To ‘Out of Church’ Christians | Andrew Strom

(NOTE: This is an article that Brad and Wayne refer to in a podcast you can find here. We do not agree with his conclusions in this piece, which is what we wanted to talk about. It is provided here so that our listeners can read the original source; it is not an endorsement of Mr. Strom's thoughts or conclusions.)

By Andrew Strom

It is now over 19 years since I first left the church system and went on a seven-year 'wilderness' journey. Of course, there have been further wilderness periods since. But the key point I am trying to make is that I have been around "Out-of-church" believers now for almost 20 years.

Sometimes I get people writing to me who assume that I know very little about "truly leaving Babylon" and "resting from our own works", etc. But believe me, after 19 years of dealing with hundreds of "Out-of-church" people - and being one myself for long periods - I do have a grasp of these dogmas - and have deeply imbibed all of them for years at a time. I am thoroughly familiar with the whole thing.

Lately though, I must confess that I have become heartily sick of it all. Because as I have seen again and again, for year after year after year - it leads nowhere, it has never led anywhere, and it is never likely to lead anywhere. After 19 years, that much I can say with complete clarity.

The Wilderness is supposed to be about brokenness, testing and preparation. And yes - God has led many of us there for that exact purpose. Yet why is it that so few seem to allow themselves to be truly broken? Why are they still so willing to judge by "form and structure" instead of the 'heart'? If this thing is about "preparation", then why are so few actually PREPARED? Why do most of them

NEVER DO ANYTHING AGAIN - even after years and years? (-In fact, many actually grow WORSE over time - spiritually lazy and good for nothing. I have seen it). Do you mean to tell me that perhaps in another 10 YEARS you might be ready? Ready for what? Where will this 'change' actually come from? You are more set in your ways now than you have ever been.

So many are MORE arrogant, MORE argumentative, MORE self-righteous, MORE 'judging' of things that don't matter, MORE smug and self-satisfied than they even were in church. And they are also LESS unified, LESS trusting, LESS able to be part of a 'Body', LESS able to lead or to be led (-making the Book of Acts impossible - because without LEADERS there is no way it can happen. What on earth do you think PETER, JAMES and JOHN were? Don't you know there has never been a successful Reformation in history without strong leaders?)

I can already see their eyes glazing over. They don't want to hear this stuff. They want a "NO-LEADERS" Revival. They want a "NO ACTION UNLESS LIGHTNING FROM HEAVEN" movement. They want something that never has been, and never will be, because it is diametrically opposed to the very PATTERN OF GOD. No leaders, no meetings, no faith, no DARING. And that is why nothing ever happens with these people, and nothing ever will.

They wait and they wait and they wait - world without end. Amen.

I call it the "DO NOTHING" doctrine. I have seen it now for 19 years and I know it intimately. I deeply imbibed it for YEARS at a time myself. And I will not stand by and watch it rob us of our Harvest now.

What do I mean when I say that so many are judging by "outward form and structure", instead of by the 'heart'? -I mean exactly that. Let me give you an example: Let's say that there is an inner-city church with a 'SENIOR PASTOR' that meets in a CHURCH BUILDING on SUNDAY MORNINGS - with 'PROGRAMS' and all kinds of things. Shock! Horror! The very essence of "Babylon", right?

But hang on a minute. Let's say this same group feeds the homeless every week, and preaches a piercing 'repentance' gospel and prays and prays for the lost.

Now, along comes Mr Smug 'Out-of-church' Man. He looks at this group and immediately judges them by their 'outward appearance'. They are of the "system", are they not? He immediately writes them off as just another corner of 'Babylon' - and their people as "IC drones". -Because the things he cares about are not the "heart" things at all. He is a Pharisee - pure and simple. He judges

by the external appearance all the time. It is the 'outward boxes' that cry "Babylon" to him, and thus he never sees the "heart". I believe that God is a hundred times more pleased with a group like that, than with some smug "know-it-all" Pharisee who never lifts a finger to minister to the poor. So many Out-of-church people are judgmental like this. They are not 'broken' at all. They are

harsh and critical and rebellious - and they badly need to REPENT. How do I know? -Because I was just like them for a very long time.

I am talking about people who know all the "right" things about church structure and so-on. They know all about 'Senior pastors' and church buildings and the way things "ought to be". But they have forgotten the "weightier matters" - mercy and justice and love. Many are 'clanging cymbals' - harsh and ugly. And everyone around them can see it.

There are praying church people - totally in the "system" – who leave us for dead in the areas that truly matter - the areas of the "heart" - our relationship with God and our love for people. Go and meet these "praying grandmas" sometime. Many of them honestly leave us for dead.

