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Christians without Churches

1 June, 2004 12:03 AM

Andrew Jones picks up an interesting post over at Reinhold's Journey on 'Christians without Churches'.

'John Barrett estimates that there are 112 Millions of churchless Christians - men, women and children who confess Christ as their Lord but do not belong to any of the traditional churches. This number is growing fast. I know at least 50 of them. Either this is the Great Apostasy or it is a Great Apostolic movement....'

This is a trend that some of us here in Australia have been noticing also - I'm loosing track of how many people I'm meeting every week that would classify themselves in this way.

When I share these things with many Christians (of the Church going variety) the concern expressed is often around issues of accountability, pastoral care and lack of teaching - many seem to worry that this growing group of people will go 'off track' unless connected in formal ways with other Christians through 'Church'.

Whilst I understand these concerns I'm also very comforted to note that most of my non church going Christian friends have seemed to have generated informal networks of others around them who in a very unorganized way fulfill many of the aspects of church that the rest of us get in the more formal communities that we're a part of.

Like Reinhold I believe that meeting together is important, but that for too long we've allowed our gatherings to become too central in our thinking. I guess this is what I was reflecting on a week or so ago when I was talking about what we place in the centre of of our churches. Often at the centre is 'the gathering' itself which is something I suspect we need to consider moving away from (and perhaps already are if the figures above are anything to go by).



No one has used me as a statistic yet to my knowledge so I suppose that makes the number 112 millions plus one more. I believe that number may be accurate so far as numbers go but I can't help wonder what is the criteria for qualifying as a "Christian" in these particular stats? Is confessing Christ as Lord anything like stating "I believe in God so that means I am a Christian?"

When other Christians ask me if I am STILL going to church and I tell them "only infrequently" I can see the label of "Backslider" being manufactured in their judgment factory.

I believe we may be witnessing the "Great Falling Away" spoken of in scripture. Does it explain "falling away from what?"

Clarence » 1 June, 2004 4:33 PM

In Matthew 24:10, Jesus says that in the last days many will fall away from the faith. But by definition, sincerely professing Christians, whether or not they have left "the traditional churches", have not fallen away.

We need to remember that in the many cases where CHURCHES are leaving the faith, it makes sense for Christians to leave the churches.

» 1 June, 2004 8:10 PM

I just find that too many churches are building their own kingdom, it sort of reminds me of the towel of Babel.(spelling might be wrong)
I've been going to a big church on and off. The key spirit of the church teaches, those who are planted in the House of God will flourish....
and they always say, this is the house of God. you need to be planted, in this house.
I've always been struggling with my understanding, is "the house of God" actually means church?

Susan » 1 June, 2004 11:49 PM

This phenomena of 'what is church?' is not a new discussion, and has been grappled with by many generations. Now is such a vital time to define 'church' as the body of Christ worldwide, across denominations, both inside and outside traditionally recognized churches.

Above all it is being true to the God that you serve, and finding a local 'body' (in home, in the park, in a hall or trad church building) to fellowship with.

My local body is really struggling at the moment to redefine itself, and is losing numbers, but growing in its yearning for 'making it real' (Ali G).

God be praised!

Bruce Wadd » 27 June, 2004 9:58 AM


» 4 September, 2004 2:31 PM

OK. I fit into the churchless category. When my family moved south we were outcasts classed as Yankees (30's-60's). US. My mom didn't feel right in the churches in the south being a northern Methodist. She eventually aligned with a Presbyterian church cause they built a building in my backyard. Pentecostal Holiness cropped up for me in a spiritual way when I was very young; don't remember much about it. But I can speak in tongues and talk to God and my heart moves with the life of Jesus. You know it just doesn't matter to me what people say any more. Church is contrived and static. I suppose people need that but it seems less than good to me in many ways. Surely the Presbyterians have more than fallen away from the faith and are preaching social agenda now. I get physically ill when I do attend that church. The reviled Southern Baptists actually seem to have more of a handle on real faith.. never thought I would see the day!

Guess I and my family will hold our own little light and live the life instead of talking about it. I think if you look into the thing, churches are supposed to serve Christians; not the other way around. Christians are supposed to help others who are outside the faith, and themselves. The Church is supposed to be a gathering of Christians. Where two or more of you meet, there am I! In Church Christians meet allright, just don't see Jesus there anywhere.

Greg Hoose » 5 September, 2004 3:09 AM

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