“Out of Church” Christians and the “lone ranger” syndrome.

Continuing with a topic I addressed recently, I ask: “What is the REAL situation with ‘lone ranger’ Christians”?

 Let’s look at myself as an example.

 I attended the same church for around a decade. At the time I left I was the youth leader and occasionally asked to preach to a couple of hundred people in Sunday and mid-week meetings.

I was introduced to Kenneth Copeland’s teaching and gathered for home prayer with a small group from the church mentioned. It was members of this group who had made me aware of Copeland.

A new church started closer to home. I attended a few meetings on Sunday afternoons, in between my regular church meetings. I got along well with the pastor. He asked me to preach one afternoon.

I moved from my original Church to the more local, much smaller fellowship and the pastor appointed me as an elder.

I stayed with that church for a year and a half before I entered a 15 year “spiritual crisis” – I left the church and wandered from one group to another for a few months – meeting with a few other established fellowships trying to find direction

Churchless with my faith wavering, I cried out to God but was met with silence.

15+ years later God answered.

With newly reawakened faith I started to look for a church, meeting with pastors and attending home “cell group” meetings. I tried many fellowships – but found none of them suitable. They were interested in organised meetings but not in developing relationship. Everything was centred on getting more people into meetings, or to other church organised events

I still had leanings towards WOF and tried watching Copeland on TV, buying his sermons and receiving his magazine. DESPERATELY I wanted his teaching to be the truth, but found myself being more and more closed to it.

I saw mention of  an “Out of Church” (OOC) movement in Charisma magazine but didn’t buy the magazine to read it. However the topic of the article intrigued me. *

Not long after that  I came across Andrew Strom’s Revivalschool forum and saw the possibility of something beyond traditional Sunday service centred churches. It had a big OOC membership and I later found Andrew had been mentioned (maybe quoted) in the Charisma article. He was seen as something of a champion of the OOC believers but he soon rejected those who once saw him as someone who could give some kind of cohesion to this “movement”. Many left or were banned from his forum and some of them started their own, picking up many of the other disillusioned exiles from Revivalschool.

About six years ago I moved to my current home town and attended a Charismatic fellowship for several months until I could no longer ignore their false gospel and their tendency to follow every new fad that came along. They were very keen followers of the “Toronto Blessing” and various associated ministries.

After leaving that group I befriended a minister from a traditional church who was new in town. I attended his church for a year and a half until our different theological viewpoints became too much. I left before our increasingly heated disagreements started to disrupt bible studies etc.

He was a Calvinist very steeped in church tradition who had originally shown openness to my views but became more entrenched in his “theology” when families of reinforcements came to the church, who had attended the same theological college as he had.

At that stage, approaching three years ago, I stopped trying to find a church.

 A significant thing I’ve found whenever I’ve moved from a church – though retaining my faith; even though I’ve tried to maintain contact with people from that church, there has been NO reciprocal effort to maintain contact with me from those involved with those churches.

It is those CHURCHES or more accurately those church members who had been friends that made me into a “lone ranger” Christian. I want to meet in fellowship with others, but they are more committed to church than they are to brothers and sisters who are not part of THEIR particular church.

 THAT is the kind of “Christianity” that I assume other “lone rangers” can have no part of.


  *  http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/covers/260-cover-story/10434-when-christians-quit-church

13 thoughts on ““Out of Church” Christians and the “lone ranger” syndrome.

  1. Hey Tim, I decided to check your blog out the other day and decided to comment here since I can surely relate. Your story sounds a lot like mine and many others. That’s a good take on it to say we were made into lone rangers instead of choosing to be lone rangers. But, it’s true, we are made into lone rangers because the IC mentality is you have to go to a church in order to get fellowship.

