Jesus is Calling you to Leave the Church

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Have you considered that Jesus may be leading you to leave the church as you know it so that you can be the church as it was meant to be?

Please don’t dismiss such an idea too quickly.

leave the church

There are lots of people who leave the church today, and they often get criticized for abandoning God or disowning Jesus. But in my experience, I don’t find this at all. I find that people who “leave the church” have not given up on God or stopped following Jesus. Instead, many of them are simply learning to follow Jesus outside the four walls of a church building. They are seeking to be the church by following Jesus into the world.

So let me encourage you … if you find a rapidly growing unrest with church as it has always been done, this unrest may come from Jesus.

Millions of people today know that something is missing from their normal church experience, and they sense Jesus leading them to something more, but they don’t know what …

Some Christians think Jesus is leading them to leave the church they are in to start attending a different church down the street. More often than not, they get to this new church, and find that the internal unrest has followed them to the new building. So they start looking for a new church to attend, or think that maybe they misunderstood God’s leading.

Some Christians think Jesus is leading them to leave the church they are in so they can go on a mission’s trip to Africa. So they raise funds, pack bags, and spend $10,000 for a six-week trip to Africa. And while they might have a spiritual mountaintop experience while there, they find that the internal unrest followed them to the new continent, and is multiplied even more once they return.

Some Christians think Jesus is leading them to leave the church they are in so they can go to seminary and become a pastor or church leader. They have ideas for how the church could be different, better, more productive, and believe God wants to do new things in His church through their ministry. But in the process, they get saddled with a bunch of debt and end up leading a church which is almost identical to every other church in the country.

Some Christians think Jesus is leading them to leave the church they are in so they can follow “the New Testament pattern” and get involved in a home church or community collective. They long for that intimate setting where everybody has everything in common, where people get to share as the Spirit leads, and where there are no professional clergy, choirs, or classes. But they soon find that although the setting might be smaller, home churches are not that much different than regular churches.

Some Christians go through some (or all) of the experiences described above, and think that the unrest they feel is because church is simply a waste of time and energy, and so they leave the church … and Jesus too. They turn their back on all of it, saying that they tried the whole “church thing” and it wasn’t for them.

If you want Jesus to lead your life, I can pretty much guarantee you have gone through one or more of the experiences above. I have personally experienced all of the scenarios above, other than that last one.

So are these experiences wrong? Was that feeling of unrest not from Jesus after all, but from some self-centered desire to experience something new, do something adventuresome, or fulfill an unmet need?

leave the churchI say no.

I firmly believe that when people feel that Jesus is calling them to leave the church they are in, they are rightly discerning what Jesus is saying through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The problem, however, is that when people feel Jesus calling them to leave the church they are in, along with this leading, they want to know where Jesus is calling them to go. But very rarely does Jesus offer this direction. If Jesus says, “Leave” and we say, “Okay … but to where?” Jesus will answer with “Just leave.”

The mistake is when we try to fill in the blank ourselves and say, “Well, I can’t just leave the church. So I guess I’ll go to another church. Or go to Africa. Or attend seminary. Or start a house church.” But Jesus never led us to those places, and so after going to these places where He never led, we will soon have that feeling of unrest again, and we will wonder if we misunderstood or misheard Jesus.

You didn’t misunderstand or mishear. But now Jesus has to call you to leave the church all over again.

Do you want to know where Jesus is leading you? Jesus is leading you to leave the church “as you know it” so that He can guide you into being the church “as He wants it.”

The church Jesus wants has little to do with the things that are often identified as “church.” The church Jesus wants has little to do with fundraising, mission’s trips, attendance numbers, ministry programs, large-group events, personality cults, best-selling authors, TV and radio programs, stained-glass windows, padded pews, professional choirs, or regularly scheduled Bible studies.

Instead, the church Jesus wants has everything to do with personally loving our neighbors, hanging out with “sinners,” spending time with societal rejects, defending the cause of the weak, and a variety of other ways of living that look just like Jesus. But you will never learn to be the church Jesus wants until you take the step of faith to leave the church that you want.

Do you feel a growing unrest or dissatisfaction with the church? That’s not wrong. That’s Jesus calling you to leave the church. Will you follow?

P.S. Please note this: I am not telling you that Jesus is calling you to leave the church you are in. If you sense no such leading from Jesus, then stay put!

Comments

  1. Malcolm Fowler says

    Left it earlier, and Thank You Lord Jesus, I found the Organic, real world, and genuine Body of Christ Jesus/Family who want only to let Jesus express Himself In and through us! :)

    • says

      It can be a tough decision to leave the church your are attending. Particularly because many Pastors teach just the opposite of what you have stated in your post. They always say, God is not going to tell you to leave a church and he doesn’t tell you where to go. Now thinking about it, this is not necessarily true. God told Abram to leave his family and everything he knew, to go to a place God was yet to show him. This manipulation keep many Christian, stuck in Churches years after God has told them to leave.

