A place to help people to find understanding why church tradition and experience is often quite different from the simplicity of the New Testament.
Is the phrase "go to church" ever stated in scripture?
What about Titles and building-centered assembly?
What is a 501c3 church?
These are examples of practices needing examination and we hope will provoke thought and prayer among those the Lord is stirring and calling to a deeper consecration, and we want to encourage you to "hear ye HIM".
Out of church but not out of God, Christianity Outside The Box
Home church meetings?
Churches without names, buildings, or a hired pastor? Ideas that once sounded "out there" are rapidly becoming one of the largest spiritual movements in the world.
The George Barna Research Group in a startling survey found that the fastest growing segment of Christianity is among Christians leaving the institutionally organized churches and finding fellowship and support as they gather in homes and other places. (Google "Barna organic Home Church"
Approximately 7% of adults surveyed were participating in an "organic church", typically, one where people gathered in a home for worship, sharing of faith, and study of the Bible.
In his article, Barna stated "
71% say they are “more likely to develop my religious beliefs on my own, rather than to accept an entire set of beliefs that a particular church teaches.” And he found, "Levels of distrust toward churches, church leaders and organized Christianity have been growing over the past two decades.
That concern – along with the heightened independence of Americans and the profound access to information that has characterized the past decade – may have led to the emergence of a large majority of adults feeling responsible for their own theological and spiritual development." There are many authors such as Frank Viola, Andrew Strom, and A.J. Kiesling to name a few.
There are also a number of Christians choosing to gather together much as the early Christians did in the book of Acts.
In fact, a quick word search for "church house" in a Bible Search Program (http://www.htmlbible.com/ )
yielded numerous references such as 1st Corinthians 16:19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Colossians 4:15 Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in their house", -and more.
Reasons for leaving institutional are greatly varied.
Some leave church because they are bitter over spiritual and/ or clergy abuse.
Some leave because they cannot live up to expectations. Either their own, others, or even God's expectations as they are perceived.
Some leave because they experience emptiness in routines, programs, financial manipulation, and performance-oriented services.
Some leave the assurance and affirmation of church in order to find a more meaningful relationship to God.
Some leave because they began to read the Bible and saw how the words of Christian church scripture disagree with commonly accepted practices such as tithing and what Jesus called the "Nicolaitane" clergy. Some leave because God told them to.
Usually the establishment church views them with labels such as "lone-rangers", "disgruntled" "discord sowers", "false prophet", "heretic", "lone wolf", "murmurer", "discord sowers", and all the labels we ourselves once used to put on people when they left OUR church.
However in church history, a surprising perspective is found when we realize many of God's people separated themselves from the "mainstream" faith around them.
Jesus Himself was labeled, castigated, and persecuted by the establishment religious order.
Paul the apostle was converted but did not go to "church" for three years. He later suffered outside the camp of Judaistic Israel after Christ revealed Himself to him.
And of course, ALL of the followers of Jesus came out from among the mainstream sects and denominations of the Jewish religion. For this, they were persecuted, labeled, and spoken evil of by the religious establishment of the day.
Jesus Himself said He came to bring division in Luke 12:51 Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division, and that the first followers of Jesus Christ ALL came out from the divisions and sects of Judaistic Israel.
It is an astonishing parallel to our day in which there are countless sects, denominations, and divisions under the banner of "Christian". Anyone looking at the "church directory" in the Yellow Pages will quickly become overwhelmed by the Smorgasbord of church ads.
Yet it is an amazing discovery to find that the overwhelming majority of early Christians met in homes with no overhead, hired minister, or the typical furnishings found in the typical church building. It comes as a further shock to realize the pastors of that day were told by the apostle Paul himself, that they (the bishops) should be "so working that you ought to support the weak" (Acts 20:35)
The New Testament knows nothing of a professional clergy.
In the typical home church "assembling", families and individuals will gather together for a meal, fellowship, worship, and sharing.
In this atmosphere, everyone participates or is welcome to; the body of Christ functions as a loving, caring, and sharing spiritual family.
In our own home gatherings, which are rotated among several families, meetings tend to last 6-8 hours in a very enjoyable atmosphere in which most of the people stay well into the night.
