Why I Hate Going To Church

Why I Hate Going To Church October 13, 2018
Image: Kenn Stilger, Heavnly Photos

It would be very easy to post a very long list of reasons why I hate going to church, but the main reason is that “going to Church” is a sad excuse for “being the Church” and those who follow Christ are called to be the Church, not to attend one.

In other words, “going to Church” involves having a meeting about Jesus. Whereas “being the Church” involves meeting with Jesus and allowing Him to do the speaking, the teaching, the leading and the directing. 

Going to Church is about assigning people specific functions, and often involves compensating them financially to do so, while the majority of people sit and observe them.

Being the Church involves every single person using the gifts that God has provided them with to serve one another, where no one person is considered greater or smarter or more spiritual than anyone else. In fact, we’re all equally miserable apart from Christ, so our desire to meet with Him and to hear from Him is magnified because we understand that without Him leading us, and teaching us, and speaking to us, we are completely hopeless.

 

Jesus did not die for an organization or a business model. Jesus died for a people (ekklesia) that He could call His own. He wants relationship. He wants love. He wants to be known.

Most of us can relate to that.

God made us with the ability to know Him, and even placed a craving within us to seek Him out.

He is not far away. He wants us to find Him.

This is exactly what the New Covenant was all about – “I will be their God and they will be my people.” [Hebrews 8:10]

What people need most today is not religion. They do not need another Church. They need connection. They need to meet the God who would rather die than live without them.

Forget going to Church. Go to Jesus. Be the Church. Embrace your identity as the Bride that Jesus died to redeem.

Learn to hear His voice. He wants to speak to you. He wants you to experience the kind of life you could only dream about. That life is found only through knowing Jesus.

**

Keith Giles is a former pastor who left the pulpit 11 years ago to start a church that gives away 100% of the offering to the poor in their community. 

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho.

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Herm

    “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    John 4:21-24 (NIV2011)

    How many worship the Father on this mountain, or that Jerusalem, or in that building who worship what they do not know?

    We need fellowship no less than I needed family, large family, picnics/get togethers, with friends invited, when I was growing up as a child. We learned from one another, it was different every time, and there was no set tradition of order at any time. Each time, all who could, brought food and games as they saw fit, pot luck. It was family time together at play/re-creation.

    This is my day of play/rest with my family in God with no set tradition of order. We all go with each other in the moment while learning reciprocally from each other, including our Father.

    Keith, you mentioned ekklesia (a Greek word defined as “a called-out assembly or congregation”). Too many think their pastor’s flock is what they were called out to, because their pastor leads a congregation of Jesus’ church that they can understand as Christ-ianity. Which of the many scattered and differing theologies, dogmas, creeds, rituals and sacraments of Christianity are of the one flock who follows the Shepherd’s voice? Can’t those of the flock in the reigning high priest forever, and the reigning high priest in them, worship in the Spirit and in truth, only, more assuredly than those who do not personally, spirit on Spirit, know what they worship without an intellectual study of God led by competing modern day Pharisees, Sadducee and teachers of the law (whose influence we were called out of by the Messiah in the first place of Jesus’ ministry)?

    I never actually studied my carnal mother and father until I attended college social science classes. I just related to and with them, dependent on their love, provisioning and protection until I could speak as an adult. Today, I just relate to and with my family in God dependent on their love, provisioning and protection with no ability to comprehend when I might mature to become a responsible adult in the Spirit.

    This is why I hate going to church, even though I deeply miss the fellowship: I grew up in, and was called out of, many churches of differing “beliefs” as one who cared more for the truth, good or bad, than earning the respect and flattery of my family, perceived authorities, and peers within each. As I was moving through each flock/fellowship/congregation I learned the diplomacy, displayed by Jesus in the Gospels, necessary to leave each with both me and they growing, thanks to our reciprocal sharing bound in love. Today, I don’t feel that I can honestly attend a congregation, taught to seek that I join their flock, without shaking someone’s faith that may not be anymore mature than when I was in their place, on their journey, from which I grew to know what I do today. I’m too old to play the game that I no longer can place my faith in. Today, I know my Father, Jesus, and many, many diverse fellow children of God within whom I can relate to without the fear of shaking their faith because their’s is a relationship of knowing, not a faith, what they worship and what they place all their love in.

