“How do you unchurch the church? How do you kill religion and tradition and stop it from spreading? How do you unteach the sound of the Hammond organ [that make some believe it is the presence of God]?
This is my paraphrase of a question recently asked on a Facebook post.
As a product of the church, I am very familiar with the ins and outs of its system. I have been a church musician from 10 years old, and I have served in nearly every capacity. Most recently, I have served as the pastor of a traditional church. I know church. I love the many wonderful relationships I have gained and still maintain.
Currently, I am leading the ‘church’ I have served for 28 years into becoming a network of house gatherings. I have experienced first-hand what it means to unchurch the churched. It is actually an attempt to recalibrate the mindset of people. Anybody can leave a sanctuary and meet in a living room. However, if WHAT we do is not infused with WHY we are doing it, then all we have done is change locations with no real purpose. The reality is that you can’t effectively unchurch anyone who still holds to a church mindset.
adherents that they believe they are correct in what they do. They use scripture to support traditions created by man (Mark 7:13). Their experiences are touted as spiritual validation (John 4:20). Emotionalism is confused with the real presence of the Lord. Becoming unchurched begins when you receive the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God!
The churches that appear to be growing have found a way to put on a bigger and better performance than the other churches in their vicinity. They draw in the crowds with polished praise teams, crisp musicians, dance troops and preaching that appeals to the senses. Their growth is more transfer evangelism than winning new converts. When their appeal wanes, the people go looking for the next spiritual thrill. I would like to offer 3 ways this can change.
1. Pray that believers see the truth
2. Remain steadfast in your resolve
3. Know that you are called
The ministry of The Ekklesia Center is to help guide believers into a firm understanding of what Jesus is building in the earth. Visit our website often to get more insights to help you in your journey.
I recently read a Facebook post where 2Corinthians 6:17 was quoted. “…come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The writers implied that those who have received the ‘revelation’, must separate themselves from those who are still in the institutional church.
The writer further implied that anyone in a traditional church was not only ignorant, but unclean, too. If this post was isolated, there would be no cause for alarm. However, when I saw the many ‘likes’ he received, and the numerous supportive comments that followed, my heart was broken.
Most ‘believers’ I know were saved in a traditional or institutional church. For those few who were not, they often looked for a traditional or institutional church to connect with after receiving Christ. The concept of ‘church’ is deeply engrained in the psyche of most believers.
Some of us have recently been graced by God to see something fresh. We have learned that Jesus never came to build a church, but rather an ekklesia. We have learned that ‘church’ and ekklesia are not the same. We have learned that Jesus intent is to give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to an earthly ruling council with the authority to bind and loose on earth, whatever heaven has already bound and loosed. God has given authority His ekklesia to affect every facet of human existence. Unfortunately, everyone does not see this. Most believers only know the ‘church system’ that has been prevalent for nearly 1,700 years.
I have served as a traditional or institutional ‘church pastor’ for nearly twenty-five years. I see and embrace what God is doing in the Body of Christ today. What do I do with those I have served all these years? Do I leave them because my revelation shows me something that is incompatible with the traditional church? Do I ‘come out from among them’ and abandon them because they seem to still like traditional church?
No. I will not abandon them. Many are still trying to comprehend the difference between church and ekklesia. I suspect that there are some reading this blog who still have not comprehended the difference.
I am determinedly working to transition from ‘church’ into ‘ekklesia’. I am weaning myself, and helping to wean those around me from the system we have known all our lives. I am teaching those I have served to gather interdependently from house to house.
