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No Fellowship? No Problem!

by Chip Brogden
You will never truly appreciate or benefit from fellowship until you have learned how to live without it.

There already is a fellowship of saints. It is a spiritual fellowship, and it is based on Christ having the preeminence – not the fellowship having preeminence. All this yearning for fellowship and being with others is the result of being hung-over from the religious system. You’re trying to fill a void that religion used to fill.

The purpose of solitude in the spiritual desert is to get you to see that Jesus is Enough. You’re not going to die from lack of fellowship, but if you don’t learn that Jesus is Enough then spiritually speaking you’re dead already. He’s the One you need to be focused on – not starting a fellowship, not finding a home group, not making something happen with other people.

And already I can hear the “yeah buts”. “Yeah, but God made us to be social beings. Yeah, but God knows we need encouragement from other believers. Yeah, but the Bible says forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is. Yeah, but we’re all supposed to be part of the Body of Christ. Yeah, but there’s just something about gathering together with like-minded believers. Yeah, but you just don’t understand what it’s like.” Yeah, but I do understand – I’ve been through that part of the desert before, and what I’m trying to tell you is God wishes to know if you love Him or if you love fellowship with others. God wishes to know if you are in love with Him or if you are in love with things about Him. God wishes to know if you seek Him or seek a meeting about Him.

There are times and seasons where He calls you to be alone and apart with Him. I’m not saying it will always be like that, but what if it is? What if He calls you to walk alone with Him for the rest of your life? Is Jesus enough for you?

I asked that question of a group of Christians once: is Jesus enough for you? Because most Christians do not believe this. They want Jesus, but they also want fellowship with others. Really, do you know what Christians want? Not fellowship with others. That sounds so spiritual. Really what they want is acceptance from other Christians. You go deep down and that’s what they want. They want to feel accepted by other Christians. Well, all I can tell you is that you’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment. Eventually there will come a time when you will have to decide between the truth that God has revealed to you and the acceptance of other Christians. Now it hurts when you are not accepted by other Christians. It hurts when other Christians misunderstand you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely when you have spoken the truth to them in love.

But the bottom line is your spiritual life and walk with God does not depend upon the acceptance of other Christians. You might think it does, and it sure makes things easier, but it is not a condition of following Christ – making sure other Christians understand and accept you. The deeper you go into God the more unacceptable you will be to other Christians. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is Himself, “Despised and rejected, a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Jesus would not be, and is not, accepted by most Christians, and do you know that does not change Him and His relationship with His Father? He is Lord whether you accept Him or not, my friend. And if you are His disciple then He accepts you whether the rest of the Christian population accepts you or not.

What I have found is that whenever I ignore the season God has me in, and I try to create fellowship, or seek fellowship, outside of the time and place appointed by My Father, it always ends in disaster. It creates problems, it becomes a disappointment, or it turns into a distraction from what He wants for my life.

And that is never more true than the period of time when you are fresh out of the religious system. You’ve been under a religious spirit for so many years, and don’t think you can just wake up one day, stop going to church, and be set free from that religious mindset. You think you need fellowship, you think you need meetings, you think you need other people in your life, you think you need all these things, and you are in error. That’s the religious habit talking. It’s just like a drug.

“Oh brother Chip, I’m so lonely, I’ve been going to church every Sunday for twenty years and now we just sit home on Sunday and we feel so empty inside!” Well praise God, if that’s where God has you right now then thank God for it. Stop looking for other people to fill a void that only Christ can fill. You’ve been covering up that void with a lot of religious junk and He’s stripping all that away. He’s trying to build something in you, so let Him do it according to the times and seasons that He has appointed. Don’t rush through that process. Get comfortable with just you and God. My goodness, you don’t even know what it’s like to walk with God and just be hidden in Him because your whole life you’ve been following Him in a crowd, worshipping Him in a crowd, praying to Him in a crowd, learning about Him in a crowd.

Enoch walked with God, and he didn’t have anyone else to fellowship with.

Noah walked with God and he didn’t anyone but his family.

Abraham walked with God and he didn’t have a house church to go to.

Moses spent forty years in the desert and it didn’t hurt him a bit, he came out better than he went in.

Jesus walked with God and every single one of His friends and disciples denied Him and fled when He needed them the most.

You give people too much credit for your spiritual well-being and don’t give God enough credit. I’d rather be alone with God than have a crowd of people without Him.

Now that doesn’t diminish anything the Bible says about the Body of Christ. But you’ve got to learn how to get connected to the Head before you try to get connected to the Body. Body Life is only as good as the Body’s relationship to the Head. The Body has no life in itself apart from the Head. If you read what the Bible says about the Body of Christ, you notice it doesn’t say that we are supposed to seek out our place in the Body or try to insert ourselves into place. It says He sets us in the Body of Christ according to His will. His will, not ours. You try to set yourself in place and you’ll get it wrong.

The Bible does not say “hold fast to the Body” or “hold fast to the members of the Body”, it says “hold fast to the Head.” The Bible does not say, “Seek ye first the fellowship of others”, but “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things – including fellowship – will be added to you.” You learn to do that and the rest will take care of itself, in the time and manner that God sees fit.

Take your hands off that whole issue of fellowship and cast that concern onto the Lord. Go to Him and say, “Lord, here I am in a desert place, it’s dry, and it’s lonely, and it looks like there’s no fellowship. But You are My Rock, My Fortress, My Hiding Place, You lead me and direct my steps. You be My Fellowship. If you see fit to bring me into relationship and fellowship with others, fine; but if not, then I trust that You are more than Enough to meet my spiritual, emotional, and social needs. I can live without fellowship Lord, but I cannot live without You!”

Now folks, I have been in that place so many times I don’t even have to pray about it anymore. I’ve just learned to trust God in this area, and I know He is sufficient. It’s settled in me. It’s not even a thing I pray about anymore. I want it to become settled in your heart as well. Let the desert do its work.

The preceding article is based on an audio series titled The Spiritual Desert: How God’s Purposes Are Fulfilled In Your Wilderness Experiences”.

102 Comments

  1. Sonja

    Thank you so much for writing this article. A few years ago, I felt God told me to leave the organized Church.However, after leaving I have struggled in all the way you have mentioned and feeling like maybe I didn’t hear God. Yet knowing in my heart that every church I have tried since I left my home church, I didn’t belong there. The devil had tried and tried to make me feel like I wasn’t even saved anymore because I am not part of a Local church. The desert has been a very hard and lonely place to be. You are so right, other Christian’s make you feel like you are such a sinner, you couldn’t possible have heard from God. But I know, after reading your letter that I am where God wants me to be, and I am doing what he wants me to do. I have been seeking God for conformation and I wish to thank you for your obedience in writing this article. You will never know how much it has blessed me and ministered to my heart. May God bless you for your faithfulness. Thank you again.

    Reply
    • Cy

      I disagree with this post. The word Christian is indeed a biblical term used to describe followers of Jesus Christ, and it was first used in Antioch by New Testament believers.

      Reply
      • pauline stacey

        sorry Cy I don`t understand your comment. I can`t see where Sonja says what you seem to be implying.. have I missed it?
        Can you give the bible ref. where calling followings of Christ a Christian please?
        I am not very well read of the bible.. there is so much there

        I am quite comfortable reading this Article by Chip. seems I have been placed by God the other way round, had 10 years out of regular church, then I so very, very clearly heard Him tell me to attend a local church, now I struggle with fellow churchgoers, so I have found this article very helpful, Thankyou Chip

        Reply
      • Steve Hazen

        How many years were there between Christs resurrection and when the first believers were “called” Christians in Antioch? What does gathering together as disciples of Christ determine? Are you determined to be a Christian because of who you identify yourself to be around? Or are you known by your fruit? The first followers did not call themselves Christians. I don’t have an issue about it but I guess I’m a little confused in your response, considering the article.

        Reply
  2. mary-ann weiby

    wonderful article, and SO TRUE!! THANK YOU!

    Reply
  3. Doyle

    I live in Southlake near DFW. I find your comments about fellowship interesting and something i needed to hear. I am distraught with ‘church’ and want to be the Church. I facilitate a men’s bible study of 25 to 40 men each week and have lots of ministery opportunity from that.
    I thank God you are saying what you are.