A lot of us need to shut ourselves up in a room for several days and REPENT and REPENT until all this stuff is gone. Why do a lot of us rub leaders up the wrong way? -Because we are full of REBELLION - that's why. How do I know? -Because in the "Out of church" scene I was full of Rebellion myself. Rejection, hurt and bitterness are absolutely EPIDEMIC in this movement. REPENT, before it is too late, my friends.

You ask, "Why are you being so hard on these people? Isn't the Wilderness a valid place to be?" Yes, it is valid if you are actually allowing God to break you and prepare you and take the harshness and ugliness out of you, etc. But if you are just sitting out there criticizing it is good for nothing. -In fact, it is greatly harmful.

Right now I look and I see the Harvest fields of America white unto harvest. I listen and I hear the youth of the cities crying to us for Truth. I raise my finger in the air and find that the wind has changed and a new season has begun. And then I look into the living rooms of the called-out ones and see them sitting on their fat rear-ends in their houses - WAITING FOR GOD TO DO SOMETHING.

And all the while He is WAITING FOR US.

Are you Spirit-baptized? Do you speak in tongues? Yes? –Then you already have the 'equipment' that the apostles received at Pentecost. So what are you waiting for? Why are you not letting Him move through you?

The 'DO-NOTHING' doctrine is one of the most evil dogmas I have come across. It will happily sit and "fiddle while Rome burns". It is deaf to the cries of the lost and the urgency of this late hour. And it is the prime doctrine of the "Out-of-church" scene. It is one thing that could kill this Harvest dead.

If you have imbibed this 'DO NOTHING' doctrine, then you need to REPENT, my friends. -Desperately. For while you cling to it, God can do NOTHING WITH YOU.

The time has come to stand and fight, to "let those that have wives act as though they had none." -To stand and do battle for the lost of this land before the summer is past and the harvest is ended. Do not let God find you 'fiddling while Rome burns', my friends. Someone has rightly said that if the apostles had not ACTED, then there would be no "Acts of the Apostles". The time has truly come to ACT - and that with urgency.

God bless you all. Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom

13 Comments

  1. I hear what your saying and I agree. I have been in my own wilderness. I find it hard to find a place to gather becuz of their teaching yet I myself haveing no place doesn’t make sense . I had to repent of judging I told myself at least they are doing and not sitting. If they are for God they are not against Him yet I find myself alone and feeling sorry for my self at times. I have a living situation that prevents me from having people over, I’m a women etc. so much is going on. Just got divorce, my children are lost because of so much that has gone on I have no leader or Shepard etc. All excuses. So I truly ask God to forgive me. So keep me in ur prayers I don’t want to sit. I’m becoming as you mentioned angry, and not attending church for fear of judging and not agreeing very frustrating. God bless

  2. Just to be clear, Isabel, I don’t agree with all Andrew has written and his judgments about out of the box Christians. If you want to know more you can listen to our podcast about it here:

  3. Sometimes you are in the wilderness for a reason. Somtimes even when ” going to church” you find yourself there. Why? I ask myself this all the time. I make no appologies for feeling this. The church is failing. I cannot work within the walls of the church. I find I am a better witness outside of the “fellowship”. How often are churches truely biblically spreading Gods love and word? Usually if there is love it is for those they deem worthy. Many times only loving those already in the church who believe and feel exactly the same as they do. We minister to ourselves and congratulate ourselves on being different then the world.

    To step away and wander alone….is also freedom from the expectations, limitations, and traditions that makes the church ineffective. How many sit in the church, feeling satisfied they are doing whats right, and Never reach out to the world. But but they are serving. They set out cookies and coffee every Sunday morning. They greet their sisters and brothers. What about the broken drunk who is going to hell? What about the lesbian ready to kill herself who has never known true christian love. Ahhhh but they are not so worthy are they.

    I dont even see the wilderness as a place to always be broken. If I am without the fellowship of man. The distraction that has become the church…..maybe I can see God and his will better. The church is broken and sometimes you need to wander a bit alone to discover again who God made you to be. Its not the head of tea for the sisters committee and nothing more. Its not the deacon more concerned with his suit tgan the people outside the churches doors.

  4. Andrew raises some good points. I will listen to the podcast later, though. I love the church and don’t like being outside of regular church fellowship, and it is very important to have the right attitude and not be rebellious or judgmental. But it is also important for churches to guard against predators in their midst (thus making the church a reasonably safe place for vulnerable people) and be careful whom they appoint as leaders. We will have to keep seeking Christian fellowship and praying for God’s guidance in every situation.

