The Pastor\’s Pen

An Independent Baptist Preacher\’s Musings and Observations

Is God’s Institution of the Church Failing?

Posted by Pastor Szekely on September 23, 2006

I get so tired of hearing so-called “Christians” saying and acting like God’s institution of the Church – a congregation of born-again, water-baptized believers, called out for His particular purpose– has failed or has become obsolete in our day. These same ones will forsake God’s plan and program of evangelizing and discipling through His churches and turn to some sort of para-church ministry, siphoning out congregations, and then “rejoicing” in what God has done…

Now I truly believe this happends because there are a bunch of wolves running around in sheep’s clothing. But this deception and disobedience becomes viral, and it affects the sheep that hear the Shepherd’s voice. What’s going on? How can the lie that God’s institution of the Church is failing today be allowed to be propagated among true, New Testament congregations? Why does it seem that there are those Independent Baptist people being attracted to ecumenical, para-church “ministries”, and thereby contributing to the perceived “power-dilution” of the Lord’s institution?

Here are some rambling thoughts:

1) Could “the family” be contributing to the propagation of this lie? Pastors and preachers are criticized too freely in many homes. The ministry is not respected as a whole. Also, the children see Mom and Dad doing “what they want to do when they want to do it”, instead of submitting unto the Lord and to the leadership that He has instilled in that congregation. If “Roasted Preacher” is served for many meals, why would anyone want to “follow the leader” or why would any young man want to surrender to God’s call into the ministry?

2) Could churches be contributing to the lie about them and to their perceived weakness? In-fighting, cold hearts, apathy, and indifference do not assist in seeing God’s will accomplished. Men who think that the pastorate is a career and not a calling preach for a paycheck and not because they have the power of God upon them. Congregations who believe in word that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, in practice buy into the “entertainment-driven” philosophy and program that “brother, you can’t get them in without pizza, pop, playin’, and pickin'”!

3) Could the “Church-growth gurus”, statistics, and surveys be contributing to the lie? Why do you listen to them…because they told you that they know what success is! But ask yourself this, “Do their definitions of success line up with the Lord’s definition of success?” “Yeah, but…”; no buts! Are “numbers” a Biblical benchmark of success? So if the church I pastor runs 150, and yours runs only 75, are we twice as successful? Then, if we are compared to a church with 300, are we not as successful??? Be careful…success is not in the numbers.

I don’t believe God’s institution of the Church is failing. I do believe that we are being bombarded almost constantly on what others think we should be and of what churches should be doing. I believe we as Independent Baptists look too much at other beliefs, see some superficial result, and try to mimic it by adding a Baptist flavor. I also believe what the Lord Jesus Christ said about His institution, the Church: “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.

God’s work never fails…people fail in God’s work because they fail to follow God in His work.


19 Responses to “Is God’s Institution of the Church Failing?”

  1. Bro. Davenport said

    If there is one thing about God’s institution of the church that is failing it is the members that make up each church and there laziness. God cannot fail and he promised power to His churches and said that even the gates of hell should not prevail against His churches. We have the right institution – the local church (there is no other kind of church). We have the right instructions – the Bible. The problem – the laborers! I find that people know more about American Idol than the Life of Christ. People who could not tell you at all where to find Amos know all of the arguments of “judge not” and “legalism”. We had better quit trying to make the world a better place by trying to reform the government into some kind of para-church institution. That is what the Catholics have been doing for years. The answer is planting churches, winning the lost and making disciples. I personally do believe that churches are failing. God is not willing that any should perish and I am no Calvanist. Just because God knows who is going to heaven and hell dosn’t mean that I know who is going to heaven and hell and He has commanded His churches to plant churches. Last I checked there are more churches closing than being started. Now, I am not discouraged, because all I can worry about is myself and I know I am doing what God wants me to do in my city and worldwide.

  2. Bro. Szekely said

    Great comments, Bro D! I’m so thankful and humbled to be a part of the right institution and to follow the right instructions…and that’s not boasting…just fact! Believers ought to be good, law-abiding citizens, but they also need to realize that our help does not come from Washington, D.C.! No matter what pary controls Congress or the White House, we serve the Great and Living King! As royal ambassadors of the King, our “agenda” is Matt 28:19-20…and it can only be accomplished through God’s institution, the Church…and that institution is ONLY visible with a locale!

    Thanks again for the comments, my brother!

