Letter from Andrew Strom
On a future webcast, Brad and I want to discuss a letter with you that Andrew Strom has written to what he calls 'out of church' Christians. Andrew Strom is a brother from New Zealand known in the so-called prophetic movement, who moved to Kansas City a few years ago to be part of the 'prophetic' group there. He became known a few years ago for talking about believers who were living outside the box of organized religion. You'll see in this letter that he has changed his tone significantly.
Because he writes regularly to the church at large and speaks on behalf of those who have left more traditional congregational structures, we felt we should discuss his latest letter together. He expresses well the accusations and misunderstandings that many people have of those living outside the box of organized religion and thought we'd like to tackle that on a future webcast.
So, read his letter here and feel free to add your thoughts on the feedback section to this blog or by calling our comment question line at (805) 626-4212.
I’m somewhat out of the system. I stopped participating in the IC regularly for the past two years. There is a local IC that I see trying to build on a relational model where the leaders feel like they are responsible to train the people to hear the teacher the Holy Spirit for themselves. They feel responsible for hearing the spirit of the Lord and preaching it trusting that it is ministering to what the Holy Spirit is already ministering to the people. I visit there as led. Every time I have gone the ministry reached out to me. They deal with some of the issues of the IC and how it can enslave people to it instead of the Lord. This has been pretty amazing to me.
I first heard about Andrew a year of so before I left the IC. Hearing about the radio program dealing with Out of Church Christians was pretty interesting to me. I had no idea that I would be one. It appears like he is either drawing the dregs of Christians or he can’t see any good anywhere. They are problems in the body of Christ. That is known but to describe everyone out of the IC like he did is very unfair.
I have been around people that are still in the IC that are like he described. I have also met people out of the IC that have been repentant, judging themselves, etc. I’m one of them. I have changed dramatically since staying out the IC. My heart has been so changed that it has been stunning to me. I have a way to go. The people I know that have left do not judge the church harshly as he has described. They are free to let people do what they feel they need to do to progress in their walk with the Lord. The comments that he made about “out of church Christians” apply to those that are still in the IC. The distinction that this is unique to those out of the IC is flat wrong.
The body of Christ needs God bad. We want reality of a life full of Christ and His Spirit and are willing to participate in anything that brings that to us. If need be because of where they may be living they choose to withdraw and seek the Lord alone in order to get where their hearts desire to go. We will be in the face of God for ourselves. No one else will be there. Each person needs to seek Him for himself or herself and go on. We are all asking questions, in and out of the IC. God will answer us.
I sincerely feel like he is dealing with offense somewhere. It appears that the “prophetic movement” that he criticized has not received him as a prophetic voice here in the US. I’m not saying that I agree or disagree with his assessment of what has been going on in some segments. He was not received and I feel he is probably stinging from that. I believe in his heart he wants to see a pure move of God worldwide. That is commendable but the passion needs to be carried right. I humbly feel it is not. I suspect the offense is drawing the bitter angry people to him. I’m just not seeing that in the people I know out of the IC.
Boy, I sure felt the anger coming through when I read the letter from Andrew. He seems to exemplify the prophetic gift and say it the was it is not seeming to care who or what may be hurt in the process. Many of the things he says are true. It is easy to criticize when you are outside the IC. It is also easy to criticize when you are in the IC. Sure there are many who are rebellious and don’t want to be under authority. But to paint everyone in that light is unfair and seems to show a lack of care on his part.
One of the biggest things that Jesus has taught me in the last couple of years is that there are people that are part of the body (the church) that call themselves Catholic or Baptist or Charismatic or Methodist or whatever. But there are many that call themselves the same names but are not part of the body.
Perhaps if we actually spent time together, we could learn the difference and reach those God brings on the journey with us.
As an “Out of Church” Christian (OOCC) for two years, I wasn’t particularly offended by the letter. I don’t know many OOCCs personally, just through what I read online.
His point about looking at the heart are quite valid. Some of what I read from OOCCs on the Web seems to come from a heart still filled with bitterness at the system. They also have their own brand of phariseeism and argue about theology, doctrines, etc. I also agree with his points regarding a rebellious spirit. People don’t like to be under authority, God’s or anyone elses. It’s a whole lot easier to say your under God’s authority than to actually live under it. At least in my own life, God hasn’t seemed to speak-up for himself when I “lie” to others about him.
