Some people turn away from god because of the waste, entertainment gospel, and emphasis on that which is not according to scripture. You may hear something like the followings: “All of these churches and, in particular, the mega churches build massive buildings with Starbucks and other eating places in them but yet give only about 5% of the money they take in directly helping those in need. I saw a story in the paper recently about a big 5 million dollar expansion to one of the mega churches. Then later in the story it told how they had donated 5,000 dollars to feed the hungry.”
When you hear these types of things, you can relate. Even those who attend the mega-churches are longing for the Church the Christ designed, the one in the Bible. The largest movements among those who are following Christ is the movement toward home churches. Most of these home churches, however, do not follow the orders of Scripture. The orders of Scripture do not allow anyone to get rich on religion. There is no locally abiding salaried pastor to be found in Scripture. There are unpaid elders (plural and equal with no chief elder) who care for the church as a shepherd (pastor) cares for sheep. There are local deacons, also unpaid. There are no paid singers, comedians, or other entertainers. The local churches are under the government of the local elders who make decisions by seeking God and finding His will. The local elders are in submission to the apostles, traveling elders and deacons. The apostles do receive their living since they are full time and would have no way to support themselves otherwise. The apostles receive the revelation from God as to the interpretation of Scripture and local elders teach no other doctrine. There are no maverick apostles. There is no chief apostle. The apostles are in submission to each other, correct each other, and receive correction in submission to each other. No apostle teaches an independent interpretation but only the apostle’s doctrine that has been revealed to all. There is no opportunity for money, power, and prestige to corrupt in the real church. This is the order that was restored to a remnant in the Church in the middle of the Twentieth Century.
In the real church, almost 100% of the tithes and offerings go to help the poor and spread the gospel. They don’t do this by pushing the governments of the world to coerce unbelievers and force those unbelievers by taxing them so that the government can help the poor. The real church helps the poor in a real way. It doesn’t squander money on fancy buildings, big salaries, and entertainments.
The local churches are not political organizations. In fact, in the Bible, there is no attempt for the New Testament Church to have an impact on politics, but a tremendous attempt is shown to bring some powerful political figures to know Christ. Jesus was killed largely for telling the leadership that they were in sin. Paul took great risks in talking to kings about their sins. John the Baptist was beheaded for telling Herod that he was committing sin. Though these were powerful political figures, there is only the record of trying to bring them to Christ and to righteousness.
People want something that is real and genuine. They are tired of a plastic and tinsel fake church. Some people are so turned off by the things that are going on that they lose hope. You, as a Christian, must be the church to these people. You must show the compassion of Christ to them. There is sometimes more church in inviting a person to your home for a meal than in inviting a person to a contrived, spiritually dead, entertainment service where they can be “intellectually stimulated.”
That being said, God uses mega churches. He is very merciful. If He were not merciful, He would have no one to work with. He takes what little anyone is willing to give and blesses it. And, it’s not just the huge mega-churches that have a problem. Every departure from the pattern that God has revealed through Scripture is an abomination to God. Denominations, that is, divisions, are an abomination to God. Yet, God starts wherever any person is and brings them from that place to where He wants them at a pace that doesn’t destroy them. For most of us, it is a long, difficult journey to come closer to God. The flesh is wicked and deceitful. So no one can stand in judgment of another. We ought to support any work for the Body of Christ. We also ought to recognize those things that are not part of the Church, Christ the Body. Part of discerning the Body of Christ is discerning what is not a part of the Body of Christ. We all see things that are out of order in our own assemblies, yet we don’t sit in judgment and condemnation of the person who is out of order. In fact, such an action would be out of order. The Scripture says to restore such a one. The Holy Spirit must lead in restoration. John, the apostle, said that we should do this by praying for the person except in the case of a sin to death. This refers to those serious sins that actually destroy the person who enters into the sin. With those sins, we must in mercy and gentleness and with courage reach out to our brother or sister to restore them to their walk with Jesus. When we do so, we are warned that we could easily fall into sin ourselves, so there is no lording it over or feeling superior.