I struggle with the organized church.
I'm not sure where it all began, but somewhere after pastoring a traditional church myself, then being involved in a so-called parachurch ministry, I began to get quite a bit jaded about the organized systematic religious church in the US.
My friend Keith went through some similar experiences, I think. Today I read his new book "This is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended." And I highly recommend it, not just because he's my long-time friend, but because the book raises some great questions about the religious Christendom that I struggle with so much.
And I think we're not alone.
Keith too has been a senior pastor of a traditional church. In fact, our pastorates were just minutes from each other in El Paso. One time there was even talk of merging our two churches together (postponing the inevitable death of two churches struggling to maintain their very "southern anglo" culture in the midst of a nearly 100% Hispanic part of El Paso, but that's another story for another time). Keith takes you through the Old Testament processes of worship, then shows well how there are both similarities and distinct differences in the New Testament church. Most importantly, Keith hits the nail on the head about Jesus being the fulfillment of the OT shadows, and how that affects the methods of organization of Jesus' new "body", the fellowship of believers.
Keith digs into some of the core doctrines of New Testament faith. Probably my favorite discussion is on the priesthood of individual believers, something that shatters the current focus on the professional clergy of our modern churches. And his call for churches that spend millions and cumulatively billions on salaries and buildings and many other unnecessary accoutrements of "worship" instead of caring for the poor, the widows, the orphans, etc of the world, is a call that needs to be heard indeed.
Ultimately, every believer has to make the call--can I find real community, can I be the NT body of Christ with other believers, within the organized church of the US. Not that long ago I was ready to give up trying. But the truth is Jesus died for the church, in all it's goofiness. Keith challenges us well to consider how the church needs to be in our culture, and I for one hope that many hear the Voice of the One who is speaking through Keith, and follows not into an organization, but into the very body of the One who made the universe. Great read on not throwing away the church just because it's been warped in our culture.