The Barnabas Ministry

What is Churchless Christianity Like?
Ultimately, Christianity comes down to you and your relationship with God. (Interestingly, most churches say this is the most important thing anyway.) So how do we take the core elements of Christianity and disentangle them from the church experience?

Let's start with believing in God, and Jesus, and acting in good faith towards them, without worrying about what “church people” are going to think of it. That's a pretty good start. But it's kind of vague. We could probably use some more concrete aspects to guide us.

Here's some ideas:
  • Reading and learning the Bible, letting it shape your faith and worldview, and considering how to put it into practice. Develop good biblical interpretation skills! Study out those things you've always wanted to study out.
  • Becoming what the Bible calls “sanctified-” that is, made holy, set apart for God, having a godly life.
  • Prayer- cultivating your relationship with him, thanking God for his blessings, praying that his will be be advanced in the world. This could also include developing other private devotional habits, like playing worshipful music, singing or meditating.
  • Cultivating your own “faith community.” Find other Christians and share fellowship with them.
  • Embarking on good works that God puts upon your heart, such as giving to the poor, or helping with charitable activities.
  • Treating people rightly.
  • Passing on your faith and wisdom to others who can benefit from them.
  • Balance-- many people high-demand church experiences need to restore a sense of balance to their lives. Marriage, home life, family, children, work, and other elements may have been neglected for a long time. Start paying attention to those, God cares about them too!
Liberating or Overwhelming?
Just looking at this simple list, it's actually refreshing to think that one's faith can express itself in these ways without getting all caught up in the busyness, people-pleasing, and politics of the modern local church experience.

However- it could also seem overwhelming, especially to those coming out of a high-demand church situation. “Another list of stuff to do! Another list of things I can't possibly do!”

The good news is that God knows you can't do everything. He doesn't expect you to do everything. But once you start cultivating your relationship with God without all of the church overhead that gets in the way, just take it a day at a time and try to follow his leading. Look for the good you can do, not the good you fail to do.

The big difference here compared to the high-demand church is that these things are on-target. Instead of spending time on church organization things, you'll be spending time and energy on things that are the basic expressions of faith.

It may not  be apparent at first, but there could be a need for some detoxing from the high-demand church experience and getting down to the core of the faith. Far from being discouraging or overwhelming, there is a strong likelihood that this approach will save and rejuvenate your faith. 

Be A Church Guest
You can always visit local churches from time to time-- for worship, for fellowship, for communion, to learn and enhance your perspective by being around others different from you. You can visit without a church taking over in your life. You can be a “glass half full” sort of person with the experience- take the good, leave the bad.

Maybe you have other Christian friends and you'll want to visit their church from time to time, for a special event or for just “plain old church”- communion, worship, fellowship. You're part of the universal church, not an alien!

Maybe you can become aware of what churches are doing in your area by visiting their websites or getting on their email list. You could participate in special activities that align with the things God may put on your heart- retreats, special programs, or benevolent work like food drives, outreach to the poor, etc. You may be able participate in these things without all of the overhead of additional church involvement.

Of course, it's also possible that this may lead to a more involved and beneficial church experience. If that happens- great! But past experiences may suggest that you not expect this, and take things carefully. You may also want to set some boundaries for yourself about any subsequent involvement in any church you visit, such as waiting a certain period of time before doing anything in addition to the one-time visit.

Many aspects of Christian belief and practice that really don't require church membership. In fact, the absence of church encumbrances can help purify a Christian's faith during those seasons.

Being a “churchless Christian” may not be an ideal circumstance. Everybody would love to be in that “good church experience.” But for many Christians, there may be seasons of their lives where it just doesn't exist, for whatever reason. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for how to approach that season in a way that one's faith grows and deepens.

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