Saturday, November 12, 2005

Control vs. Community

Allow me to be perfectly blunt: I am fed up, yes, FED UP with the local church. Where did the concept of the "local" church come from anyway? It is not in the Bible, that is certain. There were no denominations in the ancient times. There was "one church, one baptism, one faith." Since everyone couldn't be everywhere all at once, they congregated in local groups, where they "had everything in common." They shared their stuff with everyone. And the church grew spiritually and numerically, and the Word of the Lord spread.

Why did we change it? Did we feel the need to improve on God's design?

Perhaps it is a matter of control. Church history (too lengthy to recount on my humble blog) demonstrates that throughout the centuries, the Church in her various forms, led by well-intended individuals or groups, have created a system of control rather than a community of believers.

Have you ever tried to join a local church? Some are fairly simple. Others will have you attend a class or sign a Statement of Beliefs before you can join. In the New Testament, simple faith in Jesus as Lord got you in.

And don't even get me started on denominations.

Dr. Larry Crabb insists that the church ought to be the "safest place on earth." He is right, but is this the case? Do we share everything? Do I feel safe telling my Sunday School class all of my issues? Nope. Last time I shared personal stuff at church it ruined me.

Church as a community has a common bond (Jesus) and a common purpose (ministry and evangelism). Church as a system of control tells us how we should act, think, talk, sing, dress, walk, work, and worship. They make us feel like we are outcast if we don't do it this way or that.

I am reminded of a funny church sign, "Don't Let Stress Kill You; Let the Church Help."

Uh-huh.
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