Church After TEOTWAWKI, by Ear to the Ground, Eye to the Sky in Virginia

Sunday, Nov 25, 2012

SurvivalBlog has always suggested if not promoted having a Christ-centered spiritual focus, and my wife and I had that focus even before the writing on the wall became clear and we started prepping. We're in our 50s now and have attended church for the most part since we were kids, and have a personal relationship with our savior Jesus. I like reading the thoughts of other posters as they prep, and their spiritual questions. Is it trusting to prepare? Will not God take care of us whatever may come? What role does God play in the events that are unfolding? Very interesting and thought provoking. There are many difficult questions I cannot answer, but I can answer YES to the question, Is God good? That answer, based on decades of experience walking with Jesus, calms my soul, restores my joy, and helps me understand that this world is not the final stop on my trip through eternity.

We have traveled to other continents, and have seen Christians in third world countries, in person and through video. We have talked to many other Christian people who have traveled the world, and the stories they tell of God's love, work and faithfulness are astounding. We are seeing such things here in our corner of America as well, including healings, and people having spiritually meaningful dreams and visions. To use a C.S. Lewis line," Aslan is on the move", and it is so exciting.

When we see Christians in poor nations worshipping our Father, there is a genuineness and sincerity that is riveting. Most often, they are in humble circumstances, gathering in an old building, or a cinder block structure they constructed, or simply outdoors. But their surroundings make no difference as they worship in Spirit and in truth. Those images are mostly in stark contrast to the comfort in which we worship in the US. I've heard Christians say that our comfort zones are actually spiritual prisons, and that's a big part of the lukewarm impotence of Christianity in America today.

All this has got me thinking about what happens after the crash, regarding our fellowship, worship, and work as Christians. Let's take a look at that. What could happen?

The church today is defined mainly by economic and statistical measures, not spiritual. Take a representative yet fictional church, managed by Pastor Reverend Dr. Theodore Lexicon. Pastor Lexicon has a PhD from a well respected seminary, all the right connections on LinkedIn, and can read New Testament Greek as easily as the menu at Denny's. He has a staff of ten, and a hundred fifty deacons populating 15 committees in charge of all the business of the church. Around him he has an inner circle of ten elders who make all the decisions, and decisions they do make, with there being not much hint of dissension. As far as the American church goes, they are on the straight and narrow, getting the job done, preaching the gospel and paying the mortgage. Oh, and I forgot to mention that their numbers are growing to such an extent that the obligatory Planning Committee has been formed to explore future real estate growth options.

You have the picture. Perhaps you are a member at Pastor Lexicon's church today? The question is, what happens to the church after the crash, or in the run-up to the crash?

Today, many groups are using the fictitious 'constitutional separation of church and state' to attack Christianity. Not Islam, but Christianity. That's another discussion, but there are factions in the government who are sympathetic to this attack. Both Obama and Hillary have used the term, "Freedom of Worship," to refer to our rights under the first amendment. Think about that term for a while. Freedom of worship is what they had in the USSR under communism. There was a state sponsored or sanctioned church, with violently proscribed limits of behavior. Citizens could go worship as they pleased, but there was no freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, spiritual freedom. The vocabulary is already being tested for changes here in the US.

This wall of separation argument will be the basis for any attack on the church. And the attack can be simple. Look at the amount of church real estate held in any decent sized jurisdiction in the US. Many of those parcels were purchased 100 years ago and have now been encompassed by urban and suburban sprawl, to the point that their land is worth millions. Churches do not pay property taxes. There have been noises already that this is an unfair act on the part of government favoring religion. Look for that to change.

Since the Obama Depression started, many churches have lost the ability to pay their mortgages and/or staff and have gone under. Imagine the carnage when the US, state, and local governments realize all the money they are leaving on the table by not charging churches property tax.

I don't expect this will happen while things are relatively calm, but in the midst of other economic disasters (US bond default, hyperinflation, 40% unemployment), such a tax levy would sail through any legislative body.

The net result of this tax would be the prompt (12 months?) forfeiture of 75% of church properties in the US.

