Originally Posted by forevermemorable View Post
Oh no, I am not refuting hanging out with those of like-mindedness, but I caution anyone who says that they do not need to go to church and fellowship with the saints thereof in the context of the structure that God has established.
Yes, I understand that the original church met in a home, with the Apostle Peter, but oh my, how we have evolved from those times, because America does not have to live in fear with meeting in a building or in homes any more to carry out church.
And I don't put down if a bunch of believing friends get together and have a church-like service in a home or other building of some sort (i.e. high school, dormitory, etc.). But, I do believe that a church service should be constructed as is outlined in 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus; which are known as the pastoral epistles. These books were not by chance placed in the Bible. They create a structure with how a church should be done.
The problem comes when individuals have been burned by a certain church or church group and now they isolate themselves from ever attending a "formal" church setting, solely based upon 1-2 bad church experiences. Because you found a church or two or three, doesn't mean you give up on church! It just means you keep searching for a church that you feel God would have you at. When my family moved to Los Angeles, we search many churches and we found it very difficult to find a church that we fit in, that taught the Word of God Biblically, that was not into strange fire or strange winds of doctrine, that was not into religiosity or Pharasitical attitudes, and above all else, was not seeker friendly. It took us a year, but we found a nice small Calvary Chapel church.
But hey, I have isolated myself in times past, thinking I did not need church, that I could handle life on my own...and I failed miserably. This is where satan wants to dilute someone to think that they can handle their spiritual life alone and have a person do church how they desire it. This could not be further from the truth. I have had many of friends that have gotten fed up with church and have decided to play church at home with their family or in a small group setting and I have seen some pretty funky stuff happen. Let us not forgot what happen at WACO, or with Heaven's Gates, Jimmy Jones, and many others that try to create an environment that rejected church structure to do it on their own, by their own governing rules, and what they deem what church should look like.
If you can have a church service in the comfort of your own home with a group of how ever many people come, than make sure that you follow what God would have you do. Make sure there is worship, a message, maybe the exercising of the gifts (if you believe in that), a time of communion, the giving of tithes, a ministry to the poor, a ministry to the orphan, a ministry to the widow, etc. etc. etc.
But make no mistake about it, I have never seen any brother or sister excel in the Lord when they isolate themselves from the church body or try to play church at home or someone else's home. One of two things usually happens...1) They get into very strange doctrine and practices, 2) They end up backslidding, little by little.
i should probably clarify that i cannot attend any one particular church for very long because i bounce around the country/world every couple of years.
truth is, i have visited hundreds of churches, i just dont stick to any particular one anymore. im a far way from home.
i never said i dont go to church, i said that church for me has become those who i see on a daily basis.
im three thousand miles away from my pastor. i think the Lord will forgive me if i dont feel the need to stick to one place with one set of people.
besides, i find a lot of structured ministries ineffective. for instance, ministry to the poor. its easy to just go out and hand a pamphlet to them, or give them a loaf a bread, but people rarely get to know them.
i remember going out and talking to people in south beach miami once... there was a group of us. one of the guys with us went right into a strip club, got drunk with a few of the patrons, and pointed them to our church. lo and behold, they showed up the next weekend.
another time, i remember one guy who was drunk on the street, covered in tattoos. he was pretty darned angry, cussing up a storm. after chatting with him a while and taking a few shots of his whiskey, he told me about his daughter who just died from leukemia a couple weeks before. he kept asking how God could do this to his little girl. i didnt have an answer for him. i just knew he was hurting. here i was trying to reach out to him and i had no idea what i could say to help him. i ended up just asking him what he is going to do. he told me he wanted to go into the missionary field to get away from home, so i put him in touch with one of the missionary goups i met in georgia. they specialize in helping people recover from that kinda trauma.
couple years later i happened on some pocket bibles from a church that folded and decided to go see if i could find someone to give some to. i met a homeless guy who just seemed to have lost all hope for any sort of humanity. he was pretty funny though, in a crude way. i asked him about the local night clubs, which ones seem the busiest, which ones have the best reputations. then i asked him if he would like to go to those places and pray with me. its not like i had the guts to go do it by myself at the time, why not ask him to go with me? he didnt seem to have anything better to do... he insisted that he needed a bible to pray, and he couldn't go because he didnt have one. he wouldnt take one of the shiny new pocket bibles i had(gotta love the Gideons), so i ended up giving him my personal bible that i carried around everywhere. when i came back a couple years later, he was still at it, going from place to place, praying for people. he had a purpose and he loved showing it.
something strange happens when you go to normal public places and express the joy that you get from praising God. try it sometime. get a guitar and sing a praise song, like you MEAN it. people get incredibly curious.
there are hundreds of stories i could tell like this, but i never experienced ANY of this stuff when i was sitting in a church pew. so, yeah, ill go to church when i can, but church is not where i usually see God work. its every where else, its where the dangers are. i just get too bored if im "safe".