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  4. Mid

    absolutely what I needed and just when I needed it most…isn’t that like our God?!!

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    • Samual Yoder

      I can’t agree more with the article. We are in the time when our King is about to return. All prophecy in regards to the condition of the world at this time points to massive deception, no love of the truth and God sending his strong delusion to those who have no love of the truth but prefer the lies. That being the case when we find our self in an assembly that proclaims false doctrine we have to remove our self from that assembly. “Come out from among her” is our command and warning, “so that you do not partake of her sins”. This means we will have to go it alone until we find other like minded believers that hold to the truth over compromise to error just to be part of a group. We may end up going it alone in regards to fellowship because we can not find other like minded believers who seek truth at all costs. We have our King, our savior, what more do we need in this perilous time of testing.

      Reply
  5. Millie Spock

    This morning for the first time in many months I met with a couple that I used to regularly fellowship with and when I got home and read todays journal, ” No fellowship ? No problem ” It amazed me that we shared so many of the same thoughts that you expressed ! We spoke almost the same exact words about why many have such a strong need to meet with other Christians , “because they want to feel ” excepted ” and how the Lord desires to be our ” all and all ” with no other ” idols of fellowship or self gratification before us.. It is so true that the deeper we go into God the more unacceptable we will be to other Christians and I believe this is where we really begin to learn to love others as he has loved us .I wanted to share this little note to bring comfort and joy to your heart dear brother that you are not alone in what the Holy Spirit is revealing to His people. May the Lord continue to Bless the words He gives you to the hearts of the readers and all those who you share Christ with

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  6. Eunice Ann Carr

    Spot on!..how I wish I’d read that years ago!..it would have saved a lot of heart and soul searching, doubt and self-recrimination. As a new Christian, I was a wet-ex, soaking up and IN all the scriptures as given from the denomination’s interpretation..which included all those scriptures which ‘hold us fast” to that particular denomination and church gathering. When God drew me out, the bewilderment that followed, along with all the above mentioned trauma, which included the dread of being ‘rebellious” and self-deceived,or “falling away” not to mention, “they went out from us,but they were not of us:for if they had been of us, they no doubt would have continued with us:but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” 1John 2.19! All would go round and round in my mind,condemning me. As one does not meet others in similar situations whilst in the desert, the battle wages solo inside one, with the enemy knowing full well, which scriptures will conflict and confuse most, to hinder the Holy Spirit’s work of leading us “out from” and “into” His Fellowship.

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    • Pat

      I really liked what you said here about the battle wages solo inside one, and when you were talking about the scriptures and how they were used,and that which the enemy was trying to hinder that which the Holy Spirit was working to do for us.
      The one that I hear alot now is the one from Heb.10:25, but it comes thourgh other Christians, and in retalation,I come back at them with scripture, and I know that in me this is wrong, but I don’t know how else to approach this.
      Thank you writting that which you have written.

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  7. Trenet

    Thanks for the encouragement. This article reaffirms how I know God to be leading me, at least in this present season (which has lasted seven years now.) But the things God has been working in me to do could never have been accomplished in the “organized” church structure. Approached properly, the time of being home when others are congregated in a building is a time of introspection – self-examination that we would have truth in the inward parts – and meditating on the word of God unfiltered by the agendas and special interests of men.

    I would also submit that as we approach the end of the age and the persecution foretold by Jesus for his followers, we can benefit by looking at the examples of the great heroes of faith – specifically in Hebrews 11:36-38. These saints were definitely in a place of being alone, yet we are told “…these all…obtained a good report through faith.”

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  8. Robert

    What you have said here is so true. Many years ago the Lord took my family out of church. We left organized church and then fell into what seemed like disorientation—what was happening and what do we do now? Daily and I do mean daily, as we questioned and even argued somewhat with the Lord, He answered all our questions. Then he opened our eyes to “his” perspective on what is happening in the church system today. During the season when we were whining and complaining about being “out of church”, the Lord said to me one day, “What are you going to do when I send you out and you are the church?!” Today I can say so thankfully that these years ALONE with the Lord have been such a special blessing and NO “church” system and all the friendship/fellowship of thousands of people could ever compete. YES, the Lord is enough and all that matters. Getting “man” out of the way opened up the opportunity for the Lord to set us apart and teach us directly. I could never go back to that system, even the most evangelical of it–unless the Lord directly sent me in for His purposes and anointed me for it. We feel very grateful to know that YES, Jesus is indeed enough and the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher!!

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  9. jeff

    Exactly what I’m going through right now. Thankyou for your insight and help.

    Reply
  10. Alan Jacobson

    Hi Chip, Do you have t-shirts with The School of Christ or your insignia on them? It would be a great idea. Thanks for the articles. God Bless, Alan

    Reply
  11. Chip Brogden

    Good hearing from you Millie! Thank you for your encouragement.

    Reply
  12. Stephanie

    Thank you so much for your article chip. As always I am encouraged. As Jesus told “Simon Barjona” only the Father in Heaven can reveal that he is the Son of God..once you have the keys to the Kingdom and you know that this revelation that he is who is is.. is ALL you will ever need…the cheap imitation will not do. May we all in whatever place we find ourselves in..be content. I have been out of anything organized for over 20 years and am watching with great interest this “mass” Exodus happening lately..I pray that as Jesus said these words fall on “good ground.” Thanks again..
    Stephanie

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  13. Tammy

    I would like to give another view of being without fellowship for a season: coming back. I too have gone through a season of leaving organized church. It was definitely a desert experience, but one that I know produced fruit in my life. But it was just that-a season. If we are not careful, we can get too settled in this lone life and miss the joy of fellowship, the obedience to the command of fellowship, and the ministry and sharing of our gifts with one another. As Chip has said, when Jesus called his disciples, first they were with Him, then they went out. Even though they were “together” with Him (fellowship) He was able to minister to them individually. I guess what I want to say is that I believe it is God’s will for us to be a part of one another’s lives to share our common faith and to encourage each other in this sometimes difficult walk we have here in this life. Let’s not miss this truth in our attempt to bystep whatever may be wrong in our church. Make sure you are led by Him in staying or leaving.
    ps. We are now part of a wonderful local church, worshiping God in spirit and truth, hearing the Word of God preached, studying His Word together, and bearing one another’s burdens. It is a joy! God bless.

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  14. Jesse Harris

    Thanks Chip for sharing this because this is were I am right now. It is very encouraging to me.

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  15. Gloria

    I have been out of church culture for a long while and this is what God sent me by the hand of my cousin before He released me from the bondage of church life, to confirm His call.I hope it speaks to many out there .This poem has become a reality in my life, I went through everything God said in this poem to me. Thanks Chip
    ISAIAH 52:12 “You shall not go out with haste.”
    I do not believe that we have begun to understand the marvelous power there is in stillness. We are in such a hurry we must be doing so that we are in danger of not giving God a chance to work. You may depend upon it, God never says to us, “Stand still,” or ” Sit still,” or “Be still” unless He is going to do something. This is our trouble in regards to our Christian Life; we want to do something to be Christians when we need to let Him work in us. Do you know how still you have to be when your likeness is being taken? Now God has one eternal purpose concerning us, and that is that we should be like His Son; and in order that this may be so , we must be passive. We hear so much about activity, maybe we need to know what it is to be quiet.
    Sit still my daughter, Just sit clamly still!
    Nor deem these days-these waiting days-as ill!
    The one who loves thee best, who plans thy way,
    Hath not forgotten thy great need today!
    And, if He waits, tis sure He waits to prove
    To thee, His tender child, His hearts deep love,
    Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
    Thy longest much to know thy dear Lord’s will!
    While anxious thoughts would almost steal their way
    Corroding within, because of His delay-
    Persuade thyself in simple faith to rest
    That He, who knows and loves, will do the best.
    Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
    Nor move one step, not even one, until
    His way hath opened, then, oh then, how sweet!
    How glad thy heart, and then how swift thy feet
    Thy inner being then, oh then, how strong!
    And waiting days not counted then too long.
    Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
    What higher service could you for Him fill?
    It’s hard! oh yes! But choicest things must cost!
    For lack of losing all how much is lost!
    It’s hard, it’s true! But then—He gives you grace
    To count the hardest spot the sweetest place.
    J.Danson Smith

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  16. wanda

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I asked God this morning to articulate what I’m feeling. Then I read your email. There it is! Thank you!