    Of course that’s not true either since all you’ll see there is the back of someones head and a little bit of “social” chit chat. There is no fellowship there as far as having a real body life as the Lord intended. I am established now in being outside the social order of the IC and the “home churches”. The Father has given me a few faithful believing friends (very few) that I can call up or see every now and then on a friendship basis. I have one elderly friend in particular who is in a nursing home, and she is so full of the Holy Spirit and offers the best fellowship in the Lord Jesus I could hope for. I also have a believing friend I met online a few years ago that I email back and forth with, and we fellowship through our friendship. That’s the best kind of fellowship and what the Lord has offered me through a few, and that being “fellowship through friendship”. I stopped looking for a “church” a while back and have embraced the simplicity and freedom of what God has provided. He is faithful.

  2. Hi Jamie,
    thanks for looking in and leaving a comment.

    I’ve tried several times to join in the traditional church approach but could not look past the fact that it was not working. It wasn’t working for me and wasn’t working for the other attendees.

    At best it was fulfilling some kind of obligation (meeting together) without fulfilling the REASON for meeting together.

    Looking at the back of someone’s head for an hour or so while someone uses a bible verse to justify his chosen topic of the week, followed by morning tea at which everyone talks about anything except the Lord… that’s not Christian fellowship.
    I was MORE of a lone ranger within the IC than I am now – at least I’m now in contact with other believers who delight in discussing Jesus and their faith in Him instead of restricting their conversation to the weather, sporting events, cars etc.

  3. Your story mirrors my families story so closely, it is scary. Sometimes, though, many out of church Christians use the “lone ranger” scenario, when indeed they are really “lone wolf” Christians. That is Christians who get out on their own because they do not like authority or anyone else’s word outside of their own. I do not get that impression from you, though. I, personally and in my opinion, have found that many of God’s truly New Testament prophets have this problem. But the Lord sets us aside temporarily as we seek Him more and more and go deeper in out trust and faith in Him. It is in this time that we ought to be growing in our prayer life and our study and meditation of and on His word, getting ourselves (and our families) ready for the day when the Lord finally sets us loose to proclaim His name and salvation to non believers, but mostly and more than likely to those who already say that they know the name of Christ.

  4. Yea the pompousness of some Christians is crazy. I had alot of crazy things happen to me, but when a legalistic friend of mine decided to shout from my car at a bunch of gang members ( while we were in a drive thru and they were standing in the parking lot) i decided enough is enough. His reason for shouting at them……he didnt like the fact they were using cuss words while minding their own business and speaking to each other.

  5. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for you comment. Some “christians” spend far too much time condemning the behaviour of non-believers when they ought to be dealing with sin “in the camp”.

  6. I never ever expected to find myself out of church, after 20 years as a Born again believer, no doubt at all about Jesus and what he has done in my life but also the growing realisation that so many of my local churches are from what I can sense and see both undemanding and unedifying and also (not completely) insensetive to “new faces” fellowship prayer is not a priority even though one church I turned up at is looking to fill a minister vacancy out of seven applicants…the eldership are “professional” people so thats all right then…NOT!
    Being out of church has grieved and depressed me but our last fellowship just could not handle our 14 year old son and his Autism (and a lot of the time neither can we) I have gone church hunting to a fair few places, I look at myself as an Ember that will not be as productive or efficient out of the fire, but looking for a church in North Manchester UK where the Fire of the Holy Spirit is burning…Lord Help Me!
    Im 56 my wife is a believer also and she has found a place with a long term network of friends via mothers union etc…
    The other thing about all this that is breaking me is that I seem to have lost my sensetivity to The Lords Presence as I simply can not discern either His plan or the path to walk.
    Two of the fellowships I have tried definately had the Anointing of the Lord in the midst but the door was shut for me personally, I knew that.
    One I am at now purely on the encouragement of a friendly man on my first venture there,(its so rare), is a spiritually dry place, more like a club than a church cutting out cardboard elephants at the “evening fellowship” was a first for me! please pray that God will direct me to a church where the Acts of the Apostles is the benchmark, If there is such a place!
    To add to the struggle I have had close Christian friends move on also, leading to a growing sense of isolation, I can relate to the poster who mentioned the matter of “conditional” Christian Friends who are gone when you go, Its hard to bear but the cross must be carried it seems!