On the other hand, some of what I’ve read from OOCCs on the Web seems to come from a heart filled with love for God and his people. It’s evident in an active living faith or trust that shows itself in good works. I didn’t interpret his letter as saying those things don’t exist, just that we should examine ourselves. I think it’s much like Paul’s admonition to examine yourselves.
Here are some questions I’m starting to ask myself…
Does my life in the family consist mostly of blogs and online relationships only?
Do I spend as much time speaking well of what God is doing in me and others as I spend being critical of structures, politics, and evangelical Christianity?
Am I growing in love for God, love for others, and is the fruit of the spirit more evident in my life today than last month? (Am I being transformed? Is Christ being formed in me?)
Am I living relationally with others in a way that allows me to confess my sins and weaknesses? (Other than God and my wife.)
Is my trust in God an intellectual trust only or could some objective viewer look at my works and see evidence of my trust?
Well, that’s my two cents worth.
The wilderness is quite a place – not a physical desert anymore, but it is real spiritual place. For me, I find that just when I think I’ve left the wilderness, I discover a new dimension of it. I guess it’s just one dimension of this journey we’re on.
I think Andrew Strom’s letter is important on many levels. I think it speaks of frustration – the same frustration we can experience inside or outside of church structures. I often feel it. If it isn’t the frustration concerning not fitting into traditional church structures while we’re in them, it’s the recovery from hurt or rejection when we’ve left them. It also takes the form of feeling that now that we’ve left the structure that couldn’t hold God for us; we can’t seem to get arrested in terms of fellowship or affecting the world around us.
Andrew Strom’s letter may actually be prophetic, if not simply symbolic of the discontent we as the church have. I think instead of chiding him for this letter if we disagree, or applauding him if we do – we should recognize where we are at in the mix. We must identify with each other, in or out of church structures. The fact that Strom used to tend to be more critical towards the institutional church and now seems to have redirected his criticism in the other direction encapsulates where we are on the whole.
We are still concerned primarily with externals and sometimes our frustration bubbles up and spills out. Haven’t we all experienced the dilemma where we are either questioning why nothing seems to be happening around us, or that the effects of what we are doing are not long lasting. Let’s face it, we do tend to “make things happen” in our own strength because we can’t seem to live in the vacuum of nothing happening.
I am of the opinion that Andrew is correct that many OoCC’s aren’t doing anything or that not much is happening in those circles (perhaps not by choice). I also believe that we as the church have a history of loading people up with some extra “baggage” which, over time, tends to breed much of the discontent which began this vicious cycle. Perhaps the simplistic answer to all this is that we are in the now and not yet. We, the church in the West, are caught between what has been, and what will be. How Frustrating!!!
Historically, while in institutional structures we have been inundated with things to do. Outside, we need to find our footing and live in a world where external compulsion to perform is less prevalent (although internal compulsion may still remain). Maybe, like Andrew Strom, some of us will return to more traditional structures. But, for most of us, I don’t believe our journey will involve going back to where we came from, at least not in the same condition that we left.
Many of us didn’t have a choice in leaving or “IC”s. But,, many of us have also gained a hunger for the Father that is undeniable greater than what we experienced before our exodus. There is more than just wilderness and recovery in our future. Jesus will build his church. The church, as a whole, is not yet able to do what we see the Father doing, and say what we hear the Father saying. This frustration of not having yet “arrived” seems to be at the heart of Andrew Strom’s letter. There is more than just wilderness and recovery in our future. Jesus will build his church.
I am a relatively new but fervent reader of your insight into this delicate but much needed area of church life. I am not necessarily looking to leave the “institution” but I am no longer held by it’s obligations and obvious hinderances to solid relationships outside the structure. Even talking to the more “closely related” people of our congregation is slowly becoming distant as I become more and more aware of its superficial nature (they don’t know I feel this way yet) and the need to know Jesus better. My question for Andrew is, why did he leave in the first place and why such a long time in the “wilderness”. It is my belief that until we know and understand these things it is hard to make an informed comment on why he seems so bitterly discontent with the “so many” (how many?) of the “out of church believers”. Not withstanding this I would like to break down some of the comments made by Andrew.