What about the many relationships I have gained with other existing traditional pastors? Do I ‘come out from among them’ implying they have allegiance to some evil entity? Have they become ‘unclean’ because God has allowed me to see something different? Will God receive me and reject them? To use 2Corinthians 6:17 to imply some spiritual superiority over other believers is pure spiritual arrogance.
an atmosphere of ‘us versus them – good versus bad, and right versus wrong’. You can never build something new based on being an antithesis to something else. What you build must have focus and purpose and above all revelation. Jesus said that He would build His ekklesia with those who have the revelation that He is the Christ, Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-18). We are workers together with Him (1Corinthians 3:9; 2Corinthians 6:1)
Those of us who have been given a glimpse of the Lord’s ekklesia, have been entrusted by Him to bring this truth into the earth. We must seek to be an example of God’s will and way before our brothers and sisters. We need to spark their interest by the way we love them and one another (John 13:35), assemble with each other (Acts 2:21-47), and impact our community (Acts 16:20; 17:6). When they come asking what is going on, it gives us an opportunity to share (1Peter 3:15).
Finally, it is interesting that the admonition to forsake not the assembling is preceded by provoking one another to good works through love (Hebrews 10:24-25). I personally do not believe that I have the right to bash another system if I have not exampled the love, power and purpose emanating from mine.
Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites with 300 soldiers is a familiar story of faith, obedience and the strategic power of the Lord. When the Lord called him, Israel was already outnumbered.
Then the Lord began to whittle down his troops. It is interesting that the first thing God identified that would hamper Gideon was pride. If Israel had defeated the Midianites with the 32,000, God knew they would take the credit for the victory. They would claim that it was by their hand that they had won. So how did God sort these prideful people out?
Gideon was instructed to ask those who were afraid to leave. Twenty-two thousand admitted to their fear and left. Isn’t that interesting? God said that their issue was pride, but fear is what identified it. This reveals to us a truth we need to consider today. It answers why some continually resist ekklesia out of fear of repercussions. It explains why many attach themselves to religious traditions, while feeling that there must be more. It explains why some will deny the truth, even though they have the facts in front of them.
Pride attempts to mask their limited understanding of ekklesia, while fear reveals their unwillingness to venture beyond the status quo. Pride maintains an outward persona of confidence, while fear exposes their anxiety of potentially losing position and status. Pride portrays a ‘we are better than others’ in the church world, while fear grips their hearts with emotional instability.
Israel hated how they were treated by the Midianites. As soon as their crops were harvested, the Midianites came and took their goods. They were deeply impoverished (Judges 6:1-6). Today, many sense they are impoverished in the church system. They are being robbed week after week by sectarian doctrines and religious traditions. They want out, but don’t know where to go. Then along comes ekklesia. It is refreshing. It appears to offer a way to real spiritual growth. But it comes with a price. You must address your fears that have been masked in pride.
As important as ekklesia is to the Body of Christ, imagine the concern of the Father. Potentially too many people are pursuing it. Specifically, many are pursuing it with the wrong motives. They are found in three categories.
God is looking for the 300 who will win the battle. He is calling out those who are not afraid of losing friends. He will use those who aren’t shaken when some label them as a cult. God wants a people who are more interested in divine purpose than they are in positions and titles. The 300 do not fear losing any perceived status for the cause of Christ. The future of ekklesia will be contingent upon a pure cadre of believers who are fully committed to its advance.
Are you among the victorious 300?
Ekklesia is rising. The Ekklesia Center’s three-point plan to establish, develop and release believers can equip and prepare you for what the Lord is doing in the earth today. You can walk in faith. You can walk without fear. You can walk in confidence knowing that what Jesus is building, He is building with believers like you. Blessings.
Learn more about being established, developed and released. CLICK HERE
Ekklesia will be a disrupter. When Christians discover the historical facts surrounding what Jesus actually said, they will have to take a good look at how we have veered so far off course!
In my book, Leaving Church Becoming Ekklesia, and in other writings, I list six types of people and their responses to learning about ekklesia. In this post, I want to somewhat expand on that list to include five reasons why some are rejecting this teaching. These are not theoretical or hypothetical reasons. Each reflects actual beliefs I have encountered since I began sharing and teaching about ekklesia.
