For another foundation no one is able to lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).

“. . . for upon this rock I will build My church . . .” (Matt. 16:18b).

I think we all can agree that the foundation of the church is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is the basis of our “confession of faith” which is based upon the revelation Peter received. However, I believe that we have taken these statements made by Jesus and Paul and not only missed their meaning, but have also missed their application. In this article, I will attempt to clear up the confusion and misapplication about foundation.

As I see it, organized Christianity has made two huge mistakes in this area.

  1. Failing to understand the deeper meaning of Jesus Christ being the foundation of the Church
  2. Failing to lay a proper foundation of Christ before building the structures and programs

Let’s take a look at these in this same order.

The Deeper Meaning of Christ as the Foundation

What exactly does it mean to make Jesus Christ the foundation of the Church? Well, based upon what we see as we look at the history of mainstream Christianity, I would have to say the following.

The foundation of the church is based upon doctrine, teachings, and bible studies about Jesus Christ. These are usually based upon knowing Christ after the flesh. That is, learning about the man, Jesus of Nazareth, who lived two thousand years ago and walked the shore of Galilee. If we study the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), and are taught by “authorized” men who have gone through bible college and been ordained” by the Church, then we can have a foundation. The foundation is learning doctrine about Christ.

I believe this concept of the foundation to be shallow and falling way too short of the biblical meaning. In fact, Peter’s confession proves that the foundation could not be about doctrine and knowing about the earthly life of Jesus. Peter and the other disciples lived and walked with Jesus for three and a half years. It appears that they were with him at least ninety-five percent of the time during that period. But after all that, Jesus asked two questions that revealed His true heart:

Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known Me, Philip?” (John 14:9a)

“But you, who do you say that I am?”   (Matt. 16:15)

These questions reveal to us that our Lord desires to be known by us in a much deeper way than by doctrines and intellectual assimilation. Peter had walked and lived with the Lord all that time. Surely, he knew about the earthly life of Jesus. He had heard all the teachings. And yet, the Lord asks him, who am I? And what he received from the Father was a revelation, not just a teaching. Oh, please do not misunderstand me. I am not against teaching. The gospel must be preached and taught. But that in and of itself is not enough. We must all receive a personal revelation of the identity of our Lord and our identity in Him. This revelation of Christ is the foundation of the true Church.

Much of our teaching is just shallow fluff about the earthly life of Christ. But who is He really? Why did He do the things He did? What is His heart? What is His passion? What about the present living Lord? What is He doing now? Who is He in you? What is He doing in you now? How are you experiencing Him and touching Him right now?

It’s these kinds of questions that propel us into a deeper experiential knowledge of Christ. Paul, at the end of his life, said the he wanted to know Him.

To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings . . ” (Phil. 3:10)

This is the kind of foundation that Paul, as a wise master builder, laid in Corinth and in every church that he worked with. His foundation was Jesus Christ, Himself, not just a doctrine about Him. Knowing Him and touching Him intimately is the stuff the foundation is made of. A revelation of this Christ in you is extremely important.

The Cart before the Horse

First, we must understand that the Person of Jesus Christ, and knowing that Person by revelation and experience is the foundation of the church. This is the “rock” upon which He builds.

And . . .

This is the first thing to be established!

Obviously, when you go to build a house, the first thing you do is lay the foundation. Can you imagine building a house with no foundation? That would be ridiculous. And yet, that is exactly what we have done all throughout organized Christianity! We have tried to build on the sand instead of on the rock. We have not had the strong knowledge attained by personal encounter with the living Lord. Our foundation is weak or non existent and so our walls are collapsing into the sand.

We try to build the walls of our programs and structures on absolutely nothing! We try to evangelize our neighbors and yet there is no house to bring them into. Why? Because the walls all fell into the sand. No foundation! It’s like a floating arm that is trying to reach out and bring people in, but there is no body to bring them into. There is no body life because there is no foundation. We do good works by helping the poor, the handicapped, the elderly, orphans, widows, unwed mothers, etc. But these things are not done according to spirit and life because there has been no foundation laid.

If there has been no foundation of Christ laid, then we will build with wood, hay, and stubble. There will not only be a missing foundation, but the house itself will be extremely flimsy. (Remember the story of the three little pigs?)