When looking at his comments in the paragraph about the wilderness, brokeness and preparation he says that so few have been broken just in the same way that so many or most of them (out of church believers) are doing nothing. Does that mean that a few have been broken and a few are doing something? What he is actually doing here is not being absolute about his statements and therefore could lead a lot of people who are simply reading and not being responsible for what they are reading to believe everything he says. After all one of these “dogmas” as Andrew puts it is not the truth.
One of the things I’ve noticed about your commentaries is the absolute way in which the holy spirit witnesses to the truth of what your saying in a way that genders peace, purity, gentleness,wilingness to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality (remember we are not railing against the institution) and seemingly without hypocrisy (don’t know you that well ha! ha!) James 3:17to18. Andrews letter does not seem to gender those feelings in me.
The fact that the truth does not bring about brokenness or any other thing for that matter does not mean it is not the truth. You only have to read the beginning of romans to see that. Who is telling the truth in this particular matter anyway? You’ll have to consult the only one that knows the whole truth and nothing but the truth, guess who? John 14:16 to 18
In another place Andrew mentions that the OOCG’s(out of church goers) dwell on things that don’t matter. What are those things? Again you can’t just blurt out these things without explaining yourself and it is arrogant in the extreme to suggest such things. In the same paragraph Andrew mentions that the OOCG’s are unable to be led, making the acts of the apostles impossible because without leaders there was no way the acts could have happened. My question is who was really leading the revival (guess who?) and were they revealing the truth given by the Father? (obvious answer) Its not to say that their are not those who act as leaders amongst us but why is he making such a point of it. The problem with Andrews statement is that there has been more abuse of scripture down through the ages by self proclaimed leaders or man made leaders (rather than holy spirit appointed leaders) within the “institution” than any other secular group or cults. That is why we have so many different “bents” within the church as we know it, which has suceeded in doing what?(leave it up to you to decide)
In another place Andrew mentions the “institions” feeding the poor and ministering to the lost as if thats what they all do and nobody in the OOCG’s does. Again this is just arrogants beyond belief. I am still part of the institution, and sure I’m feeling somewhat empty (not bitter) with the relationships I have there but to say I’m thinking that everyone except me is a drone, again is arrogant beyond belief. The truth be known I’m waiting for the time when I really start to let my heart be known and see what others might say about me. On the same matter Andrew says that there are praying people (with inference that the OOCG’s are not) in the system (thank the father for that) that leave us (interesting it is now in the third person) for dead. Again how does he even measure or know this.
In another place Andrew mentions that the OOCG’s need to shut themselves in a room and repent of their rebellion and concludes that he knows this because when he was in the OOCG’s situation he was in rebellion himself. (obviously that means every one else is) Again what arrogants!!!
Andrew also asks the question of his readers, why is he so hard on the OOCG’s and validity of the wilderness experience based on the fact that its not working for them or nor did it work for him. Again this is just pure falicy which in itself can be very harmful when fueled with the animosity of this letter.
Andrews comment about the “do nothing” doctrine while rome burns seems to me to put the father, jesus and the holy spirit to the side while Andrew frets about the cause of the lost. He seems to forget that father doesn’t make mistakes and is in control of everything as hard as that is for me to submit to but none the less it is true. I would rather see myself ministering to a few souls in whatever way the father wants me to than to waste time fretting about something that he is in control of.
Finally the last paragraph of the letter says if the apostles had not acted then there would be know acts of the apostles. That is true but as with all dubious teaching the full facts are not revealed. Read Galations 1:11 to 24 and find out what Paul did before he was let loose on the unsuspecting public and just as a encouragement to all those who truly seek the fathers heart read also 1 John 2: 24 to 29. do you believe it.
What Andrew calls the “Wilderness” we have found is actually ‘THE PROMISED LAND”!
As we began this journey almost 4 years ago we also thought it was the wilderness but as time went on we began to see that it was not wilderness but the promised land. We have also discovered that the promised land is a large and expansive place where some will camp and homestead as soon as they enter and others will continue to travel deeper into that land. It really is A God Journey into a land that is free and full of Grace and Peace that comes through the finished work of the Cross.
