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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2006 14:44:39 -0600

ANDREW STROM:  As you can imagine, I got all sorts of replies
on the 'OUT-OF-CHURCH' question overnight. One of the major
responses that kept coming through was basically this: "Yes - we
agree that there must be a real Body and real leaders. But where
in my area can I find such a thing? -I have looked and looked."

For example, BETTY: "If, as you say, I MUST have a body, where in 
my little town is that body???  I would joyfully join it.  My only 
option is the institutional church.  What do you want me to do?"
And also JIM:  'There are many of us who are "loners", but not by 
choice.  I have been to many "churches" in my area looking for the 
things you mention and believe me, it is not there. Talk about 
apostasy, it is everywhere, along with a good deal of deception to
boot.  I would appreciate knowing where one might find the type 
of church that would make up a Body as described that I could 
get involved with. It certainly doesn't seem to be any of the 
mainstream churches, and I have tried many smaller unknown 
ones too, and been even more disappointed....' 

Several people also sent me a list of the types of leaders they
have found in their area, and asked me which of these they should
sit under? - (1) Non-Spirit-filled - no anointing, (2) Controlling, 
(3) Casual about sin in the congregation, (4) High-handed and
domineering, (5) Never preaches on repentance or holiness, 
(6) Word of Faith - Prosperity, (7) A lot of 'hype' but little love, 
(8) Preaches endlessly on 'money' and tithing, etc, etc.

What am I supposed to say to these people? Are they exaggerating
the scope of the problem? Is it really true that there are so few
GENUINE SHEPHERDS out there? Sadly, I can at least partially
believe it. "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with
compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered
abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Mt 9:36).

What an awful, awful plight the Western church is in, if these things 
are true. But I do know that there are SOME good shepherds around. 
For instance, what about the pastor's conferences that David 
Wilkerson holds - who do you think attends those? -Thousands of 
leaders. So there is at least a remnant of good shepherds out there. 
But perhaps they are too few and far-between?

One lady named CHRISTINE wrote to me:
"There is only one thing that hasn't been mentioned in this debate 
of sorts, and that's the deficient "shepherds" and leaders who 
have been the primary reason many Christians are running away 
to begin with!  If they would tune in with the Lord, perhaps there 
would be unity and the "Body of Christ" would be functioning as 
the New Testament COMMANDED.... I can't even find one Holy 
Spirit led church anywhere in my area.  It's the same old saga 
every place you go.  Man-made agendas, programs that bore you 
to sleep, obsession with money & growth, and who will boast the 
loudest this Sunday about their ministries & gifts from God?  

"This is the main reason things have come unglued.  So many 
good saints are tired & crushed by lukewarm, compromising 
preachers and lack of order & accord in the body...We are hungry 
for the right order as the Lord ordained, but the leaders are out of 
order in MOST instances.  Many of us have spent genuine time 
before the Lord, not making waves, trying to be obedient to leaders 
who are completely oblivious to the voice of the Lord... In many 
places there is corruption you wouldn't believe, and I was in four 
fellowships that were totally dismantled by the hand of God for 
similar reasons in the past 15 years. We want to obey and commit 
and follow the leaders earnestly, but given the choices we have, 
we are sick and tired of trying.  I think the shepherds need to go 
back to Christianity 101 and start over.  They need to repent and 
re-commit to Christ before attempting to tend the sick and 
scattering sheep. 

"You can't just blame the saints in this situation. You must ask 
yourself WHY? Why are the saints scattering, looking for greener 
pastures?  Because like the book of Amos said in ch. 8, "There 
would be a famine in the land, one of hearing the word of the Lord."  

"Right now I know many, many, on hold because we are caught
between a rock and a hard place.We have no sense of belonging 
anywhere because of the intense hypocrisy and game playing... 
We want so much to please the Lord, and have NO problem 
submitting to leadership, but where are the men of God who are
supposed to LEAD THE SHEEP?  I think someone needs to 
address them first.  We are disgusted with dead shepherds & 
sermons.  These people pleasing, non-offensive ministries are 
draining the life out of the saints.... Where's the Holy Spirit? Give 
us something to go to and be a part of... At this point, staying 
home is better, at least we can seek the Lord without any pretense. 

