*Note: When the reader see's the word 'Church' rendered as shown here, the author is referring to the Business entity, Main-Stream, Institutional 'Church' of man's design. When the word is rendered using all lower case letters, he is referring to Christ's model for His authentic, Organic, Home based assembly of believers.
A poet once asked, "What is in a name?" I got to think about that question and how it applies to the World's model for 'Church' today. Here we see thirteen passages of Scripture describing churches. The thing I find interesting is that not one of them is referred to by a specific name. Scripture makes it clear that all churches are referred to by geographic location, not by a 'Business Corporation.' This brings to mind an interesting question: Should Churches Have A Name? One might ask a logical question of their own; "If a 'Church' doesn't have a name, then how will we know how to find it?" We have become so accustomed to viewing a 'Church' as we do a Walmart, that we have forgotten our own roots as Christ's church. I'm surprised that we don't sport a drive thru window in some of these places. We live in an Instant and disposable society where if we don't like one, we'll move on to another. We have ushered in a spiritual life of instant gratification and or disposal. Once again we can see the 'Authentic' and the ever changing 'Main-Stream' butting heads. If one were to open up their local Yellow Pages, we'd see every 'Church' has a Corporate-Business name attached to it. In the Bible, we see no such corporate-business distinction; only a location is mentioned.
I can say to anyone, "Hey! Did you hear about what happening at Calvary Baptist 'Church?'" How would they know which Calvary Baptist 'Church' I was talking about? There are hundreds of 'Church' Organizations across our country that claim that 'name.' The same goes for Emmanuel Baptist 'Church,' Berean Baptist 'Church,' Antioch Baptist 'Church' and let's not forget, First Baptist 'Church.' I only mentioned a few examples, and I haven't even started mentioning all of the Our Lady Of (Guadalupe-Fatima-Immaculate Conception) Catholic 'Churches.' These are business enterprises with a specific 'name' attached for the purpose of running a business entity. This is not the model for Christ's organic fellowship.
Why has this happened? At it's core are the banks. If I were a Trustee or Treasurer of any organization (including a 'Church') and wanted or felt the need to open up a checking account so I can pay contractors, Providers, get a loan, have a payroll, etc, I would have to surrender to the rules that govern the banks. This is common business practice. Well, there you go! However, the early church had no such constraints placed on them. Why? Because they weren't modeled after a business! They met in houses before the persecution came. It wasn't until we considered ourselves "civilized" enough that people started treating God's model for church as a business 'thing.' Although I have mentioned the following quote in another post, I believe it bears repeating what Sam Pescoe once said, "When Christ first started His church, it was in the form of a Fellowship. When it reached Greece it became a Philosophy. When it came to Rome it grew into an Institution. As it spread throughout Europe it became a Culture. And, when it got to America, it became an Enterprise." And who pray tell, begins an enterprise? Entrepreneurs, that's who. That is what a modern day pastor has become. Someone who starts, or takes over to run a business entity. Do you see the same problem I do?
Scripture demonstrates that the early church bodies were identified in a much different way than we identify them today. We do not read about the First Baptist 'Church' of Jerusalem, or Antioch Baptist 'Church.' We never read of Corinthian Presbyterian 'Church' or Philadelphia Methodist 'Church.' What we do read about is the church (assembly) AT Jerusalem. The churches (plural) throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria. There is mention of the churches OF Macedonia. Then there are the churches OF Galatia. The church that is AT Babylon. Lastly, Scripture records the church that is in their house.
Today we have incorporated 'names' to identify with the buildings we brag about. Most every 'Church' flier or advertisement I have seen subtly showcases three main elements; the 'Church' building, it's name, and it's pastor. Where is Jesus? He was left out of th mix. People have identified themselves so much with the organization, pastor and building, they are confusing it with the assembly! The assembly has been pushed aside in favor of the accomplishments of pooling the body's resources, know how, and financial savvy to create a THING! God created people. People created Towers, buildings and monuments as a tribute to their own glory. They did it with the Tower of Babel, and we're doing it today. Genesis 11:4, "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Have we become so diluted in our way of thinking that we have to pay homage to ourselves in the form of a structure built with bricks and morter as Nimrod did back then?
