i’ve been a Christian since i was a freshman in high school. for years i went to church 1-3x /week. heck, i was a worship leader for the band. since graduating college i’ve gone less often, yet still donated on a monthly basis.
but now i officially quit. i quit because churches are run by cowards.
in 2020 when the “deadly” virus began, pastors everywhere bent over to follow the rules. after all, the bible tells us to:
“Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.” — Romans 13:1-2
then CALVARY CHAPEL v. NEVADA went to the supreme court. Nevada’s governor had just banned church gatherings of 50 or more, while allowing 500 to gather at movie theaters and even more at casinos.
“In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.” — Justice Neil Gorsuch (source)
this is the sort of evil that Christians — who by the way wrote our constitution — ought to be fighting against. instead, churches complied. and as a result, churches are going extinct.
when i moved to Korea i wanted to find a Sunday school. a friend recommended to me a bilingual, contemporary, non denominational spot that happened to be in my neighborhood. check, check, check.
then i went online to find the address. it turns out you have to apply for a free lottery ticket to attend. and should you be lucky enough to win a ticket, there is “no touching of any kind, whatsoever” allowed on the premises. according to their website this includes fist bumps.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” — Matthew 17:20
if so-called spiritual leaders are afraid of a 99.98% survival rate, how will they ever have faith the size of a mustard seed?
much scarier than the Chinese flu is a mental condition called wokeness. and it’s well known that the bible claims some very… erm… un-woke things including:
- traditional values between men and women
- heterosexual monogamy
- no free entitlements or handouts (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
meanwhile wokeism embodies an opposite set of principles. and central to the woke ideology is silencing those who don’t comply. (Catholics and Muslims practiced similar behavior during the Crusades; oh the irony).
but if you listen to a sermon at many churches today, the pastor won’t touch on “sensitive” subjects like the ones above. they’re too afraid of being put on YouTube, doxxed by 20 year old gender studies major, or worst of all: being called a racist.
a pastor i admire once told me: “the purpose of the church is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comforted.” nowadays, churches aim to please the people who hate them. reality check? they will always hate you.
humans operate like this: whenever something sucks, we instinctively try to improve it.
a few weeks ago as i was debating my decision to quit church, i received an email from Trends.co mentioning a recent $40m fundraise by Glorify, aka “Duolingo for the bible.” instantly i was intrigued.
fast forward several uses, i now have enough conviction to say this is better than church. but more importantly, this couldn’t have been true prior to our current environment.
i told my mom about my decision and she was pretty upset. she said something to the effect of “church is about gathering, it’s about other people.” to which i replied, i don’t gather with losers.
when “Christian leaders” grow back some balls i’ll consider visiting an in-person church. but i won’t wear a mask. i won’t be granted fewer rights than the degenerate gambler down the street. and i definitely will not tolerate the type of pastor who thinks Jesus would spend our tax dollars on free needles for junkies in San Francisco and New York City.
it’s not up to me to judge who is or is not a “real Christian.” but thanks to free will mercifully bestowed upon me by the voluntary crucifixion of my savior Jesus Christ, i will choose to avoid those who i believe are (at worst) charlatans, (and at best) more afraid of wokeism than our Lord (Proverbs 1:7).
finally, let us hear the good news. God never goes out of business. which begs the question: if your church shuts down, was it really doing God’s work?
Both you and your mom are right. Church is about gathering– but who says the churches that already exist are the only options? Otherwise it’s just individual worship/prayer (which has its place anyway).
To be fair, brick-and-mortar churches receive state-sanction by way of tax-exempt status that means their compliance is pretty important…. for THEM. To your point, if they shut down, when God didn’t, are they really serving him? Any congregation that didn’t immediately move to Zoom in March 2020 as a TEMPORARY stop-gap — and most did– certainly disproves that point. After that, if they haven’t figured out other ways– meeting in people’s homes, public spaces, outside etc– then yeah, they are serving Caesar before God.
Glorify sounds cool. An apt solution for the post-covid/WFH “diaspora.” Church is where like-minded people gather. If that on Zoom, on an app, in a park, or at a bonafide “church”– to each his own. But like you said, the latter are dying for dearth of serviceable a use case.
Hey Ryan, there’s an amazing remnant of Christians doing amazing things in real life. The old church is dead, and it’s the old wineskin. I’d encourage you to look into how the church has evolved into the new wineskins. It counters all your arguments against church.
Yes your arguments apply to the dead church (making it a literal straw man argument since you are arguing against a corpse), but they 100% do not apply to the new church that has grown and has become new wineskins.