One typical Saturday we assembled with spiritual "family" as the Body of Christ from around 2:30 to 11 pm. We talked, ate, prayed, discussed the Bible, testified, and shared what the Lord is doing in our lives.
Several experienced physical healings including a migraine headache and a back condition. The intimacy of a home meeting is more conducive to personal ministry, confession of struggles, and ministry one to another which the typical church service does not have time or room for.
Without the formal structure of a programmed church "service", the home meetings facilitate openness and frank expression of needs, problems, and personal giftings each member may have opportunity to exercise.
Another common objection aimed at non-institutional church goers, is that there is no denominational or spiritual covering, or accountability.
While this may be partly true, especially with those "leaders" who desire to build their own "church kingdom" and seek to be supported by others, many have networked and have learned to make themselves accountable to God and those they gather with.
In fact, there is no such thing as the phrase "spiritual covering" given in the scriptures. Nor is there a titled clergy, structured church hierarchy, or even the position of one man called "pastor" put in charge of an assembly. Again, it comes as a shock to find a multiplicity of elders were given oversight of the churches. One or several men were exercising the gift of a pastor alongside the other unpaid, ministerial gifts of service to the church.
Giving and tithing according to the tradition of the offering plate is another area where many home churches depart from church traditon.
Although we personally found no scriptures instructing churches or saints to pay a tithe of 10% from income, giving is an important part of our fellowship.
Since a home group has no paid minister or church overhead, 100% of giving goes directly to meet the needs of others, as opposed to typical church overhead and salaries which take 95% of the typical churches income. Some ministries may be supported by choice "as a man purposes in his heart" but not by the subtle manipulation of a weekly offering plate being passed.
Home churchers tend to eschew "tax deductible" offerings in favor of private, that is, secret giving without any desire for record keeping by a church secretary or pastor. Jesus appeared to encourage self-less, secret giving also, (Matthew 6:4 that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee), and Saint Paul testified how that he "I was careful to remember the poor" in Galatians 2:10
That is how the home churches tend to function, once they are free from the typical church-mindset. More of the people become involved in caring and ministering one to another and those around them.
We were persoanlly amazed at the first home church meeting we visited in another city. The simplicity and lack of formal orchestration was like a culture shock but we quickly adapted and came to love it, and we would never want to exchange the close fellowship for a large building and watching others "lead church" up in front.
Admittedly, "home church" is not for everyone, but for many, it fills the need for closer, more intimate Christian fellowship than does the Institutional, program-driven setting of the formal church.
Jesus said simply "where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst". -That also is church.
There are Two ways to answer a call to serve God:
Here is some revelation in John 10 you may have never seen before.
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door
into the fold of the sheep,
but climbeth upsome other way, the same is a thief and a
robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not
what things they were which he spake unto them.
The revelation of the parable:
1. WHO was Jesus speaking to? 2. WHO is the "he that entereth.. into the fold of the sheep"
3. WHAT is the sheepfold?
4. WHO is the thief and the robber?
5. WHO is the door?
1. Who was He speaking to? "they understood not" vs. 6 It was:
Those of the Phariseeswho were with him heard these things, and said unto him, Are we also blind? Jesus was speaking to those who were over the people in leadership. (Jn 9:40)
2. Let's next see what the "sheepfold" is: In the Jewish temple, the house of God, were little "houses" for the sheep, -"the uncovered courtyard of the house. In the O.T. particularly of the courts of the tabernacle and of the temple in Jerusalem." -From the Greek Lexicon definition.
In the New Testament, the temple of God is people, not a building. The little houses would become the churches, i.e. the "sheepfolds".
3. WHO is the "he that entereth.. into the fold of the sheep...NOT through the DOOR, but climbeth up" ?
Let's consider this "he". Why would Jesus use "climbeth up"?
Remember, He was speaking to those that had themselves climbed up in taking the "uppermost rooms" and "chief seats" at the feasts!
Look at the definition of "chief seats": a sitting first, preeminence in council: - chief (highest, uppermost) seat. So how did the pharisees "climb up" in that day?
They did so by the same means that men do today. They climb "up" into those "uppermost seats" through
denominations, Bible College Certificates, Doctorates, and even through family personal connections to others in positions with access to placement or education.. If they go the "doctorate" or College Degree route, it involves buying their way into ministry, the cost of tuition, accreditation, licenses, and man-made approval devices..
