Fellowship of the ???

My father asked me a week or two ago about where I was in finding a new church. I informed him that I had given it some thought, but hadn’t gone out to investigate any of the local churches, but I have been reading my bible on my own and listening to some bible study podcasts.

Now, I didn’t tell him that I really have a feeling that I am not going to find a church that isn’t a)complementarian and b)compromised by feminist-lite Christians. This fact makes me feel like it would be a huge waste of time and effort, and possibly lead to unneeded conflict with people I don’t know.

Like a good father and Christian, however, he reminded me that I needed fellowship with other Christians in order to grow. That got me to wondering: Does attending a modern Western church really even count as ‘fellowship’?

When I think back to all the churches we have attended throughout my life I really don’t remember much “fellowship” with people while actually at the church. In fact, I think most of you would agree (if not, then please speak up) that going to Sunday morning church is probably involves less fellowship than we let on.

Typical Sunday morning church involves getting to the church before service starts (most of the time) and having a brief chat with the people you know, while somewhat avoiding those you really don’t. Most of the time its just your typical water cooler chat about the wife and kids, the job, etc., rarely do I remember talking about the bible, scripture or anything like that.

Once its time everyone moves into the sanctuary where they all sit in silence as the staff reads over the upcoming events for the week, they take offering and pray. Everyone stands and sings praise songs, then everyone sits back down to hear the pastor give his lesson. Sometimes there’s a ‘greeting time” where you turn around and say hello to the person next to you, only to sit right back down in your seat to prepare for the pastors message. Afterward everyone prays then heads back toward the foyer where they chat for a few minutes, but most of the time everyone is hungry and fighting to get out of the building to head home and eat.

Now, where is the fellowship in that?

In fact, it seems as though there was more, actual fellowship whenever we had church potlucks. I mean, the kids would be running around playing or swimming, the adults would be standing or sitting with a plate of food. Sometimes there was music. More importantly, though, there was ACTUAL fellowship going on. Bible verses were being discussed, prayers were being said, stories about giving ones life to Christ were being retold and praise for prayers answered. This to me seems much more like fellowship as described in the New Testament than weekly building gatherings.

I don’t know if I want to find another brick and mortar church to attend. A home church seems more fitting and it seems like more gets done. Sure, home churches seem to stem from the brick and mortar churches, but if they are anything like the last men’s bible study group I attended they will be under the thumb of a pastor who doesn’t attend and has no idea what’s going on in the group but has complete control over what is studied. When word from the higher ups came through that we would be required to read the bible from start to finish, while attempting to keep up with the rest of the church, who met 3-4 times per week I knew the group was done. We were skipping whole swaths of scripture in order to “keep up” and there was little to no discussion of pertinent bible subjects.

I don’t know. What do you think?

Advertisements

Author: SnapperTrx

Just a guy on the internet.

11 thoughts on “Fellowship of the ???”

    1. Understand that I am not opting to ditch church, but rather to attend a small home based church, very similar to what the bible describes the disciples doing after Christ’s ascension. I’m not at my computer right now, but when I get there I will expand more on the subject.

  1. I’ve had some good experiences going to churches that are based out of school buildings… as in they literally take the Bible at face value. They seem to be Churches that grow out of house Churches. Most established Churches in their own buildings seem to be hit or miss.

  2. One idea I heard of when searching for a new church is to call and speak to the pastor. Have a set of questions ready that you believe are critical, non-negotiable issues. These are Tier-I things that usually have to deal with salvation itself. If they blatantly disagree with scripture then you brush the dust off your sandals and walk on… Once the Tier-I issues have been addressed, you can ask about less severe but important things. These Tier-II issues can be things like Patriarchy, Polygyny, etc. Here is where you will get most of your disagreement, but you don’t just say thank you and hang up. You then ask the most important question. “Well, this is something I do believe in, will this be a problem for you if I attend?” If he says yes, then you know to walk. If not, then you may have found a potential good home and an open ear once you’ve proven you’re not a wackadoodle.

    The other option is to simply start your own home church and invite other people. You may (very likely) already know that they disagree with you on something, but it gives you the opportunity to say “here, let’s look to see what the Bible actually says.”

    Good luck, Brother.

