So You Want Me to Join Your Church?

I am a member of a couple of “closed” communities on Facebook. Closed in the sense that they are “closed” on Facebook, but anyone is welcome to join… they’re more or less considered “safe places” to talk about what we believe. I am not even sure how to describe these groups, other than they are groups of people who have come together for community, sometimes for something they have not been able to get in the real world.

Recently, in one group, we were talking about what organizations do to try to attract new customers, and how that is similar to how the church models itself. During this discussion I wrote out a few things that would “attract me and my family” to your church. The list is as follows…

First, you should be committed to selling off your building(s) and property — except for those buildings and properties that are used specifically for ministering to those in need (say a homeless shelter, food pantry, etc). In my eyes, too much of the church’s resources are spent on building and property upkeep, and it is mostly a waste of space. There are a lot of free/cheap options for a meeting place — homes, coffee shops, parks, etc. Plus, there is nothing in the scriptures that prescribe a large group of followers meeting every week at the same time, in the same place, to do the same things.

Second, you should be committed to not paying your staff, yes including your pastor(s). There is no scriptural precedent for paying someone to do what a typical pastor does every week and a large portion of the money coming into the church is usually being spent on the pastor’s salary. If the pastor stopped doing all those things that are not asked of them by YHWH, he’d probably have enough time to get a secular job and work among the lost. I know it’s a scary thought but a man after YHWH’s heart among those who do not know him seems like a better model to me, than a man who has to deal with the building maintenance for a bunch of Christ followers.

Third, now that you’re not paying mortgages and salaries, you have a lot more money! How about spending some of it on ministering to local groups in need, or supporting missionaries who are not able to find work where they are spreading the good news. The average Senior Pastor earns around 80,000$/year… imagine how many people you can support in a third world country, where a fraction of that salary would easily sustain them.

Fourth, you need to be open to the “one anothers” in scripture. Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us that if we gather together and we are not stimulating one another to love and good works, we are forsaking our gathering. According to 1 Corinthians 14:26, when we gather together, each of us should have a song, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation, and when any of those things are done, they should be done to edify one another. In our modern Church experience, the traditional Sunday meeting is the focus of our week, where 99% of the people sit in a pew and listen to the same person every week give a teaching, and the same person every week determine which music is delivered. There is usually no back-and-forth, not give-and-take. This is a far cry from what is described for us in the scriptures. By the way, I’m not saying that lectures and music experiences are wrong or bad, but when they are the focus of our walk with Christ, then something is wrong.

That is the church I would join.

Honestly, I know that straying from our modern Church experience sounds scary and hard. But at the same time it is liberating. To realize that you can worship our god whenever we want, wherever we are. To find community outside of a building. To recognize your leaders, not by the men who get paid to do a job, but by the men who are the best examples of Christ. To gather together based on our common love for Christ and not to separate because we don’t agree about the proper mode and method of Baptism or which end times interpretation is correct (or whatever your pet doctrine is).

In the other group, someone posted this video… I think it goes well with what I have tried to expressed above.

Comments

  1. I’ve been preaching this message to local churches for some time now (even before becoming an atheist).

    I can tell you, it isn’t a message many are apt to receive. I suspect it has a great deal with how much there is to lose if the Church were to look anything like what you are proposing.

    • Hi Matt, Luckily I was still in seminary when I came to these conclusions. I have a lot of empathy for those who have chosen ministry as a career and realize that it is not supported by the scriptures. Especially if they’ve done it their whole lives! But, this is “the model” we teach and many refuse to acknowledge any other way.