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  17. Terri Hutto

    I just fininshed reading your article from your journal for this week.
    I have been out of “going to church” life for quite some time now. Just want to know it’s been wonferful for me. Jesus has revealed himself to me like you wouldn’t believe. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone.

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  18. Peg

    Why do you call these people “Christians” and they do not accept Christ?
    I much prefer to call them apostate, harlot, broadway, conterfeit, the great fallen away, those under a great delusion, ignorant, or anything else that says they aren’t “His”. I don’t know anyone as a “Christian” that doesn’t accept Christ. I won’t call them brothers and sisters. Jesus said His mother, brothers, and sisters do the will of God and keep His commands. If they don’t – they aren’t His. Why should we call “Christian” or “brothers and sisters” what even Christ Jesus doesn’t call His?

    I think we should be careful who we call fellow believers. It says a lot about who we call God, what Jesus we accepted, and what we actually believe. I won’t call anyone my brother if Jesus has denied them to be His by the scriptures (ie. those who listen to the voice of a stranger). Let us not forget that there will be and is a great fallen away, many on a broadway, and a thing called apostasy. I think we might insult the Lord to claim people as “His” that He does not. We can actually deny Him in doing so.

    He said know them by their fruits. They will do the will of God and keep His commands. Has He not taught us by now the difference between a “true believer” and a “false believer”? He spent much time teaching the difference. Paul said “I’ve been with posing believers and dangerous people”. I love the spirit of the early believers. They weren’t afraid to call a spade a spade. They knew the difference. We should too and not be afraid to say so. They called them the “oustside”.

    Who we call “brother” no matter how you want to say it (ie. Christian, believer, child of God, etc.) says much about whom we call “Lord” and who He says are “His”.

    I’ve learned one of Satan’s best tactics is to include everyone in the “family of God”. Satan’s servants are building a church of lawless people that don’t belong to Christ at all. They are the fallen away – doing church apart from Christ. I won’t call them brothers or christians. Paul taught in Corinth that those that didn’t repent would be considered the same sinners they always were and regarded as conterfeits – not Christians.

    My mother, brothers, and sisters do the will of God and keep the commands of Jesus Christ. This, of course, takes into consideration “new beleivers” and those just coming to believe. But I consider no man a christian that doesn’t accept Christ. Only those who “accept” Christ Jesus as the Son of Man and Son of God will be made the children of God.

    I’m tired of hearing that those that don’t believe and those that don’t accept Christ are christians. Jesus didn’t teach this. But, only Jesus taught me. I never trusted it to men or “church”. I never really got in the religious system. It never made sense in my ignorance and I left. It doesn’t make sense with knowledge of God either and I don’t go.

    But, let us not deny Christ Jesus by whom we call brother and sister, or christians, or fellow believers. He has much to say about who His sheep are.
    He warned us of the difference. We would do far better to use the terminoloy that Christ Himself used: Apostasy, fallen away, broadway, etc, – but not christian, church, brothers and sisters, etc. and call what is false – false. Bablyon wants you to keep calling them christians. That’s what they want to be accepted as. But that is not what they are. They deny Him – and we can deny Christ if we accept them as His church and refer to them as such. Jesus showed me in one “fallen away” church (as I sat in horror as they turned their hearts to a false covenent and mammon) that He was, in fact, no longer their God.

    I return to your site much Chip. And God has used you very often to re-affirm what He has taught me.

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  19. Martin

    I find your Journal e-mails very encouraging. We are involved with a Christian Healing Ministry – all about getting people’s lives back into Godly order and pointing those who come for help to Jesus, and their relationship with Him. Agreed, the stronger a person’s relationship is with Jesus the better equipped they are whether they are involved in fellowship, or not.
    You say, “The deeper you go into God the more unacceptable you will be to other Christians.” Can you elaborate a bit on this? Jesus was mostly despised and rejected by such as the Pharisees and teachers of the law, the blind-guide-whitewashed-tombs-brood-of-vipers brigade. I sometimes find myself (or what I say) ‘unacceptable’ to other Christians, as I’m sure you do from your standpoint, but do not feel I need to strive for this!! Nor would I necessarily put it down to going deeper into God. Sometimes it’s just not following ‘the crowd’.
    Be blessed.

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  20. Charissa

    ABSOLUTELY TRUE! Left a small family church 9 years ago after listening to a teaching tape in which the teacher challenged: “Some of you are still going to that same church your mother and grandmother go to, just so your family won’t reject you.” I knew that’s why I still went, and at that moment knew I had to leave. Knew my family would reject me, but didn’t know how bad it would actually be. However, I wouldn’t trade it now for ANYTHING, because I learned, just as you said, that Jesus is enough, and that the only one worth pleasing is the Lord, because He is my source for everything. It was hell for 6 or 7 years, in various ways, but I never even dreamed, prior to that time, that my life with the Lord–and in this world–could be so good.
    I think we have no clue what “all these things” entails, or we’d all be standing on our heads to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness! I’ve gotten a glimpse, and it’s enough to make me want a whole lot more!

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  21. Suzie

    I smiled when I read your article because I could almost imagine God smiling too! I’ve been out of organised religion for years now and over the last year I have been saying to myself, I must get back to fellowship, I must join a house group, I must, I must. This religious drive is a difficult wheel to get off but I agree, I would rather be alone with Him, wrestle with Him, fellowship with Him, than be immersed in programmes, communities, ministries of people who don’t know Him. Thank you too for brothers and sisters out there who so openly share their struggle and stand firm. I feel like I’ve been showered with Grace 🙂

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  22. Nelson

    Hi Chip,

    Put me down for a coffee mug please, Jehovah-Java! The CD (Spiritual Desert) was very timely for me, I just need to be patient and wait on the Lord.

    Grace and peace to you and yours

    Reply
  23. Shesta

    This was so very needed in my life. I have been out of “church” for about three years now, and lately have been thinking about the “fellowship”. God is so awesome! Oh, how I love Him. Even though I was wrestling with my mind about going back, I knew deep inside to be still. For a long time God dealth with me about leaving the “building”, and I wrestled with Him. But, every time I went it was a hastle to go…I just knew that this was Satan, I thought. Every time I went, I didn’t have peace. I have been a child of God, a believer in Jesus Christ since I was little and everyone in my family went to church, saved or not. But, the Lord opened my eyes even as a child that something wasn’t right. Finally, I obeyed, regardless of what others thought of me. My family and I pulled out of the “church”. I had many phone calls…others wanting to know if had back slidden, because they hadn’t seen me in a while. I would hate to see those I use to fellowship with out somewhere, because the first thing they would ask was “have I found a church home yet? But now, I love them asking, because I am not ashamed to say what I believe and Who I believe and why. I am not ashamed to say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and not Pastor (you fill in the blank). This message speaks volumes to me and God continues to confirm what He is doing. May God continue to pour out His Spirit upon you.

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  24. David McBride

    Once again after I don’t know how many years or how many times, you have spoken right to where I am, as my church friends have been criticizing me for not coming to church. Thanks for another confirmation. May God continue to use you in greater ways. May God bless you and your family.

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  25. Jennifer

    Thank you brother for this article! I asked God this week to please encourage me in the “wilderness” He has put me in for about 5years now. I was just given the “you’re forsaking the gathering” quote by a well meaning friend…I’ve heard it many times, but this time it seemed to take the “wind out of my sails”. I felt Him tell me to go to your website, imagine my joy to see this article, it was like a hug from God : ). Praise Him, He is so good to us!

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  26. Stephanie

    The truth is a bitter pill sometimes..but truth is truth. When the I.C. and those in it become our enemies..as they often do…unfortunatly..I have to find it within myself to love them. Not easy..and doesn’t stop the truth. It is because of the truth we are aleniated and I too was once “lost.”