Woe unto you Pharisees! forye love the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutationsin the
marketplaces. What salutations?"to be called of men, Rabbi."
"To be called of men.." You see they were called by men "Rabbi", not God. And they climbed up by way of men, Titles, and education in their Bible schools of their day.
John 7:15The Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
Jesus taught his disciples not to take Titles. Not "Rabbi", not "Master", not "Leader", and I don't think He approves of the ones men use today to climb up into the sheepfolds in taking authority over the people of God. He said "BE NOT CALLED..." and He used the Titles of the day. Mat 23:8
Is it amazing how many teachings of Jesus we ignored, by-passed, or did not apply to church as we knew it?
4.WHO is the thief and the robber?
10: 12 He that is a hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not
Why would they be called a "hireling", "thief", and "robber"?
Are you connecting the verses here? The folks that climbed up into the chief seats rather than the Door do so in order for the reward of a hireling. They are known as salaries, special provision, and benefit packages for a hired clergy. Can you find any of the apostles taking tithes or a church salary?
If you are taking that which God has not told you to take, might that be "robbing God"?
5. WHO is the DOOR?
Jesus... said unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
By now you may be thinking, wait, he is "the man of God". Or he is the pastor. Or some other title.
Men are called of the Lord to serve Him but most find themselves in the house of the harlot where they learn to exchange their ministry for the reward of a hireling and a position over Gods sheepfolds.
If we take away their un-scriptural tithes, salaries, and benefits and you will see which ones really serve the Lord and trust Him to supply their needs.
Look, it is simple, serve God and He will supply your needs either through work or through willing brethren He speaks to on your behalf.
-As Peter and Jon did in Acts chapter 3 when they gave themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. What is confusing is we see the professional clergy, and many good men are clergy, but the majority have climbed up through man made institutions into a ministry.
Those who come through the Jesus door, do so through humility and serving others,
not as kings and "not as lords over God's heritage". They simply answer to the Lord's call and serve others.
WHO was that thief and a robber?
-"he that CLIMBETH UP some other way, is he who goes UP through man made means
such as Bible College or denominational promotion. (none of the apostles used these means, except Paul, and he renounced it)
Who goes into the sheep to rob and steal?
10: 12 He that is a hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not
God did not call men to go through man-made institutions in order to shepherd Gods flocks.
Most of those that do become professional clergy and exchange their ministerial call for a tithe or salary, which God never gave them permission to take.
If you take what God never gave you permission to take from His people, what does that make you?
That is a pretty hard word...
Now should we make excuses and justify ourselves or should we walk in the steps of Jesus and His apostles?
It is time for the true servants of the Lord to lay down the desire for glamour preaching, the television cameras, the mega churches, the hired staff, the salaried and tithe-plundering corrupt church system, and follow Jesus outside the camp and learn of Him.
This is the harlot church *system*... and now you understand the parable Jesus taught.
Let Him make a minister and servant of you and He will.
disclaimer: At times it may sound as if I am anti-pastor. This is not so, I am a teacher-pastor.
We love the overseers whom God has graciously put in our lives.
The truth is for exposing the harlotsystem and her institutions, and not at any individual.
JESUS said: "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate
So hast thou also some that hold the teaching of the Nicolaitansin like manner.
Repent therefore; or else I come to thee quickly, and I will make war against them with
the sword of my mouth.
VERY few Christians recognize the Nicolaitane error and fewer "hate" that which they do not understand.
Not only are the Nicolaitanes singled out in that passage, but upon examination we can find them
throughout the scriptures!
Revelation 2: (To the church at Ephesus) 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate;
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16Repent; or elseI will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Here is the truth: What He detests happens to be the most common form of church government .
"Nicolaitane" is from two Greek words "Nike" and Laos", and means:
The word "nike" means "to conquer"…to dominate/ intimidate/ manipulate.
The word "laos" means "the people", the laity.
Therefore hidden within the word itself is the answer.
By definition the deeds and teaching are of those who conquer, dominate, manipulate, and "lord it" over the people.
Today they are known as "Reverend", "Bishop", "Pastor", "Apostle", etc., (note the Capitalized Titles) because they are part of an institutional church system God never created.
