My Norwegian Artist husband was raised in a small church attached to a big denomination, and throughout his childhood he heard about the promised Revival, with a capital R, of God:
It was always about to happen, just on the verge of exploding. But for some reason, unless a big-name evangelist deigned to appear in a nearby large town’s football stadium, it just didn’t manifest itself.
Perhaps the saints weren’t praying hard enough. Or God just wasn’t ready yet. Whatever it was, the Revival was always something in the future.
Whatever a Revival is, however, we are in the midst something that looks like one now — an extremely quiet, persistent movement that mimics a leak in a water tank, drawing liquid away from the container and into the earth. And while this isn’t a good thing for the person owning the container, it does wonders for the parched ground receiving the moisture.
The Revival that we are experiencing today involves the leaving, one by one and family by family, of people from the conventional weekly church establishment. Too many people are simply leaving, disappointed and discouraged by the increasingly corporate nature of what calls itself the body of Christ, but convinced that this is, at base, what Christianity is.
“God, and Christianity, are not the answer,” they conclude.
But others, and I and my family are among them, have left to find God. Totally done with trying to fit in, wondering if there is more to the Christian experience than becoming the Deaconess of Baby Showers or the Deacon of Weekly Lawn Maintenance, we are exasperated at being labeled “difficult” for asking questions, “cold” because we are bored by Sunday School, “not an intentional member of the community” (is that in the Bible?) because went to the park with our family last Saturday, as opposed to participating in Church Work Day.
For whatever reason, and each person’s experience is different, more and more people are departing, which is why those who are left behind are exhorted, strongly, to stay there.
But weekly church service is not a commandment, “corporate worship” not a requirement to achieve closeness with God. And as important as “correct church doctrine” is trumpeted to be vital to maintain a healthy Christian community, one would have to ask, “So which doctrine is correct? Must we speak in tongues to prove that we have the Holy Spirit, or not? If we are not baptized, do we go to hell? Is it true that those who worship on Sunday violate God’s law, and isn’t the whole point of Jesus that we aren’t bound by that law anymore? So why are there so many rules?
“And will God really reject us if our neckline plunge is too steep, and too low?”
If “correct church doctrine” is in danger of being contravened by those who leave the conventional church environment, it would be nice if those concerned about its demise put forth a succinct and unified list of these appropriate beliefs so the rest of us would know when we are breaking them.
Better yet, let’s forgo that — it sounds too much like a one-world, global religion, and those of us who are ordinary know how well the globalized economy works for regular people. A One World Order mandating how we believe isn’t a particularly good, and certainly not God-ordained, idea.
People are leaving, people. It is not so much a reflection upon their belief in God as it is evidence that they have this belief, and they are not finding it strengthened, encouraged, nourished, and cultivated in the settings that they are abandoning.
While it’s easy to point to a Leaver and say, “That person has no heart for God; otherwise he would be here looking for him,” very few people, especially in leadership, actually ask former weekly church attenders why they left. The truth isn’t particularly complimentary to the status quo.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you,” God says in Jeremiah 29:12-13.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
That’s what people are doing. Some of them do it within what we call a church setting, and they thrive there. Others, however, balk at what they consider a system, and insist that they didn’t follow Jesus to then be required to second guess, and follow, a list of rules — rules that vary depending upon the church body, the denomination, and whoever happens to be leading their particular group.
These are the people who are leaving. They are not weak, they are not backslidden, they are not apostates, they are not quarrelsome dissenters dissatisfied because they can’t find the perfect church — believe me, they know that such a thing doesn’t exist.
They are seekers — asking, seeking, knocking, walking, insistent upon finding the God of love and acceptance that they are told, repeatedly, exists and wants to have a relationship with them. And they’ll go where they can find Him.
Please read more on this subject at my Commonsense Christianity article at BeliefNet, The Christians Who Choose to Leave Church.
This post is linked to A Little R and R, Shine, Arabah Joy, Rebecca, Christian Mom Blogger, Create with Joy, Hearts for Home, Thought Provoking, Tell It Tuesdays, My Joy-Filled Life, Soul Survival, Motivate, Good Morning, A Look at the Book
Thank you. God bless you enormously. This blessed me. Like, I’m so adding you. Thank you Father God for revivals. May we praise you in season and out of season. Thank you Father for power. Power over .serpents and scorpions and over all power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt us. Thank you Heavenly Father for Jesus and the cross. Thank you Heavenly Father for the Revivor of our souls. Christ has made us survivors. And we thank you. Revival! Bring You Revival Lord God in our lives. In Christ Jesus name and so it is. Amen.
I am glad that you enjoyed the article, and thank you for adding me.
Thank you. I look forward to your posts. It’s one of my favorites.
I am glad. I write to my brothers and sisters who are awakening, and awake, and share my journey and learning with them so that perhaps, people can be free, sooner, of the shackles we place upon ourselves. I love learning from my brothers and sisters from their own journeys, and we all grow forward in our walk with our Eldest Brother and perfect Father.
I appreciate your thoughts on this. I guess there are more sides to most issues than we like to talk about. You’ve given some things to think about (that’s a good thing, lol!). Thanks for linking and sharing with Grace and Truth!
Most decidedly there are more sides to ALL issues than we like to talk about, and the foremost way of ensuring that there is no dialogue, is to ridicule those who speak up, or question their credentials, or subtly put them down in some way. Most people, being polite (that’s the good way of looking at it) or trained into compliance (that’s the sad way of looking into it), give in, and few voices rule.
This is not how it is to be within Christianity, where all believers are a priesthood in Christ, and we all have a responsibility to listen to, and obey, the voice of our Father. It should be no surprise that this voice takes us into variance with the rules and doctrines of men.
I love how you mention that you don’t need corporate worship to have a relationship with God. So awesome! Our nanny and her hubby don’t go to church right now, but they are more connected with God than most people I know that do go to church.
Thanks for sharing on the Shine Blog Hop!
As time goes by, I am increasingly seeing that not only does one not need corporate worship to have a relationship with God, one has a far better climate in which to have a relationship with Him OUTSIDE of corporate worship. It is not surprise that your nanny and her family have a stronger relationship with God than most people you know — they are not distracted by superfluous chatter, masquerading as teaching.
The wisdom of God is accessible to all of us, and it requires only one thing — that we ask Him to teach us.
It’s important that as individuals within the body of Christ, we are able to take an honest look at both the strengths and weaknesses of our “biological system”. Without these honest evaluations we can not effectively grow or carry out our God-given tasks. Transparency is paramount to success when conducting these evaluations. Thank you for your transparency and thank you for sharing at #MotivateRMday!
Honesty — with ourselves, with each other, with God. This is a crucial element missing in much of what we do in our corporately controlled culture, where deceit is the norm. The closer we get to God — as individual Christians — the more we are able to ask the questions to determine whether or not the Emperor is naked. But the system — the corporately controlled element that is entrenched within what we call church — is out to protect itself, and it does this by discouraging questions, telling individuals that they are not qualified to study Scripture for themselves, insisting that autonomous beings submit themselves to a manmade hierarchy of authority. This is where we find ourselves today, and it is why Christianity — our impression of it — is ineffectual and meaningless to many people’s lives. It’s not Christianity. It’s the substitute, thereof.
Thank you for sharing this thought provoking post at Good Morning Mondays. We have been there and left to find God and now we are back, stronger and different and hopefully more focused on God. Blessings
It is an ironic thing that, in leaving, we never leave God. We leave our flawed interpretation of Him, or the teachings of others that give us a flawed interpretation from Him, but in walking away from the false, we are heading toward the true.
You’ve shared an interesting perspective here. I find myself agreeing with some aspects and uncertain about others – but I’ll certainly be chewing on this for a while. I appreciate your transparency here, and I’m glad you linked up at Grace & Truth!
Jennifer — anytime we put forth an opinion, it is natural and expected that the people hearing it will agree with some of it, disagree with other aspects — what I am most excited about is your comment that you will be chewing on this for awhile. That’s what we need more of within the Christian community — people speaking up with questions, doubts, opinions, and thoughts that counteract the establishment way of thinking, a way of thinking that is promulgated, promoted, and put forth by the same tired old voices that have had far too much influence for too long.
The upshot is this: people are leaving. Even the establishment sector sees this, and is made uncomfortable by it, because when people leave a group, they are no longer influenced by it (nor do they financially support it). We can scold these people, we can put them down, we can say that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing — but it won’t stop the thoughtful people who have come to the point that they say, “That’s enough. I’m done, and I’m looking for God someplace else, where I have a sporting chance of finding Him.”
Those who stay behind will be told that those who leave are apostate, or back slidden, or cold — anything necessary to squelch the natural curiosity of why someone who has seemed to be in tune with God, someone we thought was living for Him, would leave. And the sad people are the ones who believe those lies, simply because they have been trained to believe everything they are told. The free people are those who, whether they decide to stay or leave, recognize that God’s children are in many pastures, and we don’t reject someone just because they look or act different (this goes for those who stay in the church setting, as well as for those who leave).