A Question I Was Asked:

Loyalty to Ones Church - Or To Christ?

The Question:

You have made some intriguing comments in the past about loyalty to a church congregation, challenging this and pointing out that a Christian's loyalty should be to Christ alone. A friend of mine would not leave a church he grew up in even when the pastor started to teach some stupid and unbiblical ideas. That friend is now either going through a backsliding phase, or - even worse - he is no longer a real believer. I'm hoping it's the first one and I am being patient with him.

UK Apologetics Reply:

I too have had friends who 'stuck it out' in unbiblical places of worship to their detriment. Both are back on track now but they picked up some weird charismatic stuff along the way.

My opinions here don't change, then. Loyalty is a most marvellous quality and - in general - it is good to be loyal to ones congregation, but sometimes we all feel that we should move on, don't we? Our primary loyalty must be to the Lord Jesus Christ - not to any particular group of worshippers. I can admire it when people stay in one place of worship just as long as they feel they are being spiritually fed, that is probably the ideal. But week in-week out 'pew-warming' covering perhaps 25 years of ones life does raise questions. In some cases it is possibly just habit, just a matter of going to where ones friends go. But it is hard to judge, possibly many such people remain utterly sincere.

Re: specific local church membership, my feelings don't change here either. Membership of a specific congregation might have once been the normal way but I feel it is possibly a remnant of the age of denominationalism which is now passing. I find that many more mature Christians now avoid this, preferring a warm, but loose association with possibly more than one congregation provided they are biblical congregations. More mature and seasoned pastors also (happily) don't generally pressurize people into becoming members any longer (although I know that many still do, especially in the States).

Problems within local congregations are what has led to the so-called 'unchurched Christian movement,' but I think it is wrongly named, I would call it the 'unaffiliated church movement.' This is mainly played out in house churches which, of course, is simply the pattern of the early church. Comparatively little is known about these people because they operate very quietly and unobtrusively but I have occasionally had such people contact me. I have often found their attitude to be excellent and several have told me that they would never return to large congregational worship.
Robin A. Brace. March 23rd, 2012.