  5. “They want something that never has been, and never will be, because it is diametrically opposed to the very PATTERN OF GOD.” I’d love to see some evidence of this pattern. Would also love to have this guy convince me I am wrong…

  6. Ok, I am back for more… I sat with this for a couple weeks, trying to give your letter credence, because I would really love to see some value in what we have come to call “church.” After a couple weeks of digesting your letter, I had to come back and reply…I don’t know if you’ll read this. I hope you do, and I hope you’ll converse with me more.

    First, it was really difficult to get past where you argue that “out-of-church” Christians are Pharisees. I know you’re angry–I’m angry too–but who is your audience here? If the “out” are your audience, you have violated the first rule of argument, which is to avoid offending the people you’re trying to persuade. I am sure you are aware that the “out’ refer to the “in’ as Pharisees too…
    “Phar·i·see
    ?fer??s?/
    noun
    a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.” So, really, the “in-the-church” crowd, with it’s strict adherence to ritual and “order” and law and norms are considerably more pharisitical than the “out’ crowd. You simply use that term because you feel judged.

    Second, as your anger becomes obvious in the first words of your letter, we should discuss that. After I read that you ‘used to be in the wilderness’ but are no longer, I couldn’t help but wonder: at whom are you angry? Are you mad at those of us who were called into the wilderness, or are you being called BACK into the wilderness and mad at God for calling you? After all, being called back to the place of breaking and having “God break the ugliness and harshness out of you” is a harder calling than being called to a position of authority in the organized church.

    Third, I have to wonder at the ‘pattern of God’ you allude to. I grant you, there are patterns in the Bible, but they are almost all patterns of human behavior, not of God’s behavior. He tells us over and over again that He Himself is “new every morning.” David understood this when he went up against the Phillistines: David went to God and asked for a battle plan and God gave him one. Then, after the first victory, the Phillistines came back. David went a second time to God, and God gave him a completely different plan. Today’s churched Christian would have run right back into that second battle, thinking that what worked last time would work a second time, because after all, the church taught me that God operates according to a pattern. But He doesn’t. He doesn’t–man does. Man’s pattern is pretty simple: sin, get forgiven, get filled with God’s glory, get sent, screw up, come back… you see what I mean. But the only thing you can predict about God is that He will do to you what is best for all His people, which is also you, even though many times His plan is so big, you and I can’t see how asking you to walk away from a “successful” place in life may be for the benefit of His people and his plan, and for you. God asks us (through Solomon) the question in 2 Chronicles 6, “who is able to build to Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him…”. And He answers the question through Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:9 “…you are God’s building.” In other words, God is the only one who can build a building large enough to contain His always-newly demonstrated capacity to be the same God every day while at the same time creating new “patterns” on a daily basis. And that building, rather than being a single place, a temple or a church, a program like One Thing or Cleansing Streams… It’s you. It’s me. It’s every one of us..walking temples of God, living breathing arks of the covenant. That’s why His kingdom can’t be shaken: it’s spiritual, not temporal.

    Fourth, this idea of the “out-of-church” Christian wanting a revival without leadership is not wholly accurate either. I feel like I speak for all Christians when I say we want leadership that is elected by God. But in Christ, leadership and governance are two different things and today’s church has that upside down in so many ways! Take a board-run church for instance… Who sits on that board? A bunch of (mostly) men, many of whom have proven themselves successful in business. These are the people making the decisions in that church. But the Kingdom of God isn’t a business, and I think most of us would agree that, while God wants His people to be successful, success in business is a far different thing than success in walking worthy to one’s calling. Sooner or later, we have to realize that ministry is on-the-job training. No amount of business training or seminary can prepare one or cause one to be elected by God to lead. In fact, if you are looking for a pattern of leadership in the Bible, what I think you will find if you take off your cultural lenses, is that God seems to choose leaders who, by the world’s standards are the most unlikely…David? Really, little po-dunk shepherd kid? Moses? Slow of speech and guilty of murder…not in my church! Paul, pretty much the worst persecutor of Christians in Rome at the time. A bunch of fishmongers….. Nobody in these scenarios goes to seminary. Very few were even in “ministry” and if they were, like Samuel, they were in service to a corrupt system. And that is the point: The Kingdom of God is not a system, and as soon as you try to “systematize” it, you are guilty of the same things the Babylonians atttempted when they built their city to try to reach God, when they built canals to try to harness the river (you can’t harness the river of God!) and when they camped out together on the plains of Chaldea and put their faith in a system instead of in God. We are not looking for a “leaderless” revival; we are looking for a God-led revolution, and we are not seeing it in the current systematized church. Leadership in the kingdom is not always a permanent position, like it is in church. One day you may lead, the next day follow, the next day prophesy. You may be an apostle in some circles you move in, while you are a teacher in others. But under the current system, this is not allowed to happen: rather, you’re assigned a role. Most of the roles are full, so many of us get to be “the congregation” or “the flock” which are really just cool churchisms for “the audience.” And the leadership is usually some pretty highly polished, well-practiced, well-meaning people. And that is where the water stops flowing. We just can’t tell it isn’t flowing, because it all looks so good (good, not God). But in most cases of church, the average congregation-member is not encouraged to participate in any way except for these two: learn vicariously from the pastor (high-priest), and then go out into the world and witness to some folks so you can bring them back here. All this encourages is for all the congregation’s lives to start mirroring the pastor’s, not Christ’s and definitely not what God has in mind for their own ministries. The alternative? I think we have all seen glimmers of it: Where each member of the Body has opportunity to find out his or her gift and to use it, and to have each member of the Body recognized for his or her giftings, and to be encouraged in many settings to practice–no one is an expert, no gurus, only one high priest: Christ.

