As I have already pointed out previously, there is famine of genuine fellowship today. One of the main reasons for this is because most professing Christians either start out in a cult disguised as a church or choose to join one and follow the wacky unbiblical teachings of control-based leaders instead of simply trusting and obeying what the Bible teaches. In their frustration and reeling back from the inevitable effects of a myriad of abuses (spiritual, emotional, relational and financial), many Christians bounce from cult to cult in search of the perfect cult (well, a church that is, as far as they think).
While some of these cults actually do preach the Gospel, others preach a watered down or twisted version of the Gospel which is no Gospel at all.
But even preaching the real Gospel and leading someone to the Lord is not a license to then enslave that person to the teachings and traditions of men. Such, in a sense, is only leading someone half way to the Lord – to Jesus eternally and to themselves temporally.
This is a devastating practice and this is exactly what a control-based church does. Being worldly and of the world, and for the most part not the least bit spiritually minded, their leaders are happy to leave the eternal matters of their members to Christ. This is because such far off distant things do not, in their estimation, directly affect them or their agendas. But these same authoritarians are more than ravenous when it comes to taking over the temporal matters of their members’ lives and rewriting the doctrines of Christian living. By typically “leaving” eternal matters to God, they appear wise and safe to the unwary and they seem to have earned the right to not leave all matters to God’s discretion.
And so they get in and mess with believers’ freedoms in Christ by distorting the Biblical principles of how Christians should live, and they inevitably take over their lives. They do so in such a way where they conveniently become the direct unabashed unashamed beneficiaries of their own self-serving teachings. Unlike the genuine Apostles and teachers in Bible times who constantly suffered persecution and loss, these ungodly church leaders gain undue notoriety, prestige, power, money and popularity. Such “benefits” are not available to those who do not promote self but instead truly exalt Jesus and exalt His written Word. Such “benefits” are not available to those who lead people to the truth of the Bible and who do not draw men away to themselves.
Christianity is a dying to self, not an exaltation of self and those who teach the truth are typically persecuted not popularized.
Another one of the reasons for the famine of fellowship today is because even those Christians who do finally get free of one control-based church almost invariably go and put themselves under the control of a different one. This is because they haven’t left the manmade system of control-based church leadership itself. They haven’t dealt with the root of the problem. They haven’t gone back to the Bible to see what a real church should look like and be like, and how real loving pastors and elders act (selflessly not selfishly). And so they are not remotely aware of the warning signs of a cult and therefore they are succulent prey, plump ready-to-eat sitting ducks lined up for the next predator to devour.
It’s not that these dear souls aren't trying to do better. They are just going about it in all the wrong ways. These Christians are up on the tree trying to prune the unwanted branches of petty offences (of course petty only in comparison to the much larger underlying problem at hand). They come to a boiling point over these offenses and leave one church with too many things that bother them only to join another that seems to have less problems, only to find out that church has worse problems in the same and/or other areas. So they leave again in search of another church and start the whole cyclic process all over. It’s a circus of confusion. And who is the author of confusion? I’ll give you a hint. Not God!
And so it is no great mystery why virtually none of these Christians want to meet with us in the simple way that the Bible teaches. They are far too busy being abused. And judging from their continual choices, it would certainly seem that they like it that way. Actually it’s probably also a matter of many of them being deceived into thinking that this is what God actually wants and so they must submit to it. That idea is just the byproduct of the trickery of manmade teachings.
So it’s no wonder there are so many Christians today who have been beaten down and ground to a pulp. They exit one meat grinder and immediately enter a different hopper to be processed by another. And they go willingly! They don’t stop and even take a moment to go to the Bible to take stock of their situation. The devil must be laughing hysterically. Since the beginning in the garden he has always distracted from God’s Word by twisting what God has said. Nothing has changed.
What’s the Solution?
So what do we do? What’s the solution? Let us keep trying to help those who we can help with the truth of God’s Word but let us not forget to get out there and start preaching the Gospel and make new converts. This is what we are supposed to be doing anyway. This is what we all should have been doing all along. And, it is far easier to lovingly disciple a new believer and help write God’s Word on a clean blank slate compared to trying to deprogram a cult member first. As is obvious from my website, I am all for trying but few of these people want to be helped. And, confused stubborn (former) church members have all kinds of unbiblical expectations and this makes fellowshipping with them very difficult if not impossible.
- Paul Howey