The Main-Stream 'Church' system has the Yellow Pages where ads and listings are bought for a price to display their name. The true home-based church of Jesus' design has the Bible for our point of reference. When I say, "our," I mean those who are born again Believers that are not associated with man's version of a corporate-business 'Church' entity, where one must become a member (as in any other social organization), paying their dues in the form of income tithing under a threat of social exclusion. This tactic of 'pay to play' is nothing more than simple extortion. Jesus' church has remained the same since our inception. It is man who has claimed a social evolution for their brand of 'Church'. Defending the idea that one can name his organization whatever he wants is fine with me. I'm just objecting to naming something that isn't their own; namely Jesus' church. He built us. He died for us. He is our Head. It took man's ego to put a name to it and run it as a business. Jesus' home-based church has not changed. Why? Because neither has He. Man is the one who wanted to make a name for himself, starting at the Tower of Babel. Jesus has the only name that matters. It is above every name!
It is true that every business Institutional 'Church' Organization must have a Name attached to it because they are, in fact, businesses under government control. Not too long ago, Indianapolis Baptist Temple in Indianapolis, IN has had U.S. Marshal's confiscate their building and Properties. The pastor was physically removed and padlocks were placed on the doors. I'm sure you've heard similar stories like this in the past, but the twist in this case is that the 'Church' was seized because of a delinquent six million dollar tax bill reportedly owed to the IRS. The tax bill was the result of the 'Church's' negligence in taking out Payroll deductions for its staff. (See what could happen when you create a business and don't run it under the rules of the Federal Reserve?). Anyway, the pastor claims that the 'Church' and the IRS had an agreement to roll back the bill and then have it dismissed. To see the complete story one can view the local news reports at http://vimco.com/36379845.
My point is, being a business entity, whether an Institutional 'Church' participates as a 501c3 non-Profit organization or not, the government has control. If a 'Church' owns a Property, and operate as a business, under a business name, they are subject to the government's scrutiny and their dictates. The members of their organization under the name of, Indianapolis Baptist Temple, paid a staff for over 60 years, of which no money was withheld for tax purposes. The pastor maintained that since his 'Church' was a church, it wasn't subject to the laws that govern any other business. In theory and doctrine he is correct, except for two noted wrinkles. He had set up a bank account to be used as an instrument to pay his staff and to engage in commerce within the community. And, they had taken out an Ad in the local Yellow Pages, which advertised his 'Church' (by an organizational NAME) to attract more people. These two acts alone made his 'Church' an organization subject to the local, State and Federal governments. The pastor bellows about the separation of 'Church' and State, and therefor "independent," but early on they set themselves up as going hand in hand with those who rule that community. When they opened those accounts, no doubt for convenience sake, I do not believe they knew what they were getting themselves into. I do not believe they intended to get involved with the government down the road. Who would have thought such a thing could happen? Jesus did. This is why He never set up His church as a business entity.
Although the members say that the building is still theirs "in spirit" the U.S. Marshall, on behalf of the IRS, holds the keys to it's doors. I don't think they realize that having their building taken away was one of the best things that could have happened to them! If they would just realize that the next step would be to lose the Institutional 'name' and split off into neighborhoods, assemble in homes in small groups, have no staff, no Properties, no Programs, no Professionals, recognize elders in each group, and follow the Bible, they'd be what the Lord had in mind for them in the first place. Just think! No huge gas, electric, water, waste management, tax, and other bills would be required. Why? Because the churches would be small, just like in the above Scriptures.
The elders (pastors) would be stationary so that they could hold a secular job to support their families. There would be no need to fleece the flock with an income derived "tithe." In smaller, intimate groups, teaching and guidance would be more potent. The number of believers would spread if witnessing were to continue in their communities. With the Holy Spirit's conviction being transferred through God's Word, while implementing a humble witness and testimony, the number of believers would grow like wildfire. Most would be on the same page, so to speak. "Where would we put them all if we didn't have a building?," some have asked. The 3,000 that were added to the church in Jerusalem in Acts 2 didn't have one place to meet in. They all met from house to house! Neighborhood churches, spread to community wide churches and so on. It became a house-to-house community of believers. That's how it's supposed to work!
But folks today are used to the creature comforts Provided by owning their own building. An Institutionally 'Churched' parishioner might ask about the home-based church of Jesus' design, "Where would you baptize someone? Where would we set up our sound system? Where would you put the pulpit? Where is the pastor's office? Where would the choir practice? Where would the Ladies Auxiliary meet? What about a conference room?" These things in themselves are not evil. What is evil is what comes along with them. The name comes along with the corporate-business structure, which is dictated by the local bank rules (FDIC), which dictates the financing, which dictates the laws of commerce, which is ruled by government, which is presently controlled by the foreign banking cartel called the Federal Reserve System, which is enforced by their collection agency called the I.R.S.
