How fake is your church?

Posted: June 10, 2010 in ecclesia
Tags: , , ,

I have been out of the institutional church system in America for a few years now.   When I am exposed to it now, I am just startled at HOW COMPLETELY FAKE most of it is.  It is like a hollywood production where the scenes are staged and fake, not like a home movie that you would take of your family that is real. What hurts most is to know that there are actually true brethren (even elders) in there and they do not know better than to carry on these empty traditions.  I am not talking about apostate mega churches or anything here either.   I am speaking of Churches that preach the true Gospel in regards to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, where the Holy Spirit convicts to some measure of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come.  I think this might have been what it was like when the Roman church was established in apostacy, there were still true brethren in there because the apostasy had not fully manifested yet.  Likewise some evangelical denominational Churches and indepentant local Churches, however leavened with Nicolatian and Roman Catholic practice, are not there yet. 

Why would true children of God want to spend their hour of “fellowship” once a week staring at the back of someone elses head anyway?  How can you bring your gift and be a family that way?  What kind of family is that anyway?  Maybe if your gift is spotting the early stages of dandruff you could exhort the brother who warms the pew in front of you to buy a bottle of special shampoo?  The more I think about this, the more it upsets me to know there are plenty of true saints in bondage to such empty tradition.  They must be in  bondage to tradition and just dont know any better.  I can think of plenty of times that was true in my life and am thankful for those who helped me to see the truth.

  1. Marshall says:

    hold up your horses there a bit, partner…
    There may be “plenty of true saints in bondage to such empty tradition.”, while many have long since pulled out from beneath a pulpit or steeple.
    Some folks are VERY good at the wearing of a “Christianity” mask, at least to put on once or twice a week; even “elders” and teachers do this, complete with humility, gentleness, some sound doctrine and good works. However, these are also of another mind: a double-mind. Want to check and be sure? Just go and visit at their house (or have them come to yours) for 2 weeks or more steady. If it’s just a mask, several days together will crack it. If it’s not fake, you may together draw a tear to at last say “good-bye”.
    If you ever should go back there again, pick up in advance a few sample bottles of dandruff shampoo to hand out prn, and may the Light of Christ shine ever brightly in/through you!

  2. ketch22 says:

    Our “institutional” Church is anything but fake. We are getting quite large, however, nothing is fake. The institutional Church by its very nature is not fake… although I will agree that there are some that are.

    We recently left a home church plant in our area after attending for over 2 years. There was no growth, very few seeds planted bringing others to Christ, and very little money to do much good out in the community. We went on a mission to Mexico to an orphanage, and that was the highlight of the church plant’s mission work. The people were definitely committed to Christ and the fellow ship was great.

    The Church I attend now (institutional) has a great program for our children and we hear an educational as well as worshipful message from our pastor. We are encouraged to be a part of anchor groups, which we are part of 2 each week. The worship part of the service is far from “fake” and the Holy Spirit moves within.

    I find that you judge others outside your preferences alot, but not outside God’s. I understand that you prefer your type of Church, but it doesn’t make others’ wrong… just not your cup of tea.

    • fleebabylon says:

      Ketch – I know that a dead house church is no better then a dead institution. That is not the point of my post. Why not seek to have an on fire Church that also meets and functions in more of a new testament and less of a roman catholic way though. I guess for me it is about being the Church with the other brethren.

      I would also caution you that a soulish atmosphere that excites the emotions can often mimic the presence of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying this is your case, but would warn you this is rampant in modern christendom.

  3. ian vincent says:

    Re: “I have been out of the institutional church system in America for a few years now. When I am exposed to it now, I am just startled at HOW COMPLETELY FAKE most of it is. It is like a hollywood production where the scenes are staged and fake, not like a home movie that you would take of your family that is real. ”

    I’ve walked the same road, Jim. Last regularly attended an institutional church in 1990. Been meeting in homes ever since. Yes, it’s not real. Real friends and family don’t relate to each other playing out the ‘role playing’ games. But the majority of Christians prefer it that way. They feel comfortable with the predictability and the anonymity. And, like going to the cinema, its an escape from reality. Most people like it that way. Very few want any real relationship, and to trust in the leading of of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know why it’s that way.

    The answer: live out the authentic Christian life in contact with believers still in the IC. Show them Jesus Way.

  4. ian vincent says:

    When i first went to the IC i didn’t think it was fake. I was a worship leader for 2 yrs in the AOG, i knew all the jargon and role-playing. Until the LORD opened my eyes to see the reality, which is a process.

    I spent some time in the US years ago. I think most American Christians are so accustomed to plastic and phony that they don’t realize it. As Jesus said to the Laodicean church, you’re naked and don’t know you are.