  2. says

    I ‘left the church’ by being driven out, and it was the best (but most painful) thing that ever happened to me. I don’t have any answers but I’m learning to trust Jesus and let him teach me how to live as he envisioned.

    • says

      Yes, sometimes that is how it works … as painful as it is, we can look back and thank God that He used such pain to draw us closer to Him and what He is doing in our lives.

  3. says

    Indeed, I, too, have gone through all but one of these experiences you described above, Jeremy; the only exception was the “missionary safari trip”. ;-)

    In the beginning every experience was refreshing due to its newness, then I got used to it and was more and more bored (yaaawn…). Finally, discontent or even anger arose about not being able to change my negative feelings. But neither blaming myself nor blaming others worked.

    What seemed strange to me was that this unrest you spoke of also accompanied my doing outside the (visible) church in the very beginning. Looking back at those many years as a still self-centered churchgoer, I thought I had to immediately make up time by feeding and clothing the poor, visiting the sick, welcoming strangers (Mt 25:35-36) and sharing the gospel with everyone (Mt 28:19-20).
    Oh, what a stress!!
    Although working (mostly) outside the church, I was still trying to please the Lord by doing this and doing that and…eventually I (secretly) blamed Him for stressing me that way. I believe if Jesus hadn’t helped me see my fallacy, I would still be running like a hamster in its wheel.

    Unrest always shows that there is something wrong in life. And yes, it is the Holy Spirit who nudges us to change something. However, I was so used to act in order to be accepted, acknowledged or even loved (not only by God but also by others), that I couldn’t hear God’s voice whispering softly, again and again,

    “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30 ESV)

    Unrest never disappears with doing new things unless I have “received” my rest from Him through prayer before. And strangely enough, when I feel this peace only God can give, I never feel stress but only joy to do what He nudges me to do. Then it is no longer necessary to meditate on those things I think I should do because they quasi pop up in my mind whenever He wants. Without any prior warning and without any explanation, as you also said, Jeremy. If Jesus says, “Rest,” then we ought to take the time we need. If Jesus says, “Do!” then we will be happy to do those things He had in His mind before. Or in other words,

    “It is only as we rest IN Christ and His righteousness by faith that we will find ourselves doing the finished works of the Father. Like Jesus said to the disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 RSVA – emphasis added). I have found that those who rest in this fact drive the practitioners of religion crazy. These builders of churches and church organizations are the same builders who reject Christ as the Chief Cornerstone, Cap Stone and Master Builder of the temple which is the Father’s design for His temple is made of living stones (see Matt. 21:42-43 and 1 Peter 2:5-9) not wood, bricks and mortar.”
    (Michael Clark, http://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/called-to-be-servants-not-masters/)

    • says

      Thanks for the comment. I have gone on a few missionary trips, but none that cost $10,000. One six-week trip to India cost several grand, but I cannot remember how much.

    • says

      No. I am not actually suggesting any sort of model. Mainly, I am just suggesting that if people feel like Jesus is leading them, they should follow Him, wherever that might be.

  4. Soli Deo Gloria says

    You just described my last year-and-a-half in church Jeremy. In fact, that’s what lead me to your site…and beyond. The turning point for me was George Barna’s book, “Maximum Faith”. He lays out everything discussed in this post, and I suspect that you’ve read it Jeremy…?? To the point, this “unholy discontent” that we feel is exactly that — Jesus is pulling us into discipleship and a closer relationship with Him.

    Today I still go to my church, but at a greatly reduced level of involvement. I attend services (if the sermon series is something I need/want to hear) and pay the man well for his services (*not* 10% of my income), but I don’t engage in all their reindeer games. I’ve found a wonderfully rich life of discipleship outside the church walls. Praise God, Praise God, Praise God Amen!

    • says

      Actually, I have not read that book. I didn’t even know about it until just now. It is good? I may have to get it and read it. Glad that you are experiencing this new-found freedom in Christ!

  5. Sam says

    We left the institutional church and found Jesus – in the neighborhood, in the streets, in parks, among the LGBTQ community. We discovered that Jesus loves to hang out in such places and now so do we. That’s where we find church.

  6. says

    The institutional church is exhausting! It leaves no time for spending time with family members that aren’t believers, no time for “couple time,” no time for friends, no time for rest. It drains your budget to create more reasons to be busy. There is the CONSTANT pressure to conform imn word, thought and deed and the CONSTANT judgment & rejection if you don’t.

    People who have chronic illness or little money are judged as uncommitted or lacking im faith.

    The peer pressure on teenagers is unrelenting and destructive.

    Most of the harm my family ever suffered at human “hands” happened in the church community. I think my 23 year old son’s atheism is largely due to “church.”

