So often when I mention that my wife and I have left the organized church, people assume something happened to hurt us or make us mad. Just to be clear on this subject neither one of us have ever been abused or hurt by the church. Neither one of us are mad about some event or some person at church. I know there are people who have had bad experiences, which sometimes includes abuse and I think that is terrible. Fortunately for us that is not the case.
Today we seem to hear much about sexual abuse and the Catholic Church although this can happen in any church system. We hear of people in power within the system taking advantage of their members for various reasons. Fortunately this is not the norm in most churches but is a real and terrible thing that should never happen.
I actually had some very good times while within the church system. I made many good friends, learned about God and his love for me and had many fun and enjoyable experiences with the people who were part of the church system.
A Magnanimous Decision
It is certainly not out of abuse or being hurt that my wife and I decided to leave the system. After nearly sixty years in the organization and after the last fifteen of those years feeling that something is not right with the system, we made the decision to leave and follow Christ outside the walls of religion. To be clear, that is our decision and we certainly do not expect everyone to agree and do the same thing. Many people are part of the organized church who truly love God and want to serve Him. After all, the religious church system has been all we’ve known.
We believe the Church is a community of people and not a building nor a service held one day each week with paid professionals leading the service. We believe the Church is each of us who follow Christ and see him as the head. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and each of us are equally functioning members making up his body.
We believe forsaking not the assembling of yourselves means we need one another. We live each day having fellowship with those God brings our way no matter where it happens. We never truly found real fellowship when we sat in an organized service for an hour looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us. We believe true fellowship is not just sitting together with other people in a room but it is daily loving, encouraging and praying for one another and meeting the needs of those we are able to help.
The temple in the Old Testament was only a shadow of what was to come in the New Testament. God lives in us, and we are his temple. He is our leader rather than another human being we call pastor. The only mediator between God and man was Jesus. He caused the separation between us to be done away with and we now have direct access to the Father without anyone in between.
There is no hierarchy in the true Church today. Each of us are equally important parts of the body and able to teach, encourage, build up and pray for one another. It is truly a priesthood of all believers and not a one-person show. Those with particular gifts for helping the Church are not better or more spiritual than those with different, less spectacular gifts. There are brothers and sisters who walk along beside those who need encouragement. There are those who have learned a spiritual lesson and are there to help those who are still learning. We are all servants more than we are anything else.
So when I say that we have left the church it is only the building and organization I am talking about. We left not because we were mad, hurt or abused. We left because we believe the religious system most people call church is flawed and far from what God is building. He is building a group of people who will daily follow Him outside the walls of religion and organizations of men, loving God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, loving their neighbor and accepting all they meet along the way.
Jim was raised in the Methodist church and spent nearly sixty years in the organized church. He and his wife became dissatisfied with the way things were going and became very disillusioned the weekly service format. After several years of looking for answers and trying different churches, they left the religious system and have been living for God outside the walls of religion and traditional church. Jim believes that God loves all people and that everyone should be loved and accepted as is. Jim started writing a blog called Done with Religion where he talks about various topics of Christian living in non-religious ways. Jim and his wife live in the Columbus, Ohio area of the USA. They enjoy their family, traveling and meeting people from all walks of life.
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