Before I outline this list, I want you to know that I am not solely focused on the negative and apprehensive responses I’ve heard. I have encountered many more people who have been liberated and empowered by learning about ekklesia. I simply share this in hopes that some who read it will avoid falling into the subtle traps satan uses to keep us from discovering what God has for us.
Here are the five top reasons people use to reject ekklesia.
My purpose for writing this was to show you there are barriers to understanding what the Lord is doing in this age. You may be able to add to this list. The Ekklesia Center is committed to helping you align with the word of God.
We strive to help you place your religious traditions in their proper place. We help you to accurately interpret the Word of God. We stand with you when you feel you are losing things dear to your heart. We unapologetically will provoke you to learn and discover for yourself. And finally, we help you to discern truth, even when it comes through people who you are not used to hearing.
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We are in exciting new times. Jesus is still building today with believers like you.
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Believers are expected to build upon apostolic foundations
The church system has not taught the Body of Christ to build – but rather to watch and maintain systems. When it comes to building - most believers have no clue as to where they can begin – as everything they have known has been contained in the church system as we know it.
In today’s Ekklesia Insight – let’s look at the progressive layers of building the ekklesia as revealed in scripture.
First, we MUST begin with Matthew 16:18 where we read Jesus as saying
"… on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Jesus first declaration is that HE WOULD BUILD. He is the sole builder of the ekklesia. But we find that there is another layer of building that is through the apostles and prophets
Jesus is the sole builder
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18-22)
We see clearly that the impartation from apostles and prophets is critical to every believer. What they provide to us is FOUNDATIONAL. This passage in Peter serves as a segue to the next layer of building.
Notice that Peter said that we are LIVING STONES built up as a spiritual house THAT WE SHOULD BE A HOLY PRIESTHOOD. Remember we are built on the foundation of apostles and prophets and we as living stones and a holy priesthood should be offering up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God hrough Jesus Christ.
Paul brings this all together. Listen to his words in 1Corinthians 3:10-11. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, AND ANOTHER BUILDS ON IT. BUT LET EACH MAN BE CAREFUL HOW HE BUILDS ON IT. For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ.
This becomes the final layer in the process of building the ekklesia. After confirming his apostolic and foundational role he made it clear that the purpose of the foundation he builds is for believers to have something build upon. The final layer is what you build.
You determine the quality
of what you build
Make no mistake about it – according to Acts 2:28 IT IS THE LORD’S EKKLESIA that He purchased with His own blood. That is why He is the sole builder of it.
All others, the apostles prophets you and I are layers through which we become laborers together with.
Be a builder. Take heed how you build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. The Ekklesia Center will come along side you to help.
Before Jesus said what the ekklesia would be given, or what it could do, He declared that it would be necessary to have the revelation of who He is.
Let’s put this in context. Jesus had twelve young men following him. He led them to a place called Caesarea Philippi – a place that was forbidden territory for most Jews in that day. It was a place where dead Caesars were deified. It was where the temple of the goat god Pan where all kinds of debasing sexual activity took place – often in full view. It was where a cave – known as the Gate of Hades had a river flowing through it where both human and animal sacrifices took place. Just being at Caesarea Philippi could stimulate the flesh in so many ways.
It was here that Jesus asked two basic questions. First, who do men say that I am? IN OTHER WORDS, what are people saying about me? The answer they gave reflected the atmosphere and the environment they were in. They spoke of Jeremiah – Elijah – John the Baptist – and other DEAD prophets.
But Jesus then asked them – who did they believe He was? Peter said, “You are the Christ – the Son of the Living God.” HERE IS THE KEY. Jesus made it clear that flesh and blood did not reveal that answer to him. JESUS SAID HE RECEIVED IT FROM THE FATHER IN HEAVEN.
This single revelation is basis for
everything we do in the Kingdom
When you KNOW by revelation that Jesus is the Christ – Son of the Living God – it emboldens and empowers you to live above levels that your flesh and blood will struggle with. Jesus is building His ekklesia based on the revelation of who He is.
