Mere Churchianity – Part One
AN ENEMY IN THE RANKS
Welcome to Part One of a two-part series written by Tim Fellows, which explores the differences between Churchianity and Christianity.
The purpose of all our “Seasoned with Salt” articles is to provoke discussion and try to explore what we think the Lord may be saying to us as His Body in this region and nation. We’re genuinely interested in your thoughts and responses as we journey together as The Body Of Christ in the Black Country. Please let us know what you think.
As you would expect, Tim pulls no punches here so prepare to be challenged!
Like many of you, I grew up in a 20th century post-modern secular culture, whatever that means, shrouded within an even less well-defined post-charismatic christian Church sub-culture.
I have deliberately swapped the “large and small c’s” in the latter for emphasis, as when I look back on much of what I experienced in what I call the salad days of my church upbringing, I now believe it was a topsy-turvy serving of both ‘christendom’ and ‘Christ’, with the latter a very poor secondary dessert to the more substantial main course.
I recall a very good friend of mine in the excellent ‘congregation’ we grew up in together using the term ‘churchianity’ for the very first time in one of his sermons, and remarking how poignant this descriptive was despite the fact that most of his listeners were more than likely oblivious to the very dire problem he was addressing.
He moved on from us shortly afterwards, feeling a genuine call to overseas missions, and now leads a great national UK organisation focused on the emerging generation.
I know he has given his life to work against this malady, though often surreptitiously as the ‘christendom culture’ he is called to work within has a built-in defence system that would make NASA proud! It’s almost impossible to break through its barriers.
My call was different, and involved staying put, remaining local in the congregation I was a part of. From my late teens onwards, I would definitely say that I heard a call from God to be involved with the same message that my friend carried. We were located on different continents initially, yet we went in the same direction.
Our simple call was to follow Jesus, to seek Him intimately, and not be content with knowledge ‘about Him’. To posture our hearts before Him so that we could take a stand in the prevailing secular and pseodo-christian cultures for the re-establishing of His Lordship and His Leadership, across the world He left us in to redeem back to Himself.
It sounds odd I know, and to some maybe even heretical, but there was a very clear sense of us being in exile, and a growing revelation that despite the apparent growth in certain parts of ‘The Body of Christ’ in our area (and you can substitute town, region, nation or continent there), all was not well.
Several decades later, very little has changed. All IS not well. We are still in exile, and we have largely lost our awareness of ‘the wider or whole Body’, and even worse, a lack of awareness of just how vital this awareness really is.
This is a much bigger problem than I believe we realise. Whilst we remain in a ‘divided Kingdom’ and whilst a few parts may appear to grow and even thrive, the reality is that we will ALL ultimately lose out as we cannot stand tall, or stand at all. I think Jesus might have said that once or twice?
So, in essence, parts of ‘the body’ are delusional, and sadly operating more and more as a franchise of the ‘ekklesia’ Jesus said only He could and would build.
We currently therefore do not clearly see the ‘the branch network’ model functioning locally or regionally, let alone nationally, and neither does the world. The ‘Gates of Hell’ do seem to be prevailing pretty well on many fronts if we take stock sensibly.
This is a real issue in Heaven, or HQ as we could call it!
I don’t think too many of us will argue against that too energetically when we sit back, relax and have a good think, but the next part may well rouse a few feathers and BP readings.
Fighting the enemy within
You see, for the last 30 years, I have done my best to remain faithful to that call, to stand against the systemic tyranny and prevailing culture around us. Some of you may think I refer to secular humanism, materialism or capitalism, but I fear a greater enemy operates within us, far closer to home.
Maybe the enemy is within. Could he be so cunning, deceptive and insidious to have penetrated our own christendom culture, and even have alarmed it to work against itself, like an ‘auto-immune disease’?
The only reason I can find after all these years as to how we can possibly have lost our awareness of ‘the wider Body’ is that we must have lost connection with The Head!
“Don’t be ridiculous Tim!!”, I hear you say, not for the first time! “That’s crazy!” How can we have lost connection with Jesus?
Well, having a relationship with Jesus does not enthrone Him. I can see Him as my friend and saviour, but may live as though He is not Lord. I think that’s me a lot of the time truthfully.
Being aware that Christ is the head of your part of ‘the body’ is not the same as recognising Him as “Head Of The Body’ as declared in Ephesians, Romans and Corinthians, etc, NT letters written to ‘the body’ in certain parts or locations from which we are meant to learn.
Black Country Church (or substitute Wolverhampton/Sandwell/Walsall/Dudley, or whatever you wish), we need a greater revelation…..we need to reform, and the good news is that this is happening as we speak.
Historians tell us that genuine reformations appear to come around every 500 years, and we’re about there since the last one, where a great recovery of an original Truth is restored to ‘the Church’.
So, what exactly needs to be reformed I hear you ask? The answer can be found by deconstructing ‘the nature of churchianity’ to identify its issues. We’ll delve into that next time…
On behalf of Love Black Country.