Have you ever wondered why so many Holy Spirit filled Body of Christ members no longer assemble in the institutional church? Now, by “institutional church” this blogger means: An all-embracing man-made organization that consists of a variety of mainstream denominational groups whose names are found on “church” marquees—signs that are on or near conventional “church” buildings. For example, some of the thousands of familiar denominational groups whose names identify not only a “religious” system but also each group of believers who congregates in traditional “church” buildings are: Missionary Baptist, Pentecostal, Full Gospel, Apostolic, Assembly of God, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Catholic, Church of God in Christ, and so forth.
Furthermore, the organized “institutional church” has countless denominational believers who mostly follow a top-down hierarchical leadership structure in which each individual church’s members usually are divided into two groups: clergy or laity, pastor or people, shepherd or sheep, and/or preacher or saints, etcetera. Additionally, typically the pastors or priests in the “institutional church” usually preside over their own church’s worship services, which largely are weekly or bi-weekly worship services that follow “the order” presented on printed programs. Lastly, each individual church that makes up the “institutional church” primarily ONLY supports its own members and its own community!
From all of the above descriptions of the “institutional church,” it should be clear why so many Holy Spirit filled Body of Christ members are returning back to meeting places that either are “without walls” or “home groups.” The main reason is because the above descriptions of the “institutional church” do not fit the descriptions of the first century New Testament “house of God,” which by the way wasn’t biblically called a “church.”
Indeed, the New Testament’s “house of God” is NEVER described as a physical structure, even though the Scriptures teach that Jesus the Christ is the cornerstone or the foundation upon which He “builds” His ekklesia, and even though the Scriptures teach it is Jesus the Christ who daily adds to His ekklesia those believers who are born again and saved. Notice here that the word ekklesia is used as another name for “house of God.”
Biblically speaking, Jesus the Christ’s New Testament “house of God” is really the “called out ones” (the assembly or congregation … ekklesia) of the living God, which means these believers are members of the family of God, the household of Faith. Therefore, from the ekklesia’s inception, God intended for this ekklesia to be built with spiritual matter that has Jesus the Christ as the sure foundation, the chief cornerstone.
What’s more, this ekklesia was a SINGLE congregation of born again, saved, justified, and full of the Holy Spirit believers who assembled at multiple locations, but primarily those meeting places were “without walls” (out-of-doors) or in houses. Additionally, these early believers were treated as equal Body of Christ members who were governed by One Head—Jesus the Christ—rather than by a top-down hierarchy, and these early Body of Christ members were allowed to participate according to their individual spiritual gifting(s). Then too, these early believers met daily, not weekly or bi-weekly, and their worship services and/or fellowship meetings were open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and leading rather than to some man-made program (prearranged worship order).
In contrast to the Lord’s ekklesia, which once again is NOT a physical structure but a spiritual body of believers that originally consisted of ONLY born again, saved, justified, and full of the Holy Spirit members who daily met and fellowshipped in various outside locations or in many different homes, the contemporary “institutional church” has splintered denominations, sects, and cults, which also congregate at countless locations. Contrary to the first-century ekklesia, the “institutional church” also usually has believers meeting weekly or bi-weekly and fellowshipping right along with non-believers!
How did these differences happen? Probably because over time most of the top-down hierarchies (pastors or priests) in the “institutional church” have changed God’s commands of “Go” and “Make” to their commands of “Come” and “See!” Therefore, before today’s “institutional church” can be in “spiritual order,” it first must unite as ONE glorious ekklesia that has the same spiritual matter in every “living stone” (every Body of Christ member) that is in God—Unity, Love, Holiness, Righteousness, Truth, Faith, Peace, Grace, Mercy, Joy, Kindness, and so forth!
In its current condition, there can be no doubt that the twenty-first century INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH has strayed away from God’s original intent for the entire Body of Christ. That intent was for all believers to be ONE as He is ONE. Instead, as a whole, the twenty-first century INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH members are no longer operating as ONE united Body of Believers. The sad truth is that the INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH, as a whole, is separated by worldwide denominational and universal theological partitions, which are nothing more than humans’ discriminatory practices of dogmatism, holier-than-thouism, sexism, ageism, partisanism, and even racism. As a result, Jesus the Christ’s initial “WAY” has become a semblance of God’s Divine Truth about Salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven messages that splintered groups (men, women, children; evangelicals, charismatics, fundamentalists; Baptists, Pentecostals, Church of God in Christ, Methodists, Lutherans; etcetera) are now presenting as THE TRUTH.