This means that if we do not have a strong and deep foundation of Christ Himself, then we will build with the materials of the flesh. This will include our natural minds, concepts, and backgrounds. But if we have the true foundation, then we will build with gold, silver, and precious stones. The gold represents the divine life of the Father. The silver represents the redemptive work of the Son. And the precious stones represent the transforming work of the Spirit. (See I Cor. 3 for references.)

The house has a much better chance of standing up against the prevailing winds if it has a proper foundation. But the foundation must be the life and person of Jesus Christ Himself and knowing Him deeply. And the foundation must come first!

I left church about two years ago. It started before then, but I decided to give it one last college try for my wife, and I was thrown to the wayside. Pride, arrogant, disobedient. Every time my wife talked about my heart, the pastor couldn’t stop finding more things to criticize me. The final nail was stopping to see old “friends” at a former church. The cold shoulders and snubs we got felt like “the love of many have waxed cold.”
I am tired of the same old, same old. Worship based on feelings than truth, sermons made off “feel good” mentality, cliques that could care less of “nonmembers,” and service and walks that are devoid of the Holy Spirit and the fear of God. I no longer wanted to be content. I have read books and the Bible on revival and God making His holiness known, and I want to know, while the church is fine with their tents near Sodom. I want away from the Laodicean church.
Hearing people singing “I’m desperate for You,” yet, as soon as the service is over, its time to go back to normal life. I became exhausted of hearing people lift up people instead of Jesus. Lastly, going to prayer meetings that have no passion but to ask God to do what they refuse to do. Yes, I was part of this hypocrisy and I saw I needed to get out.
What is most disturbing is assemblies act they everyone must come to their church. It is more about XYZ church than Jesus and His Body. We are called to serve His will, not the churches vision apart from glorifying His Son.
I have gifts matured from another church, and they go unused in a church. They were spent more walking into friends, at an old job, wherever God called me. I am no longer interested in the adrenaline rush worship rock concerts (worship and music are now inseparable, don’t you know?), and going to services where everyone is ready to leave (if God is truly there, why are we in such a rush to go?).
The Word says if we seek God, we will find Him. There is no passion for this deep search for Him. We have been duped that the God is there and He is content with us. If there is no desire to dig deeper after God. Until I hear the fire (as Leonard Ravenhill said, you don’t need to advertise a fire), I will have to keep searching for Him until He directs us to go.

unchurchingI would like to introduce you to a new book called: Unchurching: Christianity Without Churchianity writen by a friend of mine named Richard Jacobson.

This book is one of the best offerings on the modern day church system that I have read in a long time. It’s a sticky subject for many to say the least. And I guess the million dollar question would be:

Is the “church” we see and experience all around us in our time the same church that we read about in the New Testament?

My wife and I started asking that question over thirty years ago. The only conclusion we could come up with was an absolute “NO!” What we see around us definitely is not the same as what we read about in our bibles. I think that most Christians, if they are honest with themselves, would agree with that statement. But then the next question which is begging to be answered is: “well, then what do we do about it?” And are we even supposed to do anything about it?

In this book, aptly titled Unchurching, Richard Jacobson does an excellent job at tackling these questions head-on using only the scriptures as his resource. He does so with razor sharp biblical and theological accuracy with attention to every detail. Fundamentalists, evangelicals, and charismatics alike will have a very difficult time arguing with Richard’s points made in this book.

So, if you are searching for the truth about the way we “do” church nowadays and are willing to be painfully truthful with yourself about the answers, this is the book for you! I guarantee that it will completely rock your world. And so it should! It’s way past time for God’s people to stand up, be counted, and be willing to speak the truth in love with the goal in mind that God will get the church that HE has always dreamed of!

I highly recommend you read this book today, but only if you are not afraid of the truth!

You can find out more about Unchurching and download a copy at this website:

Unchurching Book

My done with church story starts out very typical. I was raised in the Midwest. I attended church all throughout my youth. To be more specific, I was at church whenever it was open, including Sunday morning and night, Wednesday night and Men’s prayer breakfasts. I was active in youth missions and traveled around the world participating in short term mission trips.

I did rebel in college and remember questioning my religious roots. I did not want to attend church and believe just because my parents told me that was what I was supposed to do. At some point, I resided that they must know what they were talking about and that if it was good enough for them it was good enough for me.

A Hop…Skip…Jump…

I find myself a missionary in West Africa. There were glorious times and not so great periods during this adventure. Building relationships with the locals, working along side them and empowering them to teach each other things of the Lord were invaluable. Bickering with the other missionaries over agendas, finances and control were regrettable. When the tiny West African country was thrown into a civil war with constant conflict I returned my family to the USA.