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  27. Gloria

    Hi Jennifer
    Don’t be surprised if its longer. I had no idea it would be 7 years and still waiting. Its good, its good, blessings

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  28. Chip Brogden

    Hi Tammy,

    Thank you for your perspective. I think I am writing more along the lines of people who are permanently called out of Organized Religion. I don’t see spiritual fellowship as a possibility within something that is carnal. But it is difficult to ascertain that while you still “belong.” The true test of the fellowship is whether or not it continues after you no longer attend services. The majority of people find that what they thought was true, spiritual, wonderful fellowship disintegrates once they stop attending. This proves that whatever fellowship they thought they had it was not based on Christ at all; it was, in fact, based on “church.”

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  29. Chip Brogden

    “‘The deeper you go into God the more unacceptable you will be to other Christians.’ Can you elaborate a bit on this?”

    I think Peg did a great job explaining it, but there is still a difficulty in the sense that everyone calls themselves “Christians” just because they believe in God and go to church. In this article I’m using the term “Christian” in a strictly institutional sense, meaning religious folk. The word “Christian” has become so fused together with religion I’m not sure it’s possible to describe myself as a “Christian” without people immediately connecting it with Organized Religion – because the very next question is, “What church do you go to?”

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  30. Peg

    Unfortunately, I can and have experienced most of “institutionalized church” or “religion” without going to church. The first to throw me out was my own husband who announced he was a spirit led man. I never knew that nor did he ever tell me that for over 23 years of being with him. He became the “church” that hated me and pursued me with hatred after my repentance. We didn’t even go to church or belong to one. That was followed by my flesh and blood mother and sister too. Then my own kids did it. Throw in an employer and just about everyone else God wills me to deal with.

    I’m afraid I can only count this all as the “world” as Jesus said it was.
    You can certainly get out of “organized religion” but try getting out of an
    “organized world”. These people don’t just go to church. They are all over town.

    Perhaps to get out of Babylon and the “organized church” we should ask God for an exportaton of the saints from the United States.

    Reply
  31. Ron

    Hi Chip and all,
    I just wanted to say how much Freedom I have felt from your article and all the great responces to it. My wife and I went through the IC system 29 years ago for 11 years trying to find approval from people and God by climbing the religous ladder and being so involved in performing as so called elders etc. etc. Than we left it and got involved in house churches in several different states. As we began to go deeper into Christ, we sensed opposition from the other folks in the group. They were more interested in fellowship than going deeper. My wife and I began feeling the wilderness and was perplexed in what to do. As always God spoke to us thru these Christology Journals and this last one was the answer to our long awaited prayers. We so desired to meet other believers our age ( 61&64)that were seasoned mature believers. We felt we finally found someone who can idenify with us and of course your not near our age, ha ha, but well seasoned in Christ. Thank You Father for sending our brother Chip.

    Reply
  32. Janeese

    Hello Chip!

    I think this article speaks to many valid points especially that we should not esteem people in place of God. We know that people are imperfect therefore can fail you but God can never to that as He is faithful. We do have to be careful not to let man dictate our spiritual walk and requirements.

    I am concerned that that this may be misinterpreted that the going to church does not add value nor do the people in it. All churches are not created equal nor or all believers at the same level. I think for a person new in their walk, it is crucial to have others around them to encourage them to run the race, and press towards the mark. (I recall in the beginning of mine, I was on the fence in my commitment with God). I also think many new believer are not as good at studying the Word for themselves or discerning God’s voice. There is a lot to be said that is positive about attending good Word churches.

    I absolutely agree that we need to always remember where who our source is and spend time alone with God but we should also remember that we are charged to ‘be our brother’s keep’ and that often, ‘two is better then one’…’If one falls down, his friend can help him up’. We should be careful of not denouncing ‘gathering’ as a body of Christ, whether in a Church building or a house and allow our maturity level to help us be led by the Holy Spirit to do what God wants us to do at the time He says.

    God bless!

    Your sister,

    Janeese

    Reply
  33. Mike

    Great article…I have often wondered if I am supposed to be in the desert, I have often prayed that God would sift me and make me more like Him. To cleanse and purify me so that I may know Him deeper. To have His will in my life to glorify Him…whatever it takes Lord I would say. So now I find myself in the desert experience and daily trusting in the Lord. We never know how God will answer our prayers, as hard as it is, I am thankful to God for it. Not that I don’t go to church, but that God is doing a work in me, cleansing me and purifying me.

    Mike

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  34. Joshua

    “Don not forsake the Gathering of the brethren.”

    Fact: When Paul said that he was not referring to the sort of religious gatherings that we today would placate as church. Their gatherings were informal, mutual and real. They met regularly in homes over meals. They didn’t sit in churches to get preached at and then go their separate ways afterwards with little real involvement in each others lives. They had a real support network of brothers and sisters in Christ who were intimately involved in each other’s lives. Their gatherings were based upon corporately finding the purposes of Christ and living that out together. Our modern day church meetings cannot even remotely begin to meet the expectations that Paul had upon the “Gathering of the brethren”. If any thing, our response should be that we have left church to FIND the gathering of the brethren. We’ve given up the counterfeit in pursuit of the real thing.

    Reply
  35. Dixie

    THANK YOU!! 🙂

    Reply
  36. Bill B.

    Brother Chip, this article was too timely for me…Praise the Lord and thank you so very much for allowing the Lord to speak through you and to us. It’s been over 2 years since we left “organized religion” and it does get awfully hard for my wife and myself wanting to be “accepted” by other believers, even though I know to be accepted by Christ is the most important thing. For myself having been in ministry, it gets even more challenging when the negative comments about what I “should be doing” as a man of God.

    Be Blessed…

    Reply
  37. Kendall Albright

    Chip I love to re-read these articls, the Lord uses them to keep me so focused. talk about fellowship, surely we are loved when He does this. peace be unto you!

    Reply
  38. SAMUEL MRS

    GREAT!THANKS-ENCOURAGING AND HEALING

    Reply
  39. Bill Ridley

    Dear Chip
    I am up late at night due for bed in Australia at the end of a quiet week-end on call.
    Thank you, through Jesus our Friend and Saviour, that I have learnt that connecting to the Head of the Body of Christ is part of seeking the Kingdom first- and that for this point made clear in this article fellowship with others will follow. For a long time( I am now aged 58)and despite having a real heart for God( and now Jesus) I have tried to search for peace and truth through other people and been hurt time and time again with dire results over the years. However it was not till recently when doing medical locums here in Australia where I have been on my own here away from my family and friends in New Zealand –that Jesus has been able to get through to me and teach me re fellowship. My inner heart desire to keep seeking now with no distractions –Jesus has spoken to me in this desert much like Moses, and others, but also Jesus Himself connected with God- as you say in this article.I am so glad that God has taught me this – often in these quiet hours- which says about busy Bill and his job!- Anyhow I thank you for confirming this in this ” Fellowship? No Problem.” re where I am especially re going to church, which church etc – seeking fellowship- it has ,been a Word from God that for me and all Christians there is – Yes! Praise God!no problem- Keep seeking Him first.
    All the best–Chip– I will keep praying for your work ( and the recent troubles)and any help I can give
    lots of love and Grace through Jesus
    Bill Ridley

    Reply
  40. Michelle

    Hi Chip,

    Just wanted to share that I’ve been out of IC now for 7 years and the Lord is contantly bringing me into a sweeter fellowship with Himself. I must confess though. I have moved to Uruguay this year and have gone to a english speaking church a couple times, not for fellowship or to learn but I was hoping that maybe I would find some mission work to take part in? Hoping to find someone actually sharing the gospel in the most atheistic country in South America…Oh well its just as pathetic here as in the states. Maybe worse. So I’m learning Spanish now. Jesus is MORE than enough. Pray for my language skills.

    Reply
  41. John

    Some of the most growth times in my christian life were those when I wasn’t going to church but being delt with the lord one on one.

