|Amish youth in Ohio|
Now and then I meet a person who says they follow Jesus but they will have nothing to do with the church because they see the church as so messed up. So they leave.
Let's call this what it is: absurd. Ridiculous. Heretical. Unloving. Hypocritical. Anti-Christian. Cowardly. Arrogant. Judgmental.
Jesus came to build his church, not leave it. Real Christianity is a community thing. It's the word "you" in the letters of Paul, which is nearly always plural.
If you see something wrong in your church community, then help it, for God's sake.
Real church forges Christlike character. This is part of how Jesus builds his church.
The main test of love is how you do community. How you live and get along with others. How you further the corporate movement. How you work together. How you serve one another.
Think of all the "one anothers" in the New Testament. There are fifty-nine of them. (For example, here.) Fifty-nine exhortations to do loving things to the others in your community. Leaving people is not one of them. Nowhere in Scripture does it say, "Love one another by getting mad at them and leaving them." When that happens the gates of Hades are prevailing.
What spiritual immaturity. What biblical ignorance to view church leaving as an option. And, since you, as a Jesus-follower, are the church, how irrational to think of leaving yourself.
New Testament scholar scot McKnight writes that
- "Everything I learned about the Christian life I learned from my church."
- "A local church determines what the Christian life looks like for the people in that church."
- "We all learn the Christian life from how our local church shapes us."
- "These three principles are a way of saying that local churches matter far more than we often know."
- McKnight, A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together, p. 12
Yes, some individual churches are toxic. Some pastors and Christian leaders are controlling and abusive. Have nothing to do with them. Find an imperfect church where an imperfect person like yourself can serve and grow.