Why I Left the Church System

This is a series of articles that reveal situations I experienced in the institutional church that ultimately led to my departure.  

To help you understand what I’m talking about, I will define the term institutional church? This is a corporation, usually tax-exempt, formed for religious purposes. It has a board, a constitution and by-laws, and operates by a top-down leadership structure. There is nothing in the Bible that promotes this, and it is not how Jesus builds His people into the Body of Christ, this is how most ministries operate.

Does this apply to non-denominational churches, too? Absolutely. For nearly four decades, I was primarily involved with churches that consider themselves outside the denominational system. Yet I discovered they are very much like the system they profess not to be. So this is for you as well.

Once the Holy Spirit showed me the truth of what I promoted and took part in all those decades, I repented and I left the system. I am done with church, but not Jesus or the gathering of His people together. That decision began an adventure that has enhanced my relationship with the Lord and put me on a path of liberation and learning. 

The Purpose

Why I Left the Church System aims:  (1) To validate and comfort those who are now disconnected from the system but still love and follow Jesus. (2) To strongly exhort those who are still part of the system that it is time for drastic change.  (3) To encourage believers who feel it is time to leave but are afraid to do it.

I’m not doing this to attack the people in the institutional church, but to expose the failures of the system. I will expose the darkness (Ephesians 5:11) and shine the light of truth (Psalm 119:105) where possible. Some will discover, like I did, they don’t have to stay in a system that is fatally flawed and outside the work Jesus is doing to build His people together. 

Dealing with darkness is a challenge for any believer. The apostle Paul tells us to put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:11-14). He amplifies this even more by exhorting us to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. We must wear Him and stop thinking about how to gratify the desires of our sinful human nature.

So much of the institutional church system is about appealing to our soul, our emotions. Often the goals are to entertain the people, make them feel good, give them a few Bible verses, and send them home. However, the leadership of Jesus, the true Head (Colossians 1:15-18) of the assembly of believers, is most often ignored. They trained us to believe He is a symbolic leader, and that He placed the local pastor to govern us and perform all the religious functions for Him. The spiritual gifts He has given to other members of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:16; Romans 12:3-8: 1 Corinthians 14:26) are irrelevant, because it’s all about the professional leader. Pastors often view the people as spectators, as an audience that needs to be appeased and coddled, so they will return, give money, and serve. This system leads to a celebration of the pastor’s gifts but not a full expression of Jesus Christ through all of His gathered people. 

It’s All About Control

Leadership in the institutional church system is based on control, leading from the top. The people are under him. He is in charge. He “seeks the Lord” and they follow his decisions. I can relate to this. When I was involved in leadership, there were times the “senior leader” acted like a dictator. I sometimes saw control strategies such as lies, manipulation and even fear, used to achieve the desired results. This is not the way the first “church” functioned. They passionately followed the leading of the Holy Spirit when they gathered. They walked in love with one another, had intimacy with Christ, and manifested the power of the Holy Spirit through all the parts of His Body. The world changed because of their deeds. How we need that kind of gathering today!

Come Back to His Way

As you examine why I left the church system, maybe you will recognize some of these situations in your “church,” too. There is a better way to assemble with other believers. The man-made system has become so disconnected from Jesus that it must return to His leadership. Then He will build His Body His way.

Articles: Why I Left the Church System

For now, these articles do not appear in any particular order. I share them as the Holy Spirit leads me.

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