Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leaving the Institutional Church

I am leaving the IC.
I need to say it, put it out there, confirm it. It's what God is doing in my heart, what He wants of me, not what I wanted in many ways. We had other plans but ultimately even these can't be fulfilled through the institutional church. Am I pursuing my own way? No. I'm walking out into the wilderness, sort of uncertain because I know a lot of misunderstanding will follow, maybe judgement... only God knows.
I need to count the cost and trust God will carry me if I need to walk alone (though I'm not really all alone) My husband is on the same page. He was never too excited about going back to the IC, but he supported me and the ways that I "served" in children's ministry and worship team. I stepped down from both of these, as much as I love music and kids, I needed a break anyway....
I think I get readers of all different walks so I think I need to define what I mean by the IC-- institutional church, just in case:
I define the IC as the system in which we do church that is not based on the heart of God in the scriptures. I don't mean the people, nor the body of Christ nor each individual member. I just think the way we "do" church gets in the way of "being" the church. There are just too many agendas and expected ways of doing things that prevent people from really experiencing fellowship and community, and using their gifts. It seems all too often only a designated few get to really share their gifts mostly because they are being paid to do so (especially in the context of the Sunday worship service which everything seems to revolve around). It's pretty backwards if you think about it. I know many people mean well and want to serve others and do. I know God can and does work through the system, but in my opinion, he works in spite of it (the IC system). Relationships can still be formed and people can maintain those and reach others if they chose. But all too often, people will only support each other if the other is also supporting the big "church" in some way-- supporting the big Sunday service, paying the tithe, or attending something whether or not you really need to be. It just runs too much like a business. God can still work through a business, but is that the way to do church? I really don't think so.
I realize parts of this may sounds blasphemous to some, because it's all they've ever known and haven't dared to question it.
I really believe it is not a sin to question the way we do things in light of the scriptures. I think we are called to do so. There comes a point when we have to be free to think for ourselves and do what the Holy Spirit is telling us whether or not a pastor, parent or leader agrees. Getting counsel is good, but we are only called to follow if it's what the Spirit is telling our own heart. No one else can replace the voice of the Spirit in our lives. I am thankful God showed me this earlier on as a new believer. This verse got imprinted it in my heart:
1 John 2:27
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
(it has helped in delivering me from a very cult-like congregation many years back, and all kinds of stuff). I just like how it says that His anointing teaches us about all things and that this anointing is's just pretty cool. (I'm aware this verse can also be twisted for evil purposes, as can any verse, unfortunately)

So there you have it. I'm leaving the IC and I I'm at peace with it. This is a decision I have made on my own with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I haven't been "badly" influenced by anybody. I have found some great like-minded people along the way who can probably explain things much better than I regarding all this and expound on it a lot more. I will include some of them on my sidebar. I'm not saying I agree 100% with anyone in particular, but I've found them very encouraging and walking much closer to what I believe is the heart of the gospel. And I also have some great blogger friends who are on this same path of wanting to live out their faith with no restraints, friends who are loving without restraints... and this is evidence that we are on the right path (whether attending an IC or not)

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.- Galatians 5


Sue said...

Bravo :) Follow your heart, and the wind whispers

Amy said...

Wonderful!!! I'm so happy for you!
Listen, feel free to read my "What Do I Do Now?" blog and also my "True Christian Community" blogs.

Now, let me preface...I am not encouraging you to read them with an agenda that implies that I "know it all" or am some type of "expert" about what to do after leaving the IC.

I wrote those blogs...and am encouraging you here...just for that simple, pure reason...just to encourage you. I know that there are many feelings that surface after stepping out, that may feel a bit scary. Thus, that was one important reason why I wrote and posted those blogs.

When you do read them, please leave a comment on each. I LOVE feedback.

Again, I really do believe you made a decision that is going to bring you closer to Father, Son and Holy Spirit more that you can even imagine.

I look forward to hearing more about how He leads you in your God Journey.

~Amy :)

Manuela said...

-Sue, thank ya. You inspire me and make me think...

-Thanks Amy!! Will check out the posts yøu mentioned and leave some comment or other :)

Kent said...

Manuela, you and Mike and Maggie are always in my prayers. Let's get together soon. I will call you this weekend. Peace and rest to you and your all deserve it and you have been invited to live in it.

Nicole said...


Way to be sister! Finding out what Father is telling you personally is the key to finding peace in any decision we make, and this one is a big one, but with peace and Father by your side, it's worth it... Glad you wrote about what Father has been leading you to do, it takes a lot to do what you did, and I couldn't be more amazed by how you just let Father lead you.

It is so awesome once we understand that church is not a building or a place we spend our Sunday mornings, the true meaning of church, like you said, is us. We are definately who Christ calls the church! And through that we associate ourselves as a living church in relationship with Father! I think that was the whole point!

Can't wait to talk to you again. Hopefully this week we will be able to have some more great conversations!

Have a great labor day weekend!

Love you!

Love, Nicole!

Kent said...

Nicole, I love what you said here:

Finding out what Father is telling you personally is the key to finding peace in any decision we make

It is key and it makes me think of this:

Faith comes by hearing...hearing the word of God. And that one is much more than the institutional mindset ever allowed us to believe. Father has never stopped speaking and leading each and everyone of us.

Free Spirit said...

Welcome to the land of freedom!

If you're like me, it'll scare the hell out you. I'm only a few months out of it, myself, and can't promise I won't go back (where? I wouldn't know), but it would likely only be at my husband's leading, as we aren't exactly on the same page about it all. I think it bothers him, just because of the children, and me too, a little bit. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but for me, personally, it feels so right. And, now that I'm thinking about it, the only reason I have concern about the children is because my husband does; that threatens me with doubt. But, I know that if he were not in the picture (which is not something I ever want), then I'd be totally cool with the decision to stay out, kids and all.

I think it's another misnomer, what church does for kids. I guess that could be part of the draw/pull for "churches", that kids NEED them, or they'll (the kids) never flourish. Hmm... Isn't that convenient that people should feel that way. I know many who go to church "just for the kids". Interesting line of thought.

Only time will tell as Father shows me what to do with my family, and how to live in absolute freedom.

Point is, welcome to the ride of your life! I hope you enjoy every twist and turn, and that you will not be bothered by the lies of the evil one.

Thanks for coming to, and commenting on, my blog! Good to meet a new friend!

Manuela said...

Thank you for stopping by and for your encouragement!! It is a wild ride!
I'm with you here on what you said-

"I think it's another misnomer, what church does for kids. I guess that could be part of the draw/pull for "churches", that kids NEED them, or they'll (the kids) never flourish. Hmm... Isn't that convenient that people should feel that way. I know many who go to church "just for the kids". Interesting line of thought."

I've wrestled with this a bit myself and you're right that this reasoning doesn't make much sense...

It is a bit challenging to not be on the same page with your husband on this... My husband was probably ready to stop going way before me in some ways. I think for a while, he went just for me... He kept many of his thoughts to himself cause I became very pro-going and supporting it for a while (actually I was back and forth with it) I feared being too lonely or my daughter being lonely...
But I couldn't just stay out of fear-- Fear is not the right motivator, faith is!

... nice to meet you too :)