    I’m freer in Christ and so much abler to focus on Jesus by not going to “church.” It’s easier to hear God’s voice without all the other demanding voices. Deprogramming takes awhile. The loneliness can be rough at first, but not as bad as the loneliness of being “in church.”

    Chip Brogden’s site, TheSchoolOfChrist.org helped me in my struggle to get free.

    My pastor parents concern is my hardest conflict, but it’s easier now. I tell them, “I need you to be my parents! I need family!” They worry but have stopped nagging so much. I can tell they know I’m walking with Jesus & know I’m not backslidden! Lol

    • says

      YES, YES, YES!

      I yelled “Amen!” at every sentence. You get it.

      Again, it isn’t this way for everyone who “attends church” and to them I say, “Blessings upon you as you continue to follow Jesus in that setting.” But I think that more and more people are starting to find a different way of following Jesus.

  7. Chris says

    Yes Jeremy, the content of this blog is right on. I left institutional church one year ago and I was a bit confused as to why I was being called away from it, but after I obeyed and did so, The Spirit’s calling to leave institutional church has become crystal clear. This blog describes about the first 12 years of my Christian walk superbly. Very edifying. It breaks my heart that more institutionalized Christians don’t get this. (And they tend to think I am apostate of The Body of Christ.)

    • says

      Thanks, Chris.

      Yes, it breaks my heart too that some Christians think that when someone “stops attending church” they are backsliding or becoming apostate, when really, we are only seeking to follow Jesus more closely than we ever have before.

  8. alan says

    Great post man. . . sometimes think that that unrest isn’t always about others we’re spending time with on this journey. Reality is there’s just one body no matter how much we try to mess it up. Find that unrest is often that I be with him more. Gospel’s good news cause we can enter in. . . sell it short when sin and forgiveness is the only/main thing. Glad/necessary that I’m forgiven. . . living presence is better still.

    • says

      Great point. Yes, there is only one body. I am fine with the fact that some of my Christian brothers and sisters want to participate in the Body by attending church in a building on Sunday morning, and I hope that they would be fine with other brothers and sisters wanting to participate in the Body by doing something else (whatever that might be).

      • alan says

        Man, sure wish we cared less about size and form. . . if there’s 2 or 3 believers, or 2-3000. . . or if we meet in a building or home or the street. . . and cared more about if the living presence of God in power is there. Wish all ‘churches’ would take the unbelievers challenge found in Corinthians. . . that when unbelievers come into a meeting of believers, and brothers and sisters are according to the Lord, talking about Jesus, that the secrets of the heart are revealed and the unbeliever falls down and confesses that God is really there. The measure of things is whether God is really there.

        • Dan B. says

          I don’t think place is the issue. More important is the clergy laity divide. Clergy is a manmade institution and not based on biblical principles.

        • alan says

          Dan, so agree. . . location isn’t critical, brothers and sisters in Iran and China have church in prison. Thinking the place the Lord has in our hearts counts, not location. Don’t understand pastor-as-head ways we’ve fallen into. . . when believers come together all should have something that helps the body to grow thru whatever way the Spirit has given each. If God is present in things in living ways, then no/less reason to pound on other brothers and sisters. . . sometimes seems the criticisms are only because God isn’t present in our meeting either. If God is really present, wouldn’t it be invitation that goes out, not criticism. “Come and see” if real is more than “we do it better.”

  9. Dan B. says

    Thanks man. Bill Bright used to ask, if every Christian in the world lived as you do, would the world be reached with the Gospel in this generation. I’ve never felt closer to being able to say yes since we “left the church.”

  10. says

    Robyn has echoed some important thoughts and experiences very well. I am an ex pastor and dean of a Bible school who also left the institution some six years ago. I still visited here and there, but it became increasingly difficult to sit and listen to messages and teaching that were often less than biblical truth.

    You have made this ‘dangerous’ post in a responsible way Jeremy. Still, You will probably remain branded as a rebel in many quarters. But you are certainly not doing what you are as popularity drive among people. You are touching the lives of many by helping them to shed the burden of judgment so often heaped on them. And if I remember correctly, Paul was not actually the most popular person around. Can you imagine what would happen today if you were to write a Corinthians type of letter to a congregation?

      • says

        Hi Jeremy,

        It was a Bible school with evening classes, therefore I could say residential. However, I used the material of a Christain Quality Assurance accredited group and therefore also helped correspondence students.