    But honestly, none of this happens in the structure we currently see. And though there are many “diverse” ways we see the current structure operate, it simply boils down the the same stuff, different building. It isn’t a matter of the “out-of-churches” telling the “in-churchers” to come out of Babylon. It is a matter of God calling all of us to a higher place in Him, a matter of God calling the babylonian and egyptian and american ideologies that have “invaded His inheritance” out OF us. We are a holy Nation, all of us; members of a Kingdom in which each of us are joint-heir, sharing equally in Sonship. We are currently guilty of living by yesteryear’s battle plans, which served a previous generation fine. But it’s time for us, as a nation, to go to our God and get TODAY’s battle plan and to discuss it in ways in which each of our voices are heard, not just the voices that are loudest or most famous.

    Look, bottom line, brother to brother: If God is calling you back out, please go. He’s got something for you in the desert, and if it is for you, it’s for me too.

  7. “And they are also LESS unified, LESS trusting, LESS able to be part of a ‘Body’, LESS able to lead or to be led (-making the Book of Acts impossible – because without LEADERS there is no way it can happen. What on earth do you think PETER, JAMES and JOHN were? Don’t you know there has never been a successful Reformation in history without strong leaders?)”.
    Case in point: what leader would dare to take the credit foe that meeting? God called that meeting. That’s the definition, the real definition of “one accord.” It’s common doctrine that they all agreed to met there together, and then, because they were so unified in their beliefs, the Holy Spirit fell for the first time, but once again, systematized doctrine puts the focus on Man, here. The truth of the matter is the Holy Spirit had already come when It organized the meeting. To teach that a leader got them all together that day and that it was their agreement that caused the Holy Spirit to fall is to teach Christians that their actions influence God, that we can cause God to do something. That doctrine is the essence of Babylon itself, is actually foundational to Baal. The result of this kind of “human-centered” doctrine results in a nation of Christians believing they can influence God to show up, to bless them or their country, to bring them a new car, we have only to find the right combination of prayer, teaching, singing, dancing to get Him to acquiesce to our demands. Dangerous. Honestly, this kind of behavior invites a spirit, it just isn’t the Holy Spirit.

    Rather than get together and beg God to bless the programs your church sponsors, and ask Him to bless Your finances, and to bless Your ministry, and Ask Him to, ask Him to, Ask Him to… next time you find yourself among Christians who seem to have met accidentally in the parking lot of the rec center, or in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, or at the new car dealership…consider the possibility that you may be gathered there “in one accord.” Rather than immediately start in on “God we just ask in Jesus Name that you…” start with, “God, What do You have to say?” Then listen: He is speaking all the time.

  8. I found this page while researching for an article about the ‘out-church-ed’ multitudes. The largest segment in need of evangelism is the group who have become dismayed or discouraged, or just plain dis-interested in church and left. Were are they? Why are they there? Who even cares? What was the cause of their departure in the first place? God? Church? Others? Themselves?
    The church is failing somewhere. The greatest need of man is to know God. The greatest call is to tell others about Him. And the greatest satisfaction in life is to know Him. Why is that so hard or so complicated?
    As a pastor, teacher, leader for most of my life, (I am over 70), I find myself close to becoming a part of this group. In the annual TV cartoon “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” the characters find themselves on the ‘Island of Misfit Toys”. Flawed, imperfect, and abandoned, they have arrived at the ‘Church of the un-church-ed’. It is a growing congregation left to drift in a cold and distant place. We must reach them somehow, if only for our own sakes.