    Reply
  42. Sue

    Hi Chip,
    Long story short, I came to Christ almost four years ago (I am 60, so it took a long time!) – I attended a Charismatic Church until August this year when I left because of all the deception I was realizing was there. I didn’t know at the time (being such a new believer and learning to hear the still small voice) whether or not it was God leading me. That is until a Pastor of a sister Church to the one I attended told me it was Satan leading me not God. It then all became clear. It was after this when I was searching the internet for anything to do with deception in the Church that I found your site. I have been reading your articles and today read this one and the responses. All I can say is – WOW, this is exactly how I have been feeling and coupled with that doubting myself that I hear from God. I really do need to send for your Desert CD!!
    Oh, this was all such a shock to me as I thought I had found a true Church as I had been deceived for years growing up by Catholocism.
    THANKS!!!!!!! I shall visit your site often!

    God Bless you
    Sue

    Reply
  43. Frank

    Bro. Chip; I am so glad I found this article!
    I have no problem with the lack of fellowship, but my wife does. We left the institutional church last November and almost immediately, because we didn’t have consistent and timely Bible studies, my wife said she NEEDED fellowship. A few of our friends attend a small church nearby that we visited and she likes the intimacy there as well as a pastor that allows feedback and group input. I, however, am not prepared to re-enter the rabbit hole. (former associate pastor that woke up)

    This has caused a big division in our household (thank God we have no kids at home anymore).

    I am told that my internet ministry is not enough, that I NEED to share what God has placed in me with a physical presence, that she is going to go to that church with or without me and, generally, everything that she can place as a problem in our lives revolves around my time spent on the internet.

    I want peace, but I want God more.

    How are others handling this situation? I can’t be the only one going through this.

    Reply
    • Enoch

      I had been in the church system for about 55 years. At the age of 20, in 1970 the Lord spoke to me and warned me not to get caught up in a preacher or a church but just get caught up in him. Little did I know that thirty five years later that I would leave the church system. I left the church system in Feb 2005. I thought that I was going to find another church to fellowship with. It did not happen, my wife of 30 years did not leave. I visit with her church on occasion but I cannot join another church because the Lord will not allow me. Now I understand that the Lord has to get 55 years of church mis-education out of me to really see him. Because it’s amazing how my understanding of scriptures blossomed when I left.

      Reply
  44. Pam

    Brother Frank,
    My husband and I went through the same thing. He saw the truth and I didn’t—I wanted to go to church and I felt he was backslidden! But my husband very wisely went with me to church to keep our marrige and family together. He realized that I had to see the truth for MYSELf! And I did! It took a few years but the scales did fall from my eyes—I had to get my own revelation! How he did it I don’t know! Let the Holy Spirit do the work in your wife and you just love her and be patient! God will give you the strength you need to get through. That was 2000, and we are still together and still learning that Jesus is ALL we need! I will pray for you

    Reply
  45. Hermit

    As a single person, I tried to fit into the IC, serving here and there – but never finding a place. I could never find a church that operated even remotely like the churches in the bible. It seems they operate more like businesses and corporations than a supernatural community. I’ve struggled with it, thinking there was something really wrong with me – that I was not truly a believer – I was even told by another Christian that I was not worthy to serve in Christ’s Army. I find a great deal of comfort in this article because it confirms for me that I am not alone in being alone. Christ IS enough and SHOULD be the focus of my life, my devotion and my faith. Not a modern organization. If the Lord wants me involved with other people, He will bring it about. It is not my concern. He is the one building HIS church, not me building mine.

    Reply
    • Charity Fetters

      Your post reminded me of an e-mail a friend sent me about a College Professor. The Professor read a quote that summed up the progression of Christianity. How it started as an assembly, then moved to Greece and became a philosophy, then to Rome and became an institution, then to America where it became an enterprise. The Professor went on to clarify that an enterprise is a business. One girl in his class raised her hand and asked him “But isn’t the church supposed to be a body?” The Professor told her “Yes.” To which she replied, “When a body becomes a business – isn’t that a prostitute?”

      Reply
  46. brent tamatea

    Chip thats a great article i certainly can relate to it we are not fellowshiping at a local church mainly as we werent growing church was more a tradition i can thankfully say that i am seeing more of God in my life as we depend on him more and more.I have been helped with the preaching of Gods grace from Joseph Prince why the church doesnt preach more on that message as it is powerful.Gods grace not only brings redemption to lost sinner liek me but restoration healing provision and power and life in its fullness we exchange our old selves for his renewed life thats exciting regards brent

    Reply
  47. Mary Ann

    Thank you, Chip! I wholeheartedly agree with this lesson! Bless you.

    Reply
  48. Annie

    My husband and I have been wandering in the wilderness for six years now. We were trapped in a toxic church for 20 years, and our time out has included a process of healing and re-framing our faith. We have learned to see God as a father, not a tyrant after having been preached at by false shepherds for so long. Now, every weekend, we sit and share what the Holy Spirit has shown us during the week; revelations about scripture which we had never even seen before, despite having spent so many decades in church. We have become so excited about discussing Jesus and what he is doing in our lives we can hardly believe this would happen without the context of ‘church’.

    We have talked recently about Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom of God; those parables which speak of mixture, the dragnet, the field of wheat with tares, the sheep and the goats, the king who called all manner of men to the wedding feast of his son but rejected those who weren’t prepared, many are called but few are chosen. Have we been too concerned that there are few in the body of Christ amongst the Sunday worshippers and perhaps negligent of the fact that there was always going to be a mixture? Perhaps our desire to join only with those of like mind has been too exclusive?

    We are simply asking ourselves these questions while wanting not to be too dismissive of those in the institutionalised churches. We know only too well how much these places kill your spirit, even the ‘healthy’ churches are so focused on mindless religious practice that they forget they are worshipping a real live person. I remember the days of my youth in a very large pentecostal church, I was always looking for the abundant life, while my young friends were looking for husbands, or parties to go to. It was a social club, and so few wanted to genuinely seek God.

    There is one thing that is clear…God has much more to reveal to us about this life than what we have previously learned in the last thirty years. Who would have thought?

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  49. Gil

    Bro. Chip; Thank you for the timely word. The Lord led us out of the pastoral ministry in 1993 and He has become our life ever since. I remember thinking while I was preaching I wish I knew this to a greater extent than I do. We must come to know only Him. When we worship it must be to Him , not about Him. Fellowship can only happen as a result of fellowshipping with Him and then as an overflow we can fellowship with one another. I thank the Father for the school of Christ that We have been in for 17 years. He is truly our all in all. Your Bro. IN CHRIST, Gil

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  50. Dana

    It has been very encouraging reading many of God’s children’s wilderness experience. I left the “box”
    in about 2000. Probably all of the 90’s I sat in church very critical of how the “leadership” did business. Then one day I was reading scripture and I read to obey your leaders for they watch over your souls. (Heb. 13:17)I thought the men who ran the business can’t be my leaders because they don’t even know I exist. (It was a pretty large meeting). I felt like I was then taken to the top of the building looking down on all the people and I saw groups of people who God had placed in each others lives. I had my group of friends who loved me, prayed for me, rebuked me etc… This was my “church”. I also saw the leadership having their relationships that met their needs. It was as if God did not see our meetings at all. He just saw his children and their needs. There was so much love for everyone. No walls, no titles, just relationships with Him and people. My critical spirit was greatly disminished that day. I wish I could say totally gone, but that is a process. I then made an appointment with the head pastor and repented of my critcal spirit. (He had no clue because I had just kept it to myself). He was gracious. I then told him that there is a problem with the “one man show” and a service which is just a one-way relationship. I knew a lot about him – his birthday, where he grew up, where he went to high school, where he went to college. I even knew his blood type. What did he know about me. – Not much, but could he? Jesus had only 12 close friends, and 3 really close. How could we expect leadership to have a congregation, and to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of so many people, yet it seems that is what the system is set up for.(Even the ones who knew to lift up Jesus and to “train” the people to seek Him for their needs). No wonder the pastors get burned out. When you leave and look back it does seem very strange way of serving Jesus, but the unknown in the wilderness isn’t always clear or easy. Therefore this website and all of the posts are a great blessing to me. I just wanted to say thank you. 🙂

    Reply
  51. Alice Liu

    I have to second Tammy’s thoughts sent in 11 months ago regarding “seasons” in our walk.