When a 'Church' gets a name and a Property, it weds itself to the government. Its unavoidable not to have all these other constraints attached to it. It becomes a trap! It is a well oiled, smoothly running, well designed for a business and Profitable trap at times, but it's still a trap! When push came to shove, the pastor in Indianapolis talked a good game when he resisted the U.S. Marshall's advances to take the Property, but ultimately, he was far from being a martyr. They placed him onto a stretcher and simply wheeled him outside. It's not exactly a story worthy of the Fox's Book of Martyrs if you know what I mean, but it was newsworthy. During the on the spot interview, even the U.S. Marshall came off as a likable guy.
When we have a home based church, all these questions become moot and the trap is never sprung. Why? Because the trap isn't there! Can one honestly tell me that today's model for a Main-Stream 'Church' is better than what Jesus designed? He designed the home church for a reason. One of which is that government wouldn't get their dirty hands in the everyday activities of His believers. My goodness! If one needs to be baptized, bring him to a body of water; a pool, a lake, a pond! A relative of mine got baptized in a water trough! Do you know why the Lord wanted a baptism to be a public Profession? Because it was PUBLIC! It was an announcement to the world that, as a believer, you were no longer conformed to the things of this world and that from then on you were following Christ.
We have become so particular as to how we appear to the world we've forgotten the very reasons why Christ commanded us to perform things in a certain way. We need to get over ourselves and do things His way. Witnessing, sharing, public Professions! "Oh, I'd be too embarrassed!" "I'm afraid of what people might think!" "I'm too sophisticated for that!" "This is not dignified!" Do you think the Apostle John being boiled in oil was dignified? What about Paul being stoned at Lystra? I don't see much dignity there! No! People today want to be organized and have a Proper venue to conduct their business! They say, "Now that we have a NAME, let's make us a VENUE!" In today's ever-changing Main-Stream corporate-business 'Church' system, the Progression here is people, Professionals (leaders), Name, bank accounts, payroll, Properties, staff, more payroll, Programs, more payroll, Property upkeep, business transactions, commerce, taxes, marriage to government, compliance of 'Church' and State, One World 'Church,' with it's allegiance to the Anti-Christ. Jesus' home-based church model by-passes all of that.
Jesus' true model of Biblical house church is not constrained by these shackles or allegiances. Home churches are susceptible to home invasion and persecution as described in Acts 8:3, that is true, but currently we are free from the everyday control of our nation's ever-growing Police State. It is man's model for 'Church' that has evolved into a corporate-business entity and has placed itself under governmental rule. Without realizing it, they gave the government their consent.
The 'World' is ever changing. Christ is ever consistent and UN-changing. My home based church meets in several places. We attract no one through advertising or broadcast. We don't ask people to give to 'a name.' We do not believe in income tithing. We are a living organism. We are local when and wherever we choose to meet on any particular day. We have no staff to pay. We have no central Properties to keep up. We have no taxes to surrender. We operate as an assembly under the guidance of Jesus Christ and His Spirit. Our elders are paid through their secular jobs. Their ministry is not a Profession. In our confines, there is no authority other than God's Word and Jesus is our Head ~Colossians 1:18. We are truly autonomous. We are the authentic church!
The churches that met in homes in the N.T. are the model Jesus ordained. In the above Scriptures we see at least three references that apply to churches in homes (Acts 8:3, Romans 16:5 and Philemon 2). Many other references to the words 'church' and 'churches' denote an assembly in local areas. You'll never find a name such as Indianapolis Baptist Temple, or Antioch Baptist Church. In the Bible, the churches were described, not named. What great wisdom our Lord has! He knew that once we put a name to His church, the civil authorities would eventually twist their laws to infringe upon it. When Saul was sniffing out the true home based churches of his day, he did it under orders of the Institutional 'Church' of the Jews. He did it under the colour of Religion.
Today we see the same thing. Some pastors today see Christ's Biblical church model as a threat to their business enterprises, so they try and discredit those who speak up to correct this misconception. To the religious authorities of his day, Paul was asked to uncover and imprison innocent believes who they considered as a threat to the their Establishment. The Religious Establishment had Properties to keep up in their day too. They were called synagogues. If people stopped attending the synagogues, how would the leaders of that Religious Establishment keep their control among the masses? In their minds, this new Christians movement had to be stopped!Today, the thought Process is the same among a lot of men who call themselves, "Pastor." They deny the truth about Biblical house church and call it "a movement." They make ridiculous comments like, "That's not a REAL church run by qualified Pastors!" Their idea of a real church is one that's a business entity. And, their idea of a "real pastor" is one who graduated from a Bible College. Ummm, can I have the Scripture for that please?