    On “attending” a church: How could you “attend” your wife and children? Don’t like them? find another one? Aren’t you one? When we have real relationship in Christ then there’s no such thing as “preferences of worship” or “attending”.

    Flesh begets flesh, ignorance more ignorance.

  5. ian vincent says:

    I began to question how the IC functions when i spent more and more time in the NT. I saw 2 contrasting paradigms of church.

    Then a thinking person will grapple with the issue of spiritual authority.

    That when a person/s abandon Scripture as the authority that is bcos they have no authority : reveals they are spiritually bankrupt.

    If we’re talking about the CEO of a church: whatever authority he appears to have it is not from God. It is only bcos naive Christians have given him that authority.

    The early church did not believe in such. They did not recognize such an ‘authority’.

    • fleebabylon says:

      I agree the local Church should be an upside down pyramid with the elders on bottom, humbeling serving to build up the others around them. Their role is one of humble servanthood by living among the brethren as an example, watching out for their weaker brethren, and laboring in the word.

      To bad the modern evangelical Church looks more like a right side up corporate pyramid with the sr pastor on top, then the other pastors beneath, etc. That may be the roman catholic model, but it is not the model the Lord set forthe.

  6. ian vincent says:

    sorry to keep posting…………

    i was thinking about this yesterday:

    show me one famous preacher/pastor today who did not get where they are by vigorously promoting themselves and by their own ambition.

    were talking different paradigms of church and christianity

    • fleebabylon says:

      I think there are some rare cases where there are famous people (depending on what you mean by famous) that the Lord has exalted in various places and times through no selfish ambition. Usually when you hear these peoples testimonies they are marred with great suffering that the Lord uses to keep them from falling into such ambition.

      • ian vincent says:

        Hi Jim, I said “today”. I think this generation is far worse than previous. But if you can name one famous person today who lives like the Apostles (same ethics and morals) i would like to know about them.

      • fleebabylon says:

        sorry Ian, I missed the “today”! I was thinking about someone like brother Leonard Ravenhill. I dont think he became famous (if you can call him that) because of a self ambition. At least not from what I can tell. Some in the revival crowd may lift him on a pedestal but I didnt sense that from listening to or reading him.

  7. Mark says:

    “When we have real relationship in Christ then there’s no such thing as “preferences of worship” or “attending”.”

    Exactly… so I find it hypocritical that all the posts here except mine point to a preference for worship. If you read my post… I worshipped at the house church and left, not because of the worship “style” but rather I wanted a church that did more than “meet”. I wanted a church that served others towards the Lord… and that is exactly what the Church I “attend” does.

    However, your article and like-minded responses are dismissing this way of worship and then you say there are no preferences of worship when you have a real relationship with Christ. I can tell you… my relationship is real… no doubt about it to me and my family and friends, and it has nothing to do with the church we attend, however, the church we attend does alot in keeping us grounded in the Lord and serving our community of believers and non-believers alike.

    • fleebabylon says:


      You would think it is goofy if I went to Church (like going to family??) by dressing in a clown suit, headphones, and a scuba mask, while swimming in a giant wave pool while an elder dressed as a superhero lectured me over transistor radio for half an hour.

      I think it is goofy to sit in a pew, look at the back of peoples heads, and listen to a guy dressed up in a suit lecture me in a manner that says “we are certainly NOT all brethren… I am CLERGY you are LAITY”. Sadly many Godly men go along with this because it is all they see and know.

      • ketch22 says:

        flee –

        I agree with you 100%. I would think that the clown suit would be goofy… however, the suit is tired. I would certainly not attend a church with the stuffy crowd of suit wearers. “Come as you are”. We don’t look at the backs of peoples heads, we are focused on the God-inspired message being delivered… the incredible worship music that is fitting for our Lord as David would have done… and it is not about the elders and the clergy… it is about Christ.

        Come… watch a sermon of ours… especially our last one at

        and know that our pastor is not about himself but about Jesus and serving. And the term “laity”? You must not have attended Church since the 70’s… nobody even thinks that way anymore… at least not in the Church’s I am familiar with. Clergy as well. It is simply brothers and sisters in Christ… our pastor doesn’t even like to be called pastor, but rather brother.

      • fleebabylon says:

        Greg- can you point out something specific or expound on why you feel that way?

  8. ian vincent says:

    Re: ““we are certainly NOT all brethren… I am CLERGY you are LAITY”. ”
    You hit the nail on the head, Jim. You can smell that spirit a mile off. They are simply capitalizing on peoples ignorance.

    On “preferences” : there are none: the LORD thru His Apostles spelled out God’s order for the church. Read 1 Cor 14, as an example.

  9. ketch22 says:

    If it smells fishy, it is probably a fish.

