The Anti-Church Movement 14

I’ve noticed a trend lately. Mostly from postings and blogs I’ve seen shared on social media. Gotta love social media. 

I don’t have a better term for this phenomenon, so I’m titling it The Anti-Church Movment, or ACM.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t some secular movement. No. It’s an internal movement within the Church itself. 

The movement seems to have a few components:

  1. A component of being hurt by the Church which makes this sentiment OK.
  2. Questioning of what the Bible really says on certain topics / implying that if you hold to certain teachings you’re not “progressive” or you’re too “fundamentalist”.
  3. A glorification of the process of finding yourself outside the Church structure. 

I could go on but those are some things I’ve observed. 

Let’s tackle each point. 

If you spend any amount of time attending church you’re most likely going to be hurt by someone or the institution itself at some point. It’s just a fact. Know why? The church isn’t perfect. Know why? Because you go there. That might sound harsh, but it’s true. The church is made up of imperfect people. And in our imperfection, we hurt people. 

Now, I’m not talking about abuse that has plagued certain churches. Rather, the hurts that result from being offended or hurt emotionally.

I don’t mean to trivialize what you might have been through. I’ve been through my own share of negative church experiences. But we can’t use those as excuses to abandon the Church or give up on faith in general. You work through those hurts with God’s grace. And He WILL bring healing. I know firsthand. But it can be hard. 

Even though it’s hard, it’s worth it. A hurtful experience isn’t worth losing faith and although the church is not equal to faith, I view it as a vital part of our Christian faith. 

I won’t spend too much time on point number 2.  I think there is enough data out there to illustrate this point. More and more it seems that those who hold to “fundamentalist” beliefs (as if it’s some sort of curse word) are mocked for their views. If not openly mocked there are implications and things hinted at that imply they aren’t with the times.

You’ll hear the phrase “you’re being judgmental” bandied about quite a bit. And while we aren’t to judge those outside the faith, Scripture actually does address judgment in several locations. In fact our model, Jesus put this into practice. He “judged” the woman at the woman he saved that was caught in adultery by telling her to “go and sin no more.”

He was also tough on the religious leaders of the day and the disciples themselves at times.

There is also an element going around that’s existed since Adam and Eve in the Garden. It was the serpent (Satan) that said “did God really say…” He planted the seeds of doubt as to the truth of God’s Word. 

We see the same tactic today. There is lots of speculation on different topics as to what God did and didn’t say. I understand there are areas open for interpretation, but there are other areas that are pretty black and white.

It is always imperative to pursue Truth, but we must also be careful not to get caught up in the lies.

As to point number 3, it seems to be trendy to write posts that celebrate the questioning of the Church and the process of finding yourself outside the rigidity of the “church structure” or possibly leaving the church for the foreseeable future. 

There are multiple instances of cases in Scripture where someone “fell away” for a time. Operative phrase being “for a time.” 

Look at the Prodigal Son. He wastes it all only to finally come to his senses and return home. The Bible doesn’t highlight his “finding himself”, rather it focuses on his return and the love The Father shows at finding His lost son.

Shoot. Look at David. He had an affair, got the woman pregnant and had her husband murdered to cover it up. Talk about blowing it. 

But The Word focuses again on his repentance and miraculous return to grace. 

Time and time again you’ll notice failure in the Bible, but the focus is not on the falling and subsequent wandering, but instead on the being found.

14 thoughts on “The Anti-Church Movement

  1. Reply Lori Feb 16,2016 1:33 pm

    Amen! You hit the nail on the head with this one, Jared. Thank you for keeping it real and church relevant!

  2. Reply David Feb 16,2016 2:59 pm

    Sadly, I think you are correct. This may also lead to people constantly changing where they attend as they search for a more perfect “fit”.

    I can’t wait for your next article that tells us how we fix this! (subtle hint).

    How do we create an atmosphere of healing so that even with our flaws, our scars and our fears, there is a unity in the body of believers where grace is given freely?

    We have to figure out a way to turn on the light if we want to attract other moths … know what I mean?

    • Reply jared Feb 16,2016 9:42 pm

      Hi David, thanks for your thoughts!

      When I started out I hadn’t thought of a follow up post, but that’s a great idea! I think the follow up will be more of a challenge than the original, but stay tuned!

  3. Reply AnotherSinner Feb 16,2016 5:21 pm


    Admittedly, this is the first time I have read your blog. It was linked through Facebook. I will state up front that I have not attended a “traditional” church on a regular basis in over a decade. I will also say that I consider myself to be a strong believer. That being said, I do understand where you are coming from, but I disagree on some particular issues from your post.

    You make a comment that the ACM has three components:

    1. A component of being hurt by the Church which makes this sentiment OK.
    2. Questioning of what the Bible really says on certain topics / implying that if you hold to certain teachings you’re not “progressive” or you’re too “fundamentalist”.
    3. A glorification of the process of finding yourself outside the Church structure.

    You do not really address number 2, and I will take the same tack. I do not think it really relates to the argument.

    In point number 1, you are correct in pointing out that the church is made up of broken people, and that as a result, there will be hurt, dissention, and a multitude of other issues that could cause someone to want to leave. However, I think you miss an overlying point. If the “faulty” church was the exception (let’s say 5% of all churches), then you would be correct in your assumptions. I believe that the statistic is reversed. I think that the church as a whole in this country has become a problem. It has become an institution in which people have made a crutch to say that they are “good Christians” because they simply go to church. As John Wimber famously discussed, how many churches are “Doing the Stuff”? My experience has led me to be involved with many, many, many churches, across this nation as well as across the world. It is all too often the rule (instead of the exception) that churches are mere platitudes for the average person, and are not really involved in the reality of what Scripture intended Church to be. Hebrews 10:24-25 admonishes us to provoke each other to love and good works. 1 Timothy 3:15 tells us of a “Church of the Living God”. Far, far, far too many churches have no living God, but rather the dead pages of a “weekly circular” that sums up the week’s lesson into a blurb, right below the announcements for the VBS schedule.