  11. Ren says

    Just some thoughts on this: The Bible says “the church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”….’the’ church; not ‘a’ church. It also says that in later times people will seek teaching that will be pleasing to their ears (not the exact quote). Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom else can we go.” When Saul was persecuting the Church, Jesus said to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? signifying that the Church and Jesus were the same. It is important to gather with the brethren. Jesus wants people who worship Him in spirit and in “truth.” If one reads the writings of the early Christian fathers in the times before the Bible was officially compiled, you will see how the church “operated” back then.
    Consider this. If you feel like God is telling you to leave, before doing that, there are always opportunities to, as you said, to do things like “personally loving our neighbors, hanging out with “sinners,” spending time with societal rejects, defending the cause of the weak, and a variety of other ways of living that look just like Jesus.” Instead of leaving a church to do this, why not try doing it while still in the church you want to leave? See if the Spirit leads other people to participate with you, and maybe you will be a factor in renewal there somehow, instead of abandoning it. Like a marriage, anything important in our lives is worth putting effort into. Just like we wouldn’t separate from our spouses without first trying to make our marriages better with counseling, etc., maybe we can better evaluate our participation in our present church family before going elsewhere.

    • says

      Ren,
      I agree. People who are attending a church should try to do those things. I would love it if more did. It seems to me though, that when most church attenders do these things, there is always that sense below the surface that the true goal or agenda in the relationship is to “invite the person to church.” This seems to hinder true friendship from forming. If a church-attender can develop true friendships with people without ever feeling like they HAVE to invite them to church, that would be wonderful!

  12. Mark Brown says

    Hey brothers,
    Good discussion and input from all!
    It’s encouraging to know that the Lord’s body is mobilizing outside the walls, eh?
    May we all grow ever more bold in obeying His leading into the lives of others…
    Selah,
    M.

  13. says

    Most Sunday mornings at my McChurch, Jeremy, I sit in big, comfy, leather chairs in front of the fireplace.

    There, over coffee and other things McD, I share with those Holy Spirit prayerfully brings to meet with me and my Best Friend, Jesus.

    I go to my McChurch, rather than traditional church, where one stares at the back of people’s necks for an hour, so I can be the living, Biblically R-E-A-L (Relational-Engaging-Authentic-Life-giving) Church.

    I even stay for 2 hours, often, would you believe?

    Blrsdings all!

    • says

      Are you referring to McDonalds? I like what you are saying, but am confused about the “McD” references. If it is McDonalds, what kind of McDonalds has leather chairs and a fireplace???

      • Jonathon says

        If it is the one with jazz piano, and strolling musicians at night, it is in Ashville NC.

        I don’t know if the one in Toronto has jazz piano. The one in Montreal occasionaly had jazz at night. Perhaps the operative word is “Had”.

  14. Ragan says

    I am very interested to learn more about this. I thought it was a command to not neglect gathering yourself together? I have so many rules in my head from growing up, now I don’t know what is truth and what is tradition. I don’t particularly like any of the churches near me. I have tried several and just stuck to one that seemed better than the rest. It is a bigger church so I don’t usually talk to anyone but I joined some small groups and did make friends. I enjoy the worship music but don’t usually get much out of the sermons. I just thought I had to be in church and I have to take my babies so they would learn about Jesus. I fear that if they only have me to look to for Jesus, I will fail them miserably. their dad will certainly teach them it is all bologna. This option never occurred to me. I have so much guilt if I miss one Sunday. I can’t imagine if I allowed myself to stop going altogether. I guess I assume I would just fall away from God.

    • says

      I always tell people that if they are attending a church, and benefit from it greatly, enjoy the fellowship, music, preaching, etc, and are able to serve others and be encouraged there, then they should stay.

      If, however, they are going out of a sense of guilt, shame, and duty, then probably church attendance is hindering their walk with God rather than helping. If you stop attending church, you are NOT deciding to stop follow Jesus or be a member of His Body, the Church. Instead, you are simply seeking to be the church in a different way than by sitting in a church building with other believers on Sunday morning. Again, that’s a fine way for many people, but it is not the only way.

      I cannot tell you what to do, though. But know this, if you decide to stop attending, God is not angry with you, upset with you, or disappointed with you, especially if you stop attending so that you can seek to love and serve your neighbors. (This takes time though!!! – Check out the recent podcast episode from Wayne Jacobsen at thegodjourney.com http://thegodjourney.com/2014/04/04/beyond-the-congregation/