"Many of us have no intention of being deliberately rebellious. But 
who would want to sit in a dead service led by self-centered 
ministers who rub shoulders with others like them?  If we could 
find a Holy Spirit motivated Pastor and flow as the New Testament 
church was intended to, we'd be there whenever the doors opened...
We are not against assembling together as long as it's according
to the Bible.    

"If I hear one more person say, "there is no perfect church", I think 
I'll scream!  We aren't looking for a "perfect church."  We are 
looking to find CHRIST in the center again, and to become more 
CHRIST-LIKE ourselves!!!  

"What are we supposed to be a part of? Cake sales, yard sales, 
watered down sermons, program after boring program, lectures 
about giving more money and "a form of godliness denying the 
power thereof?"  This is happening all across the USA. The sheep 
are going to be only as good as the shepherd who leads them... If 
the leaders are playing games, what do you expect the sheep to 
do?  Some may be content to follow the crowd, but the Lord has 
called others to Himself for a meaningful relationship with Him, 
and the local churches aren't hearing the marching orders of the 
Lord!  The Lord does have a remnant who are seriously determined 
to follow Christ and obey!"

ANDREW AGAIN:  Certainly some profound and undeniable points
made above. So what can people do for 'Body-life' who are caught
in this situation? Well, if there really is nothing else, then perhaps 
the below post from our Forum may be of interest. It is really only 
a 'partial' solution, but it is certainly better than nothing! -Take a look:

JEFF writes: "I have been "Out-of-Church" for some time now, and 
have been wanting to - and being led by the Lord to - have a house 
church in my home. Recently I found a local expression of the 
Body of Christ that is meeting in a home. Their entire purpose is to 
have a home church, and raise up the men to be leaders, so that 
eventually, THEIR home becomes a meeting place for a home church.

"While there is and are leaders, the emphasis is on each man 
bringing something to the meeting. Instead of just one man being 
the one who "brings the Word of the Lord". 

"Just after a few weeks after "assembling together" with this group, 
God had led other people to my family, and us to others, that will 
soon be assembling in my home. 

"The problem with sitting in a "traditional church"... is just that. The
men just SIT. The men are to be leading, or learning to, and 
exercising leadership. If they just passively SIT, they are not doing 
what God wants them to. In my opinion, they might as well be "Out-of-Church." 

"God does not want MEN to SIT. He wants them to Lead. He wants 
them to Lead their family, and He wants them to lead others to Christ. 

"One big church, with one man doing the leading, does not allow 
other men to grow into leadership. Small groups of men, (families) 
afford each man the opportunity to be obedient to the Scripture: 
1 Cor 14:26- "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come 
together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, 
has a revelation, has an interpretation...."  (-NKJV).

"In our meetings, we always start off with a potluck dinner. Each 
one brings something to eat.. and there is plenty for everyone. The 
rest of the meeting is no different. Each man brings some spiritual
food to eat... and there is always plenty for everyone to be exhorted. 

"Remember the REASON for assembling is to EXHORT ONE 
ANOTHER. You go to bless them.. not to be blessed by them. 
This requires you to bring something to the Body of Christ. This 
has not changed since the time the Israelites were at the Mountain 
of the Lord after they came out of Egypt.

"I encourage each one who reads this, to consider either joining a 
home church in their area, or starting one...."

ANDREW AGAIN:  As I said, the above is still only a partial
solution, because it does not stop the splintering of the Body
into thousands of tiny pieces. But it is certainly much better than nothing.

I am convinced that the lack of TRUE SHEPHERDS in many
parts of the church today is a CRISIS that God will not allow to
continue. One way or another, He will find good shepherds for
His sheep. This state of things really is so terribly sad. How
grieved God must be over it. And as He has often done in the past, 
I am convinced He is about to bring large-scale "CHANGE". -That
is why the coming move of God must be a 'REFORMATION', not
just a 'Revival'. -Leadership really is a huge issue to Him.

God bless you, my friends.

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom.