Christian believers are suspending going to church and switching to house meetings instead. Their reasons vary, but it is safe to say that all of them are tired of being programmed by a solo speaker professional elitist who downloads their spiritual food week after week.
I was driven to write a few words about this subject because of a piece that appeared in a past issue of Newsweek. Lisa Miller says in Finding Spirituality at Home,[Believers] mistrust authority and institutional hierarchy. This, according to her, seems to be the principal reason so many are abandoning the big churches in favor of house meetings commonly called house churches (a term I dislike). And some of the big churches are hurting. They are not hurting in spirit, but in the pocketbook!
I agree with Ms. Millerís diagnosis that it is mainly because of mistrust of authority and institutional hierarchy that so many are walking away from institutional religion and the big churches. There are other reasons as well.
Believers are sick of meaningless liturgy, stand, sit, bow, sing, contribute. These rituals, rites, and formalities are totally empty of any coherent and edifying message, and they do nothing but breed disheartened believers. Truth-seeking believers long for a family-like atmosphere where everyone is free and encouraged to verbalize, share, mutually participate, and where no one is dressed up like heís on his way to a Halloween party.
Believers are finally recognizing that once they formally place their membership with a church or denomination, they get caught up in all of their projects and programs. Many have begun to realize that the Christian community has moved from compassion to project. As a result, she has lost her anchor.
Most believers who are walking away from established churches are aware that Satan is shouting Hallelujah when 85-percent of church contributions is squandered on materialistic projects and programs and only 15-percent go to support evangelism and to alleviate the needs of the destitute. These were the only two undertakings the early believers contributed their money to evangelism and alleviating the poverty of the destitute.
Believers are also becoming more aware that church conversion, as opposed to heart conversion, is not the way of salvation. Religion and church have polluted the stream flowing from the river of life. On a personal note, I ceased long ago trying to convert anyone to any of the modern-day religions or to any of the numerous sects. I now point them in the direction of Jesus only, because 2000 years ago there were no church sects for believers to join. They identified themselves with other believers of a common cause, thus forming Christian congregations or communities. None of the early believers were afflicted with mad church disease. And none were church addicts.
As the apostles and first believers were not Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Mormons, Catholics, or associated with any of the other sects that sprinkle our current partisan landscape, recovering church addicts are also free of these schisms. These religious parties did not exist in the apostlesí time. Therefore recovering church addicts will not be formally aligned with any of these except to work within for reform.
If Jesus were on earth in the flesh today, Iím confident He would view our present-day religious institutions as He viewed those of His time. He worked among partisan systems for reform while not joining any of them. And so it is with recovering church addicts work within and among partisan groups, whenever possible, without subscribing to any of them.
So may house meetings increase! And may the systems that enslaved believers for centuries decrease and finally self-abort. And to God be the glory.