The difficulty in identifying the Nicolaitane error is because the labels have changed,
thus the illusion that something is not what it is.
Most of us who were part of that system had no clue as we followed the church culture.
Why does Jesus "HATE" their deeds and doctrines?
Simply put, when men take authority by means of a Title, hierling, or Bible College Degree, they often take the place of God, through the process known as "having respect of persons", in which a mans titled position elevates him as a "lord over God's heritage".
This has become modern idolatry in the New Testament. (see Two Ways to Answer God's Call )
Clergy over the laity virtually guarantees the majority of God's people never mature into faith as Christians and walk in the steps of Jesus or do what His disciples did in the book of Acts.
People follow their "leadership", rather than Jesus Christ, as men make "disciples after themselves" as Paul warned in Acts 20: 30
-In other words, the local church is conformed to the man with the title, who usually gets his position from his denomination or group.
The church or ministry is then conformed to that mans image, which is an incomplete image of Christ.
Denominational, factious, competitive Christianity has given the church a hierarchial, professionalized, titled,
church governmental system foreign to scripture, i.e., "the error of the Nicolaitanes". For example:
There is no senior pastor, pope, cardinal, Arch Bishop, General Superintendent, priest, or denominational structure in scripture
There is no scripture giving any pastor-priest sole rulership, headship, or authority over God's people.
There are no formal titles or labels attached to any New Testament disciples including the obvious ones like the apostles.
There are no church boards, assistant pastors, co-pastor, associate pastors, or senior officials.
There are no presidents, superintendents, youth pastors ; there are no capitalized Apostles, Prophets, Bishops, Pastors, deacons, Elders. Anyone wearing a formal title is well on the way to becoming a Nicolaitane.
The word "pastor" is used only once in the New Testament, and not even one Titled pastor is named!
. The practice of one man being used in all of the 5 fold offices is unbiblical and a way to avoid accounability to scripture.
-How easy it is for a leader to use a hierarchial structure and authority against people, but how hard it is for the people to use it with a leader. Jesus said He hates the Nicolaitane error and the Nicolaitane error usually prevents leaders from being held accountable for either sin or error.
Overcoming the Nicolaitane error and deeds
In Revelation 2, this is for the people of God who have "eyes" and "ears" to overcome. To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it.
-that mysterious verse is understood by those that DO overcome and are taught of the Lord Himself, which is the Spirit-revealed truth of the Word.
As opposed to those that only learn to repeat what they hear in church from the doctrines of men, especially the teaching (doctrines) of the Nicolaitans .
Here is what Peter said in 1Peter 5:
1 The elders (plural) among you(the church) I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the
sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Tend(feed)the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint (force),
but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre (not for reward) ,but of a ready mind;
3 neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock.
In this passage, note the elders (plural) are among us, Peter includes himself as an elder, and there is no specific mention of "pastors".
Why not? Because God gave elders to have oversight and "tend" the flock. The "elders" were to do so not from duty, obligation, or money.
- "neither as lording..."? "neither": "as in not even, no, not once". Lording is "to control, subjugate: - exercise dominion over (lordship), be lord over, overcome"
But this is exactly what the Nicolaitane error does and Peter said not even once was the flock to be carnally subjugated, controlled, or have someone exercise dominion over the flock. When the Christian sees the truth of scripture, he will need to realign his thinking in terms of what the New Testament ministry truly is, not from what we have seen all around us.
1Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ;
(not a pastor, Bishop, apostle, or Senior Church official)
The ministry is given to serve, edify, and stewardship the faith.
They are to comfort, correct, and contend for the faith. The faith they are to condend for is THE faith of scripture,not the fragmented, conflicting, sectarian confusion of faith found in the church world.
The ministry is not to become the head of every man and woman. There is no "spiritual covering" as such, in scripture.
Friends, Jesus gave, taught, and lived THE FAITH to His disciples, who in turn gave the same gospel and the same faith to the churches they established.
The Bible record bears no resemblance whatsoever to the practices and structure of the modern church and one-man ministries around us.
No pews, pulpits, choirs, worship leaders, assistant pastors, co-pastors, boards, orchestrated services, voted-in or hired pastors, etc... see what the Nicolaitanes have wrought: "NOT in Scripture?"