BiblicalChurchMeeting.com

The religious leaders in Jesus' day placed more importance on following tradition than obeying the word of God. We have the same kind of problem today regarding what we do in our church meetings.

The Bible very clearly tells Christians what we are supposed to be doing in church. The commandments on how to conduct church were never repealed, and we are still obliged to follow them. Church is supposed to be an interactive meeting of believers encouraging and exhorting and comforting one another, not an audience of strangers listening to one man give a sermon

The format for church where the man in charge speaks and nobody else does is not found in the New Testament. Believers started doing church that way soon after the apostles had all died, when prominent men stepped in and established several beliefs and traditions that were contrary to what the apostles had taught.

Here are four ways in which biblical church is different from traditional church. A biblical church:

  1. Is one where any man who wants to participate and say something to the rest of the group can do so. (1 Cor. 14:26, 29, 31) (More)

  2. Has leadership consisting of proven, stable men from within the church, who function as servants instead of rulers, and with no one man being the main speaker. (Matt. 20:25-28, Matt. 23:11, Acts 14:23, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 3 John 9) (More)

  3. Meets in homes. (Acts 2:46, Rom. 16:5, 23, Col. 4:15, Philemon 1:2) (More)

  4. Eats the Lord's supper together as a full meal. (Matthew 26:26, Acts 2:46, 20:7, 1 Cor. 11:33) (More)

Read your own Bible. Do your own research. Ask God for wisdom. Think for yourself. Be willing to accept the truth, regardless of the consequences.

Click the scripture links on this page, or look them up in your own Bible, and read the verses in context to see whether what this page says is true or not. Study the subject of church throughout the New Testament. Don't rely on anyone's sermon or book or web site (including this one). Instead, STUDY THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF, and convince yourself of the truth. It's not hard to find the truth on this subject. What can be hard is deciding to believe the truth even when it goes against popular opinion.

See also: Fun Facts, Final Thoughts and Comparison Summary.

A few reasons for the above four characteristics:

1. If a man is allowed his turn to speak he has the potential to be helpful to the other believers, as opposed to being no more than just another audience member. So God designed the church meeting so that at least two or three men are supposed to speak in each meeting, and every man gets a turn to speak in a meeting if he wants to, in order that the various members of the body of Christ may get a chance to help the other members. Also, God included a provision that if anything is revealed to someone else who is listening the first man must stop speaking and let the other man say what the Holy Spirit has brought to his mind (1 Cor. 14:30). So the man speaking knows that at any time he may be interrupted. One benefit of this arrangement is that if the speaker says something incorrect, or something out of balance, another believer may provide a correct or more balanced perspective. So with multiple speakers and a provision for interruption, each speaker will be more inclined to be sure that what he says is indeed true and in line with what the Bible says, as opposed to a situation where the man in charge speaks without anyone else daring to stop him, or having the opportunity to speak after him. (Back to Top)

2. Jesus Christ is the head of the church and he is present wherever two or three are gathered together in his name. So God designed the church meeting so that there is never one man other than Jesus in charge. So the Bible never refers to "the pastor" of a church, nor is there ever any indication that one elder should have authority over other elders, or should be the only person who speaks in the meeting. The Bible speaks negatively about a man named Diotrephes who loved to have preeminence in the meeting (3 John 9-10). There is supposed to be one man in charge of the church meeting, and that man is the Lord Jesus Christ. Church elders are supposed to behave as if they believe that. So they should reject the role of being the preeminent speaker, and should instead obey what the word of God says about what to do in church, and let every man have a turn to speak. Also, elders are supposed to be raised up from those in the group (as opposed to bringing in an outsider) as being men who are well known by everyone in the assembly as being solid Christians with records of good behavior over a long period of time. (Back to Top)

3. Meeting in homes limits the size of the groups to be small enough so that everyone gets to know each other. It also eliminates the need for paying for a separate building and land, and the need to pay someone to be the full time designated speaker. It makes it easier for the group to support missionaries and other full time Christian workers, or help one of their own group who happens to need it, or help others who are not in the group. We are specifically told four times in the New Testament where believers met for church, and each of those times it was in someone's house. There is no mention of their having met anywhere else for their church meetings. We are never directly commanded to meet in people's homes, but we are commanded to keep the traditions that the apostles taught (2 Thes. 2:15), and meeting in people's homes was one of those traditions. (Back to Top)

4. Every time the Lord's supper is referred to it is always part of a full meal that believers share together. Of course it is supposed to be a time of examining oneself. But it is also supposed to be a time of getting to know others in God's family better. Sharing a full meal together and talking with others accomplishes that, while sitting in a pew eating one small bite and taking one small sip, speaking to no one, does not. (Back to Top)

Fun Facts:

  • Jesus strongly rebuked those who followed "the tradition of the elders" instead of the word of God (Matt. 15:2, 3, 6; Mark 7:8, 9, 13). The modern church values tradition over the Bible when we conduct our church meetings in violation of the commandments we were given.

  • The format given in 1 Corinthians 14 is the only one for church meetings given in the New Testament. No replacement format is ever given, and it never says there would be another way to do church meetings coming later.

  • Although the New Testament was completed by about 95 A.D., it was not fully verified, compiled and available as a complete work for several years. The Early Church Fathers (men who first led the church after the apostles had all died) were brave, honorable men of God, but they did not have the benefit of possessing the full New Testament, and they departed from the apostles' teachings in several ways, including conducting church meetings unbiblically, with one man in charge who does most of the speaking. They also decided there should be a division between clergy and laity, created a hierarchical leadership structure, and invented baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. Once the New Testament was more readily available believers should have corrected their practices and discarded all of these obviously unbiblical teachings, but they didn't.

  • Relatively few people nowadays recognize that the traditional church meeting is unbiblical. The fact that the number of people who see the truth is relatively small does not change what the Bible says.

  • Christians around the world are starting to see the truth on this subject.