    I am open to meet with any congregation who knows what I testify to that is my flock, led, in person, by who I can honestly testify is my one Shepherd. They would have to know that I am not ever competing to take any from their congregation into mine. I love them all, just the way they are. I’m not too fond of the traditions that are destructive to each, within their flock, seeing to accept the Spirit of truth living with and in them forever. There is only one unity in Jesus’ church possible and that is living eternally, growing in the kingdom of God today, with and in the Holy Spirit (the one appearing as a dove to join Jesus and lead him into the wilderness). We can only love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strengths, all minds of spirit when we know him as in us and we in him by the Spirit of truth. I hope that one day, before my flesh dies, I can fellowship openly and in love with congregations who seek what I testify to. I have all faith that the Spirit will lead all receptive to one another as each is in need and each can serve.

    The kingdom is here, Christ is here, eternal life begins now!

    Love you! Thanks!

  • Iain Lovejoy

    On the other hand, people can’t be the church unless they all meet together at the same time, have somewhere in which to do so and organise what they do when they get there…

  • Herm

    You are right, not carnally is it possible to be a church or one single organized spiritual gathering. God is spirit. The image of God, in the beginning gifted mankind, is spirit. In Jesus’, the Father’s and within each child of God’s, born in the Spirit, own heart and mind of spirit, united in all love in the Spirit and in truth, it is one church bound in all love meeting this moment. The high priest forever, Jesus, with all authority in heaven and on earth for all living with, in and of God, administrates his singularly unified church perfectly well. The living Messiah does so today, without the scattered pulpits, pews, steeples, alters and intellectual conjecture found within all carnal churches, of all religious persuasions on earth, for his entire congregation as one.

    There is no hand, especially the other hand, with which I live because I love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, with all my mind (that is the entire body of spirit, that is me, that I am responsible to) and, like that, I love my merciful neighbor, and all others, by, in everything, doing to them first as I would have them do to me. I carry my cross in love for all others, as my Father wills of all his children of spirit and flesh on this earth by his love of mankind and the world.

    Iain, by your reply, I know this sounds like heresy and/or insanity. I was one of those leading out to organize “what they do when they get there“. It was not until I was 50 did I come out of Pharisaical organized religion and into the reality of of worship in the Spirit and truth. During the period of my church ordained authority, before accepting the Spirit of truth to live with and in me forever, I successfully invited the Holy Spirit to take the lead to counsel and inspire what we did when our flock met together in our sectarian church touting the name of Christ. I did so because, according to what I studied in the Christian Bible, as well as, religious material from all around the world, I thought it was worth a try to cover my inability to know the whole truth necessary in each moment for each in fellowship whom I loved enough to do my insufficient but very best for them. In the flesh I am a surviving senior adult, 74 years old, with a caring maturity that alone inspires me to do my responsible best to constructively help all of my species, mankind, to survive infinitely, as if it were possible, beyond the terminal awareness and influence of my flesh on this earth.

    Living with and in the Spirit, today, I know all the truth I can bear in this moment necessary to inspire me to teach others to, also, become little children of God born of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit accepted my invitations, as the lead organizer, to influence our congregation toward the truth I could not convey, he remained only as long as the invitation remained opened in my heart and mind of spirit (which I didn’t recognize then to separate as spirit from the functions of my carnal heart and brain). Today, the Holy Spirit (the Advocate of God, the Spirit of truth, the one appearing as a dove) actually lives with and in me (heart, soul, strength, mind of spirit) promised forever (never leaving me orphaned) without pause. My prayers are continual with no time to be rehearsed and no need to ever be written down.