Thanks guys for walking with us!
As with any article or even prophecy you must discern what is of God and what is of man. Andrew seems to be going through many changes. Seeing his letter “WHY I LEFT THE PROPHETIC MOVEMENT” he wrote in October 2004 will give some background on what he is going through.
I think that what can happen to a person when something that they think they received from God doesn’t happen right away and in our timing like Andrews Street Revival vision, is that we get impatient and we tend to try to make it happen and many times we end up just beating God’s sheep. Abraham tried to make God’s promise happen and look what happened there.
Andrew also posted his letter on his forum: http://126.96.36.199/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=824 on August 3rd and received many responses but has never responded back.
I for one have was rescued out of the IC about 3 years ago but I’m not “Out of Church”. I love God’s Church (His people) and getting together with them as much as they can stand me 🙂 Most of the people in our fellowship came from abusive IC’s and needed to see the love of Christ and to see that the Body of Christ can love each other. We are learning together what it is to BE THE CHURCH. We are also not looking to start a church because there is no reason to start something that already is.
God did ask me to go back to an IC once, but it was to help set the captive free. I went in to deliver the book “He Loves Me” to a person that was being abused by the system. After service she was crying and told me she saw bars on the windows. I think that night God had me do prison ministry. To make a long story short, she and her husband are now out of that IC and now sees God’s love for them.
Jesus had no problem going into a synagogue to set the captive free but he usually found himself not welcome once he spoke up or did something. It is about loving God and loving people. That’s it! So simple isn’t it?
I have thought of how to respond to this, and had several thoughts come to mind. Of these thoughts I feel the most important is what I am going to say here.
The comment that Andrew makes about not seeing works in the lives of those who have left organized religion is interesting. James says that faith with out works is dead. God has changed my definition of faith while I have been seeking him out side of the box. To me faith is an understanding of God and his character. This can not happen with out relationship with God. If we are seeking God and walking in relationship with him he will give us things to do. These things I believe is what James is talking about. That does not mean that others will always see our works. That is up to God if he will show them. Some of these works come as just helping a friend or neighbor get through a rough time. If we focus on making sure our works are seen by others we become dead to religion like the Pharisees were. So our focus needs to be on building relationship with God.
I am saddened that Andrew does not call those who are not showing any fruit back to relationship. Instead he seems to be calling them back to organized religion. Is all organized religion will give them is dead works and not faith.
To me the most important point to be made is make sure you are in a life giving relationship with the living God.
This is quie an interesting article. As I read it,I found it to be both good and bad. It is good, because any strong rebuke should cause one to examine himself/herself to see whether or not they are in the faith. The bad side of the letter, though, is that Bro. Andrew seems to be looking at this thing one-sided.
The first question I asked myself after reading this is, “What is his motive in writing this?”
I know from experience that when a “leader’ starts flailing the belt at those around him/her, then its usually because of some insecurity. I dont know Bro. Andrew’s history, and probably dont need to. I do know, however, that since leaving the Institutional Church (IC) 2 years ago, I have had the opportunity to meet with all kinds of fellow travelers and some of them have had some of the most profound effetc upon my life. I have had my life impacted by many in the IC as well. Have I seen criticism and bitterness by those outside the box? Sure I have! Have I seen those outside the box feed the homeless and serve others effectively as well? Yep! My point is that you are going to see all kinds of things on both sides of the fence.
I should point out that the Apostle Paul faced a very similiar impasse. He was being criticized by the Jews for giving people a little too much freedom. I mean, hey lets tell people Jesus set them free, but dont give them that much liberty to discover and live it on their own! After all, they may realize that they dont need Pastor that much, and how then will we justify his salary? (OK, sorry, I’ll behave 🙂 ) On the other hand, Paul admonishes us firmly, yet not as harshly as Bro. Strom, that we should not use our liberty as a license to sin (i.e.- sit and do nothing, complain, murmur, etc,}.
So, I read this letter and say to myself, Let me see where I can improve, but on the other hand, I have no regrets for the journey has God has taken us on. God is well able to complete the work He started in us!
For the King and the Kingdom!
Isn’t it amusing how the flesh thrashes at the log in it’s own eye!
