I knew way back in 1988 that this particular boy was smart; he'd sit front and center in my room with a huge grin on his face, soaking up whatever grandiose grammar and literature I thought I knew and was imparting to my classes. I have spoken to him several times recently for prayer requests. One morning this week as I sat at my desk in school an hour early, I scrambled for a pencil to write down these words:
"As you grow in your faith, you become less reliant on church."
Now, I know many people will cringe at those very words, but they are so spot on. In this era of mega-churches and judgmental, anti-Jesus-like "christians," one must be careful. While I agree that young christians need to develop a solid biblical knowledge, they must be aware of wolves in sheep's clothing. If you can not see a line item church budget, and it seems as though the pastor is living larger than his flock, beware. Anything other than a line item breakdown of the budget by individual staff's salary is suspect. Ask why the pastor's salary is hidden.
Then, as you are listening in the pews, be on the look-out for anti-Jesus teachings. Jesus was accepting of everyone; indeed, He sought out the undesirable of society. Beware of those throwing stones/casting judgment.
Finally, ask what they are doing with the tithes and offerings. Do they do any good in the community? Do their actions mimic those of Jesus? If not, find another church.
As we grow in our faith, we don't need the church building. In fact, the early church was not a building. The true "Church" is people, not a building. Bricks and mortar don't matter. How I long for the simplified life of believers meeting together over a meal, planning what they might do for their community. They have no need of a building; they have their faith and follow what Jesus taught.....in the simplest of ways.