    I believe that the article is invaluable as an exhortation and encouragement to submit to the Lord, finding complete satisfaction and sufficiency in and connection to the Lord. Having said that, I’d also like to caution people from taking the article as blanket sanction for being out of fellowship, thinking that He actually desires to keep His people out of fellowship or to belittle it’s importance or His command for it in His Body.

    His presence and sufficiency is of utmost priority and necessity, but along with that intimacy comes His call for doing what one sees the Father doing (as Christ said He was always and only doing) — and God is always and ultimately at work in and for His kingdom.

    Surely the Lord may call us to spiritual “desert” experiences for a time and we can never substitute anything or anyone for His constant presence — but we must be careful to discern correctly from where comes the call we hear to separate ourselves from any and all churches. We will never find ourselves completely amongst members of The True Church until we are in Heaven, after He has separated the sheep from the goats — and that judgment and separation is His responsibility, not ours.

    I’ve been convicted that when I have been dissatisfied or discouraged with church attenders being less than what I expected from “true Christians,” it was out of self-righteousness and selfishness and more significantly out of a lack of compassion and love, which quenched any sincere desire to serve and intercede for others.

    Our pastor just spoke on Nehemiah last Sunday. He pointed out that Nehemiah was deeply dismayed and disgusted by the state of “the church” but he took it to the Lord, and in the Lord’s hands, his dissatisfaction turned into passion and eventually action which all ended in the Lord’s glory and blessing for His people and kingdom. Even today, Nehemiah’s story continues to be replayed in the lives of many earnest and godly Christians. (I know it’s redundant to add the adjectives to describe a Christian but I do so for emphasis.)

    If the “fruit” of our leaving fellowship is a dwindling of compassion or concern for others, a critical and condemning attitude, a lack of intercession, and being rendered ineffective for His kingdom, then we must reexamine the source from which our “call” to leave or remain in our current solitary state comes. If we are in the desert in which He has placed us, we should be being prepared even more so for ministry, for service, for manifesting His Spirit and presence to the world, to be a light in the darkness, a lamp on a hill, not hidden.

    Jesus went to the desert in preparation for His ministry. Jesus walked His life “alone” in the level of His intimacy with the Father, but He looked upon others with eyes of unfathomable love and compassion, and walked, lived, and ate with people, who were His treasure, His sheep, because He came not for Himself but for others.

    I would challenge people to find in the Bible an example where God called someone specifically to live their entire life on earth truly “alone” and in isolation — with no responsibility to hold out Truth or Light to anyone else and with no purpose but to “enjoy Him.” Surely, He means for us to enjoy Him from the moment of salvation into eternity, but biblical Faith is not an inactive, self-centered, and ineffectual faith; it is a faith which pours forth the blessings of His Spirit and fruit, producing growth in His kingdom. It is inspiring and God-glorifying.

    I wouldn’t encourage joining any arbitrary church, and surely a church’s statement of faith must first be examined and found biblical, but I would definitely encourage people not to cease in prayerfully and proactively looking for a biblical church and for fellowship — not out of an anxious and selfish, idolatrous heart, but out of obedience to the Lord. If not careful, not doing so might very well be just as much out of a selfish and idolatrous heart.

    Reply
  52. Alice Liu

    I wanted to add a note to my last entry…

    I don’t want to have left my comment on a condemning note… and particularly don’t want to deepen any bitterness or hurt in the hearts of anyone with difficult pasts.

    It’s just that I hate to see the Church fragmented and feel we should all be working toward His goal, which is His One Body and Kingdom, His glory and not our own comfort. It’s easy for us all to give up and withdraw. (Dare I ask if that is part of someone’s deceptive plan?)

    How grateful I am that Jesus did not take the easy and comfortable way out. He could have been much happier in Heaven fellowship-ing with His Father — the only one who could fully understand and appreciate Him, not to mention the only other truly spiritually like-minded.

    I particularly hope that I did not offend anyone when posed the question about idolatry and selfishness. They’re both things for which I personally find myself daily confessing. I was being sincere when I posed the question and only meant it as a question for introspection, not an accusation.

    I wish everyone His presence and joy.

    Alice

    Reply
  53. Allen

    It’s been a long journey for my wife and I since we left the “church” building 7 yrs. ago. Fortunately, we reunited with some friends who have begun to share basically the same thoughts as presented in your article. We are now free from the building seen and playing church. The only awkward moment is when asked “what church are you going to”. Our friends shared with us they tell people that they belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and early day saints. It’s been cool seeing how God is building His church.

    Reply
  54. cynthia cox

    such an encouraging and inspiring message. I have left the organized system many years now. initially, i thought that I needed to find the ‘right church’ so for a long time i kept going from church to church, but always felt disappointed. Eventually. i realized that I was looking for a relationship with God and that I wouldn’t find it just by fellowshipping with people. Now I fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    Reply
  55. Scott D

    Chip I must say I’ve been lost for a while. I was in the LDS Church although never attended much because I never felt it to be right. I attended home Church a bit but felt more like a social than growing spiritually. They all have good intentions but still not what I needed. I have looked at Buddhism, Hinduism and the rest in my search and always know in my heart my true saviour is Jesus Christ. It was never a problem with Jesus it was a problem with religion and coming to your page has made me feel great hope as I can never be part of the man made religious system. Thanks again and I know it is the holy spirit that led me here.

    Reply
    • Chip Brogden

      Thanks for reading Scott, glad to have you. You’re right, if it were not for religion the world would gladly come to Jesus.

      Reply
      • Scott D

        Thank you Chip for this site and helping me answer so many questions and draw me closer to Christ. I am starting your course on Embrace the Cross and feel it will really help me know even more. I have sent this to a good friend who left the Adventist Church and started a Home Church group. I can see through what I have learned here that even with good intention they still are keeping the Church on a worldly level and not taking it to the spirit. The times I have went I never really feel I learn much. It seems more like just hanging out than learnig or growing. This is why I know it will be a tru walk alone with Christ. No other way to really be touched. Going to these groups on occassion is fine I feel but if it is what someone depends on to get what they need in Christ I think they will be very dissappointed. Chip I’m not one to ever reply or post anywher but here the Holy Spirit is speaking to me and again I thank you and and consuming as much as you can put here on this site. Thanks Again.

        Reply
  56. Steve H

    I have always felt a little out of place in the church setting. I ma glad that Chip is talking about this subject. I never thought that suffering I would suffer for Christ may include the suffering from his people. I always that to suffer for Christ meant that some unbeliever will do something that I must endure. After 30 years in the church setting I am happy that I no longer go. I feel like it got in the way of my relationship with God and I am hoping to deepen that relationship no matter how hard it may get. Praise God, that he IS enough…

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  57. germaine Possi

    ALLELUIAH BROTHER ….I LIKE THIS …WOOOW I CAN LIVE WITHOUT FELLOWSHIP , BUT I CANT LIVE WITHOUT MY LORD…AMEN…I NEED MORE AND MORE OF YOU LORD …I DO NOT WANT TO BE LONGING FOR FELLOWSHIPPING..I WANT TO BE LONGING FOR YOU MY LORD !

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  58. Sue

    Hi Brother Chip, thanks for your sharing, and the words are comforting as I am kind of spiritually alone moving out from one church and going to settle down in another..

    In a way I agree with your points of view that quiet time with God is more important than sitting around with brothers and sisters — most of the time we are talking about worldly stuff –However,going to church on Sundays sermon is still important to me cos they tell me what God want me to know, through someone He chooses. Church or fellowship is like a gas station refilling our exhaustion in soul

    for people who are not so discipline (like me), their faith may be weakened when not properly nurtured.. but i cant stress more the importance of quiet time.

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  59. Valerie

    Thanks for sharing this Chip. I know this is right and true. Oh, for the grace for all of us to trust Him in this!