It seems to me that Andrew is exhibiting the frustrations I went thru’ trying to find out why what ever I did turned to dust.
Peace is found in a Person.
Peter, James, John – leaders ??? Not in the sense I feel Mr. Strom thinks of leadership. The Holy Spirit had to light a fire under these leaders in order to cause the gospel to spread beyond Jerusalem, and even then they themselves stayed put. Some leadership, huh? 🙂
Let’s give leadership back to Him, never forgetting that we are spiritual creations and that we should be living from our spiritual position.
May Our Lord, Jesus the Christ complete the building of His Church without the interference of soulical counterfeits.
My apologies for making this a long post – I just felt that there were many things that Mr. Strom said in his letter that needed close examination:
In paragraph 1 – “”out-of church” believers – how can one be a believer and be out of church? He is obviously speaking of the organized, institutionalized church, not the actual living church of Jesus and the Father. It is helpful to remember that they are not entirely congruous.
paragraph 3 – “I have become heartily sick of it all” – “it lead nowhere, it has never led anywhere, and it is never likely to lead anywhere”
1. He makes it very clear that this is a venting of his own feelings, not a revelation
2. Apparently he doesn’t think the early church did anything or “got” anywhere, because the institution which he calls church did not exist at that time.
paragraphs 4 & 5 – He makes a good point about judging form and structure instead of the heart – being outside of the IC and criticizing it is no more Godly than being inside the IC and criticizing brothers who are outside it. Judging the heart can only be done on an individual basis, and it is really God who has to do the judging. We cannot know another’s heart totally, we can only know by the presence or lack of the fruit of the Spirit – peace, joy, love, patience, etc.
I have to wonder exactly what “doing” Mr. Strom is concerned about. He doesn’t explain what he means by that. Does he mean build hospitals or mount big campaigns? Big, obvious things weren’t done by the early church, either. There is no discussion in scripture about how to launch a large evangelistic effort or organize a big rally. There is plenty of discussion about how to relate to God and to our fellow man, which leaves me with the distinct impression that those are the kind of works which God desires. It would have been helpful if Mr. Strom had given some example of the kinds of “doing” he thinks the church needs.
“So many are MORE arrogant….” – these accusations may be very true in his experience, but I haven’t found them to be true in mine. And if they are true of some, how do we help them?
The greatest Reformation in history, the revelation of God’s grace through Jesus, did indeed have a strong leader – the strongest! But he didn’t RULE OVER his followers even though he certainly has the power & authority to do so. He led instead, which is a very different thing.
“No leaders, no meetings, no faith, no DARING” – these are broad accusations, and again, untrue from my own perspective. I do follow leaders – those who have gone before me who show the fruit of the spirit. Some of them don’t even know me personally, but they are helping me see how to better follow Jesus through their words never the less. They are truly leading, not kicking and pounding on me!
“No meetings” – well, I do meet with other believers, but not in large groups. Right now, it’s the two or three that our Lord spoke of.
Regarding faith, my faith has grown more in the last 9 years out of the IC than it ever did while I was in the IC, partly, I think, because I have been forced to turn to God for solutions and comfort rather than to a program or another person. I have been truly blessed. But faith comes from God, and he can give it in whatever circumstances he deems best. It does not come from a group or an organization or a man.
“No DARING” – this is perhaps true of me – I tend not to be a very daring person. But I can confess to being more daring now than I ever was before. I am more eager to converse with other believers about things of God, and more bold to speak of God to unbelievers than ever before.
“They wait and they wait…” Are we not told to wait on the Lord? I sense a frustration on Mr. Strom’s part about things not happening when and how he thinks they should.
“I will not stand by and watch it rob us of our Harvest now” I find the pronouns used here to be revealing….
“The very essence of Babylon” – well, I’m afraid that there are those in the non-IC who do accuse the IC of this exact thing. It is saddening to read such bitterness in this letter. The “OOCC” is accused of judging by the external appearance, but he is doing the same, juding by what he sees as a lack of external “doing”. I’m sorry that Mr. Strom spent his “wilderness” time being harsh and critical and rebellious (his own description) when the time could have been glorious, joyful, and full of faith!
