“I just can’t find a church I like.” I hear from counseling clients a common refrain. They usually express a measure of regret, but often there is little urgency to remedy the situation. Is it fine for believers to be on their own?
Modern technology affords us the opportunity to connect with people without leaving the confines of our home. You can hold a device in the palm of your hand that allows you a window to the world.
Many churches, large and small, live stream their services on Sunday mornings. The web is flooded with evangelists, teachers, pastors, prophets and (often self-proclaimed) apostles who will strive to meet the “church” need in our lives.
Excellent teachings, worship, choreographed presentations, videos, testimonies and even prophecy abound and the religious consumer enjoys a bountiful buffet from which to choose.
Sheep Need a Shepherd
What is the problem?
Isolation leads to spiritual sickness and eventually to death if not remedied.
Our clients complete an online intake form and we ask them the name of the church they are attending. “None” or “Looking” is a common response. They are seeking help from a Christian counselor yet many have isolated themselves from their spiritual family, the Body of Christ.
One cannot read the Bible without receiving a firm conviction that God commands us to be in fellowship, in a body, with one another. It was not good for Adam to be alone and neither is it for Christ’s disciples.
Proverbs 18:1: ESV “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”
Hebrews 10:25 ESV “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
1 Corinthians 12:14 ESV “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
These three passages comprise a small sample of verses that exhort God’s people to congregate together.
Did you know that sheep are the most mentioned animals in Scripture? True believers are the Lord’s sheep, and the reference should give us great insight. Sheep need a shepherd, and Christ is the Great Shepherd. Church pastors are to function in that role also. While one person cannot do it all, the purpose is the same: discipleship, accountability, and oversight should be priority activities, so God’s people mature in a healthy way.
Demons: Roaring Lions
1 Peter 5:8 reminds that the demons are like a roaring lion, looking to devour. Watch the nature shows and see how difficult it is even for a group of lions to take down their prey when the other animals stay together.
Many who have left the organized church offer one or more common responses:
They do not believe they need to be in church to have a relationship with God.
They cannot get their spouse or family to go.
They have been hurt or disappointed and do not want to go through that again.
They take offense or disagree with something spoken or done in churches they have visited.
Some people live in rural or isolated areas and finding a healthy church can be a challenge. I understand that and am sympathetic to that complaint; however, that is a relatively small number of people. A friend of mine who moved from Southern California to Florida told me that people routinely would drive an hour to get to their church and had no problems making that sacrifice. We can do what we want to do.
I find that many who go it alone are led astray by a third voice in the room. God speaks to them through the word and through their prayer time. Their own unrenewed mind and worldly information sources contend for a hearing. Sadly, the demonic realm also enters the mix. The “us four and no more” mindset sets the stage for damage.
Demon spirits can speak to us also, and many are led astray by the doctrines of devils (1 Tim. 4:1) when they truly believe they are following the Lord. The road to life is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14), and we are not called to walk it alone.
Yes, the Lord is with us and goes before us, but we are to make the journey with a fellowship of believers, so we grow in a healthy way and not get derailed. Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Prov. 27:17).
I know that some will be offended by this topic and the assertion that “be alone be destroyed” is the likely outcome. I have counseled with thousands over the course of my career and have met very few spiritually healthy “Lone Rangers”. The odds are stacked against good spiritual health.
Watch your favorite evangelists, teachers, and prophets. The good ones can help you on the journey. If you are not an active member of a “flesh and blood” church, I urge you to make it a priority to step out in faith.
Ask your friends. Do your own research. Start visiting and ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment to know where He wants you plugged in. Your goal should be to land in a healthy Spirit-filled, Bible-believing, and Word-preaching church. I challenge you to seek one diligently. Blessings will overtake you!