  15. Imladris says

    I really appreciate this post. I have been feeling for 2 years that I wish to leave my church. My husband and I are life-long churchgoers who no longer want to be. We joined this church about 4 years ago because we felt we needed a good base and spiritual learning for our son. We also live extremely far from any family and we felt a good place to form bonds would be a church. I have been going to church my whole life. Although I have stayed away from churches that preach hell and damnation, I still feel so much pain and guilt about wanting out. Our church is a small congregation. Only about 40 people show up on any given Sunday. This means that as soon as you decide to become a member you are immediately roped into at least 2-3 committees to help serve. That being said, since we have a son we were automatically expected to teach Sunday school. Last year our organist wanted to start a contemporary service so we tried it for 8 weeks as a trial basis. I got appointed to be the praise singer which meant I had a 2.5 hour rehearsal every Saturday night and I had to spend hours during the week on my own with the music too. Our church is mostly made up of retired folks and there are very few families there who work and have young kids. Our contemporary service did not work out and I ended up in front every Sunday belting out these praise and worship songs to no one. Members of the congregation felt pressured to come to support us. Every Sunday there I was pretending to be filled with the Holy Spirit when all I wanted to do was crawl away. I don’t think this feeling would have been any different if 100 people were there. Problem was (and still is) I don’t think I believed half of the words I had to sing. So there I was, active in choir, Sunday school, contemporary service, among other things. Our little family of 3 rarely even saw each other on Sundays. After our contemporary service ended we gave it a rest for several months. When the organist brought it up that we should start up again, I said I didn’t have any interest in doing so. She got very upset with me even though the pastor agreed that it was not working for our church. As for teaching Sunday school, my husband and I dread it because we don’t fully believe the lessons and don’t want to be there anymore. As you can see church to us has turned into an obligation and a job. We are not serving with gladness and love, but out of a sense of obligation so as not to let anyone down. I have heard people in the church complain about other people that don’t do enough. Our fellowship hall is used by many external groups and the church gets rent income for use of the hall. That means that many non-Christian groups use our hall. I have heard members complaining that non-Christian groups should not be allowed to use the hall. I feel like dying inside when I hear this because 90% of the time I want to see what they do in there and wish to join them! I’m totally desperate for spiritual fulfillment. I feel so dried out. Then, last year we had a congressional meeting about the possibility of using our church for civil unions. That caused such an argument in our church it was horrible. Half of the people were totally against it and half were okay with it. I just wanted to walk out because if that isn’t excepted I didn’t want to be there anymore. Yet, we still slog on. Why? Part of me can’t really believe Jesus would call me away from church. I have been questioning for the past 2 years if I am even a Christian at all. I don’t buy most of Christian doctrine, but I DO want Christ in my life. I feel so much guilt about leaving. The Christian Ed department will likely fall apart and I fear what people will think of me. I worry too about our son and at age 9, how this will affect him. As we draw close to the end of another Sunday school year we must make a choice so that by August when they start up again, they may have a plan in place to keep it going without us. I feel so much bondage and entrapment in church. It isn’t only our church, but all of them. Long ago we attended a church in New Mexico with a female pastor who opened our eyes to other religions and ways of thought. She loved Jesus so deeply, but also embraced many other religions as well. It changed me forever and I have not been comfortable in a traditional church since. My husband has un-evolved from a Southern Baptist into an Agnostic and I don’t know what I am anymore. I was so excited yesterday to learn about Gnostic Christianity. Can I really take Jesus with me out of the traditional Christian church? Part of me wonders if I am listening to a false God telling me to leave and wonder if I’ll wind up in hell for this. Aren’t we supposed to serve? Aren’t we supposed to help others? I will be letting people down and hurting them by leaving. I am literally sick today because of this. I just want to be free, but I am afraid of the consequences. Sorry this is so long, but I felt I needed to put this out there.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing some of your story.

      Where did you hear about Gnostic Christianity? This is an early church heresy, so be careful!

      Anyway, yes, Jesus wants us to serve and love others, but this need not stop just because you stop entering a building on Sunday morning which some call “the church.” You are the church and can be the church to others whether you sit in a pew on Sunday morning or not.

      You can follow Jesus wherever He leads. If it is to a place that some call “church” on Sunday morning, fine! But be open to other directions that Jesus wants to take you. Know that the guilt does not come from Him. If you trust Him to lead you, He will.

      • Jonathon says

        FWIW, it was a Christian Gnostic Church that published the first translaion into English, of _The Gospel of Judas of Keiroth_, back in 1992. Unfortunately for them, more pirated copies of it were distributed, than were sold. Perhaps even more unfortunate for them,is that that translation remains pretty much forgotten by academia, laity, and other Gnostic organizations.

  16. Saint Luke.. says

    hey jeremy first i wanted to say that i believe God lead me to your website… second i wanted to thank you for thinking outside the box i believe thats what jesus did…taking a break from church is not a bad idea, anyway
    you gotta come out of the boat sometime and star waking on the water most christians are afraid still stuck in the boat. you got to go where God is and 9 out of ten times he’s not in the church like you said he’s with the homeless and the broken….. God was telling me you gotta come out of the boat and i was saying no god i like it here…he was saying you gotta come out of the boat!! i want to show you something and i was like no god i”m comfortable here he say’d you gotta come out of the boat or your gonna miss what i have for you..so i said here i come God!!!.. i’m diving in:)

    • says

      Good points! There is nothing really wrong with being in the boat… until Jesus calls us to step out of it! But boy is that scary, right! And half the time, we start sinking right away, and just want to climb back into the boat, never to get back out again.

      But following Jesus by faith can lead us into some scary places.