His ekklesia will not be built with people who know ABOUT Him – religion can do that. Most denominations have their version of Jesus – but when you personally have a revelation of Jesus as the Christ – Son of the Living God you shift from having head knowledge of Him – to giving all to be like Him.
We read in Philippians 3:10 that Paul’s desire was to know him, and the power of his resurrection. In his letter to the Galatians 1:16 Paul knew that when he was called – it pleased God to reveal His Son to Him.
That’s why he said in 1Corinthians 12:3 THAT NO MAN SPEAKING BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD CALLS JESUS ACCURSED: AND THAT NO MAN CAN SAY THAT JESUS IS THE LORD, BUT BY THE HOLY GHOST. Jesus is building His ekklesia with believers who have a revelation that He is the Christ – Son of the Living God
Once you have that revelation – He will build with you. Are you ready!
The third religious spirit we will address is that of image, specifically the false images ‘church’ leaders portray in public. You would be amazed at the struggle many leaders endure trying to maintain an strong image in front of their congregants. Inside they are hurting, angry, lonely, discouraged and insecure, yet they put on a mask of confidence when they are out in public.
A false image will have a person trying to live an unrealistic life.
The church system has built a structure that often demands that a ‘pastor’ be all things to all people. This is not written a job description, but we assume a ‘loving and caring pastor’ will visit the sick, administrate the resources of their church, resolve conflicts, teach and preach weekly, perform weddings, oversee funerals, all while trying to take care of their own family, pay their own bills, miss events their children are involved in, try and meet the needs of their spouse, and find time to pray, study and relax.
In his book, Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry to the People of God, Dr. Greg Ogden lists four things we expect from pastors:
- They must be the teacher of doctrinal tradition
- They are expected to be the primary caregiver
- They must publicly be a living symbol of the sacred
- They must preside over rites of passage
Now juxtapose this with the survey by Pastoral Care, Inc. that listed 49 negative factors facing pastors today. Even with some of the slight improvements, it is clear to see there is a problem.
Is ekklesia the answer?
It would be foolish to claim that understanding ekklesia will solve all these problems. But I do believe understanding ekklesia will address three major issues.
- Hierarchy must be eliminated. The ekklesia Jesus is building is constructed from the bottom up. Leaders serve the Body of Christ as they do the work of ministry (Matthew 20:25-27). In the kingdom, Jesus is King. Each of us are spiritually equal but functionally distinct. That leads to the next issue.
- Function will replace title. Ministry gifts are functions that some are gifted to perform. Proof of an apostle is the ability to do an apostolic work. The concept of serving in the ‘office’ of something is hierarchal in nature. In the kingdom, who you are in character and relationship to Jesus Christ, is more important that what you do.
- Shared responsibilities. There are more gifts than just the five-fold ministry (1Corinthians 12:1-12). For the Body of Christ to be effective, we must recognize and honor all gifts and their role in expanding the Kingdom (1Corinthians 12:23). When all parts of the Body fulfill their function, we become a body that is fitly joined together, that will grow into the fulness of the stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
I can hear some saying that all this can be done in the ‘church as we know it’. My response is that Jesus declared He would build an ekklesia, not a kyrikos aka church. We are workers together with Him as He builds His ekklesia – not church (1Corinthians 3:9). It is the ‘church system’ that has taken us off course. We owe it to the Lord to make a concerted attempt to try and live out what He intended for us.
Of course, I cannot close this without reminding you that we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Any other image we embrace leads to emotional and spiritual destruction. Don’t let religious pride draw you into a false image.
As a believer in the Lord’s ekklesia, you don’t have to be anything other than you He created you to be. Learning to serve in your assignment is the most liberating thing that can happen in your life.
Several years ago, I attended a worship service where the guest speaker preached a powerful message. Many were moved by the Spirit and give their lives to Jesus Christ. It was a glorious response to the gospel, that is, until the pastor made his remarks.