  7. G’Day Brian,
    I certainly identify with your situation.

    I left “church” in the late 1980s when I entered a time of “spiritual crisis” – I was no longer confident that God existed while at the same time I found I couldn’t dismiss Him altogether. I regularly cried out to Him to confirm His reality – but was met with silence. It was 15 years before any sense of certainty returned.

    My first impulse was then to return to a church and get back into fellowship – but every attempt I made resulted in a clear closed door. At the time I lived in Sydney where there no shortage of churches to try.
    In those 15+ years away from “church” a lot of things had changed. The churches’ priorities seemed a LOT different and didn’t seem right. Even the “gospel” they presented had a different emphasis becoming all about obtaining the best out of life.

    There was nothing about sin and separation from God – nothing about the need for forgiveness and reconciliation with Him. It was all “accept Jesus if you want to fulfil your true potential”.
    It must be over 10 years now since I came out of that “spiritual crisis”. During that time I probably spent a year and a half trying to fit into a couple of vastly different churches – but found it wasn’t working.

    Mostly my contact with other believers has been via email, blogs and forums. It may not seem the best situation but it has helped.
    It can be hard to keep focused. Some times are better than others, but it’s a matter of moving onwards through the difficult times, recognising what genuine Christians fellowship is about and seeing how different it is to the common focus on regular “church” attendance.

    So many things seem intent on making us feel guilty for being “out of church” – but the question needs to be asked: what IS church and are were really “out of” it? Could it be that we are out of something that is “church” in name only?

  8. I am grateful to find I am not alone in this struggle to belong, When Jesus made himself known to me back in 1989 it was clear, Terrifying, unexpected and I was in a hopeless position, it was supernatural, I had a vision of Christ Crucified, for several nights, when I look back there were a series of events that happened after that, I was able to “confess my sins” (And believe you me they were both serious, shameful and had utterly demolished me) to a Christian believer (a psychiatric nurse) and on doing that I was Immersed in a “liquid electricity” that seemed to fill me up/overwhelm me, and my mind cleared, and my physical health returned, with the benefit of hindsight I can only say I was filled by the Holy Spirit and I suppose the “Living water” description suits this experience best, I learned of this when after this experience I picked up a Bible and It became both real and personal, I couldnt put it down, This intensity/presence lasted many months, I was surprised by a Joy and confidence, There were Prophecies in later years, so unlikely they were hard to take seriously, (the big ones were given to me at New Wine when “Toronto” was happening) they came true in the most amazing manner, leading to a Christian Wife, Children, a young peoples sport ministry with Christian brothers and sisters with a like mind “Iron sharpening Iron!”

    There were trials, Our first child, a boy, difficult birth, shoddy care by maternity staff, oxygen starvation, emergency section…He survived but something wasnt quite right (Autism) we didnt sue or take litigation (we dont do that) but we had to fight for our son In Church, In School with the local authorities and with his behaviour, It has been a trial for 14 years now and it is no easier today, I am humiliated daily by my angry boy who is distressed by the least change to his routine, discipline is impossible to maintain , My wife and I have “given up ” with our lovely boy, our last church gave up on him by committee and anonymous complaint, (Health and Safety and CRB were quoted) the church before that were we were for 14 years got a change of minister and we KNEW we had to leave,(i will leave it at that).

    So today I look back over the last few years, say 5 or so and think to myself, what have I been involved in that has been Glorifying Jesus Christ and making His Kingdom Known? What fruit has been made manifest? what opportunities have come my way? What friendships have been forged that have been mutually encouraging? what have I observed?