Regarding the Glorify app: God and His church (the ecclesia) don’t live in an app. There are people doing amazing things in the REAL world through the REAL church (not the dead church). There are people transforming businesses, governments, education, and entertainment through the new church (the ecclesia). You can’t do these things as a solo Christian, which is what the Enemy wants you to be.
Some great resources:
• Transform Our World (https://www.transformourworld.org/our-core-values)
• “Ekklesia” by Ed Silvoso (https://www.amazon.com/Ekklesia-Rediscovering-Instrument-Global-Transformation/dp/0800798562)
• Gab.com (social network with many strong Christians)
I hope you get excited to see how the church has grown and hope you get inspired and encouraged by it. Please reach out if you’d like to dig deeper into it.
hey Dom, thanks for reading and for the critical feedback. we’ll have to agree to disagree on your straw man claim. with 10s of 1000s of churches still practicing the “old wineskin” methodology, your dead corpse description doesn’t seem accurate.
but i agree that the church does not, should not, and can* not exist in an app. i guess what i’m getting at is that the church, the building we visit 1-2x /week, is not the whole picture. arguably a more important aspect of our faith is daily time with God, prayer, seeking wisdom, reflecting, and so on. and even the best church in the world encourages us to spend time alone, pursuing these components. the Glorify is a structured way to do just that.
True the corpse metaphor wasn’t perfect. Would zombie be more accurate Functionally alive, but spiritually dead?
But really my main point is that there’s a reformation happening with some churches in America. It’s a small remnant but they are doing new and exciting things, areas where God wants the church to move into.
There are many zombie churches, but an amazing remnant is rising up.
For example, Kent Mattox and his church are doing some exciting things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTjd3Qlqaho
I don’t want to come across as critical, but instead I’m hoping that Christians can see there are amazing things on the horizon for the church, but only if enough Christians see it and become part of the new.
Side Notes (my personal theories)
Side Note #1
One of the main reasons I think the church has been dwindling is because it relies mainly on the pastor. However, the true church functions on a five-fold ministry: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:11).
• Apostles lead the church into new directions, into the new wineskins. Otherwise, the church gets locked into the old, into dead rituals, and it is not moving where the Holy Spirit is guiding it.
• Prophets exhort people to grow and to become who God meant them to be. Otherwise, believers stagnate or remain babies in faith. They don’t become who God wants them to be, at their full potential.
• Evangelists sow the seeds for the harvest
• Pastors nurture NEW believers. This is for baby believers!
• Teachers provide in depth Scriptural teaching and provide training to strengthen believer’s discernment (Heb 11:4: But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil). Discernment is gained through deliberate training!
Since many “zombie” churches use a pastoral model, that’s a problem because pastors are only meant to nurture NEW believers. As a result, (1) many people are just being fed baby food and they never grow into mature believers and (2) they’re rarely challenged to grow (that is the prophets role alongside the teachers). Without apostles leading the direction the church to go, you have all these churches giving into woke culture instead of the church influencing the community.
There are many other dysfunctions that happen when one church focuses on a particular role in the 5-fold ministry to the exclusion of others. Hence, one reason why there are denominations. Denominations are partially a symptom of focusing on one particular role. I personally think denominations are unbiblical.
When you look in the book of Revelation, Jesus is not addressing different denominations or particular churches. He’s addressing the church unified in a city, like for example the church of Ephesus. That’s how the churches were in the book of Acts as well. So this model seems the most biblical: each city with a unified church.
Side Note #2
I used to be a cessasionist, but I have realized that it’s a bogus theology. Cessationism is not biblical, at all. Which is ironic because the doctrine is used to uphold the integrity of Scripture…even though the doctrine itself is not in the bible (it’s extra-biblical). So there’s that.
If you are a cessasionist church, the five-fold ministry concept makes no sense to you at all, which is another reason why there are lopsided churches. The five-fold ministry only makes since in context of continuationism, where the Holy Spirit is actively communicating with us and acting today in modern times.
Yes, totally agree with you that spending time alone with God is critical to our faith!
I agree with most of this, but, in a way, find it cowardice to not attend. There’s a bit of ‘speck and log’ going on here as both actions are cowardice in my opinion. I also find it a bit anecdotal. I am a Missouri Synod Lutheran and most Lutheran pastors refused to shut down for the very reasons you mentioned here. My advice-find an actual God fearing church.
you call my evidence anecdotal, then in the same breath provide your own anecdotes. at least my argument includes data that more churches are closing than opening. so to observe net negative community churn on the world’s #1 top selling book? yeah, something’s wrong.
This video addresses your concerns about where the church is going:
Christian Ministries Walking Out Truth