire when and to whom. But it makes it fascinating – though it is process and a practice in patience as you wait up on God to teach you. The more time I spend in the Bible the more questions I have – there is so much in there as it is built layer upon layer and precept upon precept. I thank God for the Holy Spirit who was given to us to teach us all things … for without Him we couldn’t understand anything :-). And thank you for your prayers Ruth. I love to hear what God is teaching you.
November 25, 2010 at 5:15 am
Hey Rachel – just decided to send a follow-up comment since I was just in the middle of an in-person conversation about this. It always amazes me how ideas and questions suddenly crop up in multiple places in my life at the same time to get me to pay attention and seek further understanding. We were a fellowship of four sitting in a living room – two a regular part of the CS, two seekers away from the CS. I trust and believe we’re all reaching toward the same thing and know we need to seek God personally and abide in His Word as you and Mike agree, but it’s sad to know they – or at least one of them – really think the two of us not in the CS are doing wrong…
Thanks for your comments on Revelation 18; that helps put this into perspective. And I agree! The more I read, the more questions I have…and I do thank God for His Holy Spirit.
November 26, 2010 at 5:49 pm
Hi Ruth — at one time I was one of those people in church who thought you had to be there – most of us were raised with that idea and mainstream reinforces it. Most people still have that mindset. Each has his/her own journey to walk and lessons to learn along the way. We have to give each other the time to learn.
You can be an example and show them with your life there is another way. 🙂
November 27, 2010 at 6:01 am
Saw this article and thought of you! Enjoy!
November 27, 2010 at 7:59 pm
Hi Donald – thanks! I’ll check it out.
November 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm
Very interesting article,I tell ya I have not been satisfied in regular church for a long,long time now.And the only reason’s I went back was because I felt like that’s where I’m suppose to be,but no more I’m staying close to Jesus outside of regular church because this is where I find true peace and joy!I’m following Jesus not man and my trust is in him.I read all of the comments trying to get a better understanding of Revelation 18,I was thinking America but now I understand it’s the church.I will also read this chapter again in prayer.I enjoyed the read Rachel and you have a wonderful evening. 😀
November 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm
Hi Pat – thanks for your comment. I enjoy hearing your thougths and perspectives. It really is about putting God first and following Him.
January 8, 2013 at 10:31 am
in the last paragraph of the summrey on the back. “The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman- they are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to come now as the Hero of your story, to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating.”Ok. Longest comment ever. But check it out on Amazon. It made a big difference in helping me to see myself the way God sees me – not they way I see me.
January 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm
Thought I would read this again…feeling a little perplex lately. If God has called us out, why wouldn’t He place us with others that are liked mined? It seems that most I encounter are on-line. We would love to have community with others who feel the same way or even except us as we are and be part of a group. The bible speaks so much about community, about being fitted together as a body. 1 Cor. speaks so much about the unity of the body, being members joined together. How can we be members that are separate from one another. Pastors speak so much about being together, fellowshiping with each other. Its so enforced in us, is it as biblical as they say or do they just interpret they way they want? It would be great just to join up with others for pray and study! Nothing complicated..simple!
January 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm
Hi Mike, I have maybe one person in my area that I’ve meet that sees the church system as I do, and that person I’ve only met recently and I’ve been out of the church since 2004. I’ve met many on-line but not where I live, so I understand what you are saying. I think God has us scattered for a reason. We are to be light where we are. They’re aren’t many of us so we have to be spread out. Also, understand the times we are in. I strongly feel we are drawing near the end. Life isn’t going to be what we want in the Christian community. It will be full of deception, difficult, persecutions and so forth. Jesus told us this and warned us of it. We are seeing His words manifest before our eyes. Things aren’t as they always were. It is VERY important to understand this. We are approaching a time of a great change and you see the birth pains of that all around. He always provides what we need. We have expectations about how our Christian life should look, most of those expectations come from the church system. We have to put that aside – seek the truth of the time we are in, in God’s Word. And trust God to provide what we need and He will. I’ve seen it over and over. But our part is to trust and follow His voice wherever it may lead.
I would encourage you to connect to others who you meet on-line that are like minded. Email them. Talk on the phone. As God’s true church, we are connected. We are there for each other. God’s spirit connects us in a powerful way. I would encourage you to open up your mind to other ways that God might provide the fellowship you seek. It has been engrained in us that fellowship only comes within the church system, it doesn’t. In fact, it is my belief that you find much richer fellowship outside because it is based in truth and according to God’s Word that has been my experience. Further, many of those I spend time with are in the church system. We get together and pray and talk about God’s truth in our lives. They know my heart and I know theirs — and God has drawn us together for a reason.
I hope this helps.
January 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm
I don’t know where you’re located, but if you drop by my website and leave me a note I can see whether I can find any folks near you, and also give you some resources where you might find people. I think there is a wilderness time during which God strips us down of all the false ideas (well, of some of them anyway) we’ve picked up along the way. We were alone for maybe 8 months or so, but others have waited longer. You needn’t say where you are on the website if you’d rather not. I’ll e-mail you and then you can tell me. Just click on my name.
Rachel . . . it’s been really wild busy around here. We’ve had a wonderful time with Milt Rodriguez helping our group get a good foundation, and I’m ecstatic about how things are going. I know there will be lots of bumps along the way, but at the moment, things are great. Love you, girl!
January 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm
Hi Cindy – thanks so much for extending such a warm embrace 🙂 I agree about the wilderness – it’s a part of getting real with God and Him truly becomingo our foundation. I’m so GLAD things are going well. You are always in my prayers. 🙂