  9. I would like to suggest that the most successful reformation in history was- ‘The Reformation’.
    If we study the theology of these strong leaders we will find that it is a far cry from the
    teaching we find in a lot of church circles today.

    The reformers believed that the book of Acts and the office and ministry of the apostles
    belonged to a unique period in the church’s history. Signs and wonders served to authenticate
    the gospel.

    It was a period before the canon of scripture was closed.

    It would serve us all well to pay closer attention to what they had to say and perhaps study some of the church confessions of that period.

  10. I appreciate this post as I’ve currently left my church due to the Wolf sneaking in and literally no one including the pastor caring about the true Holy Spirit led revelation or warnings. I found information confirming the Holy Spirit prompting through Andrew Stroms message. However, I’m struggling with trying not to become an Out of church Christian.
    I strongly disagree with his message here that we need to be in a place of repentance and not judge because someone in church is feeding the poor or any other church “activity”. I tried to separate myself that way. I was very involved in ministry-women’s ministry, girls ministry, new believers one on one bible studies, and street evangelizing. The False spirit crept in and stood at the altar, then flowed into the new believers initial prayer, women’s prayer, and street evangelizing. I thought I could leave the ministries it touched and continue with just girls ministry, and go to Sunday school(which was in a different building) and then attend a different church after. God continued to try and show me it wasn’t right and the devil continued to attack me every time someone asked me where I was and I shed light on the darkness. Eventually two scriptures became the finally answer for me. The false spirit was real. By their fruit you will know them(Matt 7:15-16)-and on the day of girls ministry graduation the pastor actually used those very words-this is the fruit of the girls ministry!! After all the chaos and behind the scene disorder and scrambling and rushing to finish unfinished work from years of chaos (all within the timeframe of the entry of this false spirit) it was definitely NOT good fruit. God is not a God of disorder (1 Cor 14:33) It was such a sad and heartbreaking decision. The enemies forces have such a stronghold on that church that the leader used every possible tactic to minipulate my decision. Personally I’ve ever had to rely on the power of praying in the spirit and faith in God before-I was so attacked, even to the point that my husband didn’t pray with me when I asked him to. He told me he had something to do first. Which was hurtful but later I was grateful because I saw that I needed to be in the spirit.
    In conclusion I find the most important scriptures we all should consider “In Church or Out ” is Matt 7:22 and Matt: 25:31-46. We should consider the day our Lord will separate the goat from the sheep! Because there will be those who will stand in utter confusion before Jesus himself wondering why he will tell them “I never knew you!” And they will be thrown into the Lake of fire with Satan himself!!! I do not want to be a goat and I certainly do not wish that on any of my fellow brothers or sisters in Christ. We are told to warn them. Titus 3 says 2 times,then have nothing more to do with them. Jesus and his disciples spent a large part of their ministry warning others as well as spreading the good news. I believe we are to be the same examples. Too many Christians, and Churches as a whole have gotten away from the true reason for salvation. We are given the gift of eternal life- and saved from eternal punishment!

  11. Are we at risk of being buried under shorthand terminology. Take ‘Revival’ – it assumes a return to some state previously known from which we or others have fallen and are now in need of restoration. In fact most folk have not known a closer walk with God or are not aware of having ‘fallen’ so the words we need might be ‘Introduction to’ or guidance toward. Is it wise to speak of the ‘infallibility’ of Scripture when those who hold it fiercely disagree on some key details and struggle to explain its discrepancies. If the Church is defined as ‘The Body of Christ’, ‘The Fellowship of Believers’ or the many other terms used leaves open the reality that “He who is not against me is with me’. We would be wise to take great care in interpreting parables and recognise the Hebrew structure of allegory and apocalyptic to convey truth other than the written words. We are informed that God is one of justice and mercy, of eternal, unconditional love. Casting people into ‘the lake of fire’ for their confusion hardly seems to fit God’s nature. When we use terms like ‘eternal punishment’ a state of torture that every civilised person and nation has condemned outright as grotesquely inhumane why would we attribute such a value to God? -and how do those who have received the blessings of the Kingdom sleep knowing that millions are in perpetual agony?

  12. What if something new has started. What about the war-fare? Is anyone having that? What if we’re in Rev. 19 where it speaks of those black birds (symbolism) which the angel was told to call down? What about the statement
    blessed are they that are called to the marriage feast! I thought that would be easy. I had no idea what we would
    be called to go through. The birds called to feed on our flesh. Then, at last, Jesus comes with the sword of His mouth. But, Rev.20 and 1 praise God, an angel overpowered the dragon and threw him into the pit. God says in His
    Word He does nothing without telling His prophets first so if any of you have been told by God you’re His prophet please we welcome anything you can add!

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