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  60. Nancy Bennett Baker

    Good Morning Chip – I needed this — I have gone through several churches and found I did not have a place there – or was not really accepted there — I moved to another town over a year ago – and got invited to a church that had a ministry of helping people in need – believing this was a good ministry I began attending and helping out — then the tables turned – and I got falsely accused of some things – called a heritic – and told my problem was I would not submit to authority !! And demanded I repent – by the pastor himself — This was after many months of being a prayer warrior for him and his church – !?! One thing I do know – is you don’t have to submit to authority that is in the wrong !! The church I had been too previously – where I lived before coming here – I left because I saw too many things that was not right – not lining up with what I was reading in the Bible — I was not sure what it was – until I visited another church in Omaha – that practiced more of the principles in the Bible than any church I had been in – and I saw what was missing was the spiritual depth of the Word of God — Your description of being more worldly than spiritual was very fitting – and exactly right — my good friends who also attended this church felt I had “fallen away from God” because I was not attending this church or any church at the time — so this was really good for me to see your article — I have found exactly what you said to be true – and was glad to see this so clearly explained — If you are not connected to the Head – you cannot be connected to the Body — That has been my focus – seek God – not man – for my spirituality and growth — there are those who consdier themselves “so spiritual” -but one cannot be spiritual without the Holy Spirit !! This article has made me to better understand a few things the Lord has given me over the years — 1) Many years ago – as I cried out to Him because I was alone – the Lord answered me – “JESUS WALKED ALONE” — now I understand this better — 2) and in responding to my friends that I had not fallen away from God – only from the “church” – because God wanted me to learn from HIM – not from man ! — I knew when I spoke those words that was the Lord’s answer for me — Man has misrepresented the Word of God for so long — 3) and then most recently – my efforts to join another “fellowship” – only to have the table turned again — I have found so much more peace – with no strife — more fellowship with Him – and less sidetracked into “works” — and more important – more LOVE from Jesus – without conditions – than from any other relationships with mankind – including my own family members. HE TRULY IS THE ANSWER — and I never cease to be awed at the fact that my Heavenly Father loves me – even when no one else does !! If it were not for His love – and His fellowship – and His hand on me – I would not be alive today — He has made my life worth living – giving me a reason to Live – FOR HIM — and He has given me a JOY that no man has ever given me !! And I have found every church that I have attended has never given me that — God took me out of the “church” several years ago – and after this last encounter – I will stay out — Your article showed me that is exactly what God wants for me — First and primary – relationship with HIM -not with man — He is ALL SUFFICIENT — Many years ago I heard a message about if you do not answer the call God has for you – He will find someone else to answer that call — I went home in tears and asking God what it was He wanted for me – I did not want miss His call on my life — as I walked in the door of my house – God audibly answered me — I DO NOT NEED YOU — That startled me – and I cried out to Him what do you mean ? — He answered me – I DO NOT NEED YOU — I WANT YOU – AND I WANT YOU TO WANT ME !!!
    How much simpler can one sum up their relationship with the Father !! All He really WANTS – is for us to WANT Him – to WANT to be faithful to Him – to WANT to obey Him – to WANT relationship with Him — How much simpler can it get !!! No greater LOVE has he than He who laid down His life for one such as me — I will forever thank my God – as my Lord – my Savior – my King – but most of all – for being MY FATHER !!

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  61. Patti

    I guess the stage my husband and I are in (if there is such a thing) looks like this: We’ve been out now for about 8 years, completely out (no home groups either) for a 5. We commune daily with the Lord, meaning that we truly realize His presence in us and walk with Him and talk with Him as we go with special set apart times of prayer and study, as He leads. From time to time He “brings us out” to be used for His purposes such as going to prisons, going to India to speak, or speaking in other places. But these callings are definately chosen by Him, and many times, have alot of time in between, with many anguish filled internal workings of His going on. It’s as if, when He does some more work on the inside of us, then and only then are we presentable, or have something to offer others. I’ve come to appreciate that work,and am trusting His decisions on the timing of everything. (Well, of alot more things than I have previously trusted) As far as fellowshipping, He’s getting me there.I do get lonely, but I’ve never considered that the reason might be that I just wanted to be accepted. I will definately seek God about that one. And, yes I agree with you that He is wanting us to decide if He is enough for us. I want to say the right answer, that sure He is enough, but there may be some more work that needs to be done, for that really to be true in my heart. It seems like my insecurities may get in the way of that being a reality, so I will continue to yield to His work to make it so. Thanks for your ministry to the Body.

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  62. Jacquelyn Riege

    The only time the Lord allowed me to be a part of a church was when I was first born again. He put me in a church where the Pastor was wise and had discernment and put me on the right path and also taught me how to understand King James which I love. I have floated in and out of churches for 33 years, when the Lord sent me to one on Sunday morning or a Wednesday night to hear something he wanted me to hear. Recently he has told me to stop listening to man and listen only to him which I am doing. He also told me to keep a notebook and write down everything he tells me and I am doing this. A friend in Maine sent a letter about you and I have been reading ever since. I sent for your book Getting Babylon out of You because I still have guilt feelings about not attending services…………..I KNOW where that comes from but I think maybe reading that book will help me with that. You know how most Christians will give you all those reasons they have for you to have to go…………so, I am hopeing this will put an end to that. Thank you for being there for people like me.

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  63. Pam B.

    So grateful that you wrote this. Took me a while to find it on google but when it popped up this morning I was thrilled to read it. My family and I, like many others, have not been in a church now for 3 years. Oh, we’ve tried going on occasion but it always feels pushed and on the fakey side like we were only doing it b/c we thought it was right not b/c we knew it to be right. As we see our neighbor driving off on Sunday morning and we’re still eating breakfast we say to one another…”they must think we’re heathens…” We laugh about it but now that I’ve seen it written in words, I realize that it’s just what you said: we were concerned how we looked to other Christians. I know now that this desert time, as you put it, is a wonderful place to be and I should not feel guilty about being here. Now that I think about it….I’ve been a little resentful towards the Lord that we could not find “a place of fellowship” and for the reason we left the fellowship to begin with. I guess it took a while but I’m glad he finally gave me the answer. Time to go speak with the Father. Thanks.

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  64. Sarah

    Chip, this means so much to me. For three years now I have been unable to attend a church due to ill health and also because I have moved into the depths of the British countryside with a church nowhere in sight. Some Sundays I have felt guilty for not being able to attend a church. Since reading your articles it has become so clear I have been called out and brought to this ‘spiritual desert’ for a reason and that is to fellowship with my Lord , just He and I alone. I don’t care if I never have fellowship with others again, the Lord is enough for me. You truly are a man who loves the Lord of the work.

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  65. Julie

    I always come back to this article when I need a spiritual boost over the issue of fellowship (lack of) and being out of ‘church’ group. Ive been saved nearly 21 years and in all that time I have never belonged to a local ‘church’. Ive tried, so many times, but I could just never fit with the ‘program’. I consider myself blessed that the Lord saved me all alone in my room and that I didn’t grow up in a ‘christianised’ environment, so I didnt have a lot of the religious culture blinders to begin with. There have been times this has been really hard, but every time I stop worrying about the ‘fellowship’ thing and seek my fellowship in the Lord, I find He is more than enough. The key is to not leave His side and if we do, to return to abiding in Him. I just want to encourage long time (and new believers) that being in the wilderness isnt always a one time event. Sometimes it can be the ongoing core of our walk, I dont think that is so unusual in these last days. Here and there the Lord may bring a fellow traveller or two, but primarily He is teaching us to wholly rely on and live in Him. Always keep eternity in mind. We belong to His Kingdom and we will not be judged by how many Christians we fellowshipped with on earth. In the grand scheme of things it will not matter. In the meantime use your spare time loving the ‘least of these’ because there will our Lord be too.

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  66. dave

    Thanks for this article Chip and thanks for the reply, Julie. I was also saved alone 18 years ago watching a documentary contrasting Christ with religions. After that I tried to fit in churches and never had success. Always a round peg in a square hole, and whenever I found myself alone I floundered desparately thinking I was out of the will of God, not participating in His will to “build up the Body of Christ…,” etc. I like what Chip said about the fact that we are to hold to the head, not the Body. The genuine fellowsihp in the Body is as we hold to the Head. “Out from whom the body grows.” but we tend to think if we hold to the body somehow we’ll get to the Head, and this expectation sets us up for disillusionment and disappointment (to say the least!) – because we’re trying to get from men what only God can give!

