Why I Don’t Go to Church Revisited

During the last week of my stay in South Africa I got three emails from three different people with three very different reactions to my article, Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore. I thought you’d enjoy a chance to read over my shoulder, because some of you might have very similar questions or concerns. The first is from Timothy:

I am intrigued by your article, Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore . I found it while preparing for a Sunday School lesson on “What We Believe about the Church.” It was interesting to me that you didn’t use any scripture references within your article. How do you understand the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,” If you don’t meet with other believers?

This was my response to Timothy: I’m afraid you may not have read my article carefully enough. My point was that none of us really go to church, even those who think they do. I think the New Testament is clear that the church is God’s people on the earth not a building or an organization.

The reason I didn’t use ‘references’ in the article is because of its format. It’s not a treatise but a letter of explanation. Proof texts can be used to justify just about anything, unfortunately, and I much prefer to think Scripture through in context not in individual quotes that are distorted from their original meanings.

As to the Hebrews 10 passage to which you prefer, there are many of us finding far more effective ways to meet together by sharing Jesus-centered relationships over the whole of our lives, and not just attending a meeting once or twice a week with a roomful of strangers where participation is left to only a few up front. I realize it isn’t for everybody, but there are lots of people who are finding that the church is a living group of people who share the life of Jesus together as they grow in him.

There are some wonderful ways to discover God’s life with a group of people, outside the systems we’ve inherited over the generations. If those systems work for you, I don’t have any problem with that. I hope you can also make room for others who have found ways that are more effective for them in living out the reality of the New Testament.

Jesus is the head of the church after all, and it is far more important that we are following him than just fitting in to other people’s expectations.

Then I got this one from Lisa:

I stumbled over your web site one day while looking for help to know when is it o.k. if you leave the church that you are attending. Your article came up Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore, what a shock and relief it was to find that others share our frustrations. Your articles really challenge my thinking and give me hope. We have been under the impression that maybe we just have bad attitudes and we just need to conform to our leadership’s demands, suck it up, and hope things will get better. We can ‘t seem to find peace in that.

And finally I got this from Nancy:

I know that you are probably very busy – so I will understand if you don’t answer this. I just finished reading your article Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore . (I had typed in ‘I can’t do this anymore’ in my search box — and this is one of the things that came up. Trying to explain just why I typed that would take too long – and was caused by more than one thing). Anyway, I noticed that the article was written in May, 2001. I was wondering if you still don’t go to church anymore. The article voiced a lot of thoughts that I have had. I’m wondering how it is working out.

This was my response to Nancy: It always amazes me what God uses to bring people to Lifestream. I had a good laugh at your entry, though I’m sure it made sense to you. Someone else got here simply by searching for, “Am I nuts?” Funny!

Anyway, yes I still don’t ‘go’ to church. In fact I continue to meet hundreds of people who are thriving outside the structures of organized religion and are finding life in God and connections with other brothers and sisters to be greater than they ever imagined. What a deal! I am sitting in Atlanta airport at the moment connecting home from my trip to South Africa where I met hundreds of out of the box Christians who are growing by leaps and bounds…

It is interesting to discover that these are not focused at all by their ‘not’ going to church, but on the simplicity and joy of living as his church in the world… I hope that’s what you were asking. I don’t know what kind of journey you are on but pray that God continue to lead you closer to himself and free you to know the fullness of his life and joy.

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16 Comments
  1. maryann August 16, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    truth is truth. no matter when it was written.

    to be out of an organized, building-focused, business style, everyone-sit-down-shut-up and listen-to-the-guy-in-the-front style church and TOTALLY IMMERSED into the BODY OF CHRIST which encompasses ALL has been worth the price of the slander and bad looks from those when we did "leave"

    I am so glad I dont GO to church anymore….I have found such a rich group of fellow believers that are challenging me into walking in God’s Kingdom…we are BEING the CHURCH and DOING the "STUFF" Jesus told us we would be doing. (not sitting and doodling on the bulletin and making lists for Walmart)

  2. maryann August 16, 2005 at 10:02 pm

    truth is truth. no matter when it was written.

    to be out of an organized, building-focused, business style, everyone-sit-down-shut-up and listen-to-the-guy-in-the-front style church and TOTALLY IMMERSED into the BODY OF CHRIST which encompasses ALL has been worth the price of the slander and bad looks from those when we did "leave"

    I am so glad I dont GO to church anymore….I have found such a rich group of fellow believers that are challenging me into walking in God’s Kingdom…we are BEING the CHURCH and DOING the "STUFF" Jesus told us we would be doing. (not sitting and doodling on the bulletin and making lists for Walmart)

  3. Dave A. from RI August 17, 2005 at 7:09 pm

    Wonderful responses to those email folks Wayne!

    Blessings to you.

  4. Dave A. from RI August 17, 2005 at 10:09 pm

    Wonderful responses to those email folks Wayne!

    Blessings to you.

  5. Chris Mitchell August 30, 2005 at 10:43 am

    Haven’t you made enough money off of your books? Why not just post them on the internet instead of selling out the Gospel?

    Why didn’t Christ or the apostles sell their writings????

  6. Chris Mitchell August 30, 2005 at 1:43 pm

    Haven’t you made enough money off of your books? Why not just post them on the internet instead of selling out the Gospel?

    Why didn’t Christ or the apostles sell their writings????