    The church, that I am eternally one of the flock, is led by the only one Shepherd whose voice I follow. The Shepherd, also filled (baptized) with the one appearing as a dove, is in me and I am in him, and so it is with our Father. We meet together always, “at the same time“, only in the Spirit and in truth to worship [John 4:21-24] the God we know and are bound as one by all love. We are there now, in the kingdom of heaven while on earth!

    Please, invite the Holy Spirit, available to you right this moment, to lead you into all truth as you can bear. Open your responsible heart and mind of spirit to him, the one Teacher Jesus’ spoke of for all students (disciples) of the one Instructor, the Messiah. Don’t trust me for I am only a little child. I have been graciously given the authority to invite you to sit down at my Father’s table, today, where we all dine on the food that endures to eternal life. You are welcomed. You are loved!

  • Markus R

    I guess that I am doubly blessed. I attend a church and meet Jesus there. I go to worship God and be fed with the means of grace, receiving the preached word and the sacraments. There is something amazing in the realization that in worship I am climbing Mt Zion with the saints on earth and joining with the saints in heaven to worship God.

    We do have a paid pastor and are glad to share our financial blessings with him as we are blessed by his study and preaching. Our small size means that we must depend upon God to meet our needs each month. At times we barely get by by God has been faithful over the years. Our pastor and elders are committed to the preaching of Christ crucified. Of our two services on Sunday, the second service is dedicated to Catechismal preaching from the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons is Dort.

    The men and women have additional meetings during the week for study and for prayer. And we also have times for other fellowship.

    May God be glorified!

  • Louis Mendizabal

    church is not even a biblical scripture…

  • Herm

    Can you explain what you mean?

  • Obscurely

    Brother Keith — your beautifully prophetic Voice (in the Wilderness) has reached my ears and made me wonder if the Christian fellowship (social club?) that pays me to be their priest and pastor isn’t a legitimate expression of ekklesia also? no, we don’t ask much of our disciples beyond paying the churches expenses (mostly building/maintenance and my salary/pension) but YES it’s something people seem to think is important to carry on with and who worry there eventually won’t be enough people left to transmit it to?

  • Obscurely

    Brother Keith — is the sharp emphasis in this post on a direct and immediate relationship with Jesus (cutting out the institutional middlemen of the Church) one of the hallmarks of an evangelical faith? or are you trying to steer clear of ALL old ecclesial paradigms?

  • Obscurely

    Brother, your post has blessed me by reminding this pastor how important the teaching office is to the ministry of the institutional church to the disciples of the Risen One — it’s something I think Brother Keith has neglected to consider in his (evangelical?) screed against the blessings of a holy institution dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel in all its power to change the world through US his disciples training our minds and spirits in a regular orderly fashion with the milk and meat of the Word and Sacraments?

  • Markus R

    The ordinary means of grace are so often not understood or appreciated. It seems that we don’t trust God’s plans as to how he grows his saints. The preached word and sacraments administered are his chosen means. It is tempting to think that we can do better.

  • Louis Mendizabal

    The word church appears 115 times in the kjv 112 is a bad translation and worse it was inserted by the king himself on his own bible.. Look it up.. The scriptutes never mention a building … Tyndale called it congregation, and we assemble ourselves meaning we meet up as a community and proclaim His Truth … The text is clear the Spirits language is ekklesia meaning call out not what was grossly translated in the english language, and later manipulatedulated by the reformed church as well following the pappis Catholics….

  • Nimblewill

    My biggest issue these days seems to be that God started a church that requires money to operate. I’m not sure whether or not my issue is with the model or money?

  • d_hochberg

    In the real world you must have money to operate-the building isn’t free, the utilities aren’t free, the salaries (because the workers live in the real world ) aren’t free, etc. The Bible gives some strong instruction about money, but it does not say we ought not to use it.

  • Nimblewill

    I would argue that the Church has little to do with where and how Christians meet. Jesus said that the Kingdom was in our midst and didn’t come with things we could see.