  • Some things in the Bible are hard to understand. This matter is not one of them. The Bible makes it very clear what we are supposed to be doing in our church meetings. What can be hard to accept is that everyone you know is wrong.

  • Those least likely to see the truth on this matter are those whose lives are most invested in doing church the traditional way. That means pastors and others on the church payroll are naturally going to tend to be the last to see and acknowledge the truth.

  • Believers who are most likely to see the truth on this matter are those who recognize the fact that the unbiblical, traditional church falls short in ways that directly affect themselves. It's easier to be persuaded on this matter if you are bothered by something that is inherent to the traditional church. For example, if you have something to say that you think would help other believers, but are required to remain silent in your church meeting, then you are more likely to see the truth.

  • An elder can be a man who does secular work for a living, or he may be one who makes his living from learning and teaching the word of God (1 Tim. 5:17). Of course we should support elders who make their living from laboring in the word and doctrine. We are under a biblical mandate to do so. But we are under no biblical obligation to financially support those who reject the biblical way of church in favor of tradition, unless and until they change their practices. Those who teach that we should go by tradition instead of obeying the word of God do not "rule well" and should not be paid.

  • Pastors do not have the authority to conduct church however they please. Like all Christians, they are supposed to follow the commandments we were given for church. Nowhere does the Bible say that doing so is optional, or that church leaders have any right to lead the people to disobey the commandments for church.

  • Sometimes a traditional church pastor will say that God called him to be a pastor, referring to his current role of being the preeminent speaker. But God does not call people to do things that are contrary to his word. Throughout the New Testament there is nothing even close to resembling the role of "the pastor" of a church who does all or most of the speaking. Instead, the Bible commands us to let every man have a turn to speak.

    Men who claim that God called them to do something that violates the clear commandments in his word for New Testament Christians are not telling the truth.

  • Arguments in favor of traditional church instead of biblical church typically include made-up assumptions that aren't in the Bible. For example, the Bible never says that the open format church meeting was somehow a temporary measure God used only until the New Testament was completed, and that once that happened only an elder is to speak. That argument was really invented out of thin air to try to excuse favoring tradition over scripture, since there is nothing even remotely like that said in the Bible. Nowhere does it say anything about the open format church meeting being a way to do things temporarily until the New Testament gets completed. And nowhere does it say to forget all about the commandments we were given for church, and from now on let only the man in charge speak. That is essentially what happened in history, but there is no reason today that we have to keep repeating the same error. The basic idea behind the argument is this: Before the New Testament was completed God wanted Christians to do church the way the Bible says, but after the New Testament was completed he wants them to conduct church contrary to what the Bible says.

  • What must God be like in the minds of those who promote traditional church over biblical church? To them he must be mean and petulant, since he first gives long, detailed instructions to New Testament Christians about how to do things in church meetings, then pulls the rug out from under us by not giving us what we need ("No more spiritual gifts for you! Ha, ha!"). This "god" says to conduct church a particular way in his word, then quickly changes his mind, and decides we should do it completely differently, but he doesn't think to tell us about the new format in his word, which is already finished ("Oops!"). He says one thing, but really means something else. To find out what this god really means, you have to go to an expert who can tell you all about the hidden meanings, and the stuff that you, as a lowly parishioner, could never figure out on your own (1 John 2:27). What a lousy, deceitful, powerless god.

  • Traditional church is usually promoted using two main tactics, both of which are dishonest, to try to make unbiblical church sound biblical.

    One way is to acknowledge that church used to be an open format meeting, but then claim that God changed the church format with the addition of elders, or with the completion of the New Testament. This claim sounds kind of right to people, since it goes along with what happened in history, where the open format was replaced with the "one man speaks" format after the apostles had all died and the new guys stepped in. There is no biblical support whatsoever for that, but people still believe it, so "the pastor" keeps saying it. The idea is to get people to believe that God gave elders to the church in order to help people disobey the commandments of the Lord rather than to help them obey those commandments.

    Another way is to pretend that there never was an open format for church meetings. Men will claim that Peter was "the pastor" of a church, or that James was "the pastor" of a church, meaning that these men were just like today's guy called "the pastor," who does all the speaking. Yes, Peter was an elder, but nothing in the Bible says that he didn't follow "the commandments of the Lord" about church, where every believing man in church gets a chance to speak. Why would Peter decide that instead of acting like "an elder" who leads by example and lets every man have a turn to speak, he would disobey the Lord and become "the pastor," who forces every other man in the meeting to keep his mouth shut? Of course he didn't. Men shouldn't try to cover up their wrongdoing of disregarding the Lord's commandments for church by claiming that Jesus' closest apostles did the same thing.

  • We shouldn't let our desires sway our thinking when we read the Bible. We should read it and just let it say what it says. Traditional church pastors desire very strongly for the Bible to support their position about church, where only they get to speak, and they are God's man in the assembly. And they read the Bible through that filter.

    Consider what a typical traditional church pastor would lose if everyone in his church suddenly believed in the biblical format for church where all the men are expected to speak:

    He would lose a steady job with a good salary. With the open format meeting a paid speaker isn't necessary. The elders whom the Bible says should be paid by the saints are those who "labour in the word and doctrine" (1 Tim. 5:17), which doesn't describe very well what these men typically do. They usually don't study the Bible very much to prepare for their messages, since they don't have to, because they know they won't be challenged by anyone else in the meeting on anything they say. So most of them are not suited for the life of a biblical paid elder, whom people freely choose to support directly instead of through an institution, and whose ministry is usually broad in scope. For Christian people to support you directly, and without a tax break, you have to really work at it, and give people something that truly helps them. Without the full weight of the commercial church institution behind them, most men working as "the pastor" wouldn't really have enough to offer for people to think that full financial support is warranted.

    He would lose his power over people. Being in a position where everyone in the room thinks you are God's man, to the point where only you get to speak in spite of what the Bible says, is secretly quite thrilling to many of these men. It's a tough thing to give up.