As my wife and I were raising our children we took a keen interest in what they were learning in Sunday School. We combined what we were showing them at home and saw a disconnect between that and what the church was teaching them. While the children enjoyed going to church, it became clear that the entertainment and candy was what was drawing them. They did not have to bring a Bible, use critical thinking or get to learn about a living Christ. The focus was on fun and stories that happened in history but had little relevance for today.

Related to what the children were learning, there was a direct reflection of what the adults were learning in big church. The entertainment was on a professional scale with lighting, music and decorations. While the sermon was Bible based, the attendees did not need to read the Bible for themselves. This performance did not impress upon the spectators that Christ was alive today and was more than capable of speaking to each one of them without the props.

I should mention that I was on staff at this large church. Most of my time was spent teaching adult Sunday School classes and being involved with the leadership team. There certainly were good things happening in the community. But, the life of the church was very mechanical. The church was being run as a business. I was convinced I could change the church from the inside. I fought against the institution fervently. I was unable to change the direction of the machine.

I had to leave with my family to preserve and explore more of what the Lord was teaching us. It was a difficult decision, but I believe that Christ has gained more and brought us further in Him. We were definitely done with church!

Now I desire to connect those who feel like they are being called to something deeper together in community.

– Andrew

For the first 10 years of our marriage, my husband was a youth/worship/associate pastor. I grew
up in one denomination, him in another, and we began our “ministry” in one neither of us had
ever been in. We spent the next 11 years in four entirely different denominations trying to find
that secret ingredient that would produce that “more” we read in Scripture. However, we were
convinced that the secret ingredient was figuring out the right way to do church. If we could just do it right, then we would experience that more. That Life.

Finally, we left the church system entirely. We didn’t know what we were going to, we just knew
that the Lord was telling us to go out into the great unknown, and trust Him. When we stepped
out, when we left it all behind, we began to see something we never expected. The Jesus we
knew and loved began to increase. Slowly at first, leading us to finally stop asking, “how do you
want us to do church?”, and start asking, “Lord, what do you want?”

Then one weekend, together with other Saints who were asking similar questions, He answered
us. He gave us a glimpse of His Divine Purpose, His heart’s desire, and our spirits began to
burn. Something had been lit within us. This “secret ingredient” we were after was revealed.

It wasn’t a form or model, it was a Person. A glorious Person that all creation reflected, and was made for. A Person that pleased the Father completely and fulfilled all the Father’s purpose.
A Person we were now made a part of, for His increase.

We realized that weekend, that the increase of Christ was only through our continued letting go
and laying down. Sometimes it is physical things, like our jobs and where we live. More often it
is our past experiences, opinions, ideas, long held beliefs, traditions, and especially, our
expectations. It is no longer about me and my needs. It is no longer about how to do church the
right way. It is now about Christ and the Church, the One New Man.

We have spent the last five years seeing more and more of this Person, together with our
Brothers and Sisters. Growing up into Christ together, on the adventure of a lifetime (and
eternity); fulfilling our destiny as members of the New Creation, the New Kingdom, the New
Humanity. Falling more and more in love with our Lord Jesus.

– Bridget

I gave my life to Jesus at age 15 and attended a Southern Baptist IC (institutional church) during high school and by the end of senior was ready for something different as I didn’t connect with anyone there and didn’t get anything out of the messages. I attended a large state college and got involved in a interdenominational christian organization. This would prove pivotal in my life as everyone had different backgrounds and beliefs but we all loved Jesus and the Lord used this group of believers greatly to teach me humility, discipleship, and freedom in Christ.

At the time I attended a family oriented non-denominational IC. When undergrad was done (I continued for four years in grad school for mental health counseling), I thought I was to leave that group and invest more in a different church and not just attend.

So I went to a large charismatic multi-racial IC for about 5 yrs. During that time I learn various things such as hearing the Lord’s voice more clearly, the importance of knowing him vs performing for him, and so on. Unfortunately, I also learned about the consequences of what happens when one person has complete control over a congregation. The pastor was the final word on everything (it wasn’t part of a larger denomination) and what he said went. Also, the paradigm there was that church was family and just like God hated divorce, he also hated when a Christian went to two different churches within the same city. If a member thought God wanted them to attend a different institutional church, the pastor would only give his blessing if the person was actually moving to a different city and traveling would not be practical. So when some of the pastors left unexpectedly and the main pastor didn’t talk about it, it was a huge deal and lots of us left during that season because of the hypocrisy of how it was handled (if we are a family, then lets talk about the problems that our family has and not ignore them).