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  67. Lucina (Cindi) Campbell

    I just came across your article, No Fellowship? No Problem! today, September 7, 2013. I left the church (religious circle) about 11 years ago and haven’t had any fellowship in a long time. Christians whom I thought were my friends haven’t bothered with me since I left. They think I have backslidden or have fallen from Yahweh’s grace. I have lived with a false sense of guilt over not having fellowship and not being in church on the Sabbath. I thought that’s what Yahweh wanted, but apparently I’ve been wrong all this time. What He’s really been wanting is my undivided attention and for me to follow only Him. This gives me a whole new outlook on my life and my relationship with Yahweh and His Son. I really appreciate this article. It’s been an answer to prayer.

    May Yahweh Bless.
    Cindi Campbell

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  68. Pat

    Having left organized religion several years ago was the best thing I have ever done in my walk with Christ. It gave me an opportunity to look back with, for a time, anger and a sense of betrayal. It was astounding to me how much “personal interpretation” and man’s traditions there was. I was also astounded by the things I learned in the Holy Scriptures that I never learned in a church setting.
    It was my own fault, of course. One does have to read the Bible apart from church. But even that, was not up to par. I still didn’t “get it.” When I left “church” I truly believe it was the Holy Spirit leading me to go deeper into God’s word. It became a hunger of feeding on His majestic word everyday. Sitting quietly and just devouring and reading and writing His word down in my tablet. Doing my own bible studies when a verse would jump out at me and I had to follow it through to fully understand what it meant in the context of God’s Truth. He truly will lead us deeper into knowing Him when we sincerely seek Him.
    John 17:3 “This is eternal life to know Him and His Son Jesus Christ.”

    When I went back a few months ago I truly realized how basic, “milk” not “meat” the church had even gone farther down into a bowl of cold oatmeal. So basic. No depth. No Bibles were ever opened in the Bible Study classes. APPS on the cell phone are used now in church that take the place of carrying in the Holy Scriptures for “instant gratification.” How disrespectful to Christ who suffered such a tortuous death on the cross, shed is blood, died and rose again. He Lives! So we could have eternal life with Him.

    Several friends call for prayer when they may not seek prayer in church. Somehow churches seem to attract people who say they are “Just fine.” With a false face when you know they are hurting but too prideful or embarrassed to share their pain for fear or embarrassment of being judged. I doubt that I will even go back to church. Conversations and studies with Christian friends is always meaningful. Even if impromptu and unplanned. Sharing and encouraging with Bible verses and God’s promises is a Divine Appointment that is always cherished. Hearing answered prayers puts the little red heart in my prayer journal and there are many. Praise God.

    Seeking to know Him more fully through His word is a lifelong search. Attending a church that is more psycho-babble, feel good theology seems to me going backwards. Fellowship and honoring Holy God, His Commandments of love, in reverence and awe as He is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29) can be right in the living room, kitchen table or in the garden on a beautiful day. And especially on the 7th day Sabbath according to His 4th commandment.

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  69. Mary

    Thank you. I too am living in the wilderness. I have no fellowship. Only Jesus. It hurts, it is lonely, it can be scary and I don,t fully understand. I have tried every church and can t fit into their programme and I am an outcast. I have experienced great sorrow and great joy with Him and contInue one day at a time. It is not easy but He is worth it. I want to follow Jesus. Run to Him and don,t be afraid to face the truth. He is our All in all.

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  70. Leanne

    I believe those who have been called out, sifted like wheat, died to flesh, overcomers, truly led by Christ with no other covering but that of Christ will be the foundations of the next church age….These people are chosen because they have a holy fear of God, they have been purged with fire, and they seek only him and not their own self esteem…These ones would lay their life down in a second because they cherish more to be with God than to be with man…These are the ones God will use to build his tabernacle in the wilderness….There will be a time when God gathers us to fellowship with each other and pray…He does this because we will need each other in the days to come……a body cant be disjointed forever..it has to eventually be one.

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  71. Sharon Lewis

    Hello from Sharon: I came across your site by doing a google search about leaving the organized church. Over the past 20 years as a believer, I have visited many churches but was never completely content inside them. I no longer go to a traditional church, but worship the Lord at home and study the Bible on my own. I have learned more in what it means to follow Christ since leaving the organized church. I have never felt comfortable with denominations and such. So many churches are teaching false doctrine these days. I enjoy worshipping the Lord at home and reading my bible. I also enjoy listening to messages online by various bible teachers. There are too many phony hypocrites in the traditional church. Too many silly and unbiblical rules that they make up. I am also an older single woman.Traditional churches are extremely hostile towards older singles. There is no place in the traditional church for the single Christian, over 30 years old, who has never married and has no kids. If Jesus were to come back today, He would not be welcome in most institutional churches. I enjoy reading the articles on your website. Take care and God bless.

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  72. tammy

    I am glad to have found this site, it is good to connect with like-minded people

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  73. Melanie

    Only one thing that I disagree with. I think that it is more about God wanting us to know that HE loves us! Not that WE love Him! I believe that is His main focus! Our love for Him is a response to His love for us! Once we are secure in His love, everything else just flows naturally!

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  74. molly

    Thank you Brother Chip as i was meditating on this and and exactly confirmed through your message as to the same . Exactly true and walk like Enoch as God often reminded me of the same Amen Halleuija

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  75. Steve Hazen

    I never believed God in Christ would find me if I wasn’t in church. Somehow, I thought 💭 I’ll go “see” him at church, this day or that…. the hardest thing I’ve ever done was to leave and stay gone. I felt like I was the one that Jesus warned against, the disciples were killed by people that don’t attend church. I knew in my study that was not true. But, in my heart I thought is was us and them….and I didn’t want to be them. But now, I love them sinners because I am one. Jesus demanded me to leave church. Yes, I guess I decided to leave but the truth is if it were my choice I wouldn’t have left. But our Lord Jesus has a way of making known to us where we REALLY are. Church became so disgusting to me because Jesus showed me falsehoods everywhere. I sed walked past the front glass church doors after “serving” in the coffee bar/bookstore. The Lord started reminding me about Rev 3 the church of Laodicia.. I stand at the door and knock! Every Sunday, open the door Steve…I’m not in there Steve…I had to leave to meet with Jesus alone. It hasn’t been easy and probably will get harder because there is much dealings that God is able to do when we stop seeking others and start seeking Him. Jeremiah

    29:13 (NIV)

    13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

    Thank you Chip, I couldn’t get through reading your letter this morning without crying. I appreciate and love you very much and am grateful that the Lord is Able for us to fellowship IN him.

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  76. Donna

    I loved my church. Jesus brought me out of it. Very few were preaching “come out of her and be a separate people” back then. It was hard because I couldn’t understand why Jesus did not want me in a church. It took years to understand, and to grow spiritually. As I looked to Jesus, my dependency on Him increased. My fellowship is with Him. Gradually I started to focus more and more on Christ. As I did, I gained freedom that I didn’t know I had not had before. I followed the Lamb. And it gets better and easier to do. Because He is all you see.
    Today I am freeborn and I miss no church. I love the body of Christ and I’m trying to do good to my enemies. Truthfully, it will keep anybody busy learning what Jesus taught. You won’t feel so lonely if you let go and just follow the Lord. It can’t be rationalized with the natural or carnal mind. Spirit and truth is how we worship God by faith. But you have to yield. You can’t hold on to mammon. But it will be a walk with Jesus unlike anything you have ever experienced before. God bless.

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  77. Mitch Culp

    This is a ver timely article Chip. A very good friend and I were in a discussion about this very issue just yesterday. He had just read an article about the new group of people that are being labeled as the “NONES”. these are the people have left the organized church for various reasons. Our discussion wound up with us coming to a point in which we think that maybe some of this “desire” for fellowship may be some sort of an addiction issue. You are right in your comments that many times we are more concerned about pleasing people than pleasing our Lord and we also want to be accepted and honored by our peers. Our carnal nature wants to be recognized and loves center stage. To me much of the “fellowship” that I have experienced ove the years tends subtly focus on this.To anyone out there who is struggling with this “being cast out ” take heart I have been “out of fellowship” for nearly 30 years and have grown stronger in the Lord more than I have ever been in my entire 45 + years of walking with the Lord.

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  78. Regina

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Fabulous writing for such a time as this.

    Reply

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