Required Institutional Relationship is not Church Criteria.

The Church is made up of people who have a growing PERSONAL  RELATIONSHIP  with God. The criteria is not to have a relational relationship with an institution in order to have a relationship with God! 

The Church is only effective as people are equipped to know the living God and follow Him, not follow an institution's perception of Him. Having a growing relationship with God will teach us and equip us to relate to other people based on their humanity, not based on their affiliation with a group and adherence to their belief system. Having a relationship that is confined to an institutional group stifles our relationship with God and with other people. In fact it causes disillusionment to people in the relational group who really want to know God, because of the closed mindedness regarding their approach to and who God is.

Institutions are spawned by modeling what people think is a the correct bible model of what Church is. It is because of the human element and the disregard of Holy Spirit involvement that has generated many of the myriad's of religious institutions that are out there today.  

Jesus did not institute a model for His Church, He lived Church in relationship with His disciples and with people in daily living. His Church is organic and relational not  organizational and segregated because of different belief systems. Can you imagine Jesus sanctioning such division? The model for the Church is Jesus Himself. He never taught people He was in relationship with how to have a 'service' or how to construct an hierarchal chain of command overseeing doctrinal and moral behavior and correcting the error of such when it does not line up with the institution's accepted perception. He didn't tell them that church life was about attending a event-driven-meetings, conforming to a group ethic, or regimenting people's lives by the most well-intentioned programs.

Instead, He taught them how to relate to God as Father and each other as brothers and sisters and to people in general as friends. The language He used with them (and indeed the language Paul uses in his letters) was not the language of institutions, but the language of family.

Because most of what we call 'church' today operates on institutional dynamics, many believers today have no idea what God has designed Church life to be. Institutions must focus on doctrines, creeds, programs and procedures that attempt to get people to conform to the 'way we see and do things here.' Usually a group of top-heavy leadership draw the most attention and people are encouraged to submit unquestioningly to their insights and counsel.

Institutional relationship encourages people to promote an image, and does not free them to be free real. Gossip, backbiting and show-man-ship performance games are played as people try to find their place, often at another's expense. The same things you see in the corporate world are the basis of life in an institution. And if you ever leave the institution, you will often be blamed, shamed and ignored. Many people who have left religious institutions have commented that they felt like they ceased to exist even for people whom they had considered close friends in the institution.

If you have been treated in such a not lose hope, Jesus did not and will not give up on you or sever relationship with you. Be patient, He will bring people across your path to fellowship with. Be open to His leading.


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