  17. Mike says

    Jesus never called anyone out of the church, it would be difficult for me to believe that. I would like to think He led me out and kept me out all these years but that wouldn’t be true.

    I am making plans to go back.

    I miss a lot of things about the church, yes there are problems, significant problems in some churches but not all. Movements like this one led by Jeremy and many others tend to be one generational, a temporary trend or fad that doesn’t have any theological or spiritual moorings. Alternative interpretations of texts won’t get you very far.

    Because I have stayed away for so long I will likely never preach or even teach again and that is fine. I will assist when and wherever I am able. I will be the good that is lacking or whatever else is lacking, I will try to meet the needs that aren’t being met and pray for them all, that God may receive glory for what the body is doing.

    I learned that staying away did more harm than good, it is lonely and even at times, dangerous to one’s faith. I am not a martyr. I have forgiven the church that condemned me. I long to see the churches in my neighborhood grow and their influence increase in the community. Will that happen? Maybe not but it is better than contributing to their decline by staying away and writing about their premature death.

    Christ is Risen. Christ is risen indeed,

    Mike

    • says

      Mike,

      You are right. Jesus never calls anyone out of the church. Never. My post title was a little … provocative.

      But I think that if you re-read the entire post, you will see that I am not saying that Jesus calls people to leave the Church (His Body), but rather, that Jesus might be calling some members of His Body to be the church in a way that looks different than the Sunday morning activity of sitting in a pew and listening to a sermon. This is undoubtedly one way of being the Church, and it helps a lot of people, but it is not the only way. That’s all I was trying to say in this post.

  18. Teeya Imsong says

    Even with my limited knowledge, I do not agree. Firstly, I doubt whether Jesus will lead you so and secondly it is mostly because you are not getting what you wish to hear or wants it to be like you want it to be. Thats pride. Helping the poor, social rejects etc yes its a good thing to do but we can do that both in and out of the church. Going individual is more like praying out aloud in the market, cos then people know its YOU in other words its ME who helped. Just my view. The real problem is, not being part of any church organisation, after we bring a sinner/unbeliver to Jesus and he does the same, what or where do we suggest them to continue having fellowship? Or we suggest them to be like us. Most possibly if we go on like this ultimately we too have the high possibilty of becoming a church organisation. If every one does follow your principle, there will be no more church (organisation), so where do people meet to learn, teach, admonish, praise n worship together etc. If I’m not wrong, the NT christians too felt the necessity to come together and worship God. Apostles and early christian leaders plant churches everywhere they went. For what? Not going to church/fellowship is not at all advisable in my personal opinion. We should be humble enough to understand eachothers weakness & grow in love and wise enough to discern the good and the bad. It is because of this pride today and even in the NT times we have so many denominations and so called non denomination groups. In your present church it is for you to decide whether to accept the wrong teachings or not. If it is wrong, then confront, if it still does not corrects the pastor etc, then you can find some other places where you believe its right for you. We can never find the perfect place not even in yourself in this world, if we have the attitude of always finding faults. The truth is even if you happen to build a perfect fellowship with the perfect truth and only truth with all the answers available, still there will be people who will not be satisfied with either your ways of worship, singing, conduct of services etc. So leaving the church may be ok but not going at all is not advisable. If ultimately, everyone stop going church and preach the gospel as you stated, then whats the point of paul telling how the structure of the church should be and the qualifications etc. I believe every word is inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus I do not accept the view. Please convince me with bible verses. Our views, sentiments etc doesnt mean anything.

    • Sam says

      You are giving us your viewpoint, but at the end you say our viewpoints don’t many anything. It is most difficult to speak wisely about where Jesus will lead another. We do not all understand these things alike, and rather than condemn others for the way they understand these things and follow Jesus, is it not best that each of us focus on where Jesus is leading us?

      • Teeya Imsong says

        Yes you are right. Being from non english speaking country it is sometimes difficult for us to express things clearly. I m not condemning anyone, for it is not for me to judge. All I want is such view should be supported with bible verses. I myself have and is going through such trouble times. It is not easy to leave not because of social stigma, but because I fear that it may be wrong. It is very easy to get cold in Christ if one is not strong enough. There are many out there including me who are weak and such claim or views may make our feet/faith even weaker. Just my two cents.

        • Sam says

          Teeya, I will pray with you that you will find your way in this. Leaving your church may or may not be the best thing for you to do at this time. Many of us understand the church as the body of Christ, and a local congregation can be a part of that. However, it is not the only way the church is found in this world. Many of us are part of the body of Christ with our neighbors, friends and other people in the community. We meet in ways that are not the same as a church service with songs and sermons. We may meet over a meal, in a discussion in the street, as a group of neighbors getting together and discussing Jesus and in many other ways.