  3. How can you call it God’s institution? Jesus did not come to build an institution. The veil was rent from top to bottom. How can you even believe what you see is, God’s Ekklesia?
    God does not dwell in buildings nor has Jesus appointed anyone over anyone. What happened to the priesthood of believers who are now asked to sit, be quiet, let the Greek Orator speak his Oracles of God in an institution that has been pagan since it’s inception. As a Baptist you alone should know your own history of the AnaBaptist and “sitters rights”. You should know that for 1600 years the Catholic “church” reigned and you grab your authority to speak for God from her. You speak from the perspective of Ignatius, who said the Bishop was equal to Christ.
    The Protestants did nothing but exchange the Pope for the Pastor. BTW a word meaning a function that was needed before we recieved scripture and it’s only mentioned once in the five, it was never a position to “lord” over others. Tithing was closed with the Old covenant as well as the Priest and the Temple. Your position that this remains is contrary to the New Covenant and Christ. The Ekklesia, Satan will never overcome, but the history of men’s traditions and “his” institution” that Satan has played more than his part in it’s activities and it’s persecution of true believers, and it’s murder, mayhem and sin that it’s hierarchy has committed against others it has long been overcome by the enemy for it’s origins are from the “man of lawlessness, it is the spirit of Anti-Christ.
    The true “Ekklesia” is unseen, and they are Christ and His alone. There is no mediator between man and God except Christ. Pastors try to live in that position of priest, when all of His people are kings and priest unto Him! They live to exert their spiritual authority they believe they have been given, and take advantage of the people for gain. If you take money out of the system, remove the building and it as an idol, and remove the Pastor, and you will find the true believer uneffected by it’s loss, for His trust was always in Christ and not in men’s creation of religion calling it Christianity, while it distracts and substitutes itself for a living relationship with the Savior.
    What I say is repent from the idolization of men, the veneration of men and his creations, and turn to Christ and Him alone, leave the institution for Satan is the god of this world and men and his organizations and institutions. God’s Kingdom is not of this earth. Why is the church failing because it isn’t God’s ekklesia, it’s man’s traditions and man’s creation. It is meant to fail. Even the word “church” isn’t scriptural and immediately conjures in the mind of men- a place to go, rather than what they are to be- the “called out one’s of God” separated unto Him in life and deed by the work of the Holy Spirit within them. The works of men are wood, hay and stubble and will fail, but the life truly given by God in Christ is that gold that last forever. Eternal life begins now not something in the future. You either have life in Him now or you are dead now. BTW I am a former Baptist who has come to know Christ, the reality of life in Him, and I have it without any building or pastor or all the ritualistic sanctimonius baloney. I am a former Pastor who discovered that Christ is my head and not some organization that has joined itself with the unbeliever in legal incorporation and making the State it’s head rather than Christ and all for the love of money.
    I challenge anyone to know Christ, know the Scripture and to heed the words of I John.
    Summarized as thus:
    You have no need for anyone to teach you, for the anointing (the Holy Spirit) teaches you all things and in Him there is no lie.
    Study the Scriptures and trust Christ, he gave the promise and no man’s institution will ever be able to stand in the place of Christ and His gift that you may worship Him who is worthy of our worship and do so in Spirit and Truth.
    Seek no man to for the answers, seek God only for in Him only the truth will be found. Don’t listen to those that say go there or here for Christ is over there, over here.
    Didn’t our Lord and Saviour warn the day was coming, it happened in less than a few years once the Apostles had all died. Whereever two or more are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them. Find someone of like mind and heart, and have dialegomai with them as often as you can, and encourage one another in the Lord. Don’t forsake assemblying with others of that have discovered the truth of Christ, but forsake the liars, the robbers, and those that seek advantage of you with your tithes. Give to those is need, preach the Gospel always, and pray unceasingly, for the last days begin at Pentecost and we are fast approaching the “end of the ages” and Christ is soon to come. Look up for your salvation draws near. Don’t feel condemned by those Pharisees if you choose to come out her (the church) to be a member of Christ’s Ekklesia.
    The unseen “called out one’s”. Be of good cheer, for He has overcome this world and it’s institutions and reigns as King over all nations, and we reign with Him. Don’t fear the religionist. They always seek others to follow them. Seek Christ alone. If you love Yeshua, then leaving men’s traditions doesnt remove that love for Him, it will only strengthen it. Don’t seek me or any man. I am but one His people as we all are. I have fault as well, and I am pressing forward to know Him, something I haven’t yet reached, but to know Him even as He knows me, is my continual goal. My trust is in Christ and will never be in an institution on this earth created by men.

  4. Bro. Szekely said


  5. would love have you post sermon outlines on

  6. Thanks Bro. Chapman…will do!

    Just send them to “justbaptistoutlines”, right?

    I’ll try it ~ Lord bless!


  8. Got it, my brother…thank you!

    Lord bless!