Standing at the altar before him were a group of young adults who were
The effects of his diatribe became evident. You could see a change in those who had come to the altar. What began as tears of joy, turned to looks of bewilderment. They had come seeking Jesus, but got a list of man-made rules. They had come to the altar and had a genuine experience with Jesus Christ; but became subjected to a plethora of guidelines that determined their worthiness for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 23:15). This is what Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for doing.
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them” (Matthew 23:13 New Revised Standard Version).
A religious spirit wants to be in control. People who are under the influence of this spirit must have the last say in all matters. They intend for their word to be final. One of the clearest characteristics of a religious spirit is control. It establishes an atmosphere where it alone dictates what does or does not take place.
The scribes and Pharisees considered themselves to be the religious elite of Jesus day. They positioned themselves to be the interpreters and enforcers of the law. You could not do anything without their approval. They held all the ‘righteous cards’. They established strict guidelines that gave them the authority to determine who was worthy, and who was not. This is eerily similar to what happens in many church systems.
Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. This is interesting. A hypocrite is someone who knows the facts but chooses a lie. Jesus called them hypocrites because they kept people out of the kingdom and did not enter in themselves. Let that sink in for a moment.
It is one thing to bar people from entering the kingdom, but it another issue for them to refuse to enter themselves. This latter point suggests they had an awareness of the kingdom. In other words, the scribes and the Pharisees refused to enter a place they apparently were familiar with.
The question must be asked, “Why would someone who is knowledgeable of the Kingdom refuse to enter it?” I believe it is because of the threat the kingdom poses to the leadership in the church system. Church leaders have a vested interest in maintaining a definition of the kingdom that benefits them. It is the same ploy that King James used when he had the word church inserted to replace ekklesia. For the king, the scribes and the Pharisees, knowledge of the truth threatened their hierarchal position. In fact, this was the stated position of the Pharisees.
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." (John 11:47-48)
Am I against boundaries? Absolutely not. They may be necessary as you disciple new believers. But those boundaries should point to a life in Christ (Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19), not conformity to a religious human system. Boundaries are only necessary to equip a believer to function on their own.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. (Galatians 4:1-2)
The rise of ekklesia is also the advent of the Day of the Saints. This is when millions of believers are being established, developed and released to impact every sphere of the world. Religious spirits know that you cannot release people and expect to survive. The very nature of the Lord’s ekklesia is to empower and release the saints with the keys of the Kingdom. But be aware of the next Religious Spririt - Image!
It is important to learn the nature of the religious spirit, as it can have a devastating effect on the rise of ekklesia. We are discovering how the willful mistranslation of ekklesia to church has impacted identity of the Body of Christ. So, when a religious spirit finds a place to roost, the damage can be more intense. Religious spirits have a ‘rightness image’ surrounding them. Without investigation, the rhetoric from a religious spirit can sound and feel as though it is correct.
Recently, I ran into a former pastor who had left his wife of over 30 years for another woman. At the same time, he resigned from his pastorate leaving a shocked and devastated congregation. Surprisingly he struck up a conversation with me, knowing I was aware of his situation. He spent the better part of a half hour trying to convince me that the Lord had given him peace over his decision to leave his wife for another woman. He claimed that he had no remorse or shame for his actions. He painted himself as a victim who had no other choice but walk away from what he deemed to be a bad marriage. He used scripture to in an attempt to validate his actions. He shared how he was enjoying serving in ministry at another fellowship. I listened as he laid out a storyline that some would say made perfect sense. But that’s when the Holy Spirit spoke to me these words, “Reprobation can sound intellectual.”
Paul wrote that there could come a time when God turns a person over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28). This is a person who is void of understanding. I always felt that a reprobate person would appear mentally deranged. It never occurred to me that such a person could sound intellectually astute. Everything you read about a reprobate person shows that they had a familiarity with the truth.
- They hold the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
- They knew God but became vain in their imagination (Romans 1:21).
- They changed the truth of God into a lie (Romans 1:25).
