Church as we know it is over…

San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, is the oldest cathedral in the United States.  It is a fitting symbol of institutional Christianity in America, which is being shaken to its foundations by the radical changes sweeping America.

San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, the oldest cathedral in the United States, is a symbol of institutional Christianity in America, which is being shaken to its foundations by the radical changes sweeping America.

Once again Pete Rambo has raised some interesting questions and opened the way for serious discussion on what the people of God should be doing in these very strange times.  His post, “Church as we know it is over. . .”, is a follow-up to “…the land thou abhorrest shall be forsaken…”, which The Barking Fox reposted last week.  The catalyst, of course, is the June 26 announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges which made same-sex marriage the law of the land.  This is but the latest, and perhaps greatest, in a series of developments considered disturbing by those who hold to the Bible as the standard of conduct for humanity.  Consequently, Americans of faith are asking serious questions about what to do now, with an expectation of increasing persecution of those who cannot compromise on God’s established order.

One of the first comments on this in a national forum comes from Rod Dreher, whose article, “Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn to Live as Exiles in Our Own Country”, appeared on on the day the Supreme Court’s decision was announced.  Another is Kevin DeYoung, who wrote “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”, published July 1 on The Gospel Coalition.  Still another is from Michael Payne, a good friend and fellow blogger who has posted several bold observations on the spiritual state of our nation and the church at his new blog, A Call to Order.  And yet another is from Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.  On July 5, Leo Hohmann of World Net Daily reviewed Cahn’s Independence Day address at Messiah College in Pennsylvania in which he declared that the end of Christian America is here.  These commentaries address the condition of the American church, and all point out to some extent that this building crisis of faith is largely a result of God’s people failing to live like God’s people. 

One might consider this commentary an indictment of Christianity, particularly American Christianity.  In part it is, but there is much more to it than that.  Everyone who claims to be a follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob shares the blame.  All of us have fallen down on the job, whether we identify ourselves as Christian, Jewish, Messianic, Hebrew Roots/Ephraimite, or any other tradition claiming to uphold the standards of righteousness established by YHVH.  Mostly the problem comes from our stated willingness to defend and even die for a Bible which we do not bother to read.  If we would do as our God commanded, and as Yeshua reminded us, we would make His commandments the focus of our daily lives and ensure our families live by them (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28).  That, however, is a very hard thing.  It requires effort to read, study, internalize, and live out the principles of Scripture, and for that reason we have tended to out-source this aspect of human existence to spiritual professionals – rabbis, priests, and ministers whose job is to study the Bible and tell people what it says.  The result is what we see today:  an increasingly irrelevant professional clergy, and an increasingly worldly people of God.  Clearly we cannot continue this way, which is why Pete ponders whether church as we know it is over.

Church as we know it is over….

Pete Rambo

Posted on natsab, July 5, 2015

“Church as we know it is over.  And, maybe for the best…. “

In a recent post, I wrote the above quote as part of my thoughts concerning the recent Supreme Court ruling.  I have been pondering a number of aspects and this weekend, one of them came into sharp focus.

We had the good pleasure of hosting a couple from the lower part of the state who came to fellowship and spend Shabbat with us.  Our prayer at the beginning of the weekend was that Abba would lead us and give us some direction as we considered options before us.  The Balak portion was interesting and provided good fodder for conversation considering some of the discussion on the table, but it was not until a late Shabbat afternoon conversation under the pecan trees that I felt a sense of clear direction.

Besides considering personal and family options and the very real possibility of becoming an expat, I have wrestled quite a bit with how to reach and help those being called out of the Church and into a closer walk with Messiah.

BFB150707 Church as we know it is overAs we sat under the pecan trees in our backyard with a cool breeze and unseasonably nice temperatures, we began discussing home fellowships and discovered that we were very much on the same page with many common ideas and thoughts.  So much that I had studied a few years ago began to flood back to my mind and I realized excitedly that the leadership in the Messianic, and the Church at large, has a definite need to begin making a very active and concerted shift toward home fellowships in preparation for the coming persecution.

Even if thousands or tens of thousands of American Messianics were to exit the country, there would still be a larger number who, for whatever reason, do not leave and will need to be prepared to stand as an underground network of fellowships.  How then do we begin to prepare for this eventuality?