    He would lose some of his good reputation. Since most Christians are ignorant of the Bible, being known as "the pastor" is about as high up as you can go in status and reverence. People use the word, "Pastor" before your name whenever they address you. They make appointments to see you. They give you gifts, invite you over to dinner, and praise you often. What a life to have to give up.

    So it's tough for "the pastor" to ever be objective when reading anything about church in the Bible. Such a guy tends to read everything through the assumption that his job and his church are just the way they're supposed to be. That's why they tend to be dead last when it comes to waking up to the truth of what scripture says about church.

  • Why do you suppose God put 1 Corinthians 14 in the Bible? Why would a wise and loving God include a very detailed set of instructions in his word about how to conduct church, but not want us to actually obey those instructions? Do you think he only intended things to be done that way for a little while? Do you think he included it in the Bible because he just wanted to give us a history lesson about how things used to be done way back then?

    Why would a loving, all-knowing God repeatedly tell readers of his eternal word to seek the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1, 5, 39) if within just a few years he was going to discontinue giving anyone that gift? What kind of God would do that?

    Why would a good God give us very specific rules about using the gift of tongues in church if that gift was about to reach its expiration date as well (1 Cor. 14:13, 27-28, 39)? Why would a benevolent God say such things?

    Doesn't God know how dangerous that is? A simple minded person who didn't know any better might pick up a Bible, accidentally read 1 Corinthians 14, and think that we're actually supposed to obey what it says.

    Then that gullible person might look through the whole New Testament to see if God canceled those rules in some other passage of scripture. Not finding any such cancelation, he might then find himself suffering from a terrible delusion, thinking such crazy thoughts as, "Maybe God really wants us to do what he told us to do."

    Why would a good God let us be mislead in that way? Why would he give such a long list of do's and don'ts for church in the Bible, all the while not really wanting folks to obey them? Why would he then at the end of the chapter essentially say, "Oh, by the way, let me make sure you understand where these rules came from, in case any of you have a different opinion about how to do things. These rules didn't come from Paul the apostle's personal opinions. These rules didn't come from a committee. These rules didn't come from folks learning by experience on the mission field. These commandments were given by Jesus Christ himself! THESE ARE THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD!"

    "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:37)

    Why would a good God allow such easily misunderstood things to be said in his word? People could misinterpret such things, and mistakenly think that we're supposed to do what it says. Maybe it's one of those mysteries that we'll never know the answer to, right?

  • Prophesying is speaking to men in order to edify, exhort and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). We are commanded to let two or three men who would like to prophesy do so in each church meeting (1 Cor. 14:29). Since God greatly desires that all men in the church have their turn to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1, 5, 31, 39), we know that God will give this gift to those who ask for it and seek it (Matt. 7:7-11).

  • In addition to prophesying, the Bible encourages every man to contribute to the meeting in some meaningful way (1 Cor. 14:26). For example, one could read a chapter from the Psalms, and talk about it.

  • The spiritual gift of prophesying enables one to speak effectively in order to edify, exhort and comfort believers (1 Cor. 14:3), but the Bible does not imply that one who is genuinely exercising the gift necessarily speaks infallibly ("whether there be prophesies, they shall fail" - 1 Cor. 13:8), or beyond his own understanding ("we prophesy in part" - 1 Cor. 13:9). Otherwise, God would not have provided a way to interrupt someone right in the middle of prophesying ("let the first hold his peace" - 1 Cor. 14:30). It is even possible to prophesy without the right motivation ("And though I have the gift of prophecy... and have not charity, I am nothing." - 1 Cor. 13:2).

    There have been exceptions, though, when men did prophesy perfectly, and their every word was breathed by God. These were those special moments in history when men prophesied perfectly while being moved by the Holy Ghost in a unique way, and their words were written down and became the books of the Bible: "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." - (2 Pet. 1:21). But normal prophesying by believers is quite different from that, and we are responsible for what we say, and when and how we choose to say it ("And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." - 1 Cor. 14:32).

  • Have you ever wondered why the Lord, through Paul, emphasized the importance of the commandments for church in a remarkable way by calling them, "the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37)? Maybe it was in anticipation of the coming centuries of men despising this part of his word. It's not like there's anything hard to figure out. God spelled things out for us perfectly. We are without excuse. They are the commandments of the Lord, and to disobey them is sin.

  • It says in 1 Corinthians 14:29-30, "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace."

    So in a church that obeys the Bible at least two or three men are supposed to prophesy in each meeting. Where in the Bible is the format for church where only one man gives a message in the meeting and all the rest of the men do nothing? Nowhere. That format is something man invented that replaces the way God said to do it.

    And in a biblical church every man has the freedom to interrupt the man speaking if the Lord reveals something to him and prompts him to say something. So the men who aren't speaking have the responsibility to listen carefully in case the Lord prompts them to say something.

    Some traditional church pastors balk at all of this. They do not like the idea of their message being scrutinized or questioned or expanded upon by other men in the meeting. Nor do they like the idea of sharing the speaking time with anyone else. They like being the main guy, the most spiritual, the most knowledgeable, and the one everyone listens to and respects and thanks for giving such a good sermon and for being such a kind, wise and godly man.

    The scripture quoted above is a commandment of the Lord, as it says in 1 Cor. 14:37. Jesus Christ gave Paul this commandment to give to the churches, and the Holy Spirit had Paul write it out so that it would become forever a part of his holy word, and where it could be followed by Christians through the ages. Nowhere in the New Testament is this commandment revoked, or even amended. Anyone who is teaching you not to obey this commandment is teaching you to disobey the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • It says in 1 Corinthians 14:31, "For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted."

    So in order for all in the assembly to learn and for all to be comforted, each man must be allowed to prophesy. That's because each of God's children is unique, and we each have different needs. When the first man speaks some people benefit a lot from what he says, but others don't get much out of it. Then the second man speaks, and different people find him more helpful than the first guy, and so on. When only one man speaks during the meeting it doesn't help everyone near as much as when multiple men speak.

