There is a growing phenomenon in many parts of the world, sadly including Israel, whereby people who have a bad experience in organized assembles of Believers (aka churches, congregations, fellowships, kehilot, etc.) have decided that they don’t want to attend one anymore but they still want to be in fellowship with Jesus so they’re just going to do it by themselves at home. This phenomenon has become widespread enough that it has acquired a name of its own, as such people are identified as “nones” because if asked which church they attend they would say “none” while still identifying as followers of Jesus Christ and/or members of the Body of Christ.
This is a big mistake, although it must be said up front that one can easily understand and even sympathize with some of the reasons people take this course.
Being part of a fellowship inevitably means being hurt and disappointed. Very often it means being judged and/or gossiped about by the very people who are supposed to be helping us. It means not always having our spiritual needs met. Sadly, it sometimes means being subjected to outright abuse of spiritual authority by far too many renegade pastors and elders.
However, something else that needs to be said up front is that these reasons aren’t the only ones that people have for leaving their fellowship.
Sometimes people leave because they just don’t like following rules and being subject to authority. Maybe they hear things in a sermon which they’re not sure about and get unsatisfactory answers when they go to the pastor afterwards for clarification. Maybe they read something in the Bible (or are told about something that’s in the Bible by an outside party who has an agenda) and they go to their pastor to ask about it and don’t like the answer they get. Maybe they see things going on in the church that they don’t think are kosher, so they tell the pastor about it and he doesn’t act on what they say the way they think it should be acted on.
If one interacts with “nones” enough, one will hear all of these reasons given for the step they’ve taken of leaving their church. Usually, they went from one church to another with similar results and eventually decided that “none” of the churches in their area were worthy of their membership, attendance and support, so they decided to just “go it alone” without being subject to a pastor or community.
If you are reading this and you’re a “none” or if you’re considering becoming one, or if you know someone who is and you’re trying to counsel them, I offer the following thoughts for your consideration.
If you’re not attending a church fellowship because you think all the pastors and elders are just wrong and you’re the only one who really understands what God is saying in the Bible and they won’t listen to you than be advised, YOU are the one with a problem. That problem is identified in the Bible as “rebellion” and you need to repent of your pride, humble yourself and submit yourself to the spiritual authority of the pastors and elders God has appointed.
If, however, you’re one of those people who has decided that you don’t NEED or want to be in a traditional fellowship, here’s a shocker. You might be right.
Maybe you DO have it together so much as to not need spiritual mentoring and accountability. It’s unlikely, but I suppose it’s theoretically possible.
But consider this.
The Bible contains over 100 passages in both the Old and New Testaments which point to the fact that it is God’s design for His followers to be in community with each other, for there not to be any loners or people who try to do it on their own. The most straightforward of these is Hebrews 10:24-25 which says; “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Another is Galatians 6:2 which says “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ”
It is this second verse that I want to focus on, because even if you are one of those people who don’t “need” to be in church, that just means that you can be strong enough for other people who DO “need” to be there. They need your help. WE need your help.
So come on back. Because the one thing there’s never too much of in any church is willing hands and feet to do all the work that needs to be done.
If you’ve decided to stop attending church because you’ve just been hurt too often, or you’re tired of all the “hypocrites” and so forth, again, that’s understandable. But as Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
That’s not just referring to the troubles we’ll have in the World, it’s referring to the troubles we’ll have in the congregation too. That can be a hard thing to accept, but there it is.
May God give us all the wisdom, patience, love and grace to be obedient to this most important of His commandments.