Detail of a Cross inside of an Ukranian Church

Mailbag: Should we separate from the church?

JG writes to LCI via Facebook:

Social institutions, such as churches, are supposed to be founded upon mutual cooperation. My experience is that most churches don’t meet this criterion. My believe is that if the church is going to be an instrument to change society, it needs to change itself first. Most churches are controlling, dominating institutions. I believe we need to pull away from institutionalized religion and become the body of Christ.

Our response:

The Church Universal is the body of Christ. It has a “corporate” and “individual” component to it, if you will. You might even say this is somewhat laid forth in 1 Corinthians 12:27 — “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Individuals are stitched together by Christ to become the Church.

While we clearly cannot speak for every congregation, I sincerely do not believe that most are controlling or dominating institutions. We should love the Church Universal and the broad Christian community it upholds, and we should love our congregations. Perhaps we can complain that our home congregations are problematic, but that only confirms there are humans in them, right? It’s like that joke I’m sure you’ve heard: “My church would be great, if it weren’t for all the humans in it.” Or perhaps that common criticism, “There are so many hypocrites in the church.” But where else am I the hypocrite to go? Is not the grace God confers on his people the driving factor for the Church’s existence in the first place? God promises that when we gather together in his name, there he is also. And that is why the Bible says not to forsake meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) as a congregation as well.

This is a major reason why our core value #4 exists. We do not want to start another denomination, nor drive people away from their congregations. If anything, we want our emphasis on learning sound theology and philosophy to drive people MORE to their congregations so that they can continue to have a positive effect upon them.

I would agree that we need to “change ourselves first.” At LCI, we take seriously the call of Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I’m sure you do too. Keep pressing on to that goal, and endeavor to work with your fellow believers toward greater understanding of Jesus, which often leads to greater impact on the world around us.

Thanks for writing, I hope this is helpful.

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