What would it be like if there was not a church building on every street corner?
As it stands today, you cannot travel very far without immediately bumping into a church building of some sort. But what would it be like if there weren’t any? I know that this sounds ludicrous and almost just as bad as saying what would happen if there were no TV, or no Internet, or no apple pie?
No need though to get all worked up about it. That possibility will never happen.
As long as men love the preeminence and power and eagerly pursue the carnal cravings to control and rule over the lives of others, there will always be the fertile soil of a local institutional church awaiting them somewhere.
But let’s think about this anyway.
If you have been reading through this website and especially the “institutional church” series, you know that when we speak of “church,” we do not mean what the Bible refers to as a body of Christians taken together or forming a whole; i.e., the Ecclesia, but rather the unbiblical notion of a building or what man refers to as a religious institution that you must join yourself to and be under the oversight of their teachings and directions.
Removing these types of “churches” will no doubt result in a tremendous upheaval. One major upheaval you might consider would be the large influx that would occur on the unemployment lines. Think of the many “careers” that have been developed through the establishment of a system catered to churches, church buildings, and professions of religious instructors – pastors, elders, bishops, priests, reverends, deacons, Sunday school teachers, missionaries, etc., etc. The numbers would be staggering.
Then, add to that, all of the other religious baggage that has been created as a result of this massive system – myriads of books, seminars, videos on Church Building Programs; seminaries to produce people to fill the building; clergy conferences and workshops; denominational machinery that has been set up to keep things running; not to mention many other positions that will be affected - secretaries, janitors, construction workers, landscapers, the manufacturing of pews, pulpits, audio and video systems along with other accouterments and the upkeep of all these unnecessary items having to do with this world, our pride of life and creature comforts.
Such a list can go on and on.
Another thing to think about in regards to Christendom would be the issue of “church membership.” What or who are “church members?”
These are people who equate or measure their spirituality along with their loyalty and relationship to Jesus Christ with that of joining oneself and being faithful and loyal to a local church institution.
These are people who have been told that God has charged Christians everywhere to form themselves into "local churches" with certain duties that only it can do; who have been told that “true worship” can only take place inside these local institutions.
They have been told that disciples cannot do these "certain duties" except through the "local church."
They have been told that every Christian is required by God to "join or become a part of" some institutional local church unit.
This is a “church member.” This is what they are told. This is what they believe. This is what they do. What will happen to these poor folk?
What about the issue of money? With no churches to work in; with no churches to worship God; with no churches to join ourselves to and become “members of,” no longer would the Church be the depot for your financial contributions (your weekly tithe) or any other contribution for that matter.
If churches were to be removed, these Christians would be beside themselves.
But the vital question is not so much how will the removal of churches impact our culture; or how will it affect “church membership,” etc. The vital question is how much will it hurt true Biblical Christianity?
If churches were eliminated from the face of the earth, what would be left? What would Christians do? The answer is quite simple, and yet amazing!
Christians will be left! We will be doing what the NT believers were doing all along!
Without Church Buildings we would all be forced to relate our faith directly to God and one another, instead of to a place.
Church buildings were unknown amongst the Christians of the New Testament. They had no permanent edifice around which to build their activities and programs. They had no building to go to in order for them to listen to one hour monologues once a week. Therefore their spiritual energies were expended everywhere they were and everywhere they went. They were drawn to EACH OTHER by a common faith and a great hope, but they were not hemmed in physically, psychologically, or otherwise to one designated site. Their "faith" was free to go with them where they went.
If the churches were eliminated and the Christians left, we would then have the real “ecclesia” in the true sense of the New Testament. What would be left would be the "called out" people of God; the community of saints; Christians gathered together in every city; the ecclesia of Christ.
Everything would suddenly become less complicated. There will be nothing elaborate or artificial. Things would be common and ordinary. In every city, there would be two types of citizens; those who are citizens of the Kingdom and household of God and those who are not.
Where are the churches? What would it be like if there weren’t any? Can we know what it would be like?
Just look inside your New Testament and you will see what it was like! For each one of those believers lived and functioned quite well together and with the Lord without church buildings..
Who ever heard of such a thing? Everyone in the NT heard of such a thing for their religious lives were not centered in and around a building, let alone a man or a group of men!
Why do so many refuse to follow the Scriptures, but instead, act contrary to it. Why do we continue to forge on and build and build and build some more? We organize; we constitute; we institutionalize; we legislate; we incorporate. On and on it goes, with no Scriptural justification whatsoever! Why?
To be frank about it, the root of an institutional church system is nothing but human pride. “Crooked is the heart above all things, and it is incurable. Who can know it?” wrote Jeremiah (17:9).
This is where the real problem lies. “Babel” is alive and well in many a heart. We love to build something that will glorify ourselves. We loudly say we want to give all the glory to God, and then we proudly steal it from him, week in and week out. We firmly declare that the New Testament is a sufficient guide for the church's faith and practice, but then turn around and meet together in ways that contradict its patterns.
We find it hard to live as though we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. We find it hard to look for a building whose Maker and foundation is God. We find it hard to say such things and to declare plainly that we seek a better country; that is, a heavenly.
As has been said many times on this site, God does indeed have a membership. Make no mistake about it. Oh yes He does! But that membership is UNTO HIM, not to some corporate, institutional structure that adherents can attend once a week. Such structures and activities are not found in the Scriptures but are contrived by the depraved minds of men.
When Jesus calls us into His Membership, He is not calling us to weekend duty. He demands our life and intellect. He expects us to turn our backs on all rivals, pick up our cross and die upon it daily if necessary.
Can you just imagine the Lord Jesus Christ going to the state to seek papers of incorporation and a tax free status?
No such entity recognizes "the voice of the True Shepherd" who alone is the Head of His own un-institutionalized and un-incorporated body.