Recently I noticed something that before I passed off. For the past couple of years, my dog and I have been visiting a field right next to a Lutheran church in my neighborhood. While seeing many cars and people enter the parking lot in two years, I have yet to have one parishioner of that particular church stop me and ask me of my salvation nor an invitation to hear the message of their church nor even a Gospel tract handed to me or left on my truck. I am basically ignored as they wander into the church for their service.
This is the danger of a coined term called “Churchianity” which is quite different than actual Christianity. If I ventured to guess that I polled each person who ignored me in the past couple of years right next to that church, I would say 100 percent would say they were a Christian. They would base it on “going to church”.
But if you do read the Acts of the Apostles, the church is not a brick building with a steeple and a bell. The church is called the fellowship of believers who gather. Born-again believers who come to fellowship in the word, exhort each other, correct and/or rebuke, and encourage. An elder of the fellowship generally teaches the word and equips a particular flock to be an outward expression for the sake of the Gospel. A fellowship also may invite the unsaved to hear the word preached and studied. The attendees are the church, again the outward expression of a fellowship of believers who are equipped to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraged to do so.
Churchianity’s outward expression? Well it is to be closed off to the world. The “church” is viewed much like a health club membership. Attendees are more concerned what kind of donuts and coffee will be served and what is new in the “church” bulletin. There really is no Gospel sharing in Churchianity because the view of the actual church differs greatly than what Scripture describes. Churchians are dependent on the pastor and the particular institution XYZ Church for their faith and believe by attending once or twice a week, God will produce some favor or good fortune. Or it might be possibly guilt the Churchian attends, living like a heathen sinner all week, they believe this will make things right with God.
How to discern if your fellowship is a Churhianity church or Christian church? View the evidence of the fruits of the attendees. If there is a stranger in the parking lot for example, do they see sharing the Gospel to them as more important than entering the building? If so, it possibly just is a Christian church. Is the constant exhortation from the pastor to the attendees to go and make disciples with their neighbors? Does the pastor allow discernment of their teaching with the ultimate authority being Scripture? Does the fellowship encourage, correct, exhort it’s members through the word of God? Is the fellowship welcoming to all believers and those being drawn by God? Then yes, it most likely is a Christian church.
Churchianity fellowships however have these marks. The attendees are dependent solely on the pastor of the church for faith and teaching. The statement of faith of the church out-weighs the statements in Scripture. The attendees are Gospel-void, they do not see it as their place to share the Gospel. The church seems more of a clique of “believers” as opposed to a fellowship, where a new attendee is intimidated, chastised, or told they must clean up their act first before they will share any Good News with them. The main thing you might hear from a member of Churchianity is “my pastor said” as opposed to “the word of God says”. Churchianity fellowships also produce an invented laundry list of rituals and works a sinner must DO instead of believing what Jesus Christ DID. Churchianity also employs a financial aspect, to be a “Christian” in Churchianity, the sinner must produce a certain tithe or receive a warning and then removal. Churchanity attendees are never really comfortable attending other Christian fellowships again because Scripture is not the ultimate authority.
Flee from Churchianity if you are currently enveloped in this! Seek only fellowship of believers who:
1. Share the Gospel as their first and foremost task
2. Declare Scripture as their ultimate authority in regards to faith and teaching
3. Elders who allow discernment, not punishment for questioning
4. Attendees who show the fruits of the Holy Spirit, welcoming every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and not casting pre-judgments or comparisons.
5. The outward expression of the fellowship can only be seen as the Light of Jesus Christ.
6. Unbelievers who drive by this church should immediately think of a member who attends there. Funny, if we polled unbelievers of MANY churches out there I would bet a zero percent margin on this. If the motive of the church is to share the Gospel, then ask yourself why wouldn’t most unbelievers in your particular neighborhood know what the church teaches or a member and/or the pastor. Again, view the actual church in the Acts of the Apostles, use this as your comparison. I assure you most people in Galatia or Ephesus or Corinth knew who Paul was, what he was generally teaching, or someone who attended his sermons, Paul did not view the church as a closed off society.
7. The attendees are NOT dependent on the pastor of the church, rather see him as an encouraging teacher who is always equipping, correcting, give new ideas to witness to others, teaching the word in boldness and in truth, etc.
8. Finally a Christian church teaches on sin and the holiness of God. If these two items are exempt from your teaching, it most likely is not a Christian fellowship.