  • Traditional, institutional church is like a business. A business provides something of value to its customers in exchange for money. Institutional church provides the men with a more relaxing, easier way to do things. It relieves men of their biblical responsibilities in church, while they still get to feel like they fulfilled their obligation to go to church. Men attending an institutional church feel no need to get to know their fellow church attendees, since they will never say anything in the meeting that might be of help to anyone. The men do not need to study their Bibles in order to help the others in the meeting, since "the pastor" does that for them. They have no need to seek spiritual gifts in order to benefit others. They never need to prepare a message that may help someone. They never need to learn to speak effectively to a group of believers. The men are encouraged to remain spiritual babies their entire lives. They can just walk in, sit down, sing along, put some money in the plate, listen to the pastor, and leave.

  • Elders are supposed to be humble and lead by example, as explained in 1 Pet. 5:3: "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock." They aren't supposed to be like a boss over the people. In a biblical church, when it's an elder's turn to talk he should do so in a way that leads by example, so the other men are better equipped to speak when it's their turn. On the other hand, a traditional church pastor behaves as if he is the boss. Only he speaks, since he's the "man of God." He doesn't lead by example, since he does not want any of the other men to follow his example by also speaking to the group.

  • How difficult did God make it to figure out what he wants us to do in church? Did he make it very hard, very easy, or somewhere in between? Since it's something every believer would need to know, he made it very easy. He made it so any believer who can read can see the plain truth in just a few minutes of studying this subject in the Bible.

  • Traditional, commercial church is a fraudulent replacement for biblical church. It's a scam. Ultimately, like all evil in the world, its root is the love of money:

    "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." - (1 Tim. 6:10)

    Traditional church pastors do not look honestly at what the Bible says about church, since they literally cannot afford to do so. A lot of Christian authors, traveling speakers, Bible school teachers, missionaries, and many other full-time Christian workers cannot afford to look at the subject of church in the Bible objectively either, since their support and way of making a living might dry up. Since most of their support comes from people who attend traditional churches, they must all go along with the unbiblical notion of each church having a man called "the pastor" who is pretty much the only speaker. By going along with that popular belief instead of faithfully sticking to what the word of God says even if it means losing support, they have compromised their integrity for the sake of money.

    If that is your situation you need to take a step of faith, and decide to break from the crowd, and take a firm stand to believe what the word of God says about what we are supposed to be doing in church. Yes, you may lose supporters. Yes, you may need to get another line of work. Yes, you may lose friends. But is there really anything to worry about? Does your Father in heaven not know how to take care of you if all of that happens? Is your faith really that small? Consider the words of our Lord:

    "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

    Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

    Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

    And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

    And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

    Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

    Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

    (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

    But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matt 6:24-34)

  • Imagine the following conversation on the day of judgment:

    God: "My word says, 'Let the prophets speak, two or three.' Did you do that, son?"

    You: "No, sir."

    God: "Why not?"

    You: "Because the pastor said that's not for us today."

    God: "Who said that?"

    You: "The pastor."

    God: "Who's 'the pastor?' My word never mentions him."

    You: "Sure it does. He's the leader of the church."

    God: "No, it doesn't. And no, he isn't."

    You: "You know... he's the guy who does all the speaking in church. He runs the place."

    God: "What place?"

    You: "The church. Here's a picture of the one I went to."

    God: "That's not a church."

    You: "Oh, yeah."

  • There is no reason given in the Bible why the believers in the apostles' time met in each other's houses. Some who favor traditional, institutional church instead of biblical church say they met in homes only because of persecution, but the Bible doesn't say why. We think there are other reasons.

  • A church that meets in a house may be unbiblical. For example, a house church that lets only one man speak in the meeting is not doing what the Bible says.

  • Meeting in people's houses benefits the poor more than others. The poor tend to have relatives that reject them, and even their friends do not want to hear from them:

    "All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him." (Prov. 19:7).

    Even the neighbors of the poor do not want to have anything to do with them:

    "Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour." (Prov. 19:4).

    Sometimes church is the only place where they have much of a chance for anyone to want to talk with them and be friendly to them. The institutional church setting is not near as good in that respect as a church that meets in someone's house.

    Jesus said that the kingdom of God belongs to the poor:

    "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God." - (Luke 6:20).

  • Biblical church provides an opportunity for the poor to speak and be listened to in a way that does not happen much for them. The poor have the same desire as everyone else to feel valuable and needed and loved by other people, but that doesn't happen as much in their lives. Consider what it says in Ecclesiastes:

    "Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard." - (Eccl. 9:16)

    A poor man, filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in a house church with other people actually listening to him and benefiting from what he says, is a very good thing. It's a shame that it doesn't happen much. How well we treat those believers among us whom the Bible calls exalted (James 1:9) and who are the heirs of the kingdom of God says a lot about us.

    "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor...." (James 2:5-6).

    By robbing poor believers of their God given right to speak in church we are in effect saying to them, "You are worthless to us."

  • The setting of an institutional church makes it so there is often not much interaction between people other than polite small talk before and after the meeting. It's common for people who attend the same church week after week to go years without knowing much of anything about each other. They essentially remain strangers. That is not the kind of brotherhood and love between believers that Jesus prayed for:

    "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." - (John 17:20-23)

    In a biblical church meeting in someone's home things are much better in that respect. Even rich and poor believers naturally get to know each other better, and have plenty of opportunities to learn from each other, since in a biblical church all men get to speak. And with biblical house church the less formal setting of the home helps people move beyond their temporal differences, so they are better able to appreciate each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Here are some folks who hosted church in their house in the days of the apostles. These are people who loved the Lord, and loved their neighbors as themselves. God honored them by having their names forever enshrined in his word.

