Churchless Christianity: A Move of God?
There's a second "move of God" that's taking over the world. Did you notice? A small percentage of the people I've spoken to actually have. There are others who don't necessarily consider it to be being actually a "movement" because it's not so clearly defined as they would prefer. In addition, there are those who don't particularly approve that God "moving" in this direction. But as one British minister said to me several years ago in addressing the various controversies that surround each and every thing God has done since Genesis, "There's never been a tidy move of God." Never. Similar to how they Egyptian magicians could manage to mimic Moses as his rod changed into a snake Satan continues to duplicate and infiltrating whenever possible, diluting the purity of the flowing water of God and fooling "even the elect" of Christ's Kingdom. and successfully restraining some curious observers from diving in as a result from the disjointedness of the Body of Christ. What's the significance of this action of God? It's the huge mass exodus, the numbers of people who are moving away from the organized Christianity at an alarming rate as well as the ministers who are either leaving the faith, or are losing faith in the inerrancy of God's Word (in a second, we'll see whether these are truly men of God even at all). Fact is, what most theologians and church people Vietnam Expat see as a horrific trend, may well be a powerful manifestation by God's Spirit. And when the Spirit's Spirit begins to blow, Wisdom cries out for us to adjust our sails. Let me explain. Very simply, Jesus wants His Church back. They are His Bride. Unfortunately, this gorgeous young woman has been turned prostitute by Religion as its master. The woman was never meant to be organized, controlled, or institutionalized. She's an individual rather than an organization. An alive, breathing thing is not a cyborg, and cannot be programmed by an exemplary human chain-of-command. In the same way that Christianity was once viewed as a radical stance within Judaism I interpret the "Churchless Christianity" phenomenon as a move from God inside the church within the Church itself. THE FACTS The number of people leaving organized churches is increasing in Biblical amounts; at 53,000 people leave a week across Europe as well as North America combined (the U.S. suffered a loss of 57,500 throughout the course of the Vietnam War, to put the magnitude of that loss in perspective). In all, Christians lose 7,600 a day to other religions or irreligion. I get messages from them frequently via eMail. In addition, a few years ago an important Bible seminary issued 12000 letters of encouragement to the pastors of different denominations, asking only one query "Do you believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God?" The results of the poll were shocking A majority of Presbyterian USA pastors said NO The majority of Methodist pastors said NO. 85% of the Episcopal pastors said NO; 55% of Baptist pastors did not agree; 45 percent of Catholic priests said"No. (Source: Warner A. Bonner, They are the "leaders," folks. Be aware. Be very concerned. Christian Researcher, George Barna says of the American Church, "...new research supports our contention that the structure and organization of the American church is already going through radical change. If you add up the proportion of people who are likely to consider the cyberchurch their "church home and those who follow an unofficial house congregation and those who are absent from church, within about 15 years, a large majority of Americans will be totally separated from the traditional church model." (There are numerous church groups which are well-equipped to support existing ministries across all genres instead of attempting to start their own. Hint. Hint.) According to a report released on December 23, 2001 by Pew Internet and American Life Project as Americans went to their synogogues and churches following 9/11/01 one in four American Internet users, roughly 28 million, have looked up religious or spiritual information on the web since that terrible day. I am able to confirm this. There are more than three millions U.S. adults find religious information on the internet every day which is up from 2 million last year. That's more than the number who use the Internet to gamble, bank and trading stock! Sixty-nine percent involved in religious activities on the internet look for reference or educational materials, 50% research other religions, and 35% seek guidance from a spiritual source through eMail. 40% said they've either received or sent eMail requests for prayer. Seven percent of them made online donations (unfortunately I am unable to attest to this statistic). As a man who has an eMinistry, I don't see this "Church Exodus" as being an issue at all because I've experienced the fruit from CyberChurch and it's quite bountiful! This isn't a call to action that we end face to contact fellowship. Forget it! We need each other. We are a body that is together. But for those who need special attention - and statistics reveal there are MANY, including the shut-in, the handicapped, the shift worker, the spiritually shipwrecked , I compare CyberChurch to Christ spreading the gospel from town to town, in fields and on beaches at the market or any other place where people are willing to listen. Even if they gather electronically. It is possible that the Lord could have constructed churches following the Sermon on the Mount but He chose instead to minister while making disciples to prepare for the harvest to come (no farmer can harvest his crops without a barn or a silo for storing the harvested crop, or else it will rot on the ground). The Western Church has to learn how to harness the power of information technology in conjunction with our postmodern orientation, to serve the largest number of people who aren't churched in the most nontraditional and non-threatening manners. This means that, as Moses and his team, God utilized what Moses was able to use at the moment, coupled with Mo's willingness to serve. In the third world Church the Church uses things such as winds that carry Scripture-filled balloons across national boundaries. They make use of rivers flowing to carry the gospel down in bottles. They think up new ways to use what's available. The rest is in the God's hands. God. What is our resource? The basic computer is one choice. It's just naive to believe that our local professional ministers to take on the task or to expect the unchurched people to "come to church." After all, shepherds don't produce sheep; sheep produce sheep. It's pure fantasy to believe that the world will be taken over by Christian radio, TV, or even music. The Christian entertainment world is a ghetto, and the mainstream is a rare exception. I didn't before I was saved. Did you? What arrogance to think they should be seeking US! Is there any hope? Americans believe they need revival! A survey done by Public Agenda, a secular think tank, found that most Americans feel society would improve by being more religious. 69 percent of 1,077 U.S. adults polled in November. '00 were in agreement to the idea that "religion is the best way to strengthen moral behavior and family values." 74% of those polled agreed that "it is a bad idea for families to raise children without any religion." (Source: Tribune News Service, 01/10/01) Brennan Manning, author of "Ragamuffin Gospel," says, "Too many people are living in a place of fear, and not the house of love. Churches in the past have been healing healers that wound, not healers of the wounded." Manning explains that "Our striving in order to please God and our thrashing about to make ourselves better while burying ourselves in our own pity and wading in guilt are a source of annoyance to God and are a blatant denial of God's Gospel for grace." It's been said the belief that Christianity is the leading reason for atheism. We ourselves are the primary culprits behind the churchless phenomenon caused by years of misguided church teachings and traditions. As it stands it's hard to face the criticism of those who criticize us. Only God himself can help rid of what that we've created for ourselves. It is the only thing that should create immense optimism in us all! NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH? In the past an individual visited my home town of Arlington, Texas and was talking about what he referred to as "a revelation on the Church." Though he was way years ahead of time, the ideas he presented in regard to "how to have Church" was in fact not much more than what 80% people in Church practiced in the world of the third ... it is the only regions where Christianity is flourishing today, even in the midst of persecutors! While all were respectful, behind his back the man was mocked and disdained. And I sat on their coats, just like Saul did when he stoned Stephen who was the first Christian martyr. By the way, this gentleman had been James Rutz, author of the hot new book, MegaShift. Go through it and you'll know why it's so hot! we laughed at him back then.  

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