So then I went to another IC in town and volunteered in the kids ministry and generally had a good experience for a few years with them. I read Pagan Christianity? one summer and didn’t have a “eye-opening heavy revvy” experience with it that some people have.. I had more the mentality of “well sure I can see that, but at this point the lord uses the IC and I know I’m being used in the kids ministry, so whats the big deal?”

A year after that, I was working the night shift at my job and therefore not attending Sunday morning services. Also by this time, the small group that I had been involved with for years disbanded (amicably; there wasn’t any fight, it was just clear to us that the season for it was over) and so the only connection I had with my IC was the Wednesday night service I went to to help with the kids. I was invited by a friend of mine to go to his new church Saturday night. I had no idea it was an organic house church; I just wanted to hang with my friend as well as go to a service.

Needless to say, I was surprised when I discovered what it was. For a few months, I went to both the house church Saturday nights while still helping with the children on Wednesday nights. After 4 months of this, many other circumstances were changing with my life (I went back to school for nursing) such that it became clear I was to end the kids ministry. The kids pastor and I were friends and he gave me his blessing to leave the kids ministry.

This was the last tie I had with the IC and it was obvious to me Jesus wanted me to fully devote my energies/commitment to the organic house church. I was done with church! So that is what I did…

– Thomas

Oswald Chambers once said, “Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relying on God to choose for us.”

Several years ago, I realized that I was bothered. It bothered me that I got paid to do what I tried to inspire others to do without pay, that churches would spend big bucks on “things” but turn away people in need for lack of funds, that I kept hearing more and more about character and principles than about this Christ, and that I embraced this mentality as what God wanted of His people, His church.

In 2007, I had a cushy job on staff with a church making decent money playing my guitar, singing, reading my Bible, praying, and spending time with people. Then God said, “Move.” He flipped our world upside down. We could stay in our house and church with our friends and cushy job, or we could go on spiritually.

So, we quit the job, sold the house, and moved in with my parents. I worked for mere peanuts. I wouldn’t have chosen that as “right” for us. But Christ is more.

In 2009, He asked us to step out of institutional christianity entirely. (Not easy, by the way. Especially when He asks you to keep quiet and not defend yourself against the lies, and rumors being spread about you.) We were definitely done with church in the traditional sense. But Christ is more.

Then He asked us to move again. This time, away from family and security and across the country to strangers and uncertainty. So, in 2010, we moved from Oklahoma to Florida, breaking families’ hearts along the way.

In Florida, I was constantly asked why I moved. I finally started answering that I moved for another woman, house, family, and better body, none of which were mine.

One day, I asked Christ why He moved us to Florida. The following is the answer I received:

“To strip the seeming beauty from the idols of the earth. To show you peerless worth. To fellowship with you, so you would have nothing else to do with those idols. To draw you, win you, and fill you completely till your cup overflows the brim. To capture your heart and unveil Mine. To pour out My grace on you so that sin won’t deceive you anymore. For you to hear Me, see Me, and know Me like you never have before.”

“For what purpose, Lord?”

“So that My Bride is made ready, My House built, My Family made complete, and My Body function under My Headship.”

Dear Brother/Sister “Done”,

I know you want to go on spiritually. From experience, I can tell you that it isn’t always easy or comfortable to rely on God to choose what is right for us. But I can tell you that He will always choose His Son. And His Son is the only right there is. May you rely on Him to work in you for His purpose. Amen.

– R.C.

My disillusion with the institution began shortly after returning from the mission field in 2005. I thought it was because of my inability to re-acclimate to the American way of life. We had several supporting churches that we needed to visit. As we visited them it seemed that the disillusion was growing. The facade of the institution was beginning to crumble. I started to see things that did not seem right. The churches being run like a business along with programs and tradition dictating the life of the church. I remember one day during a service, we stood up to sing, sat down to pray, stood up to greet others, whom I really did not know, sat back down to listen to a sermon. It looked like we were all robots going through the motions of this machine. It all felt very empty and as I looked around I thought to myself what was the purpose of it all? Then, my conclusion was surly there has to be more to this than what I see. The thought of leaving it all was insane, unheard of, we were missionaries and we had so much to lose if we left.