    "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house...." - (Rom. 16:3-5)

    "Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you...." - (Rom. 16:23)

    "Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house." - (Col. 4:15)

    "And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:" - (Philemon 1:2)

  • The Bible mentions believers praying together in a "place" called a "house" (Acts 2:1-2) where there was a room large enough to hold 120 people on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:15). These people included the eleven disciples, Jesus' mother and brothers, and other devout men and women (Acts 1:13-14). After Jesus ascended into heaven, they prayed together for many days, and waited for the Holy Spirit to be poured out, as Jesus promised. At first they prayed in an "upper room," but on the day of Pentecost there is no specific description like that of the room where they were praying. No one anywhere was meeting for "church" yet during these days. Jesus had ascended, and the promised Holy Spirit was expected soon, and Jesus' 120 most devout followers were together, praying and waiting.

    This day of Pentecost itself was an historic day under very specific circumstances, and the scripture here says nothing about what God wanted believers to do about church in the future, after the Holy Spirit was given. To portray this section of scripture as being instructive about anything regarding how God wanted believers to conduct church meetings going foward from that point would be disingenuous. No one reading this section of scripture objectively would even consider that God was trying to tell us anything about what he wanted regarding the size of the assemblies, or the types of buildings in which to meet for church through the ages. It would not make sense to conclude that since that very specific group of people on that very unusual day met in some kind of large building that holds at least 120 people, our assemblies should therefore be that size, and we should therefore meet in a big, non-residential building for church. When the word of God does deal with actual church meetings after this monumental day, if the type of building is specified it is always someone's house (Rom. 16:5, 23, Col. 4:15, Philemon 1:2).

    It also mentions believers meeting in the temple several times, in addition to "from house to house" (Acts 2:46). But these instances when believers are in the temple are never referred to as being church meetings, and it would not make sense to infer from those verses that we should somehow also construct our own "temples" for church meetings.

    Throughout the New Testament no type of building is ever specified as the meeting place for church other than people's houses. Why do you suppose God gave us four examples of Christians meeting in each other's houses for church, but never gave a direct commandment to do so? One reason may be that it's sometimes not even possible. Examples include believers in prison, and those traveling by ship.

    Remember that God knows everything, and his word is perfect (Ps. 119:1-176). Everything it says is there for a good reason, and the same goes for everything it doesn't say.

  • The Bible explicitly forbids women from speaking in church (1 Cor. 14:34, 1 Tim. 2:11-12). In 1 Cor. 11:5 it does refer to women praying or prophesying, which implies a social setting, but it does not say that they can do so in church.

  • Attending a traditional church meeting is emasculating for a man. He is required to stay silent, so he is being treated as if he were a woman. The only one fulfilling the role of a man is the pastor.

  • A mature believer in Christ does not need to be shown a list of advantages of biblical church over traditional church. He only needs to know what the Bible says on the matter. Strong faith in Christ means a strong respect for the authority and perfection of scripture. Jesus said, "thy word is truth" (John 17:17). When we view the word of God with proper respect we do not need additional persuasion.

  • What place did the written word of God have in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the living Word of God (John 1:1, 14, 1 John 5:7, Rev. 19:13)?

    "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." - (Matt. 4:4).

    "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." - (Matt. 4:7).

    "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." - (Matt. 4:10).

    "For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." - (Matt 11:10).

    "But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;" - (Matt. 12:3).

    "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side." - (Matt 13:19).

    "But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" - (Matt 15:3).

    "And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." - (Matt 15:6).

    "And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." - (Matt 21:13).

    "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" - (Matt. 21:42).

    "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." - (Matt. 22:29).

    "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born." - (Matt. 26:24).

    "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad." - (Matt. 26:31).

    "But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" - (Matt 26:54).

    "And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?" - (Mark 2:25).

    "He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." - (Mark 7:6).

    "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye." - (Mark 7:13).

    "And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought." - (Mark 9:12).

    "But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him." - (Mark 9:13).

    "And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:" - (Mark 12:10).

    "And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?" - (Mark 12:24).

    "The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born." - (Mark 14:21).

    "And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." - (Mark 14:27).

    "I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled." - (Mark 14:49).

    "And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." - (Luke 4:4).

    "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." - (Luke 4:8).

    "And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." - (Luke 4:12).

    "And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." - (Luke 4:21).

    "And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret," - (Luke 5:1).

    "This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." - (Luke 7:27).

    "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." - (Luke 8:11).

    "And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it." - (Luke 8:21).

    "Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves." - (Luke 19:46).

    "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." - (Luke 24:27).

    "And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" - (Luke 24:32).

    "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures," - (Luke 24:45).

    "And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:" - (Luke 24:46).

    "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." - (John 5:39).

    "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." - (John 6:45).

    "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." - (John 7:38).

    "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;" - (John 10:35).

    "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." - (John 13:18).

    "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." - (John 17:12).

    "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." - (John 17:17).

    "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst." - (John 19:28).

  • For those sincerely seeking the truth a good starting point would be to begin doing what it says in 1 Cor. 14:37: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." Maybe acknowledging that fact out loud to yourself will help turn the light on.

  • How necessary are elders in a church? According to the testimony of scripture, elders are very important, and it is far better to have them, but they are not absolutely necessary in order for a church to function. Churches started by the apostles and their assistants typically did not have elders in the beginning, then after a while those men in the group who were qualified and who wanted to serve as elders were ordained.

    The apostles, along with those who assisted them, worked much of the time as evangelists (Acts 14:21, 25, 2 Tim 4:5). They would go into an area and preach the gospel, and implore the people to whom they preached to believe in Jesus Christ, and then immediately be baptized (Acts 2:38, 8:12, 13, 36, 38, 9:18, 10:47, 48, 16:15, 33, 18:8, 22:16). They stayed for a while, and instructed the new believers to meet with each other and conduct church according to "the commandments of the Lord" that we see Paul gave to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:1-40). Then at some point the evangelists would leave the first area in order to move on to some other area where people had not heard the gospel yet, or to some other task to which the Lord was calling them (Acts 14:25-28). Then some time later, perhaps a few years after their first visit, they would return to the first area and ordain elders (also known as bishops) in the churches they had established (Titus 1:5). The elders were to be men from within the churches who had proven themselves over time to be honorable, faithful Christians who met several criteria that qualified them for the office of elder (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9).

