To My Churchgoing Friends

You know – or at the very least know of – Jesus Christ.  This blog therefore presents you with a choice: Him or intermediaries.  That is, will you serve Jesus Christ who, because He is God, is everywhere at all times – or will you serve those institutions, groups, and individuals who claim that you must serve Jesus through them?  You cannot serve two masters.  The reason that your Christian life has frustrated and disappointed you is that you have been trying to serve both.

I myself was once an avid churchgoer.  In fact, I was a pastor.  My goal was to see my church serve God.  Toward that end I studied the Bible endlessly, seeking to follow its instruction regarding church life.  I struggled with the fact that the things required to sustain a church today (e.g. donations,  incorporation, tax-exempt status, or building permits) were not commanded in the New Testament.  Therefore, I saw a diversion of energy from serving Jesus to serving the church.  It didn’t even help to  eschew institutionalism because house churches also siphon away energy and distract from true service to the Lord (which is simply a life lived in generosity witnessed by the Lord).  The obvious model to follow was the church of the New Testament, but in all my years of ministry I could never find a church which successfully imitated it.

My experience coincided with what my study of the Bible was revealing to me: the church of the New Testament was scaffolding for the coming kingdom of God.  What Jesus taught us to pursue was not the church, but rather the kingdom.  Therefore, the reason that the church since then has failed over and over again must be that the kingdom had come on the timetable that Jesus and His apostles had proclaimed (“in that generation” according to them).  People have been saying for years that “if the Lord tarries” – well, apparently He hadn’t tarried after all!  (For elaboration, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)

Thus today we have a church of the flesh (i.e. visible) and a church of the spirit (i.e. invisible).  The former is what people try to build for God – like Peter trying to build those tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on the mountain; the latter is comprised of all those whose hearts belong to Jesus…and only He knows who they truly are.  They are the body of Christ, and they do His will daily wherever they find themselves in this world.  They are connected directly to Him – not attending meetings according to the schedules of human shepherds.

There are really only two useful things that a church of the flesh does today: preach the gospel of Jesus and serve the poor.  You don’t have to join a group of people, though, to do those two things.  Therefore, the question is “Why are you attending church?”  If it is to seek the kingdom of God, are you finding it there?  Or are you merely finding the kingdom of church?

Therefore, your choice is: will you seek first the kingdom of God or will you seek the kingdoms of men?

I don’t expect you to accept my assertions without thinking, praying, and examining the Scriptures.  On the other hand, please don’t reject my assertions without doing the same things.  The most time-effective way for you to understand what I am saying about Jesus Christ is to read the Introduction which contains an overview with summary, and links to details.

If you don’t read anything else, however, know this: Jesus Christ is indeed the way, the truth, and the life.  However great you have thought He was, He is greater.

See also these related posts:

[For those of you who want encouragement along these lines as well as those of you who demand more biblical explanation of these truths, refer to the companion blog A Bible Reader’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom, including the post Yes, I Am a Recovering Christian Leader.]

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11 Responses to To My Churchgoing Friends

  1. Eddie Fearon says:

    Hi Mike

    I came accross your blog via a comment you left on my blog. I find your perspective on church and kingdom interesting, abd Im after a point of clarification. Placing the language and typical contemporary practice of church aside, are you saying that we have no need to gather together as followers of Jesus?

    Eddie

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Eddie,

      We gather to Him – not to each other. This is “the day of the Lord” of which the prophets and apostles spoke (e.g. Is 2:11,17; Phil 1:6,10). Note 1 Pet 5:1-4 where Peter speaks of the appearing of the glory of the Lord as the time when earthly shepherds should give way to the Heavenly Shepherd. That time came, and since then His Divinity has been realized.

      We who believe in Him are to love everyone without attempting to discriminate between those who believe and those who don’t (yet).

      His kingdom shall endure forever, and of its increase there shall be no end. Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – Lord of everyone!

      If you have other questions, Eddie, that I have not answered, please let me know.

  2. Eddie Fearon says:

    Thanks for the reply Mike

    So essentially, your belief that all biblical prophecy has now been fulfilled (I read a few more of your posts) means that much of the NT teachings no longer apply to us because some of them (such as the command to gather) were directed at the time before the kingdom had come. How does the resurrection fit in with your perspective when Paul teaches that death is the final enemy which will be defeated (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15. esp. vv20-26)?

    Eddie

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Eddie, I’m not sure of all that you have in mind when you talk about “much of NT teaching no longer applying.” The only command to attend church (if you can even call it that) in the NT of which I am aware is Hebrews 10:25. Of course, it says to do so “as you see the day drawing near.” Thus, it was for the purpose of preparing for the day of the Lord. Well, if that day is come, then the need for that exhortation is past. Moreover, it says “not to forsake the assembling of yourselves together” and Christians today do not assemble together at all – they assemble separately, there being over 30,000 denominations not even counting nondenominational churches. If this was still the day of the church, you know Paul would never stand for this (1 Cor 1:10-13). If you can be more specific about any other aspect of NT teaching, I’d be glad to try to answer. Of course, appointment of elders is passe – I should have mentioned that. In summary, I can say that generally speaking discarding churchgoing brings much more NT teaching into play rather than diminishing it. For example, the Sermon on the Mount becomes a code of conduct for every individual whereas I know hardly any churches that attempt to live by it.

      As for the resurrection, it occurred at the Christ’s Second Coming (i.e. the coming of the kingdom of God, the coming of the day of the Lord). If this has not yet happened, everyone is still going to Sheol (Hades) when they die and no one but Jesus has gone to heaven. I cover all this in The Biblical Case for Everyone Is Going to Heaven and Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?

  3. Adrian says:

    Mike, im curious to know why it is you beleive in the Bible. Why do you beleive it to be true? Why the bible and not any other religious text?

    I have only just come across your blog and have not read all your posts so please forgive it if this has been addressed already

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Adrian,

      You can start at Why the Bible Can Be Trusted. I’ll be happy to answer any specific follow-up questions as well.

      I will also say that I have never been attracted to religion. Rather, it is truth that interests me. Thus I have been attracted to Jesus Christ and the Bible because I find truth in them – not because I think the Bible offers a better religion than others.

  4. Darryl says:

    Hi Mike,
    I find it difficult to be available and beneficial to others, in an ongoing and relevant way, without having an established relationship with them. Personally interacting with them consistently in a dedicated setting seems to be the best way to do that. I also believe a dedicated venue is the best way to model behavior for a group of new believers. Can you agree?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Darryl, it sounds like you are making an argument for churchgoing. Not only do I believe that attending a church is unnecessary for spiritual growth, I believe it is distracting and counterproductive.

      I live life. I have a wife, children, grandchildren. I have co-workers, neighbors, friends. In other words, I have an abundance of relationships in which I can practice the presence, love, and righteousness of Christ. If I were to separate myself from these relationships and form new relationships with professing believers in order to teach or learn Christlike behavior, then I would be like the priest or Levite who scurried past the wounded man on the road to Jericho so they could get to spend time with other priests and Levites (Luke 10:29-37).

  5. Pingback: The Futility of Hearing the Word of God, and Even Meditating on It, Without Doing It | A Nonchurchgoer's Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom

  6. Nsidibe-Abasi says:

    Brother you posses Kingdom language this is the truth of the word(son) in a man, are you a kingdom age minister? Already I know you are in the Ministry and Its in you.

  7. Mike Gantt says:

    I am a just a person who has read the Bible, tried to do what it says, and is sharing with others what he has learned in the process.

Comments are closed.