If there are praying church people who leave us for dead in the areas of the heart, I don’t see why that should motivate anyone to go back to the IC. I would rather pray for those who don’t understand what being a disciple of our Lord really means – that it isn’t about what group you meet with or where you meet, but about knowing and loving our wonderful Father and his glorious Son and walking in the light of the Holy Spirit. May He have mercy on them and soften their hearts to love even those who disagree with them.
In the section he has switched to the pronoun “us” – is he meaning that he is once again (or still) full of rebellion, rejection, hurt and bitterness? There seems to be ambivalence here, or at least a lack of clarity.,
I agree with his statement that the wilderness “is valid if you are actually allowing God to break you and prepare you and take the harshness and ugliness out of you, etc.” Being anywhere with a critical spirit is indeed harmful.
God doesn’t need us to do his work, he gives us opportunities to join in. So, yes, I wait for God to do something – to bring someone into my life that he wants me to have a relationship with and share His love with. To make me aware of needs of others that I see as He gives me the capacity to see and help. To create in me the desire to do whatever particular work he has for me on any given day.
Re Pentecost – I just would point out that people rushed to see what had happened because of the commotion that God created by sending the power of the Spirit on the disciples in a very attention-getting way. Yes, they responded by answering the questions of those around them as to what had happened and why. The disciples didn’t conjure up Pentecost, they responded to what God did. They indeed were told by Jesus to wait until God did something!
Perhaps in some non-IC groups, the do-nothing doctrine is the prime doctrine as he states. I woulldn’t know. I only know that those whom I’ve followed do not teach doing nothing. They teach loving God with all one’s heart, mind, and strength and loving our fellow humans. That is a very, very active doctrine, even if it is done quietly and in small numbers when you look at one person’s life – it is like dropping a pebble in a pond – the effect moves on and out. Only there are many pebbles, not just one. Again, I think it is very illuminating to look at just what the apostles taught the early church to do.
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It’s all about Jesus. When Andrew speaks by the Spirit what is in the Father’s heart and the mouth of the Son, it’s good stuff. When he speaks from his own understanding, it’s rubbish.
Just like all the words from our mouths.
a fellow servant with Andrew and you,
I read Andrews letter and was a little miffed at him. I suppose as a so called out of church christian I felt threatened. But then sanity (Fathers wisdom) prevailed and I thought I welcome comments like Andrews because it makes us evaluate where we are. What he said about “out of church christians” is also true of “in church christians” as well. My perspective now is if I am in Christ, then I am part of his body. What does this do with “out out of / in” definitions. If we are all in Christ then we are all part of the same body. That takes the sress of worrying where I fit in away. Then it does come down to heart attitude (all christians), and our responsibility to live out the Fathers love in whatever sphere we are in.
(also posted oat lifestream blog)
When I read Andrews letter my immediate thought was, “This brother is hurting.Possibly angry with God for not moving fast enough.” I guess his wilderness experience may have been prolonged by his grumbling about things not happening his way and by seemingly being in fellowship with others in the same mind set, they would certainly encourage each other to be disconted.
When I was brought out by Father to a wilderness place I felt I had to justify my position and sad to say I was critical of what I had left (IC). Father graciously dealt with my judgementalism by showing me it wasn’t the people that were wrong but the very nature of the Institution itself. (the values and systems of the world applied to a spiritual people) It demands Loyalty and submission, just like being a company man.
I know that whilst I was in the same place I only taught what I thought was right, being taught to be a lawman, I was good at it, but never out of a wrong heart, I just thought that was the way it should be.
Since being out of the IC Father has been able to show me His love for the whole body (Church) as opposed to loving just those in the same group as myself and judging those that don’t go along with the doctrines of “my group.” Praise God, I no longer have a ‘group.’
I do feel sad that Andrew found ‘so many’ lazy, good for nothing, do nothing, judgemental and fat butted Christians to fellowship with, but by his own admition it seems ‘Birds of a feather flocked together.’
My wife and I came out of the IC back in 1988, but it took some time to get the IC out of us, (I’m not sure it’s all gone yet) but we do know that Father is not only doing His thing in us, He also is doing it through us as us. More often than not it only dawns on us afterwoulds that He was graciously at work.
I do pray that Andrew is able to allow the Father to deal with that hurt.