  9. Marcia said

    This is exactly where I’m at after surrendering my life to Christ 21 years ago. I’ve been to many churches, Baptist, Pentecostal, and non-denominational, but now more than ever believe that we, the body of Christ, are the church and that man-made institutions are actually not what God ever intended. My own son has walked away from God due to the condemnation and guilt some of these places put on him. I delight in the company of people who have no expectations of me or my loved ones. I feel that man-made institutions and rituals limit God with all their schedules and demands. There is one true Pastor, my Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, Yeshua and one true chruch, the invisible church, God’s hands and feet on this earth. The only area I was having a hard time with is fellowship because you don’t find too many believers who would agree, but thank you for reminding me that where two are gathered He is in our midst. I do have one friend who is free this way and we pray and laugh and rejoice and sharpen each other. I just have one question, why does the New Testament speak so much about how to conduct ourselves in church service and appointing leaders, etc such as in Timothy 2 and 3? I also noticed in Acts 2:42-47 how it speaks of the believers first forming a community and how they worshipped at the Temple each day and met in homes for the Lord’s Supper. I am praying for the Holy Spirit to reveal and teach me more on this subject but if you have any thoughts please share. Blessings!

    “The visible church is all the people who get together from time to time in God’s name. Anybody can find out who these people are by going to church to look. The invisible church is all the people God uses for His hands and feet in this world. Nobody can find out who they are except God.” By Frederick Buechner

    “‘I don’t create institutions; that’s an occupation for those who want to play God…My church is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can’t build it. It’s my job and I’m actually pretty good at it,’ Jesus said with a chuckle.” The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

  10. Andrew said

    Why then, if there is no institution of the church, did Christ say to Peter, “upon this rock (speaking of himself, not Peter) will I build this church” notice: “build this church.” So was the group of believers in Jerusalem, (who had pastors, deacons, etc.) was that not scriptural?? Why does Paul in Timothy and Titus give qualifications of a bishop and deacon? And, as you pointed out Marcia, why is there texts that deal with how we are to conduct ourselves in the church? Just wondering….

    Great post Bro. Szekely

  11. Great post, Bro Mike, especially this line:
    “God’s work never fails…people fail in God’s work because they fail to follow God in His work.”

    Marcia, no offense, but you should really avoid getting your theology from corrupt novels! Stick with God’s Word! Yes, Jesus is in our midst when two or more true believers are fellowshipping together – but nowhere in the Bible will you find that referred to as “the church” or a church gathering. The word church means “a called out assembly”, which implies a local gathering of believers focussed around the preaching of God’s Word, led by a God-appointed leader (pastor), and for the purpose of building up God’s people and equipping them to serve the Lord. Discussing a verse or two or even doing a Bible study is not church. The passages about how the church is to conduct itself show us there is more to a church assembling together than what you have posted above.

    Also, there is no such thing as non-denominationalism. What it is is cutting corners to be more ecumenical and blur the boundaries. When you have Bible Chapels, and Christian Centers, and Brethren churches that all believe basically the same thing as others that call themselves by those same names, that is a denomination…

    Denominations are a label that is used to identify where a group of religious people (not always true Christians) stand doctrinally and in practice. Jesus never spoke against denominations – in fact, the Bible even uses the word “sects” various times in the New Testament (and that word means just that: denomination). What Jesus did speak against was the corruption and doctrinal compromise of those who identified themselves with certain sects. For example, He didn’t rebuke someone because they labelled themselves as a Sadducee or a Pharisee – He rebuked them for adding to or taking away from His Word, for corrupting the Gospel and twisting His Word, etc.

  12. Marcia said

    Thanks for posting Andrew and Jerry, both of you make good points. Although I posted quotes from books, I take everything to the light of God’s Word and the teaching of the Holy Spirit; however, I don’t limit what God can use for speaking to us just to His Word. God also uses books and people and even nature. It is we humans who limit Him.

    Like I said, I wanted to get your opinions because I have been so hurt by the church that I know my feelings have influenced my thinking in many ways, but ultimately I guide myself or allow God to guide me through His Word and I myself pointed to the Scriptures which speak on a formal assembling. I think God is way more patient than we are with one another. I think He knows when we have gone through disappointments and is patient as we may find ourselves in seasons where we might not see everything clearly. I know one thing is certain and that is that we as His body must be united. I know that there is definitely a reason why God has gifted some as teachers, some pastors, etc., and that is to build and equip His church. Unfortunately, I think man has corrupted God’s plan and so many have been wounded. I agree with you but I also think that His church is beyond a building and His Spirit moves beyond a program or schedule or tradition.

