“Lone Ranger” Christian.
That is a term I’ve seen thrown around quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, referring to believers who are outside of established church structures. These people have been accused of being “anti-leadership”, “anti-meeting” and “anti-body”.
I know I would be seen as fitting that “lone ranger” tag – because I’ve not been involved with an established church for about three years. I have also spent most of my Christian life “out of church” – after starting it with a decade long association with a Pentecostal fellowship where I was Youth Leader and occasional preacher.
That 10 year period ended when I entered a time of spiritual confusion. I got mixed up with some very dodgy teaching, became disillusioned and drifted from one group to another looking for one who demonstrated evidence of the Christian life I’d been led to expect: the kind of life that was supposed to be normal yet no one seemed to be experiencing.
After trying almost every Pentecostal/Charismatic church in the city I drifted away from fellowship altogether. It took over 15 years until my faith was stirred again. I immediately started to look for a church to join, but every attempt failed. No group seemed interested in relationship. All they wanted was increased numbers in their meetings. It was the major thing they talked about. Attempts to develop friendships failed. Eventually I gave up on the “church” idea.
A new town, a new opportunity.
Two churches, two extremes of false teachings and practices.
Back to the “out of church” status.
Out of “church” but not out of fellowship.
“Churchless” but not faithless.
My main contact with other believers has been via the internet. Not ideal? Probably – but it’s kept me stronger than I was in my early church-going days. I’m no longer tossed to and fro by every appealing, ear-tickling doctrine that comes along offering THE answer.
I have learned to depend more on God than on man. It was dependence on man, and looking for men to teach me that got me into the troubles of the past.
Am I anti-leader? No. But my idea of legitimate leadership is different from that of people with vested leadership interests. Leadership to me is demonstrated in maturity and the willingness to serve. It is demonstrated in pointing to God rather than man, saying follow HIM not me. Legitimate leadership equips people to be independent of the leader and dependant on God.
Am I anti-meeting? No. But my idea of meetings is different from the one where people sit in rows, one behind the other staring at the back of someone’s head while being entertained by a man telling stories at the front of the designated building. Meetings to me are GENUINE meetings – you meet with people and don’t merely gather with them in the same place. You communicate; speak with each other instead of all listening to one man. You share. You get to know each other. Ideally this would be face to face, but when that’s not possible, it can be over the phone or the keyboard. And the sharing is about Jesus and our faith in Him. It’s not discussing the weather, the football or similar topics.
Am I anti-body? No. And most of my thoughts on this are the same as those in the previous paragraph. A body is about connection with other parts of the body, recognition that the role of each part is important. And most importantly that CHRIST is the head of the body, man isn’t. And each part of the body should be directed by Him.