    One thing that seems to be missing in so many places is a lack of depth in people doing important roles in the Sunday by Sunday stuff, The idea of being “Hungry for more of Jesus” and to get together to pray and wait this through or even to consider whether the fellowship may have either grieved or quenched the Holy Spirit is totally a foreign concept yet there is no sense of the Presence of God, nor the anointing on people, I must be equally frank to admit that in this environment I have lost something I once had myself, It is the Joy!
    I cannot be content ever with going through the motions or ploughing a rut in a “church” that has lapsed into a comfortable routine where the heirarchy is set in stone and the very idea of spiritual gifting or everyone having a part to play is anathema to those who have clearly established the status quo, and that opportunity to forge relationships is simply not there or desired, except in well established cliques that are based more on Class than Christ.

    So in desperation I have stepped out of this “church” environment, in order to plead to Jesus (who knows me utterly) to restore to me the Joy of His Salvation.
    I may have a residual pride issue also as I sometimes genuinely find it extremely hard to handle that Jesus Christ could have done something so utterly Transcendent and Aweful when He revealed Himself to me and yet most of the time i have been invisible and unused in the last few fellowships, I just cannot settle for the lifeless mediocrity and the way that so many people settle for a comfortable religious 90 minutes once a week then back to living it large in Laodocea for the rest of the week….Jesus Wept!

    Onesimus (Useful) your description mirrors my own in so many ways, can I recommend a couple of talks that were given over the christmas period by a minister called Alastair Begg they are a free download on the Truth for Life website, They blessed me and were relevant to our similar situations, perhaps they may bless you, that Is my Hope…



    What He has done once He can do again, in fact He is able to do more than any eye has seen or mind has even conceived and in 2013 i`m looking to Him as He knows where I am, He knows where you are, and I love Him even though my heart is broken, my energy is sapped and im weary and dissillusioned with a whole host of things and circumstances.. Its a time to see just what He can do in and with me as im busted mate!

    Lets keep in touch! Jesus is Lord! Brian

  9. Hello Brian, I’m in East Anglia, and out of church twenty years – called out, literally. So was my wife before I met her, well, out of the Salvation Army actually.

    Your experiences of church, Brian, leave me cold, and my wife and I share your anger at so much – the feeling useless, the nurturing of a difficult child (my wife, that’s my second wife, knows about this through a son she adopted). So many times we have cried out to Christ Jesus, Lord WHAT ARE YOU DOING? DO YOU ACTUALLY KNOW? We’re in there with you, still are there.

    Brian, the early part of our time out of church is a wilderness – that experience is common to many with whom I’ve had contact over the years. What’s the purpose of the wilderness? It’s a straightening out time, getting things spiritually straight, emotionally and relationally. It’s a time of learning to depend on Jesus, and Him alone. There simply isn’t a pastor around with silky smooth words and the odd Scripture to put oil on troubled waters. We are each responsible directly to the Lord Jesus and not to some Pastor or a committee. But this is not an easy road; it’s lonely, twisting and uncertain a lot of the time; there isn’t at present an out of church fellowship (that’s a contradiction in terms, surely).

    I’m presently project managing a website for out of church christians. It’s not an online church, rather an informal fellowship where you may come and go as you please; a place to share, talk, get things off your chest and I believe a place where Jesus will be glorified. It will be what people make it, within our strict limits. As soon as there’s something to see I’ll post up here, if I may Onesimus.

    In the meantime, if you can, contact Onesimus. We know each other; he’s a good man, rock solid, sensible, compassionate and desperately honest about his faith. Here’s an email address for me, I’d be deeply moved if you would write me and I will honour your contact. martin.lisemore@gmail.com. Maybe, between us, we may introduce you and your dear lady to others out of church who are in much the same state.

    Who am I? I’m an ordinary Joe, farm worker, postman and truck driver and care worker. Now I have a very small, struggling, self employment writing websites. That’s me.

  10. Hi Jamie,
    Not that fellowship isn’t important, but I think it can be a little over-rated. Good fellowship needs to be with someone who really has similar spiritual values. Sometimes it is not even possible. The important fellowship is the one with the Holy Spirit. I won’t push anything on you, but you might want to visit this blog, (it is a small one) and see if it helps relieve the Lone Ranger syndrome. The site address is:

    Have a great day in Jesus,

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