[anzac] Re: THE "OUT OF CHURCH" QUESTION

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From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2004 19:15:39 -0600
NOTE:  There is a full discussion of this 'Out-of-church'
phenomenon in the book "The Out-of-church Christians"
which is free to download at  http://www.streetrevival.com
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From:           "Weiler" <kweiler@...>
Date sent:      Mon, 16 Feb 2004 20:26:14 -0800
 
Response to "I'm Out-of-Church, But..."
-by Joel Weiler.
 
Trevor, what you have written about your concern for 'Out 
of church Christians', including yourself, is not an unfounded 
or uncommon concern. When my daughter wanted to court 
a man recently, the first thing we wanted to know is - "is he 
a Christian", and then "does he go to church?"  Typically, 
through most of our life experience, if a person proclaimed 
faith in Christ, and they didn't go to church, this usually 
ended up that they were off base in some significant way.  
Yet here I am, also an 'out of church' Christian, based on 
my own previous concepts, and someone I should
beware of!!
 
This is probably why Andrew decided your letter was a good 
one to publish, as it addresses a major issue, because all 
of a sudden there literally are thousands flooding out of the 
institutional churches, and to most people's accounts, who 
knows where they are all going?!
 
What becomes of 'out of church' Christians?  Are they out 
of God's will? Are they putting themselves directly in harms 
way and soon to be readily devoured by the enemy?  Are 
they rebellious in nature against God & church (-notice we 
assume the two synonymous). I would remind us all - 
Martin Luther was 'out of church' once, as was John the 
Baptist for a major part of his life, not to mention most of 
the leaders of every major spiritual advance in church history. 
 
The very statement 'Out of church' says a lot in itself 
about our concepts. In your letter you said you were out 
of church, yet had been part of some Christian fellowships 
in smaller gatherings these past 15 months.  Does the
size of the congregation determine a church?  Or a 
pulpit, sound system maybe, or even a professionally 
paid Pastor, a row of pews for the audience, or some 
church programs?
 
I would challenge you that perhaps you have been 
experiencing a measure of 'church' with your comrades 
as it is more biblically and historically defined, and not 
fully appreciated for what it is - although perhaps it's in
a "grass roots" level of development, and still without 
significant leadership. The early church found themselves 
often in this predicament. Leadership must come forth 
ultimately, or as you said, things can get weird, and often 
wallow without any seeming sense of direction.  One of 
our problems however in modern 'church', is an excessive 
'leading' where the leaders simply do almost everything 
spiritually significant, and cue the rest of the people like 
dummies.  A lot of people coming out of such a setting 
react to that excess with a well deserved mistrust of overt
leadership.  'Lord of the Rings' is an excellent allegory of 
this.  The wise and honorable feared even themselves to 
carry the ring, for they had seen what was in almost every 
man.  Many leaving the institutionalized churches are 
looking for a re-defined leadership, moved by a greater 
fidelity and fear than the last.  This is coming.
 
Obviously we all need a proper definition of Church, and 
Leadership, Elders, Pastoring.  
 
And then it would be helpful to know where all these 
people leaving, are leaving to. Are they going somewhere - 
or shall we assume that their Christian journey is over the 
minute they leave our super visible institutions?  
 
More intriguing yet is the question that will get us all, as 
Andrew Strom himself has asked - Is God leading them, 
could this possibly be a move of God?  Or are they all just 
reacting immaturely to abuses, as you mentioned, and just 
unwilling to get back in there and have another go?  I'm 
sure there's a good mixture of all this. But when thousands 
across the world, and often some of the most spiritually 
dedicated and experienced believers, are heading out the 
door, perhaps we'd better ask ourselves [-some deeper
questions than the shallow ones we often ask].
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