Churchless Christianity

I read this book a few years ago and have been struck by how well its thesis has held up since the book was written in 1991.  In fact it might have been ahead of its time.

The book deals with Hindu’s in India who become Christians but go on practicing Hinduism in regards to houses of worship, fellowship, and cultural framework.  These Hindu’s made a public profession of Jesus but did not join a local church.  Many missionaries have thought this was the elixir to solve doing missions work in places hostile to the Gospel.

No need for people to put themselves in jeopardy by stepping away from their previous faith community and facing suffering, rather than can just be secret believers.

My point being here is that when Christianity becomes churchless it is able to avoid the mockery, persecution, and suffering that comes along with following Jesus.

Church free Christianity has becoming more prevalent not just in far off places but right here in America.

In India the church is seen as needless, but here in America the church is seen as irrelevant.  People operate under the assumption they can be true followers of Jesus and have little to no involvement with the local church.  The Church and we as a body has seemed to have failed in conveying to people the deep transforming truths of Christianity that create and demand a new and deeper life.

The reasons for this are endless but a few are that we have turned church into entertainment.  Churches have striven for marketing first often at the expense of faithfulness, and doctrinal truths have been replaced in favor of subjective journeys and experiences.

All of these shifts implicitly exhalt the individual over the body.  Which makes church less and less central and more optional, even for the Christian.

ryan

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4 Responses

  1. “People operate under the assumption they can be true followers of Jesus and have little to no involvement with the local church.”

    In your experience are these “true followers of Jesus” who have little to no involvement with the local church doing nothing at all, or are they simply not subscribing to, and pledging membership to an institutional church?
    Regardless of building/house/coffee shop/whatever I would submit that in my experience those “true followers of Jesus” who may have “little to no involvement with the local church” may actually be very connected to other people who are members of those churches, but choose to pursue their “church life” in a different way. (In a small group of believers in a home, etc.) They may not pledge membership, be involved in the programs, and/or attend a weekly service, but are deeply connected with some who do. AND, they have a “local church” they are deeply connected to that just looks a lot different….smaller, doesn’t meet on Sun or in a building, doesn’t have paid staff or programs, etc.
    I suppose the question here would be how, in this post, is the phrase “local church” being defined. I think we’re on the same page here-just curious.

  2. Hey Aaron thanks for the thoughts. I bet we are largely on the same page.

    I would never be so reductionistic as to only think that a true local church must have a building, staff and things like that. I am all for house churches and smaller gatherings of Christians that are more informal than bigger churches or traditional denominational models.

    The point of my post was more that many think they can be a true follower of Jesus with no connection to the body. That they can avoid the suffering, persecution, and other consequences that sometimes go along with being part of a Christian community/local church.

    However I will say that much of the Christian life is cannot be accomplished or lived out, outside of Christian community. This is why Paul went to such painstaking efforts to plead in his letters of Galatians and Ephesians for unity among the body/church.

    The Church is Jesus’ bride (Eph. 5). And Jesus’ bride is made up of imperfect people who are being sanctified and being conformed to his image as we await his return and participate in the building of his Kingdom (Rom. 8).

    I might push back and say I am not sure Christians are allowed to choose to pursue their “church life” completely in any manner they want. While the paramaters of the NT are not rigid for what constitutes a church, there are some that are quite explicit and non-negotiable.

    I will put up my thoughts on what exactly those are tomorrow.

  3. awesome man. yes, we seem to be very much on the same page =) looking forward to hearing your thoughts elaborated.

  4. Hello rymk. Thanks for selflessly sharing “Churchless Christianity”. Don’t feel like a long comment, but I will say this perspective was quite impacting upon me. Thanks again my friend. The creation of your blog is worth that alone.

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