    Jerry, I like the way you explained church as a called out assembly led by an appointed leader. I know that two people coming together to discuss the Word of God is more like fellowship and maybe during this season it has felt safe for me. I know God appointed leaders and I cannot ignore or leave out portions of His Word. I just need to heal and I know He’s patient. I also think your explanation of denominations is great. I just referred to it because that is what some of the churches I visited titled themselves.

    Wow, this is good. Thank you both for your input.

    Be blessed!

  13. Pete Baker said

    Many thanks. The last paragraph is especially encouraging to me.

  14. gracehost said

    The question is somewhat of a double edged sword. While we as Christians for the most part do not WANT to fail, it has become apparent that we have turned our eyes from God. Why do i say this? The Church has strayed from the fundamental teachings of Christ. No longer is it just viable to have a meeting place to fellowship, and worship, or give praise. No Longer does God get the center of attention at most Churches today. In todays times its about How big a church is, or how much money was spent on it, or how much revenue can be brought in from the congregation. Is having a HUGE church necessarily a bad thing? the answer : No. but when God is left of our sites while we boast about the size of our building, or how much money was raised, it becomes a very bad thing. Greed, Pride, and Lust’s of the flesh have edged their way into the Church and spreading like a cancer. When Jesus sent his desciples out he sent them out in pairs.

    mark 6:7- And he called [unto him] the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

    Matthew 18:20 -For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    Now, If Jesus states “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” does that mean so little to us today that we HAVE to have cathedrals and churches, that could have fed and nourished, could have reached thousands more, with the amounts we spend on them? The Church Needs to come back to its roots, and humble themselves before the lord, and repent for letting our sins become our idols.

    The Church is about to go through a mighty shaking, a shaking that will reach its very foundations. We MUST wake up, and Heed the call Of the Lord before it is too late.

    God Is a Just God, who is waiting for his prodigal children to come home

  15. beloved one with a robe of many colors said

    The church to me is on my facebook page. Recently, it has occured to me the atrosity of a possible religous blow to all places of community worship. Besides 9/11, there has been a moral decline for decades into century’s. I’m just 3 decades old. Calvary is my family and that’s why I go to church on facebook, so many have gone home with the Lord and so many have been scattered from my hometown.

  16. beloved one with a robe of many colors said


    Ministering spirits have been around since the garden of Eden between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Cherubim’s sat down at the gates blocking iniquity from entering while protecting the glory for God’s presence. They were beautiful figures made of gold to protect the mercy seat above the Ark in the holy of holies. They were shining, radiant, brilliant, unequivocal to other Angels and bore the throne-chariot (Ezekiel 1:4-5/1-:15-20) and their creatureliness for some were as noticeable as Venus (Psalm 19:1). There remarkable presence has ascended to the heavenly counsels, but then again this is just one type of an angel. Seraphim’s are said to be attendants to the throne and similar to a cherubim (Isaiah 6). All angels carry out a will, a decree. The angel of the Lord is thought to be Jesus before incarnation, thus he’s only mentioned in the Old Testament. Michael is an arch angel. Arch angels are the highest ranking in order of these elect beings. Wouldn’t it make sense to guard the Jews with one? I forget which angel sheathed a sword over Jerusalem, but I do remember it was in Zechariah.
    Every war there is a platoon that gets pinned down, and the year 2004 in Sadr City off Delta it was 1st Calvary Division around Palm Sunday. This was a truly touching story of our recent affairs in Iraq. Which I am going to write about Lord willing. Where are these ministering spirits now? Where were they then? Perhaps they were guarding the hearts of family back home. A few years ago, a fake police check point was set up and an American was taken hostage. He worked in Iraq for Lockheed Martin and was supposedly beheaded. The Marine Corp switched leadership shortly before his capture. Muchrin (not sure of his spelling but its pronounced MOO-KRIN) was part of a terror force which dealt with propaganda online and media announcements. This man that was beheaded lived in West Creek N.J. and his name was Paul Marshall Johnson. He worked on apaches and was a long term resident overseas. According to my knowledge (I’m no angel) this report would have been better to stay off the air. The days of Sheba and tossing heads onto silver platters are clearly not over, and Angels are among our midst.
    After my brother n law passed, we passed out funeral cards with the lyrics from his favorite musician Ozzy Osbourne. The card was made from my girl friends Mother and it had a picture of an ocean, a horizon, and a sunset with a beautiful sky. She wrote the words I suggested which was a popular Ozzy tune, “no more tears”. Anyway, without being longwinded I saw Greg in a dream and he was in a white robe sitting in the rocking chair with the fireplace to his left. I asked him how he was, and with a brilliance and a warm smile he said, “blissful” then faded. I am really writing honestly, and this dream seemed to give me comfort in his eternal existence with God. So how do Angels minister to us today?