    So in the time between when the evangelists left and when they returned to appoint leadership, the churches consisted only of new believers. They did not yet have any men who were ordained to be elders, but they met for church and did just fine without them. Since we know that one of the criteria for the office of elder is that a man be "not a novice" (1 Tim. 3:6) it's reasonable to assume that the time between the first and second visit of the evangelists could have been a few years.

    While this way of doing things doesn't make sense in the world of traditional church and its made-up position of "the pastor" who does all the talking, these practices of the apostles and the early believers are reasonable and make perfect sense in light of the way the Bible says to conduct church. Every believing man was encouraged to give a talk in the meeting (1 Cor. 14:1, 5, 31, 39). And the apostles knew that when churches didn't yet have men who were officially ordained as overseers, at least they did have the most important man present with them every week for their church meetings, the Lord Jesus (Matt. 18:20).

    So it's perfectly normal for a biblical church starting out to go for a while with no official leaders. Then after a while the men who have demonstrated faithfulness to Christ, willingness to be a servant of all the people, and living in a way that meets all of the biblical criteria, should be ordained as elders by the group. These men should then focus on fulfilling all the duties of elders, including feeding the flock of God, overseeing, and generally being a humble servant of everyone in the church (Matt. 20:25-28, Matt. 23:11, Mark 9:35, John 13:14, Acts 20:17, 28-31, 1 Pet. 5:2-3).

    The format of the church meeting remains exactly the same with the addition of elders. Nothing in the Bible says otherwise. Every man still gets to speak, and the elders are still required to obey all the commandments for church.

    Ideally, there should be more than one man serving as an elder in each assembly, but it isn't a requirement. In the following verses note that in each church (singular) there were to be elders (plural):

    "And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." - (Acts 14:23 )

    "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:" - (James 5:14)

    When Paul instructed Titus to ordain elders in the churches in an area that had been evangelized earlier, he said, "If any be blameless, the husband of one wife," etc. (Titus 1:6-9). The implication of the words "if any" is that Titus should only appoint elders in a church if any of the men in the group actually met the criteria. So it's possible that in some of the churches Titus visited he recognized that none of the men were qualified, or at least weren't qualified yet, so he didn't ordain anyone in those particular churches at that time. Again, while not ideal, a lack of elders is sometimes to be expected, and it is perfectly normal and biblical for a church to sometimes be in that situation.

  • The singular word "pastor" never appears in the New Testament (much less "the pastor"). It says "pastors" once:

    "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;" - (Eph. 4:11)

    Read the above verse in context and you'll see that he's talking about spiritual gifts that Jesus Christ gives to believers, and here it doesn't link pastoring with the office of elder. The responsibilities of pastoring are associated with the office of elder in 1 Pet. 5:1-4, where he exhorts elders to spiritually feed and look after believers like a shepherd takes care of the sheep. Shepherding is also shown to be part of the duties of the office of elder in Acts 20:28-31. So an elder should function as a pastor, or shepherd, as part of his duties, but there is no such office as "pastor." The office is called elder, or bishop.

    The office where one man is in charge and only he speaks is not biblical, no matter what it's called. Using the term "the pastor" makes it easier to get away with having the made-up office than if they had used the term, "the elder." If they used "the elder" instead, it might cause people to look up what the Bible actually says about the office of elder, as well as the commandments of the Lord about church. Then they would see that each church should have multiple elders instead of "the elder," and that none of the elders have a right to disobey the commandments of the Lord by silencing all the other men. So they use the made-up term "the pastor" precisely because it is unbiblical. Using the term "the pastor" is a tactic that helps believers get used to speaking and thinking unbiblically, which helps the wool remain over their eyes.

    And it never says anywhere that pastoring, or shepherding, is a function that only an elder may ever do. Men who do not hold the office of elder have the responsibility to sometimes do things that could fall under the category of shepherding as well, including any speaking to the group, giving guidance to someone, etc.. But those holding the office of elder are especially charged with those duties more than other men are.

    It's important to remember that while God gave us the office of elder in order to ensure that responsible men of good character help to keep the church on track, protect them from bad teachings, etc., he never intended there to be the kind of sharp separation between clergy and laity that exists in most churches. Remember that Jesus said we have only one Master, himself.

    "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

    And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

    Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ." - (Matt. 23:8-10)

    Jesus said that we shouldn't use the titles "Rabbi," "father," or "master." Those are just three titles among several that are sometimes used by people, but the idea is that among believers in Christ we shouldn't give anyone a title that reinforces the false notion that one person is above anyone else in a broad sense, nor should we accept such a title for ourselves. That's because the order of things that best describes where we each rank is the following:

    1. Jesus.

    2. Everybody else.

    Just call people by their names. We shouldn't say, "Pastor" or "Elder" before someone's name, since it implies a rank above others, and goes against the spirit of what Jesus said in the above scripture. Generally speaking, we should obey elders, and submit to them, and let ourselves be persuaded by them (Heb. 13:17). And we should honor them appropriately and reasonably (1 Tim. 5:17). However, there are limits to honoring them that we should not go beyond, and titles are too much. Making it so people have to include a title that goes before the person's name whenever they address an elder conveys to everyone that the elder is somehow separate from the rest of us, and is above us in rank spiritually. Jesus only included three such titles in the above scripture from Matthew, but the idea of what he said applies to any similar title.