    Show me a church that pushes one another into digging into the marrow of God’s Word, and seeks Jesus like the life giver we know Him to be, and I will fully support the concept of regular church attendance. However, going to a building simply to say hello to your friends and neighbors, sing a song or two, and hope the sermon makes you feel good about yourself… that is a waste of time, in my humble opinion; and unfortunately, those are the churches that are on every street corner of every town across this nation. Are there wonderful bodies of believers out there who gather in His name (a la Matthew 18:20)? Absolutely. They, however, are the exception, and not the rule.
    To address your third point, I think you miss the mark and it doesn’t apply to your argument. You talk about David, the Prodigal Son, and others who have “fallen away” and how they return to grace after a time. You make a false comparison. A “miraculous return to grace” does not equate returning to a church. It means returning to the grace of God, and a rebuilding of relationship with Him. In each of the examples you give, the church is a minor point, if a point at all. It is about the choice of the individual to seek out the Lord and reunite with Him.

    All that being said, I wholeheartedly agree that Scripture admonishes us to gather together with other believers and build each other into a greater relationship with Him. My issue is not with the concept of fellowship, but rather the institutionalization of the church as a whole. People have become too comfortable with what church is, and see it as another “must do” on their list. Church (in general) is no longer a place where people go to seek a significant relationship with God anymore. I also think the problem is too rampant to be fixed from the inside. I think if we, as believers in this country, want to revolutionize the Church, then we need to break down the existing concepts and base them on the foundation of what Scripture really tells us.

    -Just another sinner.

    • Reply jared Feb 16,2016 9:41 pm

      Hi, A.S.

      I’ve had to read through your comment a few times. Some great stuff and just needed to process it all.

      First off, I’m sad that you haven’t found yourself able to attend a regular church in such a long time. I do hope that you have found a group of believers to fellowship with on a regular basis. It’s my belief that that is crucial to our growth and maturing in Christ, since iron sharpens iron. We all have something to contribute to each other’s growth. Just as sharing opinions in a forum like this help us gain understanding.

      Even though the church may be a problem, as you state, statistically flipped, I think it still warrants our efforts in making it better and not giving up on it. I believe we can’t allow the problems with the institution cause us to throw up our hands in defeat, so to speak. And we can help make that change. We can be the Church the Word describes, instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

      Let me touch a little on point 2 for a bit. What I was getting at are some things I’ve read that question the Bible’s teachings, especially on moral and social issues of our day, when (in my mind), there is a certain amount of clarity in the Word. There is also an implication, as I mentioned, that if you don’t change your views and theology to match those who are “more progressive” than you that somehow makes you a “hater” or “bigot” or (fill in the blank here). I’ve read articles that state something along the lines, “well we’re not ALL bigots…”. Which seems to imply that Christians are bigots except for the certain enlightened few.

      I can see where we differ on point 3, and that’s okay. Again I’ve read things that seem to glorify the process of leaving (in the case of the Prodigal son), and I think that can be applied to this “leaving the church to find (x)” kind of mentality. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have questions and wrestle with the tough things of life. David certainly did throughout the Psalms. But the gloried parts of his and others’ stories is in the return to faith. The return to the Church, if you will. Maybe we’re getting hung up on terminology, and that’s okay. I know that the Church is not equal to faith in Christ, and I don’t mean to imply that in what I’m saying.

      I hope that clarifies things a little bit. I do appreciate your thoughts, because I believe the more we can see things from different perspectives it helps us to grow.

  4. Reply Christin Feb 16,2016 6:33 pm

    After reading this several times, I am still a bit confused. It seems as though you are advocating for people to remain in places where they are deeply hurt, to not question the status-quo, and denying the history of the church which began as gatherings in people’s homes with no real structure.

    • Reply jared Feb 16,2016 9:29 pm

      Hi Christin!

      I wouldn’t want someone to stay in a place of deep hurt. Each experience obviously needs to be handled on a case by case basis. There are certain types of hurts (abuse, etc.) that are certainly inexcusable.

      Often times I’ve seen hurts that are caused by someone being offended by what the pastor said, or how a situation in the church was handled. Or differences on a host of topics/doctrines. Or just people being hurt by other broken people. Not serious hurts, but hurts nonetheless.

      The point I was striving to make is that many of those hurts can be worked through with God’s grace. And to not just give up on the Church because of a bad experience.

      I’ve been through some hurts myself, and it really stinks. But I’m proof that we can get through them.

      I do understand questioning the status quo, and I think that’s an important thing to do. We shouldn’t just do things because that’s the way we’ve always done them.

      I realize that the early church looked much different than it does today. Again, I think we do the best we can, with our imperfections.

      But let’s not give up. That’s my main point.

      • Reply Christin Feb 16,2016 11:09 pm

        If your main point is to not give up on the body of believers – the body of Christ, then I missed your point. I came away with – don’t give up on going to an organized church service. Which is harmful and not Biblical.

        • Reply jared Feb 17,2016 4:22 am

          Not sure how it’s not Biblical. Hebrews 10:25 encourages us to not give up meeting together which is almost always synonymous with church these days. At least in Western culture.

          By no means should anyone stay in a harmful situation.

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