          If the group you are part of now is causing your faith in Jesus to grow cold, maybe you need to seriously look for other people who are part of the body of Christ with whom you can meet in His name. This may mean getting to know neighbors, co-workers and people in your community. I do not know what is possible where you live, but pray that you will find those who follow Jesus who can help you strengthen your faith in him as you follow him.

          May his peace rest upon you and your family Teeya.

    • says

      Teeya,

      Nobody said anything about going out as an individual.

      As to “going to church,” this is not a New Testament concept. It is not something the early church did. They fellowshipped with one another, yes, but not in “church” buildings, not by sitting in pews, etc, etc, etc.

      The bottom line is that yes, Jesus has led countless millions of people to follow Him in ways that do not involve sitting in a pew on Sunday morning.

  19. TNelso16 says

    Jesus states in (Matthew 18:12 ; Luke 15:4 ) that He “leaves the ninety nine and goes out to seek and to save the lost”…we are also commanded to be as Him in the world.(1John 2:6 )

    (Jeremiah 51:45 ; Revelation 18:4 ; Revelation 2:18-29) also states: “Come out from among her my people!”

    (Matthew 24:10-14 ;1Timothy 4:1-6 ) states in the last days there will come “a great falling away” / “many leaving the “faith”… not “the church(es)” they (the institutionalized churches) seem to be the ones that have “fallen away” from the faith and are “carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14-21)

    “Listen to what the spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation chapters 2-3)
    :}

  20. TNelso16 says

    We are suppose to be winning people into the Kingdom of Heaven not the churches…those we bring to Chrst we should also teach and shepard them ourselves personally through the scriptures until the are of a full mature spirtual age to go and help us win others into the Kingdom of God…much like the apostles did mentoring those learning from them and observing all things they were taught in spirit and in truth and holding on to what was good.(Matthew 28:20;John 4:23-24)
    Like the Apostle Paul mentored Timothy to take his place after he ” fought the good fight ,finished the race and kept the faith” ~ Paul (1 Timothy 4:7)

    The Institutionalized Church(Catholic Church) is “The Whore of Babylon,MOTHER of Harlots (The institutionalized Protestant Churches) She is the “False Bride”.
    Notice she is the “WHORE Of Babylon” not Babylon “the great city (Vatican City) that “sits on the seven hills/mountains” of Rome. The church leaders (Bishops and Carnials) dress in purple and scarlet robes. She is also one of the worlds most wealthiest institutions and has sway with the kings and nations of the earth in the political arena.
    “And if you look at some of the coins the Vatican has produced, you will see an images of a woman with a golden cup in her hand on them. Blantantly boasting who she is!” (Revelation 17:1-15)
    http://www.end-times-prophecy.org/the-whore-of-babylon.html

    :}

    • says

      Weeellll, I wouldn’t go so far as to call the Catholic church the whore and the Protestant church the false bride, but I do see your point and agree with you that much of institutional religion is not at all what God intended or wanted from followers of Jesus.

  21. Ernie says

    I remember feeling crazy when I was told to leave, and being turned around by God when I tried to go somewhere else. At the time there were no safety bars, nothing to confirm I was doing the right thing, and I was looked at as a backslider by many I grew up with…but respected by the world because they saw I was after God himself and willing to sacrifice everything for it. (Though I don’t remember feeling so heroic; it was hard and I was struggling.)

    For a while I was anti-church, considering that if the Spirit led me away, then church is bad, and all who attend are not following the Spirit. But oh how God has a gentle way of breaking ‘conclusions’ and revealing how much bigger He is than the pipelines we create. He put a worship leader in my life, a Pentecostal with major health issues, and a Roman Catholic couple – all of whom were ‘children’ of Jesus and their lives seeped Light everywhere they went. They each were pillars for me in a hard wilderness time of life – literally 3 years on the dot. I also saw how God was leading others back to church, not for sermons and programs, but to love people and be loved by people.

    I share your view that Life with Jesus is neither place or technique, but rather the ‘interaction’ with God TODAY…leaving tomorrow where it would be. Just as the wind comes and goes, and is outside of the organization of people, so are those led by God’s Spirit. The global church is beautiful and timeless, and it’s amazing and exciting to imagine the crazy ways Jesus guides each member.

    Now I find myself helping out in music in my old home church once a month. I long to be there for the people and the unity, but it is extremely difficult and awkward to endure the culture, language, traditions, and perspective of it again. It is like a thick wall of religion that I have to press through…a wall that reminds me of a former existence that I don’t want to relive.

    I don’t mean that it’s all bad, but it no longer relates to me. My relationship with God is as natural as it is with any other person; going back into a situation where your walk is a ‘regiment’ of reading, prayer, attending, singing, etc. is seriously a challenge, and I’m not sure what to do at this point…especially when confronted with “so how did you like this or that?” Many view me as the prodigal son that came back to his senses…which isn’t true. I can’t shake what I’ve been taught by God, but I know that division is not the answer. Unity and love, sharing God and playing our parts is. I long for this, and I don’t care about who’s right or wrong in ‘how to do it’…but when I see wrong, or at best, ‘forced’, it’s hard to shake off.