  7. Wayne September 1, 2005 at 10:18 am

    Chris,

    Is there something you want from us that you don’t have? Most everything we do is available free of charge in some form. Many people still prefer reading books to reading pdf files from the Internet so we make books available and we do send them free to anyone who cannot afford them. Much of the same content is available in the articles and mp3 files that are available for free on my various sites. While I understand that you might see what we do as selling out the gospel, nothing is further from our hearts.

    As to your last question, as far as I know Jesus didn’t write anything, and I wouldn’t consider anything i write to be on par with anything the apostles wrote, nor would they have the same purpose.

  8. Wayne September 1, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    Chris,

    Is there something you want from us that you don’t have? Most everything we do is available free of charge in some form. Many people still prefer reading books to reading pdf files from the Internet so we make books available and we do send them free to anyone who cannot afford them. Much of the same content is available in the articles and mp3 files that are available for free on my various sites. While I understand that you might see what we do as selling out the gospel, nothing is further from our hearts.

    As to your last question, as far as I know Jesus didn’t write anything, and I wouldn’t consider anything i write to be on par with anything the apostles wrote, nor would they have the same purpose.

  9. Denise May 21, 2007 at 11:02 am

    The thing is, so many people are being disappointed when they do go to church. Many Christians have turned church into a business place. People are tired of being beat up by the world and are searching to fill the void. Unlike the past, the church is not helping. Many are preaching their own made up speeches instead of the Word of God. Many organized churches are letting people down. The truth is, if the body of people who meet, either in a building or under a tree, is not founded and rooted by the TRUE word of God, then it is not the church at all.

  10. Denise May 21, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    The thing is, so many people are being disappointed when they do go to church. Many Christians have turned church into a business place. People are tired of being beat up by the world and are searching to fill the void. Unlike the past, the church is not helping. Many are preaching their own made up speeches instead of the Word of God. Many organized churches are letting people down. The truth is, if the body of people who meet, either in a building or under a tree, is not founded and rooted by the TRUE word of God, then it is not the church at all.

  11. Henry Lim June 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    @Chris Mitchell, you may have mistaken Bro Wayne’s intention. I have the same thought about him selling the books initially. Take some time and visit pages and all the links, I found all the books I need from Wayne free in PDF format, they did not hide the free download, check it out. Read the article carefully and reference it to the Bible…question, “are you searching for something?”……

    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matt 7:7-8
    http://bible.us/matt7.7-8.esv

    We are all seeking God…and finding the narrow path that leads to Life…Matt 7:14
    http://bible.us/matt7.14.esv

  12. Henry Lim June 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    @Chris Mitchell, you may have mistaken Bro Wayne’s intention. I have the same thought about him selling the books initially. Take some time and visit pages and all the links, I found all the books I need from Wayne free in PDF format, they did not hide the free download, check it out. Read the article carefully and reference it to the Bible…question, “are you searching for something?”……

    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matt 7:7-8
    http://bible.us/matt7.7-8.esv

    We are all seeking God…and finding the narrow path that leads to Life…Matt 7:14
    http://bible.us/matt7.14.esv

  13. Wesley David Rees May 2, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Wayne, I have arrived  very late to the party on this one. I must say that I only recently discovered the book, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore? I have been fascinated by it and identify with the main character in the book. So much of what I’ve been led to believe or have believed about “going to church” is crumbling from reading this book. I don’t want to get into the reasons why I picked up this book, just wanted to say that I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with “going to church”. I am a believer and I am learning. I do not want to give up on meeting with other believers and am currently searching for a “church home”. Thanks for your book. I feel like I’m awakening to the Truth and I know that the book is helping with some of my preconcieved notions. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has realized that the “institution” is not all it’s cracked up to be. Thanks again. Sincerely, Wesley Rees

  14. Wesley David Rees May 2, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Dear Wayne, I have arrived  very late to the party on this one. I must say that I only recently discovered the book, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore? I have been fascinated by it and identify with the main character in the book. So much of what I’ve been led to believe or have believed about “going to church” is crumbling from reading this book. I don’t want to get into the reasons why I picked up this book, just wanted to say that I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with “going to church”. I am a believer and I am learning. I do not want to give up on meeting with other believers and am currently searching for a “church home”. Thanks for your book. I feel like I’m awakening to the Truth and I know that the book is helping with some of my preconcieved notions. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has realized that the “institution” is not all it’s cracked up to be. Thanks again. Sincerely, Wesley Rees

  15. waynej May 3, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Wesley, it sounds like you have an interesting journey.  Just know that you don’t have to give up gathering with other believers. That’s not what the book is about.  It’s about gathering with them in a different way that magnifies Jesus and his ability to transform people rather than being stuck in conformity-based modalities that undermine the very community the promise us…  It’s a great journey.  You’ll see more clearly a year or two from now than you do today. Just keep following the passion he has put in your heart. 

     

  16. waynej May 3, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Wesley, it sounds like you have an interesting journey.  Just know that you don’t have to give up gathering with other believers. That’s not what the book is about.  It’s about gathering with them in a different way that magnifies Jesus and his ability to transform people rather than being stuck in conformity-based modalities that undermine the very community the promise us…  It’s a great journey.  You’ll see more clearly a year or two from now than you do today. Just keep following the passion he has put in your heart. 

     

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