One day, while reading Revolution by George Barna, I read something that put words to what I was experiencing inwardly, it was people weren’t leaving the church because they were disgruntled but because they wanted to preserve their faith. That’s what I wanted and it seemed as if I continued in the institution that something would be lost. This started our family’s journey out of the institution.

The next few years was a refining of this desire to preserve my faith. We tried all kinds of things that we thought would preserve our faith. In our pride, we said we’re missionaries we knew how to start churches. We tried to find out the “right way to do church” for the next 4 years.

All our efforts and attempts failed because we were focused on our need for community, spiritual needs of our kids, to have more freedom from the structure of the institution in regards to sharing and worship.

Then in 2009, I realized why I was called out of the institution, not for my needs to be met, but for the need of Christ. I was done with church for sure. I came across a book From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola. It explained the eternal purpose of God. This purpose was for his people to live by another life, divine life and not their own. Learning how to know and express Christ together so that through the church He could become the ALL in ALL.

In 2011 we sold our house and moved to be a part of a group that wanted to meet the need of God. We’ve been a part of that group for 4 years. It gloriously and painfully shattered all my expectations of church and Christ. I thought I knew what it was all about how to do church but I knew nothing, nothing all. I’ve seen and experienced “the more” but it took emptying of my way of things and my needs in order to have room for Christ, His church, and his way of doing things.

– Carrie

Let’s start simply. While at Life Center (now called Journey church) I wondered about purpose. Both the purpose of all humanity and my specific part in it. Where do you even begin with questions like this? Not to mention being narcissistically stuck in your own head and having others opinions coming at you from all sides, while keeping an open mind. How do you honestly find truth and purpose?

“God….what do you want? What is your purpose with all this? What do you have in your mind?”

I came upon a book that would eventually help me get to those questions. It is called The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I do not know Mr. Warren’s intention for writing this book, but I did not get the impression that it was for questions like these. Nevertheless, this is one of the many questions/prayers that came from the book. I am forever grateful for that book. I do not think that that book came to me out of sheer coincidence.

My friend Roger Samour gave me that book right before I moved to Tennessee for about two years. The book opened up my imagination to dream. Dream about what I wanted in this life. “If I could do anything that my heart desired when it comes to ‘ministry’, what would that be?” This, of course gave way to more and more questions. But something rather remarkable happened. At least I like to think so. Though most, I assume, would call it trivial. I began to get pictures in/from my imagination. When I read the bible I considered what life looked like with regard to context. It was amazing! Beautiful pictures of people living together, depending on one another for the simplest of things. Families, meals together, witnessing change in peoples lives as diverse as a spectrum, miracles small and overwhelmingly large. Just maybe life the way it was originally intended, if there is such an intention, which I believe there is.

“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.”  Acts 2:42-47

After moving to TN, praying and pondering these things further, I came upon another book that would prove to be a milestone in my existential rabbit hole. A book called Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola. It caught my eye while I was perusing the “christian” section of a book store. Obviously because of the provocative title. I read the introduction. I was like……YEAH!

It is a historical study of where our current protestant church practices come from. It is somewhat of a hard read unless this specific topic can hold your attention. Parts of it can still be a chore, but well worth the grind.

The Lord used this book to shake my world and turn it on itself. And that was only the beginning. A slight sting of the birth pangs to come. With regard to then and to now, that’s putting it particularly bland. I don’t want to frighten you from “the road less traveled” but it was all hard and still is.

For circumstances that I won’t go into now, I made the move back home to Russellville, AR. I was both excited and scared to share these things that I’d ventured into over the past couple of years with the people that had helped me in all my jaunts with Christ. Upon sharing a bit of these new perspectives, they were anything but welcomed. Though I don’t blame my listeners. It was my complete lack of articulation and my controlling nature that gave way to their occlusion (picture a kid not wanting to eat spinach). For that, I apologize.

Now, chewing on the idea that I have to be careful how I go about these ideas and to whom I disclose them to, I continued down stream with the status quo and kept my mouth shut, stabbing ideas wherever I could. I continued to study the bible and other books by other authors on the same types of subject matter, trying to soak it all in, praying all the way. Further and further down the rabbit hole I started to see inconsistencies with the life around me and what I was reading in the Word. Eventually my conscience got too substantial to bare, and I left the institutional church never to return in the same capacity. Done with church forever!  It was a hard decision, but an important one. It has made all the difference.

Wesley – Nashville, TN

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