I have been considering and re-evaluating our concept of “church” for several years now. And the more I look at it, the more I am convinced that we have been just practicing religious traditions rather than actually being the Church. And I don’t really care what brand of Christianity we’re talking about. Basically, they are all the same, with the same order of business in weekly services held every Sunday (or Saturday, or Wednesday night). Programmed, ritualistic services just leave me cold anymore. And the traditional split between leaders and followers, between clergy and laity, between the anointed ones and the dumb sheep, is just plain upsetting to me.
I have become a card-carrying member of The Dechurched, The Nones, The Unchurched, call us what you will. I now firmly believe that we are to leave the church building and start being the Church. Traditions always lull people to sleep, leaving thousands upon thousands bewitched by religion, thinking that they are serving God by merely attending scripted services. It’s all so very sad. The Church is a new wineskin, a new concept that puts Christians in the world, demonstrating the love of God to those that He puts around them as they live their lives. Biblical Church has nothing to do with buildings and scheduled meetings. It has everything to do with being led by the Holy Spirit as a lifestyle, demonstrating God’s love to the world.
And this brings me to the purpose of this rant. I fully believe that we have read the Word through the eyes of pastors and through our experience of what we call “church” to our detriment. I am now reading the Word through new eyes, from a whole new perspective, the perspective of how the Church is supposed to be, not what we’ve experienced for generations.
We have been programmed to believe that the way congregations in general are run is biblical, that the structure of any given fellowship is driven by biblical example, when it clearly is not. For instance, we have been programmed to believe that every group needs leaders and thus followers. The so-called “clergy-laity” divide is so deeply entrenched in our thinking, that it is practically blasphemous to consider anything else.
Do we need leaders? Do we need a pastor to feed us and guide us? Do we need a sermon every week? Do we need to be told how to interpret the Word from the pulpit? Not according to the Word, but traditions have blinded us to the Truth, making the Word of none effect (Mk. 7:13). Are we really just “dumb sheep” waiting to be fed by another man? Jesus said otherwise:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26 KJV
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:27 NKJV
We don’t need teachers; we have the Holy Spirit. Every one of us is to abide in Him, and the anointing will teach us ALL THINGS. This is the promise. Consider what Jesus said:
But you are not to be called rabbi (teacher), for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone [in the church] on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven. 10 And you must not be called masters (leaders), for you have one Master (Leader), the Christ. 11 He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself [with haughtiness and empty pride] shall be humbled (brought low), and whoever humbles himself [whoever has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly] shall be raised to honor. Matt. 23:8-12 AMP
Jesus Himself said, Don’t call anyone teacher or leader or (like Catholics do) Father. And what have we done for centuries? We have called other men leaders, teachers and fathers. We have all accepted the basic structure of any given congregation with its leaders and its followers, but it’s just not biblical. Jesus was laying out the new order of things, the new wineskin, with God as Father, the Son as the Head of the Church, and the Spirit as the Teacher. We are brethren and we are all to submit one to another in love.
Reading the Word now from this new perspective absolutely brings this concept alive. Yes, there are references to positions that some will naturally take by their maturity in the Word and in their walk with the Lord. But they are not to “lord it over”, they are to come alongside. There’s a huge difference. When titles come into play, so does pride. Paul never called himself Apostle Paul; he called himself Paul, an apostle.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-28 NKJV
It shall not be so among you. But this is about all we’ve seen in traditional church, to the extreme of abusive leadership. The whole concept of church leadership just looks like foolishness to me now, men doing what men do best- organizing and structuring in order to control. What God intends is so very much better. He has given us His Holy Spirit to teach us Himself. The Word is not a matter of private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:21), yet we sit in services every week listening to someone’s private interpretation. The pastor isn't the only part in the body; we all have a part. And that part needs to be judged just like our part needs to be judged by others.
Titles and positions cater to pride. I've seen people demanding respect, demanding to be called by a title thinking that they deserve some exalted position by far too many times over the years. And it's all completely justified in their thinking, but ego is the only thing getting served here. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and are to submit one to another. Demanding that titles be used is a serious red flag, an indicator of hubris, and perhaps an indicator of psychological issues that need to be dealt with. People that demand titles may be, in effect, demanding that they be in control. This begs the question- who is in control in that church? Is it God or man?
God wants us listening to Him. We are all responsible for seeking wisdom, for testing spirits, for checking what others say against the Word and against the Spirit inside us. Reading the Word from this perspective brings a whole new light to scriptures now. We all have a part, but it’s your responsibility to judge what I say, and mine to judge what you say. No one is 100% right, and to expect anyone in any church to be right all the time is just foolishness. We will ALL be wrong sometimes. The way I see it, our job is to find God in everyone, and don’t condemn them where we think they are failing. Everyone has a part, but it takes the Spirit to bring discernment.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 1 Cor. 2:13-15 NKJV
The traditional concept of church leadership needs to be seriously rethought. Our leader is Jesus, the Head of the Church, and the Holy Spirit is our teacher. We need to be led by that still, small voice.
But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future]. 14 He will glorify and honor Me, because He (the Holy Spirit) will take from what is Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Because of this I said that He [the Spirit] will take from what is Mine and will reveal it to you. John 16:13-15 AMP