Part of the journey that led me to the Torah was a deep and abiding sense that something was terribly wrong with the Church and how most local churches traditionally operate.  In an effort to better understand what the problems were, I spent a great deal of time reading Acts as well as a number of books.  The two I best remember were Jon H. Zens’ The Pastor Has No Clothes:  Moving from Clergy-Centered Church to Christ Centered Ekklesia and Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna.  In hindsight, neither book goes far enough, but they began to open my eyes to the decidedly unBiblical model of traditional clergy based church with a resource sucking building and staff.

Our discussion began to turn to the need to begin encouraging and educating the Messianic body in some of the many aspects of home fellowship building, worship and growth.  Further, as we discussed, it dawned on me that in all of our discussions regarding community on this blog, I have failed to see the natural place of home fellowships between the family block and the desired community result.

My hope is that in the coming couple weeks I, along with someone I invited to begin writing for the blog, can begin exploring this topic and sharing some thoughts that will benefit the larger Body as we encourage a shift from the usual building/teacher centric model to a more organic home-based network of fellowships that encourage and support each other while growing in the most normal place for fellowship and intimacy with the King: in homes.

I would love to hear thoughts and input and hope this will be a topic of interest through which we can all grow.


Shavua tov!

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2015.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

6 responses to “Church as we know it is over…”

  1. Pete Rambo says :

    Thank you for the reblog. I always appreciate your additional commentary and the additional article links. In this a case, all led to items I had not yet read. Truly interesting times and no doubt, the plans for the next steps on both sides are being discussed.

    May we be granted wisdom as we ponder how best to prepare the Body going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • blainescogin says :

      There are those who are wondering if Christianity.will have a future in the Middle East. The jihadists are persecuting and killing those Christians who come out of a traditional Orthodox or Catholic background. Yet Jesus has promised that He will build his church. He has said that the gates of hell will not overcome the church. The Church Jesus is building in the Middle East consist of Muslims who are coming to Christ. They are known as Muslim background believers. Or they prefer to be called Jesus followers. These Jesus followers are meeting in house fellowships. I believe this will be the future of the church in America. It will not be the institutional church. the Church in America will be an underground church. it will consist of House fellowships. these are simply my thoughts.


      Liked by 2 people

  2. EsseRealis says :

    Reblogged this on esserealis: Be Real! and commented:
    Again, interesting thoughts from a blog I follow, there are many questions in this discussion that need a closer look at in the culture we find ourselves connected to- thanks again Al McCarn & Pete Rambo for the thought provoking posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue in NC says :

    Al is right is stating that we are all responsible for things having reached the state that they have. Repentance is our first obligation, which of course involves a change of heart and a redirection of ACTION.

    Difficult days lie ahead, but there is reason for rejoicing: When great challenges appear before us, we can be assured of great anointing from the Ruach if we are willing to receive it. Likewise, we can be assured of experiencing Messiah’s work and Presence in our lives in ways that we have never yet experienced Him if we are willing to be submitted to His leadership.

    There can be no growth without adversity. May we welcome the opportunity to lift Him up and be living demonstrations of His ability to sustain and uphold. May the Body become more than an assembly, but rather a truly living organism alight with eternal Life.


  4. Laura says :

    Your post makes me think of a beautiful song and a couple of scriptures below. Many blessings and Shabbat Shalom!

    L’dor vador/From generation to generation by Josh Nelson

    We are gifts and we are blessings, we are history in song
    We are hope and we are healing, we are learning to be strong
    We are words and we are stories, we are pictures of the past
    We are carriers of wisdom, not the first and not the last

    L’dor vador nagid godlecha (from generation to generation we will declare Thy greatness)
    L’dor vador… we protect this chain
    From generation to generation
    L’dor vador, these lips will praise Your name

    Looking back on the journey that we carry in our heart
    From the shadow of the mountain to the waters that would part
    We are blessed and we are holy, we are children of Your way
    And the words that bring us meaning, we will have the strength to say

    L’dor vador nagid godlecha
    L’dor vador… we protect this chain
    From generation to generation
    L’dor vador, these lips will praise Your name

    Psalm 145:3-4, Luke 1:50

    Liked by 1 person

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