We should all use Andrew’s words as a warning. Why are we doing what we’re doing? I fear some of us are simply rebellious, like he accuses. I will take a harder look at my motives. We all should examine ourselves and some of us may need to repent. I like to explain that our way is better for me and my family, but it’s just A way not THE way. The IC is still effective in many ways and many places. Many of the people I love live in the IC.
My dear children, there is no such thing as an “Out of the Church” Christian, or believer or one who has faith. If one is separated from an assembly established by Christ, he is without faith. And how can His sheep know what is the assembly He has established-by their fruit and the fruit is the message. The message is Christ. I have found the message to be most fruitful, such as, a man’s foes are they of his own household, breathing threats, rejection, no honor, ignored, forgotten, but not forgotten of God. James writes, “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, BEING ALONE. The work of Christ is the new creation, the Body of Christ, the assembly of the living God-we are not alone. The work of God is to believe on Him who He has sent. Attaching oneself by the grace given to us by the Father (even this is His work, for all good things proceed from Him) to the assembly where the gospel is preached. “But exhorting one another daily, while it is call today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:12) Jude says, “But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, because they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. (rather than after the Spirit that only testifies of Christ) These be they who WHO SEPARATE THEMSELVES, sensual (of the flesh), having not the Spirit. But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith (one faith not many-the faith of Christ:looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of THE FAITH), praying in the holy Spirit, (who is found in the assembly where the gospel is preached-Christ among you(“YOU” is a plural word)) keep yourselves in the love of God (assemble), looking for the mercy(in the assembly) of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
All said, I know the gospel I preach, and those who attach themselves to this form of teaching by grace given from the Father. My sheep hear my voice. The gospel I preach is the gospel Paul preached-1 Cor 15:1-6. It is the gospel Jesus preached-Luke 24. It is the gospel Peter preached-1 Peter 1:25. It is the gospel all the apostles preached. What gospel are you attached to? If there be grace attach yourself to this gospel- the eternal gospel. Apart from this gospel no man can have understanding to the saving of the soul. Have your confidence in Christ Jesus who is preached by the word through the gospel of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection the third day. Search ye the scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life; it is they that testify of me, sayeth Jesus. WHAT GOSPEL DO YOU ATTACH YOURSELVES TO in the generation of judgment, in this crook, perverse, forward generation.
With all confidence by the grace of God in preaching Christ and Him crucified from all the scriptures,
Of the many things that one can say about Andrew’s take off on OOCCs, this is the question anyone who is looking to him or his version of “leadership” should be asking:
In 2 or 3 or 5 years, is Andrew going to be bailing out of his own leadership movement because it doesn’t work either? Or will he be another untouchable “church” leader firmly entrenched in his own little denominational empire and everyone else will be wanting to bail on his leadership movement? Now is the time when Andrew can avoid a lot of hurt and heartache if he will but listen.
Someone on this thread tagged Andrew’s real motives really well, I believe – frustration that God isn’t moving fast enough to suit Andrew. So now, Andrew and whoever belongs in his “us” is going to lead us out of the wilderness because he is frustrated. That’s not God’s way of doing things.
But, as far as I can tell, Andrew won’t even discuss this on his own blogsite! He certainly isn’t responding to my emails on the matter. Apparently, if you don’t support his version of leadership, you’re not to be listened to over there.
We really need to start applying the word Nicolaitanism to all these attempts to bring human lordship back over the people who just want to simply obey Christ and abide in Him – both individually and corporately. And we need to be clear that Christ hates that stuff for some very good reasons.
In His love,
After posting above, I went back and read again Andrew’s letter to OOCCs and saw something I’d missed.
>I am talking about people who know all the “right” things about church structure and so-on.
I don’t know that I’ve met very many people who know the right things about church structure – in or out of the “church.” In the NT, there is only the ekklesia of “a city.” When the NT refers to a region, ekklesia is plural. Watchman Nee does the best job I’ve seen of pointing out why that’s important in “Normal Christian Church Life.” That’s on my website if anyone wants to read it. But I’ve seen this simple truth about ekklesia snobbishly and arrogantly dismissed just because “no one practices THAT!”
What it boils down to, though, is this: In “my town” there is only one ekklesia. Ask any spiritually alert Christian how many churches are there supposed to be in any given town and they already know in their spirit that the right answer is “one.”