    A prayer,
    Jesus, God, all humbleness I write to share knowledge with others behind me of the faith you allowed us. I can’t wrestle with demons without being in your hands and because of the love you have for the world nobody can deliver us except your own. Open my eyes, guard my heart, and instill in me a comfort to face the peace instead of waging war with evil. We love you. Amen

    Hebrews 2:1-4

    The author says to pay closer attention to hearsay (what we have heard)
    “for this reason” implications of the prior passages, superiority of Christ to angels, the divine aspect. J
    “for this reason” (Ex. 20) claims God YWHW delivered the law, although later Judaism believed it was angels (acts 7:53). “for this reason” answers and calms there doubts for fear of slipping away unknowingly. Μη ποτε παραρῥυωμεν· “Lest at any time we should leak out.”

    The author includes his/her own self throughout 2:1-3. The word “we” is used 3 times in vs. 1
    “if” the word spoken proved unalterable’ is contrasting “how” shall we escape a just compensation.
    The author is proclaiming salvation at the first spoken.
    Transgression and disobedience refers to two types of sin.
    Commission and omission are the two types of sin.
    This particular proclamation is giving readers no excuse to omitting salvation’s message.
    God bore witness, by signs, wonders, miracles, gifts, and divine will.
    (KJV uses a “?” at vs. 4. 4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?)
    This proclamation was first spoken “through’ in NASB” “by’ in KJV” the Lord similar to verse 1 chapter 1.
    This proclamation was confirmed by hearing.
    The later part of vs. 4 was to accredit salvation from God just as angels authenticated the law or rather ordained it and it only condemns us to needing a pure recompense.
    This is a public announcement, hence the word proclamation.

    1. What exactly were the people hearing? What teaching does the author refer?
    2. What is the just punishment for violations and disobedience to the message spoken bye angels?
    3. What exactly is the message spoken bye angels?
    4. Who is the author of Hebrews and did he hear from Jesus himself?
    5. What does the author mean bye signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit?
    6. Why does the author question if it was God’s will in the KJV version?
    7. The law clearly condemns, and the author stated bye omitting salvation your subject to an inescapable just recompense. Doesn’t that sound like guilty before innocent? When salvation is rewarded we become immediately innocent. Doesn’t that sound so unfair?
    8. Does the need of salvation veil the full glory of God?
    9. How can we give the Lord more glory in comparison to angels considering our current state of sanctification?
    10. Where did the ‘first spoken’ take place according to this message of God’s will?

    Have you ever heard the song we sang in church as children, “I’ve got a light inside of me and I’m gonna let it shine….”.?. Nero really brought that upon the Christians during the time Hebrews was written. Supposedly, he illuminated believers bye lighting them on fire and using people as a candle wick for his beautiful greenery. Years ago in high school, I think 10th or 9th grade, a certain individual was listed in a magazine for a similar circumstance. Ironically, this person only burned crosses on the lawn of an African Americans home, and he is a Christian. Anyway, he got in some hate crime magazine and our history teacher shared the story. Weather its crosses on fire to intimidate race or Christians burning to light the way in an emperor’s garden – it was some of the fear people probably talked about in Rome. The great fires, and the first Jewish Roman war were also during the time of Nero and Hebrews time period. Certainly a peaceful time for Parthian people in 63 A.D. lasted 50 years which out lived the suicidal emperor. Nero was facing a budget deficit and food shortage while dominating western culture. I really can’t believe the government back then wasn’t corrupt. Armenians had there king, but he was crowned in Rome.
    I would imagine the people were talking about rumors of birds being sacrificed outside of the synagogue and walls being breached into the holy city destroying the temple. Suicide was ordered, and often committed with ease from exploding anxiety of persecuted Christians. What amazes me about the tolerance Christians had back then is they didn’t have the whole Bible. The book of Revelations, or other letters. They had to be so full of fear for there time and so full of faith for this second covenant. Were they radical as some Islam extremists in our current day or perhaps enlightened.?.
    The message spoken bye angels is a loaded question. Attacking the quarry, one must consider the orthodox of fathers because the writer is implying salvation. The people were at war, persecuted, and not exactly living high on the hog. My belief is in the resurrection and the angel’s message before Christ went (Acts 1:9-11)home witnessed bye Apostles. Not everybody heard of this miracle correctly probably. Just as rumors were made and conspiracy’s drawn in Nero’s time, so was it in the days of Christ.

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