Thursday, January 22, 2009


I’ve really been looking forward to our “visit!”

I expressed the wish in my first column to “speak” with those who feel all alone in their search for true meaning and purpose in their lives. Last week we “visited” specifically with those outside the “church.” Let’s switch gears in our conversation this week.

As always, everyone is welcome to “listen in,” but this week I’d like to specifically visit with those within the “establishment” who are wondering, “Is this all there is to this thing called ‘church?’ If ‘church-life’ doesn’t get any better than this, I’m not sure I need or want it!” Have you ever looked at those in the pew next to you wondering, “Why do they seem so comfortable while I’m experiencing such disillusionment, frustration, unsettledness, confusion and isolation? I guess I just don’t get it!” I understand because I have been where you are and I’m willing to share my heart with you about that in the weeks to come. May I assure you that it could very well be Jesus Himself who is stirring your heart? In fact, maybe you are the one who “gets it!” It’s quite possible that you simply need someone to come along side of and help you to see what the Bible truly says about “church life.”

The more I seek God regarding His desire for His Church, the more He seems to reveal His concerns regarding the “institutional church system.”

As a result, I have a tremendous burden on my heart for those who feel trapped in it and I believe our Savior desires for me to reach out and speak-up.

May I be so bold as to suggest that the “system” can stifle the effectiveness of God’s Kingdom work? Please don’t misunderstand me. I love our brothers and sisters within and outside the “organized church.” I recognize that God is able to and in some ways does accomplish His work “from within” in spite of its institutional problems. It does seem, however, that He is stirring unsettledness in the hearts of many “within” the organization. Could it be that God is using this unsettledness to awaken His people to receive fuller biblical truth and understanding, rather than manmade doctrines? Could it be that He is awakening you? I believe that He is desiring to reveal more and more of His “Church without walls” to “those who have ears to hear.”

I’d love for us to explore together some of those truths which God desires to uncover. For those “listening in” who are comfortable and cozy within “the established church,” I welcome you to stay and “visit.” Who knows, maybe our conversation will stir-up a bit of healthy restlessness in you, too.



  1. we christains at times forget the true meaning of the church,the body of christ. i never was told that the church is the body of christ outside the walls of the church.i long to have friends outside of the walls of the chuch, to learn with and grow in many times i sat in the pews and wondered what is this all about? and am i truly hsppy where i am in the body of christ.

  2. Dear Joanie, I've been where you are. As I have studied to know and understand what the "true" meaning of "the" church is, I have discovered there has been a mountain of disillusion from the institutional church teaching that I've recieved. I too long for the friends you speak of. I know there are people "outside" the walls who are in the same place because I have read about them. The scary part is....who is "safe"? I walked away from the institutional church more than a year ago but, have not been "brave" enough to reach out. I am still searching and praying.

  3. I grew up in a small local church; it was the only church life and teaching I knew until I left during my college years. I can now look back and see how lacking it was in solid biblical truths and teaching, and yet God is using that to shape me today. It was a church of very nice people and still is even though it is falling deeper into the worldly values and ways of today.

    I have attended many other churches: some large, some small, some in cities, and some in small communities. The people have been from all walks of life and from all different background and life experiences: some are mature believers, some of us just babes, some not walking in the Way at all, some just lost and passing through.

    I found myself disillusioned and struggling with the “church”: its fallibleness, its failings, its imperfectness, the power struggles and dissensions, the pettiness and shallowness, the lack of Truth in teaching or the lack of Spirit in worship, the deadness and dryness, the hollowness and loneliness. The church kept falling off the pedestal I kept trying to put it on, and the people kept falling off the pedestals that I kept trying to put them on. I couldn’t find the perfect church. Imagine that!!!

    I took a leave of absence from the church. I now see it as a God ordained leave because He did a mighty work on my heart in the interim. I have come back with a much more open and softened heart, with a little more grace and less judgment and criticism, with a little more humility, kindness and empathy and less of a “self focused” attitude.

    I think there is great danger if our focus gets stuck on the “institution” and all that is wrong with it. Satan would love to have us trip over the “institution” and miss God’s work through and with His people. He loves it when people trip over religion and throw out God with it.

    Yes, the “institutional church” is far from perfect. The sin of power, greed, and self creeps in. Man-declared doctrines distort the truth and teach error. The world and its enticing ways and values seep through. Yes, there is corruption and manipulation and deception. But the young church in the New Testament struggled with the same issues; why would it be any different today? In fact, as the time for Jesus’ return draws closer we should only expect more testing and struggles, more division and strife.

    But there is good: the institutional church reaches out into the world and the community. There is incredible outreach through the organization of the institutional church and Jesus can be found at work within it in powerful ways.

    I believe change begins with me and it begins with you. It is about building up and not tearing down. It is about reaching out, touching others, and speaking truth in love. It is about being a testimony for Christ with our individual lives through caring and empathy, and being messengers of hope in this dark world. The world needs to see Jesus lived out in our lives and not just in empty words. It begins with ones own heart – a transformed heart that touches other hearts that touches other hearts.

    Love you Bonnie. :)