[anzac] "I'M 'OUT-OF-CHURCH' BUT...."

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Home   : February 2004 : Group Archive : Group : All Groups

From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 23:56:09 -0600
From:         <terryanddebbie@...>
Date sent:      Sat, 31 Jan 2004 22:42:59 -0000

I am an out-of-church Christian.  I have been a part of 1 or 2 
fairly small gatherings of out-of-church Christians for about 
15 months now, and I want to flag up a concern I have for all 
those who for one reason or another have ended up in this position.

There is no doubt that being out of the worst elements of 
church is very attractive to many, especially for those who 
have suffered at the hands of other churches.  You are free 
to think, believe and act how you like, and no one can tell 
you otherwise - for me, this means not having to hide what 
I think on certain subjects, although I have found that 
wrong teaching still exists out-of-church...

The problem I want to highlight is that for all of us in 
principle, and in practice for some of us more than others, 
God wants all of us to be part of a body where we (a) are 
accountable to someone and (b) are open to input and if 
necessary on-course correction from others.  In other 
words, every Christian should be linked to an elder or 
elders so that (a) and (b) can operate in their lives.

The reality is that many out-of-church Christians have had 
really negative experience at the hands of elders and/or 
church and the last thing they are looking for is the 
prospect of spiritual abuse from another elder who does not 
fit God's blueprint, and who has the position without the 
necessary spirituality that should go with it. None of us 
though would object to joining a church where we could 
guarantee the elders displayed the attributes of Jesus 
99.9% (allowing for human failings).

However, the only thing that matters to me is what the Bible 
says - I don't care what I think or what anyone else thinks - 
and the Bible simply does not recognise as legitimate the 
concept of a Christian who is not part of a church led by 
elders, and who is therefore not shepherded by and subject 
to elders.  The problem for out-of-church Christians like me 
is that, at the end of the day, no one has authority over us.  
This is the problem highlighted in Jude 12, where certain 
individuals are negatively referred to as  "feeding" or more 
accurately "shepherding" i.e. eldering themselves.  The 
danger for out-of-church Christians is that they are, in effect, 
their own elders.

Where this can especially be a problem is that some people 
out-of-church most definitely do need more than others some 
kind of ongoing correction, supervision or input - call it what 
you will - but no one is really in a position to ensure they get 
it, because there is no fatherly authority in place. The danger 
is that people can carry on as they are enjoying their freedom 
but still entrenched in problems of character or false teaching 
which never get tackled.

Coventry, UK.