    A weird place to be – called out of church, now perhaps called back in, but not sure how to fit in. Oh well, like I started at first, there are no safety bars. I’m blown away at what God has done in my life since I left church, but at the time, despite the peace of being led, it seemed like it was going no where. Wouldn’t trade it for the world now that I look back. What a story!

    Now things feel largely the same – “what am I doing right now? Where is this going?”

    Oh well, let’s see if I can do a little better this time at not squirming. :)

    Sir, thank you for your thoughts and willingness to post this article. And thank you ALL for sharing. Your stories are valuable. And even if your opinions differ, let us all be like Mary fixated on Jesus, and not Martha fixated on the ‘service of Jesus.’ You all posted because you care, because you’re struggling to know your Creator and please Him — this is what makes us sisters and brothers, and puts a smile on our Lord’s face.

    But I gotta go to bed. Being in accounting is a dangerous job when you’re tired. Hah hah!

    • says

      Thanks for the comment and for sharing part of your story. Yes, Jesus is leading many different people in many different directions, and I think this is all part of His plan to expand His rule and reign upon the earth. Keep moving forward!

  22. HARRY J HARRIS says

    HAVING READ THIS, I FIND A REAL AMEN IN MY SPIRIT. IF I MAY, I WUD LIKE TO ANSWER THIS CRISIS OF FAITH, AS SO MANY CALL IT IN THIS WISE; THE COMING OUT OF THE ‘CHURCH’ I INTERPRET YOU AS SAYING, ‘DO NOT ABANDON THE GATHERING/WORSHIP/PASTORAL SUPPORT,ISOLATION IS NEVER GOOD! BUT TO STEP OUT INTO LIFE OUT ON THE STREETS, WORKPLACES, NEIGHBOURHOODS, GIVING TIME TO PEOPLE,WHETHER THEY ARE THE POOR, BROKEN VISIBLE FOLKS, OR THE LOVELY WELL ADJUSTED, LOOKING GOOD TIL A CRISIS HITS PEOPLE. THE WORST THING EVER SAID ABOUT JESUS IS THAT HE IS A FRIEND OF SINNERS! WE, AS BELIEVERS, OUGHT TO BE WHERE WE ARE OF MOST VALUE TO HIM AND HIS SPIRIT. I WAS EMPLOYED AS A CUTTING HAND IN A MEATWORKS FOR A FEW MONTHS. AFTER 3 DAYS IT BECAME CLEAR I WAS NO STAR AT THIS JOB. MY FLOOR MANAGER CALLED ME ASIDE, TOOK MY BELT, AND GAVE ME TO ANOTHER MAN, WHO, LIKE MYSELF, HAD PROBLEMS SEEING TO DO THE CUTTING FAST ENOUGH. WE BOTH FOUND WE WERE BRILLIANT AT PUTTING THE NYLON BANDS AROUND THE 25KG CARTONS, STACKING , AND CLEARING THEM TO THE BLAST FREEZERS. THE SHIFT SPEEDED UP THE WHOLE ROOM OF 88 OTHERS! WE WERE IN THE RIGHT PLACE! THE FLOOR MANAGER INSISTED EVERY DAY THAT WE STAY ON THAT CONVEYER SYSTEM, AND TRAIN OTHERS WHEN I LEFT. AND WE DON’T GET ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS, WE ARE NOT ON A ‘MISSION TO SAVE THE WORLD’WE ARE CALLED TO BE SALT, AND LIGHT, IN THE WORLD.BOTH VERY NESSESARY, PRACTICAL THINGS. NOT TO DO THE JOB OF THE LIGHT, OR THE JOB OF THE SALT, BUT TO BE THEM WHERE WE ARE. WHEN WE WALKIN INTO A DARKENED ROOM, AND THERES A CANDLE IN THE VERY FAR CORNER, WE WALK TOWARDS THAT LIGHT, ITS NATURAL. WHEN PEOPLE ENCOUNTER DARKNESS, THEY SEEK A LIGHT. ARE YOU THE LIGHT OF JESUS WHERE YOU ARE???JUST ASKING FOLKS. OH, AND SOME FOLKS ARE CALLED TO MINISTER TO THE SAINTS,ELDERLY/INFIRM ETC WITHIN THE CHURCH,ITS JUST BEING MOST EFFECTIVE WHERE HE PLACES YOU. THANK YOU JESUS.

  23. says

    I found this post as I was researching being called out of church. It is happening to me right now. God has called me to leave. I obeyed yesterday. I have no idea where to or what next. I will keep dwelling in His Presence till He gives me next instructions. He led me to start this blog and youtube channel some weeks ago. I am so speechless because of Jesus.

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