    Since even the apostles did not give themselves or other apostles titles, certainly neither should elders. The apostles simply called themselves and other apostles by their names: (Rom. 1:1, 1 Cor. 1:1, 2 Cor. 1:1, 1 Cor. 15:7, Gal 1:1, Gal. 1:19, Gal. 2:8, Eph. 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Col. 1:1, 1 Thes. 1:1, 2 Thes. 1:1, 1 Tim. 1:1, 2 Tim. 1:1, Titus 1:1, Philemon 1:1, James 1:1, 1 Pet. 1:1, 2 Pet. 1:1, Jude 1:1, Rev. 1:1).

  • In order for Christians to finally throw off the yoke of tradition and start doing church biblically we must make the following decisions:

    We must decide to love God. Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." - (John 14:21). Paul told us that the commandments for church are indeed "the commandments of the Lord." When we decide to keep Jesus Christ's commandments then we will be people who love him, but not until then.

    We must decide to love our fellow believers. Having people in your house for church whom you don't initially know very well requires having a certain amount of general good will toward others. That level of benevolence is not yet very common among Christians, but as biblical church catches on it will improve. Charity also requires that we become willing to listen to others speak to the group, as well as say something ourselves to benefit them.

    We must decide that we will fear the Lord more than anything else. Our fear of public speaking must become less than our fear of the Lord. The same goes for our fear of being shunned because of thinking differently from the majority. It says in Prov. 16:6, "...by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil." Only once we decide that we will fear the Lord will we finally do what he commanded, and depart from the evil that is unbiblical church.

    We must become unsatisfied with having leaders who do not behave in a humble way. Jesus Christ told us that to be a leader among believers one must be a humble servant of everyone (Matt. 20:25-28, Matt. 23:11). The Bible says to let every man speak in church (1 Cor. 14:26, 29, 31). Men who read what it says and then declare, "Only I shall speak" are not good leaders for us. Instead, we need men as leaders who think more along the lines of, "How can I help the other men in the church learn to be better speakers?"

    We must fall out of love with money. Long ago, Christians decided that we would rather pay someone else to perform church for us than do it the way Jesus commanded. We pay money in order to make our church experience more relaxing, and to enjoy being just passive audience members. When we are willing to pay money in order to avoid doing things the Lord has commanded us to do, it shows our love of money. That's because we think that paying money in order to avoid obeying God will cause us to be happier than if we had obeyed him.

  • In the modern church it seems people will do all kinds of things (skits, movies, slide shows, musical shows, dance routines, etc.) except conduct church meetings the way God commanded.

  • If traditional churches were honest in their statement of faith, in the section titled "Church" they would say something like the following:

    "The church is a solemn assembly wherein folklore and tradition take precedence over what it says in the word of God. We believe that the authority of the pastor is higher than the authority of the word of God, so he has a right to disobey the commandments the Lord gave in the Bible for church, and he has a right to lead the people to disobey those commandments as well. The pastor shall be the only person who addresses the assembly, with the exception of those whom the pastor specifically gives permission to speak, on special occasions. The pastor shall therefore be the head of this church, not Jesus Christ, but we shall not say that out loud."

  • Even the apostles did not make church decisions unilaterally, nor should church leaders. They made decisions that affected the church with the full consensus of everyone in the church. "Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:" - Acts 15:22. Also see Acts 1:15-26 for another example of making a decision by having a consensus of the whole group.

  • Meeting in people's houses helps believers develop hospitality, a trait sadly lacking in today's church. Some people attending institutional churches have no family or friends other than at church, and yet never see the inside of another member's home.

  • Institutional church generally consists of folks who shake hands and greet each other, but they know very little about each other, and as a result care relatively little about each other. We are supposed to be a family.

  • Unlike a biblical church, an institutional church would cease to exist without funding. So institutional church leaders invariably favor the richer members. They may do a great job of helping the poor in the community through various forms of outreach and charity, but are lacking when it comes to caring about poor people who actually attend the church. The reason is simple: the church does not need them.

  • Institutional churches often add various programs and ministries to try to make up for the fact that the church meeting itself is so inadequate, and does virtually nothing regarding one of the main purposes for church: provide a way for Christians to minister to their fellow believers. So they add Sunday school, small groups, youth groups, senior people groups, home groups, etc., to try to make up for what is lacking in the meeting itself. Those other kinds of gatherings are fine, but why not just do the church meeting the way the Bible says in the first place?

  • A man who attends a traditional church has the following solemn duties:

    Greet various people, then find a place to sit down.

    Sing when it's time to sing. Otherwise, stay quiet the entire time.

    Stand up when everyone else does. Sit back down when everyone else sits down.

    Put some money in the offering.

    Listen to the pastor as he gives his sermon.

    Say good bye to various people before leaving.

  • A man attending a traditional church adds no more value to the meeting than a man attending a play adds to the value of the play. The only thing he is allowed to do that adds any value to the meeting is singing along during the songs.

    In a biblical church each man is allowed to speak, and so each man has the opportunity to say something that may truly help the other Christians in their own lives.

    Traditional church says to men, "Your input is not wanted or needed here. Whatever you have learned of the Lord, and whatever you have learned about living the Christian life is of no value to us. So keep your mouth shut. But please do put some money in the plate when it gets to you."

  • Suppose you were given the task of traveling back in time to speak to Christians in the days of the apostles. Your job is to tell them to stop doing church like the apostles were teaching, and to instead do it like we do today. Here are some responses you might get:

    "Won't the men all become useless in this new format? We all used to contribute to the meeting, and give our own talks about things the Lord has put on our hearts, but you're saying that now we have to just stay quiet the whole time and let one of the elders speak?"

    "So you're saying that instead of gathering our resources together in order to spread the gospel and help our brothers and sisters in need, we should buy ourselves a nice chunk of land, and build a nice building on it for a gathering place. And then every week, after paying for the building and land and upkeep and various salaries, whatever we have left over can go to those other causes."

    "Oh, I get it now. The devil sent you!"