That's one scenario. For another, consider the outbreak of violence, or incapacitation of our power grid, even for a few weeks. Churchgoers would stay home, the church mortgage would go unpaid, and the end would come swiftly. Pastors check winter weather forecasts and pray for clear skies on Saturday night, to miss not one Sunday's offering. Imagine six weeks of missed Sunday offerings? The Body of Christ is in debt to bankers and lawyers, but I digress.

Regardless the mechanism, you see that it's at least plausible that national disaster will spell the end to the megachurch and even the kilochurch. What happens then?

In that case, a bunch of people would simply fall away. Like it or not, many people go to church because 1) their parents did, 2) it's good for the children, 3) it's a good social experience, 4) attendance is mandated by their social circle, etc. In my experience, there are many who are open to an experience with God, but they are not seeking it, and will not step outside their comfort zones to get it. Sadly, this describes some church staff as well. Given the slightest danger in attending church, either physical or via government intimidation, many will simply disappear.

The rest, optimistically 15 or 20% (?), will seek to continue their relationship to other Christians, and continue the work that God has prepared in advance for them to do. Let's focus on them now.

With no brick and mortar church building to meet within, what will these people do? I believe that they will meet in their homes, or in unofficial church locations. Some degree of stealth will be required for sure, as even today localities are using zoning ordinances to prevent Christians from meeting in their homes.

If you do an internet search on 'home church', you will find a small, yet vibrant movement of Christians already meeting at home, or in small rented spaces. Many of these people became disillusioned with Church, Inc., that is, big business church, led by people such as Pastor Lexicon. They left that, bumped into other Christians of like mind, and naturally gathered in groups in the only place they had, at home. People in home churches whom I have met understand the difficulties with large church organizations, but do not dwell on the negatives, rather are pushing forward in the Kingdom of God, studying, preaching, discipling, loving, and serving.

I have mentioned the fact that I attend a home church to a few pastors. Some react badly, obviously feeling threatened. I did not understand this at first. Then I got a view of a typical modern church, which consists of Sunday services as usual, but perhaps dozens of home groups meeting all around the region, with 10-20 people apiece. Imagine some small issue blowing up in such a church, as happens from time to time. Could be a budget issue or a personality problem. In short order, 10 home groups could split off, become home churches (what do we need a seminary graduate pastor for anyway?), and the originating church would be devastated. I think that is at least the source of some pastoral consternation regarding home church.

So, if you are now preparing in the areas of bean, bullets, and band-aids, why not spiritually? I'm not suggesting in the least that you abandon your Sunday, Church, Inc. experience, any more than a prepper should abandon shopping at the grocery in favor of making his own toilet paper. Take all the good while you can. Pastor Lexicon needs all the good Christians around him he can get, if he's ever going to see the light!

I am suggesting that you should seek out like minded Christians, and form a home group, or study group, or Tuesday morning coffee and prayer group, as a basis for continuity of fellowship after the crash, or after the government fires your pastor and takes your property.

I'm involved in several groups, including a men's group, Sunday home church, a couple groups of people who serve the poor in our community, and prison ministry. I know more Christians today than I ever knew as a pew warmer in Church, Inc. If something happens, I can quickly reach out to others, to help them and to receive help if needed. If I have a problem and need prayer, I have a network of literally hundreds of people I have prayed with before to come to my aid. These are not just people I have passed in the caverns of the church building, but my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Likely you are already in a home group and have a small set of loving connections to other Christians. Build on that. Volunteer to help the poor in your area. You will find the most loving, merciful, compassionate people serving there. You will find that because unmerciful, legalistic, cold Christians naturally sequester themselves inside church buildings! That leaves the Christlike ones to minister in the community. Build bonds of love to your fellow Christians, and bring others into the family. The Body of Christ is a miraculous and beautiful thing. Let's be sure it is not decimated by the evil schemes of evil men after the crash!

As a project, do some research on Christians in oppressive countries, like China. You will find that they have no buildings, no staff, no budget, no constitutional protection, and no constitution! But their lives in Christ are beautiful! Our country is headed in that direction, and we can continue to be headed toward Jesus as a Church, if we prepare.

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