That many of today’s Christians either proudly flaunt or secretly hide their mixture of prejudices that they have against their fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus the Christ, that the known and/or experienced prejudices have caused the ‘“institutional church’s” Sunday morning worship hour to be the most segregated time of the week, and that many of today’s Christian believers also have perpetuated the biases inherent in partisanism, the innate selfishness of egoism, as well as the egregious “marketplace” and “den of thieves” corruptions in the brick-and-mortar “houses of God” should speak volumes to sold out for Jesus the Christ believers about the current serious problems that are in the “institutional church.” These unspeakable prejudices of so-called believers have gone unchecked for far too long, and this last fact also should bother sold out for Jesus the Christ believers, because these believers know that denominational biases, as well as every other “house of God” corruption, always will be unacceptable to God.
Furthermore, the more important issue is that EVERY one of these aforementioned reprehensible prejudices also has a negative effect on innocent people. Indeed, unchristian-like behaviors are preventing saved and unsaved God worshippers from wanting to come to the modern-day versions of the “house of God.” Therefore, if this world’s believers (no matter if they are white, black, or other) want to be members of the genuine Body of Christ, then they must come to the realization that the following bigoted behaviors no longer should have a foothold in ANY part of their lives: racism, ageism, sexism, and partisanism, also neither the attitude of superiority nor the propensity to identify themselves by an assortment of denominational and theological monikers that essentially indicate that their belief systems are divisions of the ONE true Body of Christ. Otherwise, this world’s congregations that are meeting in the “institutional church” setting will remain segregated under the false pretense of being divided by FAITH.
In the below YouTube Video, Pastor Donnie McClurkin sings about believers being divided by faith, when they are meant to be one united spiritually mature Body of Christ. Listen to Pastor McClurkin’s song, “We All Are One.”
Moreover, the major scriptural verses on the unity and maturity of the Body of Christ are Ephesians 4:4-6. The Apostle Paul writes:
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. ~ MSG
For sure, these and other Scriptures teach that there is but ONE Faith, and ONE, Christian brothers and sisters, is indivisible! Thus, for the “institutional church” to remain in the current denominationally segregated state it is in would mean that believers will continue to sway the astronomical number of worldwide unbelievers against wanting to know the ONE, TRUE, and LIVING GOD. However, once the believers who are in the “institutional church” really trust in and rely on Jesus the Christ for their regeneration, justification, and total salvation, then they will become TRUE children in God’s household of Faith (children in ONE family practicing ONE Faith). Now, for this ONENESS to happen, there first must be a dismantling of those aforementioned denominational prejudices that function as individual dividing walls, which Gentiles have resurrected after Jesus the Christ, nearly 2,000 years ago, broke down the most serious of dividing walls—the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Ephesians 2:14-16).
For this last reason, it is important that no believer in Jesus the Christ ever forgets that in Christ there is no separatism, or any other –isms, for that matter. Therefore, God’s children, especially His children to whom much has been given, must help to repair the breaches of denominational schisms, no matter if those divisions are because of dogmatism, holier-than-thouism, sexism, ageism, racism, and so forth.
More important, the very place where God’s children must start repairing those aforementioned breaches in the first century’s Way is within the “institutional church,” because, although many born again, saved, justified, and Holy Spirit filled believers have been leaving the “institutional church,” there still are many genuine Body of Christ members who continue to attend various local churches that are a part of the “institutional church.”
The bottom line, then, is the time for the Savior’s return is nearer than ever before. Thus, if these denominational schisms do not get repaired soon, so that there truly is but ONE WAY, ONE TRUTH, and ONE LIFE, then too many who call themselves believers will be caught unprepared and therefore too spiritually immature to go up to Heaven with the Bridegroom!
Also read my blog entries: The Spiritual Disorder In Today’s CHURCH and Church Is the Globally Recognized Spiritual Body of Christ