 


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Final Thoughts

Why do most Christians continue to embrace traditional church when it is so obviously different from the way the Bible tells us to conduct church? We might have an excuse if the Bible were not as clear as day on this matter. But it is, and anyone can see it. So why don't we just obey what it says? Because God's way of doing church seems weird and untested to us. We know what works, and we think obeying the commandments for church would not work, and would cause all sorts of problems. Why do we think that way? Because of unbelief and pride. We do not trust God. We think our way is better. And we have no respect for the word of God.

Every week we engage in a ritual of attending a church service that we can easily see is completely foreign to the Bible. For that one hour each week, we pretend that God is pleased with us, and that he isn't bothered by our wholesale rejection of the way he said to conduct church meetings. If it doesn't bother us, then why should it bother him, right?

Look at the statement of faith for a typical institutional church, and find the "Church" section. Usually, you'll notice one particular chapter of the New Testament is not referenced. It's the one that tells us what to do in church, more so than any other chapter. Seems like a big thing to leave out, don't you think?

Why don't we trust God on the matter of how to conduct church? Has God not already shown us that he loves us, and wants what's best for us, and is infinitely wiser than we are? Why not trust him?

Remember that this is the same God who loved us so much he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. He's the same God who raised Jesus from the dead. He is the same God who gives eternal life to whoever believes in Jesus Christ. He's the same God who knows each of us so well that the hairs of our head are all numbered by him. Why would he not tell us the best way to do church? Why do we think our way would be better than God's way?

What we should do is take the following verse seriously, and do precisely what it says:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." - 2 Chron. 7:14

If the "wicked ways" we turn from do not include our rebellion on the matter of church, then forget it. If we don't change on that, why should God do anything? Why should he hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land if we flatly refuse to obey him?

Recommendations

If you believe the truth, here are a few things to consider.

Don't argue with anyone about this matter. It says in 1 Cor. 14:38, "But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." If someone prefers traditional church over biblical church even after reading everything the Bible says on the subject, be patient, and pray for him. Don't talk with him about this subject at all. Just consider him as being "ignorant" on this matter. He surely has other issues that he needs to deal with in his life, as we all do. If someone genuinely has questions, that's different. But remember that it's not really a question of, "What does the Bible say?" The Bible is as clear as day regarding church, so people have to wake up and see the plain truth in their own Bibles, rather than be talked into it. It can be a hard thing to realize that you have believed a lie your entire life, and that even your favorite teachers and ministers are all completely wrong on this subject.

Be kind and loving, and don't be confrontational or contentious. Pay special attention to be patient with those still entrenched in believing in commercial church. You are part of a very small minority (for now) of Christians that God has blessed with understanding this plain truth about church. Be the best steward of that truth that you can be, and consider yourself an ambassador to those who are still deceived about this subject. Consider such believers as being better than yourself. Remember the command:

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." - (Philippians 2:3).

Pray often for God to help your brothers and sisters in Christ to see the truth about church.

Stop going to traditional church. The sooner you stop going, the sooner you can start either finding a biblical church near you already meeting in someone's home, or find other believers who are also awakened to the truth, and start meeting with them.

Unbiblical church will continue to thrive as long as it's being funded. So in addition to not going any more, don't give any money to such a church, either. And do not support missionaries who do not believe in biblical church. Find those who do, and support them instead. Or become such a missionary yourself. Don't financially support any ministries or individuals that are in any way associated with traditional, unbiblical church.

Leaders of traditional churches should inform the people that they are no longer going to follow tradition over scripture, and should ask the people to forgive them for disobeying God's word by conducting church in violation of the commandments the Lord gave us. If you are a pastor at such a church, quit your job as soon as possible. Then either find another line of work, or continue to be an elder, but from now on be a true, biblical elder instead of just another preeminence loving Diotrephes. Then live by faith, and instead of drawing a salary, ask the Lord to provide you with what you need. If living by faith with no salary seems outrageous to you, then it is probably better for you to work for a living anyway, since that life is not meant for everyone. You might still be an elder, though, just not a paid one. If you are in a position to do so, sell the building and land you have been using for church meetings, and use the money to support missionaries who believe in doing biblical church. If the building is distinctly a "church" building that would likely be used by the buyer to continue to perpetuate some other brand of unbiblical church, seriously consider demolishing it and just selling the land.

If you are awake on this matter, stay that way. Never go back. You are part of a very privileged few who can see the plain truth even when it conflicts with popular opinion. What an amazing blessing. Thank the Lord for that, and never give up.

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Comparison Summary

Subject
Traditional Church
Biblical Church
Speakers:
One man.
All men.
Leadership:
"The pastor."
Elders.
Meeting place:
Commercial facility.
Each other's houses.
Lord's supper:
One bite and one sip. No fellowship.
Full meal, with fellowship and conversations.
Men can interrupt speaker:
No.
Yes.
Leadership qualifications:
Graduate of Bible school or seminary. Good speaker. The biblical elder requirements are secondary or discarded.
Meets all biblical requirements for elder, which are based on family leadership experience and good character. No other requirements.
Source of leaders:
Outsiders seeking employment.
Men already part of the church.
Head of church:
"The pastor."
Jesus Christ.
Money you give goes to:
Pastor's salary, purchase or rent the facility, building upkeep, church office worker salaries, utilities, missionaries, miscellaneous programs.
The church does not normally collect money, since it isn't a business that requires incoming money in order to exist. Instead, the people give to whomever they want, or to whomever the group wants, including missionaries, elders who labor in the word and doctrine, etc..
Attendee fellowship level:
Strangers.
Brothers and sisters.
Origin of church format:
Traditions that started in the second century by church fathers after the apostles had all died.
The New Testament.
Originator of church format:
Man.
God.
How much the poor are needed:
Not as much as non-poor, since "church" requires funding.
As much as anyone else.
Big decisions made by:
Leadership. Sometimes a yes/no vote is taken on issues the leadership presents.
Consensus.
Duties of men:
Sing along, give, listen.
Study, fellowship, speak, respond to speakers.
Role of men:
Audience members.
Active participants.
How leadership functions:
As rulers.
As servants.

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Last edited 8/17/2018.