People follow what they believe to be true. If truth has been corrupted by outside forces, that is one thing to contend with. But if truth is distorted because of a personal choice to ignore it, then that becomes the foundation for reprobation. A reprobate mind is the final manifestation exhibited by a former believer who has chosen to believe a lie. Reprobation is avoidable, but once it has set in, it is difficult undo it. Here are two simple things you can do to not become a reprobate.
First, don’t justify anything that violates scripture. Sin in not acceptable under ‘certain circumstances.’ Sin is sin. Sin does not become right to appease your choices. Your own form of righteousness can lead you down the path of destruction (Proverbs 14:12; Romans 10:3). Second, listen to counsel. If you are not sure if something is right or wrong, submit yourself to seasoned elders to help you navigate through confusing times. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise (Proverbs 12:15).
Church as we know it is transitioning. Reprobation is trying to raise its ugly head to confuse this matter. Because it is avoidable, I want to sound the alarm to keep as many believers from falling into its trap.
A friend of mine wrote a great book in 1993 entitles 'A Philosophy Of Ministry.'
In it he wrote, “Each of us thinks we are objective – but that is not the case. We see our service – or objects of that service not as it is – but as we are – or are conditioned to see it. Therefore, when other people disagree with us, we immediately think they are wrong.” He then asks the question – “How can we reconcile this apparent contradiction?”
I would suggest the answer lies in embracing a Kingdom worldview with values that flow from that realm. Values help us to understand each other and increase our ability to walk in unity. What may appear to be contradictory on the surface, can be understood in the values we collectively hold. As believers, our cultural – national – family – local assembly – organizational and personal values must be subject to the values of the Kingdom.
"Every act – action – decision and decree find some basis in a value held"
It is important for us to get a general understanding of the Word of God from the culture it was originally written. There were values that existed in the first century that are totally unknown to us today. As we learn them, we can begin to see the core Kingdom Values that were understood and embraced, and understand how they are applicable to us today.
Kingdom values are timeless – because they come from a realm that is eternal and not subject to time as we know it. All other values are shaped by time but I suggest we should look to see if values are in line with the values of the Kingdom.
There are five basic values in the Kingdom of Heaven. They are:
- The Lordship of Jesus Christ – you must walk in the revelation that Jesus is the Christ – Son of the Living God – if you miss this value – all others are unnecessary
- The priesthood of all believers – From the beginning we were created to rule the earth as vice-regents of God. When you recognize that it was the Fathers intent to have a fully functioning priesthood comprised of blood washed believers – you will never be the same
- The full expression of the Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit is still at work in obedient men and women to fulfill the purposes of God in the earth. Everything He did in the first century – is available to us today.
- Strong Covenant relationships that result in spiritual and numerical growth. Everything healthy grows. God’s design is that we connect with each other to edify, exhort and comfort one another. There are over 50 ‘one another’ passages of scripture in the New Testament, as we learn how work hard to work through our differences – the Body of Christ will become stronger and more vibrant in the earth
- No one lacks among us – scripture reveals the heart of God’s people. They gave in such a way that for a time – every need was met among them. I believe that can exist today. Our heart should be to insure that every believer has everything they need to fulfill their calling, purpose and ministry work.
The Ekklesia Center is committed to teaching these values and showing belivers how to walk in them daily.
You can begin today by praying, "Lord give me a Kingdom Worldview. Let me see the world from the view of the Kingdom". As you begin to see things from a Kingdom perspective, you will see what is acceptable and what is out of alignment with heavens values. You will be more accurate in praying "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".
Commit to taking action. What you see out of alignment with kingdom values – remember you have been given the keys of the kingdom. Ask God what you need to do to bind or loose on earth the desire of heaven (Matthew 16:19).
Until next time – be blessed!
About The Author
Tim Kurtz is the Founder of The Ekklesia Center. The purpose of this blog/vlog is to explore subjects that show how the mistranslation of ekklesia to church has impacted the Body of Christ. He has served in ministry over three decades amd is the author of several books. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in SC Michigan.