Today, Institutional 'Churches' are told what they can and cannot preach. The intimidation has already begun. They are held to the laws governing commerce and tolerance. They are held to the same standards of control as most any local business and most of these 'entities' have Proven that they would rather comply than rock the ACLU's or other oppressive organization's boat. This author is sure that there will come a day when the young Saul's of our time will begin to sniff out our home based churches as well. History does tend to repeat itself. The reasons will have nothing to do with taxes or breaking any civil laws. It will be because we are a threat to the Religious Establishment. Why? What threat could we possibly pose to them? It's because the 'Church' Establishment is ruled by the government. The Religious Establishment is nothing more than a 'control mechanism' used by the government for it's own interests. The One World 'Church' is at hand and the government will be in full control of it as it is in our Main-Stream 'Church' Organizations of today.
Jesus didn't need or intend for His church to adopt a name. Why? Because that would cause division among His church. Think of all the different names associated with Him within the Institutional construct. There are thousands of them. Here's an example I think we all can relate to. If I were the man who started the McDonald's 1 Hamburger joint, and I wanted to franchise it out, I'd want those who buy into it to also buy into the franchise's concept and philosophy. One of the ways to 'buy in' would be to preserve the integrity of the name McDonald's. I wouldn't want them to call it 'The First McDonald's of Centerville, Indiana.' I wouldn't want another franchisee calling their restaurant, 'Garden Street McDonald's,' and I certainly wouldn't want another calling themselves, 'Our Lady of McDonald's.' It's too fragmented. It will cause division. Camps would develop. Sides are taken. Cults will creep in. Even holy wars will start. Some might say, "Brother Bobby, that is a ridiculous analogy! Jesus didn't give His church a name!" ~BINGO!
The LORD, Who authenticated His church, avoided these Problems. How? No names were given. If they weren't given then, they shouldn't be given now? No franchises were set up. His home church fellowship didn't advertise anyway, so why do we need a name attached to them? We don't! We want it. Why do some want it? Because of association and pride. We are supposed to associate with Him alone as a church family, not a franchise. Why would He want to share His name with a street, a theme or a denomination? He wouldn't! His name stands alone. It's above all names. Again, the terms used in the Bible for the church's description were centered around geographic location, nothing more. Today, an Institutional 'Church' associates their names with business.
Christ's model for church today, as it was back then, will not be tolerated by those who control the masses. Christ's true church will be sought out and declared "terrorists" and those who commit "hate crimes." However, when the persecution does come in force, there will be a great revival. The true church will go underground as it did in the times of the great persecutions of the past. Actually, it has already happened in China. There are over two hundred million home churches there. How did they get to that great number? Persecution! The more they were persecuted, the more home churches sprung up. Its no wonder that China is now the world leader in commerce and overall wealth.
Where this persecution won't happen is where a name abides above the doors of the Religions Establishment's controlled version of the One World Institutional 'Church.' This false 'Church' type will not be perceived as a threat to the Establishment. Why? Because these 'government controlled 'Churches' are a part of the establishment. They are like a corral of sorts. 'Church' members will be free to mingle and engage in commerce under the watchful eye of Big Brother. Those who stray will be hunted down and captured. They'll be put into concentration camps, "for their own good." Our local home based churches will become targets because they will not conform to the government's tyranny of control. For now, we pose little immediate threat to those in power. But, we'll know the Lord's coming is near when we see the persecution come.
Do you want to be a part of His true church, or the government controlled version of a corporate entity that masquerades as a church? Obtaining a name for our local, physical assembly automatically changes that church organism into an Organization. If your 'Church' has a name, and that name engages in commerce in its community, then that 'Church' isn't a church at all. It is a business subject to the laws of fascism.
I suppose, after digesting the information above, we need to ask ourselves that age old question one more time; "What is in a name?" The Institutional 'Church' System has a Universal Name. The Bible uncovers it in the verse below.
Revelation 17:5, "And upon her forehead was a name written. MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
All 'Churches' will come under the control of the "Mother of Harlots" soon enough. All denominations, including Independent Fundamental Baptists, will be compelled to join up. Only Christ's true church will be spared from the Harlot's evil spell. There are many Main-Stream 'Church' members who are saved who do not know that they are under man's model for 'Church.'
This article's intent is simple; expose the false and reestablish the true. We need to get back to Christ's never-changing model for His assembly (house church) and get out of the Religious Establishment's model (the corporate-business Institutional 'Church'), which is connected to world government. It sounds simple, and it is. If our lives are sold out to Christ and His ways, most things become simple. It becoming 'easy' is another matter. Why? Because most times we can take the people out of the Institution, but we can't take the Institution out of the people. Just ask Indianapolis Baptist Temple. May the reader be sensitive to the Spirit's leading on which to assemble with.
1. The opinions in this article do not represent the views of the McDonald's Corporation.