Practically speaking, if in “my town” I find one (or more) other believer(s) in Christ who has the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9) and who is intent on obeying and abiding in Him (Jn. 15:5), I belong to that ekkleisa, that person or those people – and they belong to me. But if I drive off to some commuter “church” in some other place and attempt to belong to that, then I am abandoning the ekklesia to which I truly belong and taking up something for some reason of my own. The Bible calls that lawlessness and it could cost me everything I hope to inherit in Christ. (see Mt. 7:23)
But if all the people I know in “my town” who claim to belong to Christ (whether in or out of the counterfeit “church”) really live after another spirit or follow another gospel or preach another Jesus (see 2 Cor. 11:3-4), on what basis am I to enter into spiritual fellowship or the unity of the Spirit of Christ with those people? If all the people I know in “my town” have a mere form of godliness but not the power (pretty much the same complaint Andrew is making – only he doesn’t see how it applies across the board to the vast majority of people claiming to follow Christ, whether in or out of the “church”) then I am under orders from the NT to withdraw from those people. (2 Tim. 3:5)
Something will happen for those who abide – it’s called abundant life. And being in the wilderness and suffering for Christ’s sake doesn’t stop that abundant life. We simply do whatever the Lord is putting before us and something happens. But it’s on the level of the 2s and 3s (as someone in this thread also mentioned as being their experience) quietly building the ekklesia, the body of Christ on very local, very personal levels that will be the next move of God – not some impersonal Revival/leadership movement.
If we, the people of Christ, really knew about ekklesia structure, we’d be over at some neighbor’s house sharing the love and truth of Christ to any and all who would listen and receive. And there probably wouldn’t be so much “expert” contentious “Christian” blogging going on – and there certainly could never have been built up the monstrously huge, deceptive “church” structure from Babylon – whether that’s practiced largely in a mega-“church” building or scaled down to fit inside a home “church.” If it ain’t Christ, it ain’t Christ. We’re in a deep hole and we’re not going to get out of that hole by pretending it’s not a hole.
Some of us live in such a spiritual wilderness that we have to resort to computers that reach around the world to enjoy true koinania fellowship while we try to simply share the truth with the lost “believers” of “my town” who are so filled with religiosity – whether in or out of the “church” – that they don’t want to hear what Christ is saying to and through us. And we have to wait until these people (if they are ever going to truly follow Christ) learn about genuine ekklesia structure and begin to practice the LOCAL body life of agape love without all the leftover “church” baggage so many seem to happily bring to the party.
I guess Andrew is satisfied with his simple, bottom-line answers – but they don’t work in “my town.”
In His love,
This is one man’s pontification! It seems to me that the letter speaks to those who, like many of us for many different reasons, stay stuck in unforgiveness. Therefore I take the meat and spit out the bones! It has been almost one year since me and my family pulled away from our local church body that we had been a part of for 7 years, and part of a non-denominational movement for 20 years. I do not feel angry now, although it took a few months to work through it. Thankfully, the Spirit moved several mature folks about the same time, to also pull out of the congregation, and so our church just became smaller! We meet when we can, connect a lot, at least weekly, with one or more of each other, and have even done an “outreach” together. Perhaps this is one reason I have been able to work through my personal anger so quickly. Ah, but the personal residual process is taking much, much longer! I have found that the issue that creeps up in me is in thinking about some of the more superficial relationships I walked away from. Many of these “friends” chose to not even look at the dysfunctional relational brokenness that leadership exhibited, but still keep paying into the system, both time and money. I do have a lot of respect and compassion for others still who did see the dysfunction, but for varying reasons, made a decision to stay. I understand their actions, even though I do not agree. For me, relationships became sifted and sort of defined; even though I felt disappointed and hurt with some folks, now, it has helped me mature. It has also helped me to understand that the complexity of our brokenness and freedom, fully offered by Father on the Cross, comes to us in different seasons, in varying reasons, in certain times. Not all of us chooses the path of freedom when we come to the crossroads; I feel Father’s love, though, holds us close in our immaturity, and He has great compassion. I would caution to put too much emphasis on this type of letter, from one man’s point of view and feelings.