  3. Interesting thoughts. Definitely encouraged me to think about it. I have personally had the opposite experience of DS where the two churches that met in schools were by far the worst I attended, but I don’t really think the fact that they met out of a school had anything to do with it. It is also possible that since, other than the one I am attending now, they are the most recent churches I’ve attended, I have clearer memories of them. One of them was also a Sovereign Grace Ministries church, so that experience was DOA.

    I did attend a home church as a kid and really liked it. They had dinner after service so people would stick around and talk and the kids could play together. A church with a building did the same thing with similar results. My dad has made the point that it can be harder for us to get nonbelievers to show up at a stranger’s house than it is to show up at a school or church building, and I think that’s a legitimate concern.

    I 100% agree with your fellowship concerns. The way our current church does it is it encourages sunday school (where discussion is more personal and often deeper) and care groups (or some people know them as small groups). This has met with a lot of success. The groups at the last church my husband and I attended were a complete joke. The one we’re at now is much better.

    JSG’s comment is spot-on as far as spotting potential issues before you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort on a church.

    Idk what to say other than that. I’ve had numerous bad church experiences and I will likely view churches through that lens for the rest of my life, so I can certainly sympathize with you even if our experiences were different. If one can find a good church (as we now have), it is certainly worth it, but the effort and the feeling like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack aren’t fun at all. I truly hope that you can find legitimate and sincere fellowship with believers whatever path you choose to take.

  4. AnnaMS touched on something that should be discussed… somewhere. Maybe not here, but somewhere.

    “My dad has made the point that it can be harder for us to get nonbelievers to show up at a stranger’s house than it is to show up at a school or church building, and I think that’s a legitimate concern.”

    I think that the church, long ago, lost their focus in regards to what the church is supposed to do and what Christians are supposed to do. I am recently becoming more and more convinced that church is not supposed to be for non-believers at all. In the New Testament, it is stated multiple times for believers to go out and preach the word. But the church, or assemblies as it were, is always in reference to the Believers getting together. There is a long standing tradition for churches to invite people in or tell their congregation to go and bring people in. Nowhere is the Bible is it mentioned for believers to go and bring people into these assemblies that don’t already believe. Sure there’s a few references to bringing them into your home, but never into the assembly.

    I think the modern church needs to be redefined to the original purpose where believers come together to actually learn deeper truths. If non-believers come, great, but what is going to be talked about will likely be over their heads. Maybe one of the reasons so many, many, many long-term Christians are still in this infantile “milk” stage is because the church they’re attending is having to care for/cater to the non or new believer who simply can’t handle the deeper meatiness. How many Christians are literally bored with their church because the message they’ve heard yesterday is the same message they heard last year. Some churches may have Study-Groups, but how many actually attend? Probably very few. I mean, why go be bored more than your requisite* one day a week?

    Anyway, “food” for thought.

    * this is intended to be tongue in cheek.

    1. This is actually a good point. Most churches no longer have “fishers of men”, but instead try to attract people with events, typically surrounding the holidays (with replacements for said ‘pagan’ holiday celebrations). Despite my leaving, the last church we attended (my wife still attends against my wishes) was good at getting out into the streets and bringing the word to those in need, along with care in the form of food and necessities. The larger churches we have attended for most of our lives did nothing of the sort, absolutely nothing!

      It seems to me that once the “church” took on the responsibility of acquiring buildings as official places of worship that those same buildings became fortresses against the outside world, where Christians could hide rather than a base from which Christians could operate. Why not have a small building and use tithes to purchase backpacks and foodstuffs to take to those in need on the street? Or to build care packages for struggling families who, through our love and charity, come to know Christ? What is the need of a mega-church “campus” with snack bars, movie theaters, book stores and trams? This is where the unsaved see us living in our “ivory towers”, and why the desire to tithe has waned so much throughout the years. A small building in which people could gather, pray, assemble and leave, the most MINIMUM necessary, would be more than sufficient.

      Indeed we are to win souls for Christ, and those souls should be drawn to the church, but your right, a new Christian stepping into a brick and mortar church is bound to be confused. The disciples travelled if not from town to town then definitely between houses and taught/fellowshipped. This original way would still be, I think, the best way.

    2. Just Some Guy – i’ve been pondering this since i read it yesterday, and i wonder why i never thought of it all exactly like this. the church is to nurture and encourage and care for Believers. there is instruction in the bible about how we are to do this, but there’s also room for flexibility. i’ll be looking for these things more clearly as i read my bible from now on. thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s