'PROOF' AGAINST the "OUT-OF-CHURCH" REVOLUTION? -by Andrew Strom. There was quite a strong reaction on our Forum to those who have criticized Barna's REVOLUTION book. We have quite a few "Out- of-church" people who defend Barna pretty vigorously. However, I am still not sure that the REAL issues have been faced. For instance, it is very easy to dismiss Sam Storms's criticisms by pointing out that when he says we should "obey and submit" to our Christian leaders (Heb 13), the real meaning of those words in the Greek is far less demanding. That is quite a well-known argument and you will get no disagreement from me. The 'Out-of-church' people also point out that Sam Storms seems to use the term "local church" to refer to the usual Sunday morning service in a building with a steeple, and a pastor with a tie. They say that such a thing did not exist in the New Testament. (-In fact, nothing like it). And again, it is difficult to argue with them there. But I still do not think we are addressing the CORE ISSUE that critics like Sam Storms have raised. In a nutshell, it is simply this: That the New Testament does not know ANY Christianity apart from that which is lived out in close relationship with a real 'Body' of believers. It is impossible to find ANY Christianity except "BODY" Christianity in the Bible. Not only that, but there is a huge amount of evidence right through the New Testament that the elders and 5-fold ministries carried quite a bit of AUTHORITY - and God expected them to use it. In fact, if we look closely at Acts and the rest of the NT, we find that God did very little at all without LEADERS. Apostles, evangelists, elders, etc - they were all absolutely necessary - and the believers of that time needed to respect and heed them - or the early church would have been simply unable to function. If we read Paul's writings about "ELDERS" and also his instructions to Timothy, we see how strongly the apostles placed an emphasis on good leadership. (-See 1 Tim 3). What does all this do to Barna's contention that it is "OK" to live out a kind of 'Body-less' Christianity? -In my view it utterly destroys it. And what does it do to the concept of a Christianity "without real leaders"? -It annihilates it completely. There is simply no other conclusion that can be reached. Now please be aware that I am not opposing "house churches" in this. What I am really targeting is the "loner" mentality - the individualistic "just-me-and-God" type of thinking that seems to be encouraged in parts of Barna's book. I have been around these kinds of deeply 'Out-of-church' believers now for many years, and I have observed that because of their anti-'Body' and 'anti-leader' tendencies, often they cannot take part in real "church life" at all. And I know that I was exactly the same when I myself was 'Out-of-church'. So what conclusion am I coming to here? -Simply that the entire "loner" Out-of-church movement is utterly undone by these two New Testament facts: (1) That you must have a 'Body'. (2) That this Body must have 'real' leaders. Anything less is totally "anti" New Testament. Scripture shows us again and again that it is simply impossible to have any REAL Christian expression in the earth without these two things. And thus the entire "Out-of-church" scene is totally without foundation. I know that sounds strong, but it is a fact that we need to face up to. I was an Out-of-church "loner" myself for a a number of years. And for 20 years now I have been around these kinds of people. I have observed that quite a few of them have serious hang-ups (just like I did) that will largely exclude them from true "Body life" - as well as true Revival. The reality is - they have a problem with 'Body' and they have a problem with 'leaders' - but usually they cannot admit that the problem is THEIRS. And thus, they tend to become trouble- makers. They can't seem to help themselves, and they do not realize that there are strongholds inside them that are causing many of these problems. Some of their complaints are valid, but others are caused by these strongholds. I was exactly the same myself, and all I can say is- Please "DEEPLY RENOUNCE" these strongholds until they are gone, my friends. Personally, I had to go through a massive overhaul in my life to even see what was wrong with me in the Out-of-church scene. It happened over a 3-day period in 1993. God led me into a time of 'DEEPLY RENOUNCING' things like pride, rebellion, hurt, rejection, self-righteousness, a critical spirit, etc. The transformation was immediate and powerful. Suddenly I could see how much of my "God doesn't need leaders" theory had come from a place of 'REBELLION' within me. Much of my "anti-Body", anti-leader rhetoric died that day - as I deeply RENOUNCED all of these strongholds out of my life. The glory and love of God flooded in! The only advice I can give to today's "loner" Christians is to get in a room with God and "RENOUNCE AND RENOUNCE" these things until they are gone. You will notice a huge transformation in every part of your being. Seriously - DO IT TODAY. I was teaching on this topic a few weeks ago and a young man experienced a tremendous breakthrough the following week by 'DEEPLY RENOUNCING' things that had been causing him a lot of spiritual problems. It does work and you need to do it today. It is like "expurging" them out of you - from the depths of your being in Jesus' name. In summary, I would like to come back to the main points we have discussed here. There is inarguable evidence throughout the New Testament that any expression of true Christianity needs these two things: A real 'BODY' - functioning as a Body, and real 'LEADERS' - functioning as leaders. Without these things, we have no legitimate expression of Christianity at all. I believe these are undeniable facts. And they completely undermine many of the basic tenets of the Out-of-church "Revolution". -Arguments, anyone? God bless you all. Andrew Strom.