Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | July 4, 2015

Relationship Over Religion: Christians Tired Of Church

Whether attending church regularly, periodically or no longer attending at all, many Christians are coming to the conclusion that “church” can be spiritually unhealthy…breeding religion rather than helping people experience a growing and authentic relationship with Jesus and others.

People are turned off by church for various reasons. Can you relate to any of the following?:

* A lack of community- you’ve attended church for years but have little to no relational connection with others.

* Were told that the answer to developing authentic relationships was to join a small group, only to find that the small group was structured similar to a church service, with little interaction or member participation.

* Church services are more of a performance rather than an authentic spiritual expression.

* Tired of being lectured in a one-way communication environment.

* A legalistic, performance based environment rather than a Christ-centered, grace based environment.

* You experienced or witnessed some form of spiritual abuse.

* Judgmental attitudes on peripheral things such as dress, tattoos, alcohol, entertainment, etc.

* Difficult questions and divergent ideas are suppressed and seen as a threat to leadership.

* An inordinate focus on sin, with minimal focus on New Covenant realities (i.e. our identity in Christ, the preeminence of Jesus, walking by the Spirit, etc…).

* A lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

* A lack of love expressed, especially toward those who aren’t Christians.

* Manipulative teaching on money and poor stewardship of it. Investing in the institution rather than people.

* Were marginalized because of divorce.

For Christians who aren’t into the church scene, or becoming increasingly weary of it, we started a meetup group in Raleigh, NC to help such people connect with others who are in the same boat. Whether it be a social get-together, an outdoor activity, a volunteer opportunity, or an open discussion on a portion of scripture at a local coffee shop or pub, we all have the opportunity to express our thoughts, grow in our faith, encourage each other in our walk with Christ, develop authentic relationships, and enjoy the process! I’m not talking about a group of “church-bashers” but a group of people who, based on their own unique experiences, have decided or at least considered the possibility that there are more fruitful places to be than church.

For example, two times a month, we have dinner together and an open and participatory Bible Study at a local restaurant/bar. Once a month, we have a “pot luck” in the home of someone in our group; everyone brings a food, drink or dessert item and we spend the first few hours mingling and cultivating community and friendship. We then may have someone share an encouraging word from the scriptures for a short period, and afterwards open up the time for questions and discussion. In addition, we offer an opportunity for those in our group to “Skype” into a weekly small group that focuses on establishing believers in their identity in Christ and the wonders of God’s grace. We also have other scheduled gatherings such as dinner and live music, cook-outs, hiking, etc….., all designed to further help believers to connect with each other and to cultivate community. We make a variety of healthy resources available to those who desire to grow in their faith. Furthermore, we have a very practical way for needs within our midst to be made known to all, so that they can ultimately be met by others in our community.

But perhaps the most encouraging aspect of what we are seeing is that many people are now getting together outside of scheduled meet-ups…. not because they have to, or because someone told them to, but simply because they want to; they love and value the Body of Christ and understand that Christ has called us to “community” for the purpose of manifesting “Life” outside the 4 walls of a building. And that “Life” is, first and foremost, the expression of love…. love for God, one another, and the world.

All of this taking place, with no church building, no senior pastor, no obligatory tithe requirement, no spirit of control, no “church services,” no hierarchy, no clergy-laity division, and very little if any structure imposed upon our time together as family.

Sound interesting? Want to see a community like this blossom in your city? Want to start something like this? It’s not difficult. Ask me how.

Relationship Over Religion: Christians Tired Of Church

Raleigh, NC
285 Believers

Whether attending church regularly, periodically or no longer attending at all, many Christians are coming to the conclusion that “church” can be spiritually unhealthy…breed…

Check out this Meetup Group →

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Responses

  1. Jesus referred to Paul’s persecution of the Church as persecution of Himself:

    “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4)

    One of Christ’s first actions (with respect to His ministry) was to establish Church authority — He gathered the twelve, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

    It is the Church that hands on the Sacred Deposit of Faith. Without the Church, especially the Catholic Church, there would be no canonical Bible. Tradition is the source of life because it flows from the origin: Christ.

    Like

    • Hello Andrew,

      He said to them, “All to well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” (Mark 7:9)

      The Church is not an institution. Neither is it a place to go or something to do. The Church (Greek word Ekklesia) is a people. It’s a gathering of believers. Believers don’t “go to church.” Believers ARE the Church. Identifying as Catholic or Protestant does not make us right with God. But putting our faith in the Person and finished work of Christ for our forgiveness and redemption does. It is then that we become part of His Body… the Church.

      Tradition is not the source of life. The Person of Jesus, and the Person of Jesus alone, is the source of life. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Jesus had some very strong words to say about “tradition” and towards those who trusted in tradition rather than God.

      Neither is the Bible the source of Life: “You search the scriptures daily, thinking in them that you have eternal life, yet those scriptures testify of me. Yet you will not come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

      The church (as you define it) does not pass on the “sacred deposit of faith.” Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word (Rhema) of Christ (Romans 10:17). Those words were penned by Paul without any Bible being in existence in that day. Apparently, they were able to walk by faith and turn their world upside down for Christ without a King James Bible. And most scholars agree that over 80% of the population in that day was illiterate. But they did have community, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in their hearts……

      It’s great to have a Bible today. But I have to tell you, it was men who translated the sacred writings, not an institution. And if we are going to give glory to someone for it, the glory belongs to Jesus who worked through men to translate the scripture.

      When Jesus gathered the twelve, he did give them authority to do certain things. However, we need to be careful not to create “proof-text theology” here. The Church hadn’t even come into existence until the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. By “Church” I’m referring to how it is defined above.

      Jesus did not come to establish a religious hierarchy of authority. A defining characteristic of the New Covenant is that there is no longer supposed to be a religious class set-apart from the community since all now have access to God through the Holy Spirit and can hear from Him. Under the New Covenant ushered in through Christ, those who function in the gift of pastor, or teacher, or evangelist, etc… function as one with the community; their ministry being for the edification of the saints for the work of the ministry. They are not to be elevated above others, or valued any more than any other believer, since we all have various gifts through the Holy Spirit given to us.

      I think it’s also important to note that there is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ… not a pastor or a catholic priest. To Him be all the glory.

      Like

  2. You are 100% accurate on all of these reasons. I heard a quote last night that I will share also. “Religion is what is left… when the Holy Spirit leaves the building.” God wants so much more than just religion. He wants an intimate relationship with all of us.
    God bless you!!

    Like

    • Thanks so much for the feedback. I just took a look at your blog; incredible. A true Isaiah 61 type of ministry is as close to the Father’s heart as one can be. God bless you!!

      Like

      • Wow… Your words brought tears to my eyes. Isaiah 61 is what I had been told before and you gave me confirmation after just looking at my blog for the first time. I praise God for every word that He gives me to share… for it’s not about me… It’s all about Him. God bless you, my new friend!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wish I lived near enough to join your group! Can really relate to what you’ve written here.

    Like

    • Thank you, Brandee! Until starting this community, I didn’t realize just how many people were truly hungry for real relationship and growing in grace outside of the traditional church paradigm. I see you live in Hawaii; if you’re ever interested in starting a similar group out there, let me know. I would be glad to offer some help in the beginning. We already have three additional groups like this in various parts of NC. God bless you and your beautiful family!

      Like

  4. Is there a group like this in Daytona Beach Florida area?

    Like

    • No, nothing in that area, but it’s quite easy to start something like this. If you’re interested in finding out how, just let me know 👍

      Like


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