The Anti-Church


This last weekend I was talking with folks concerning some of the issues I’ve raised in my posts on the Church and work when someone mentioned an issue that had come up in his former church, a good-sized, Midwest congregation.

It seems two families got hit particularly hard by downsizing, putting their incomes in such dire straits that they were threatened with the loss of their homes. When they approached the church for help, they were told nothing could be done. The kicker was the church was in the process of buying an $80,000 sound system. The kicker for those families was that they eventually did lose their homes.

Yet, nothing could be done.

Let me say this: When you love a 64-track digital mixing board more than your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are not the Church. When folks in the congregation spend more time debating whether or not they’ll sign up for the ten channel package of satellite HDTV rather than the twenty channels of programming when all the while your sister in Christ is going to lose her home, you are not the Church.

I am absolutely sick of hearing these kinds of stories. There is never any reason for them to exist. I don’t want to hear about our concern for the lost if we have no concern for them once they are no longer lost. The Church does not stop being the Church once a person gets baptized. We talk and talk and talk about community and love and all sorts of warm fuzzy concepts, but if I see my brother in need and do not do what I can to help, then I am no longer the Church, but a rugged individualist who believes that God helps those who help themselves and can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. If you can point to the chapter and verse that supports that kind of thinking, then I’ll recant, but you simply won’t because it is not the Gospel.

How many of you are sick and tired of playing “church”? Frankly, I’ve had it. Meanwhile, the thief who comes to steal and destroy robs one family after another, families who thought they were surrounded by love, but were in fact only surrounded by theories and nice ideas.

This is only going to get worse, folks. If you are like me, I would challenge the leadership of your church on these kinds of issues. And while we can think globally and worry about someone on the other side of the planet, if we can’t deliver on helping the people we meet together with every Sunday, how can we ever hope to make a difference to the world? We can’t let the Church become some glib, but pale, imitation of itself or else we have become the Anti-Church.

God forgive us for letting it get this far!

13 thoughts on “The Anti-Church

  1. while i agree with you in essence, i also wonder how many of those people who are in ‘dire circumstances’ like the folks losing their homes in this scenario are in actuality living well beyond their means anyway, and are in actuality as much a part of the problem as they are experiencing the problem themselves. Don’t get me wrong, i am not trying to downplay the pains of losing your home, but i am just saying that most folks that i know living in the midwest aren’t exactly living in homes that they necessarily need either…

    for whatever that’s worth.

  2. jimi,

    I know the area in question and if there’s a house there with more than three bedrooms and an outdoor kitchen, I’ve never seen it. We’re talking a mostly rural area where the houses average 50+ years old. There’s no “McMansions” if you know what I mean.

    Still, I’m not certain if all this makes a difference. A family that routinely made $100K a year is hurting just as much with no jobs as a family making $50K. And while the $100K family probably carries a higher mortgage, it doesn’t make much of a difference if their mortgage IS 50% higher. If they can’t pay it, they can’t pay it.

    Means is means. I’ve been there. We once made a nice income living in Silicon Valley where the rent on a simple two-bedroom apartment went for $2300 a month. Compared to rural Montana, we were loaded. But for the area, we definitely weren’t living like kings. Now you can argue we were living in an area that had too high a cost of living, but we were working the jobs we trained for. Not a whole lot of our kind of work in the hinterlands of Mississippi.

    Drawing alongside the hurting in our community is our role as believers. Now if the hurting owns four cars, sure we’ll counsel them to lose a couple, but if that only buys time, then we have to come up with other solutions.

  3. Anonymous

    I’m with the author on this one. I have no business being worried about the previous financial status of those losing their homes. Most of us have spent money on things we did not need….I struggle with the temptation to on a regular basis!!! The Church should be a place that can come together to help those in need. “Love one another as I have loved you” does mean something. Now, prayer may lead the community to doing something different than allow every family to keep their homes (perhaps it means helping them find another place to live). But saying, “Nothing can be done” and then buying an expensive sound system is like saying, “Cool sounds systems matter more than you having a place to live.” The reality is most of the “churches” out there have few authentic disciples and many supposedly “saved” folks. The Church, the real, invisible, universal church is still alive.

  4. Church was meant to be community. Community was to share with each other. Community was to have simplicity – at least with Jesus that was how it was designed.
    I also am in agreement with the author. Churches are also spending way beyond their means. I personally am on a search for church as Jesus meant it to be. There are bits a pieces of it all over.

  5. Anonymous

    We are to help yes…but helping is more than handing out the $$ ….get into thier lives and help them reconfigure how they spend….THAT is what an Acts 2 church is…

  6. Mike Oliver

    Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
    I can see that James doesn’t mention mortgages here but it looks to me like the principle is the same. Especially here in the richest country in the world.

  7. Annette

    I can appreciate this post. What did you decide to do? Did you leave church? I know of a family that went to the local church pastor for a counseling session on finances. They arrived for their appointment. The pastor asked them if they tithed. They replied they weren’t currently. The pastor announced that the counseling session was over and he couldn’t help them. I don’t think they even made it to his office. They were hurt and left church. The couple eventually were divorced. That pastor left alot of wrecked lives over a decade, but praise God his gone from here.

  8. Larry Vorpagel

    I have not been a blogger in the past but felt like God was leading me to look into it. This is the first blog that I happemed upon and I must say that it has peaked my interest. What I am about to say may be harsh but needs to be said. I believe that a vast majority of churched in this country and probably around the world deal no in Christianity but whitchcraft. What do I mean by that? Well I believe that whitchcraft is nothing more than control of one human being by another and that is what most churches try to do. They tell you waht to do, when to do it, how to do it, where to do it and on and on. Is it for the benifit of the Kingdom of God? In most cases NO!!!! It is for that churches benefit. I heard someone once call most churches personality cults meaning that the people were there more for the person that gave the sermon every sunday than for christ. I have alot to say about the church today and I hope to be back I see that this topic is fairly old but I hope that it keeps stirring people.

  9. Warren

    I too am amazed at how a church can spend huge amounts of money on things than mean nothing while there are homeless and hungry in their neighborhoods. I have written a book called Relipocrisy (Religious Hypocrisy) that deals with this and other issues done in the name of God.

    While people are spiritually and in some cases physically abused my the church, there are those who continue to donate their money to support these actions. Maybe they should read the Holy Bible instead of using it as a prop.

    Just my thoughts…….

    Warren Alford

  10. bikersage

    in one of the “lost” gospels that, of course, has been rejected by the church, jesus says “the church is a dry creek”…’s need money to exist… cannot be loyal to two masters…..this is why jesus instructed his boys to not take a purse and to except no money…..and why he told the rich nobleman he could not join the group… would be to tempting to fall back on economic support if it were available and that would undermine and weaken the ministry……as the buddha said in his 1st noble truth “life is suffering” …..wisdom is the result of adversity…….

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