    I was in a house church with God loving brothers and sisters for over 2 years. I loved the fellowship and I loved being close to Christ with like minded believers. However, I grew tired of hearing, as I am hearing now, that their way was the correct way of worship and all others were mis-guided.

    I have been in an “institutional” church for about 7 months now. And as a strong believer I see a huge difference. We don’t criticize other worship or Church styles of the true believer. If you believe that the house Church meets your needs as a Christian and you are able to have a good relationship with Christ via the house, than by all means keep doing that. But if your relationship with Christ is growing by leaps and bounds at the institutional Church via worhsip service and the anchor groups and the missions to Africa and the retreats and the homeless shelter and all the things that our Church is able to do for the community through Christ… then keep with it.

    I don’t usually put myself or my wife on a pedastal because it is not about us, but about God, but because my Church is all about orphans and widows and serving… since joining, we are in the process of adopting three beautiful children. Two twin boys through foster – adopt and a beautiful mixed race girl via straight adoption. This is what the Lord has inspired us to do through our Pastor and through our anchor groups. Now there are families that we have come in contact with who are also adopting in country and one in Ethiopia.

    Your idea of “institutional” church is both dated and/or generalized. I am sure there are churches out there that fit your idea of “bad” and follow the RCC model… but that is not because they are in a big building with a cross at the top and stained glass windows… that is because the people are CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only) Christians. I have the gift of discernment and I can tell you there is bad in every model, but the house church is not the Church of the Bible and neither is the Church I attend. It has changed and adapted with culture and society. God doesn’t change, but we do. Nothing wrong with a simulcast or an online sermon when you can’t make it to Church because your kids are sick… they didn’t have that in 70 AD, but it is applicable now.

    • fleebabylon says:


      You act like I am coming against your church, when I have never even been to it. You even said what I am describing is not your church… so dont be so defensive then. I will say that the suits and Roman Catholic (unbiblical) style service is still VERY much the norm in America. Sadly those that adopt to more of a house church style or you church style are often apostate seeker sensitive or emergent types. So please dont think I am saying house church solves all of lifes problems either I know it is full of leaven too.

  10. ian vincent says:

    Just to add, just bcos i’m pro a Biblical church, it doesn’t mean i consider institutional churches my enemy, unless they preach and teach a false gospel. Unfortunately, many in the IC think we’re against them. Not so. Bcos we desire God’s best it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate them.

    In the big picture, im glad for the witness of those ICs which preach the gospel, as Paul rejoiced that the gospel was preached, even by people with wrong motives.

    • fleebabylon says:

      Ian – I feel the same way and on my main website you will see that some of the messages are given by elders/pastors of IC’s. Carter Conlon and David Wilkerson are two of them. Those messages were used of the Lord to change me greatly and I would not speak against Godly men in the IC. I will say that the structure is based more on Roman Catholicism then it is on the word of God though. I still see a big difference between apostate babylon (most of the IC) and Godly institutional Churches that are simply entangled in traditions that keep the body of Christ from growing and operating in its fullest.

  11. Mark says:

    Thank you for clarifying… I would agree with flee and Ian’s last statements.

    There was a perfectly practical reason for the early church to meet in homes. Where else would they meet? There were no church buildings, YMCA’s, grammar schools, or movie theaters that could hold large groups. Further, even if there was room somewhere, during this time of persecution by the Romans, a public gathering of hundreds or thousands of people would simply not be safe. Thus, it might not have been by design that the early church met in small groups. It is even possible that they would have preferred large meetings (as Jews would have been accustomed to), but they simply could not manage it. So we should also not think that home churches are any more “spiritual” than large churches.

    Also, home churches that are started in an effort to counter “the institutional church” could be questionable. While often listing the above reasons to more closely align with the biblical model, the real reason often seems to be displeasure with large church movements. While these complaints are often valid, it can lead to an egalitarian, “us vs. them” mentality that should be avoided.

  12. Marshall says:

    “home churches that are started in an effort to counter ‘the institutional church'” do not live long by this. Who would grandfather a “complaint committee”?
    There are small ekklesia (house/organic/simple) today who sometimes gather in abandoned institutional buildings. More broadly, it’s not about the “house” per se, but that we recognize the temple’s home (these flesh bodies) and our Head: Christ. In this, the institutional remains structurally handicapped, as legacy church does not fully acknowledge its weekly function has been assembled by men with “plug-ins” (so-called “parachurch”) and programs and polity borrowed from grace-incompatible systems & beliefs of men or daemons — and this spanning 17+ centuries. The “frog” has long been in the boiling pot.
    During my volitional years inside the machine of IC, a revelation would sometimes quietly come to leaders in how we were not the church Jesus and Paul described. Our common defense? We would rationalize with attendance numbers, the “good works” we accomplished as “a church”, and in how we brought a true gospel. Turns out that whipping up or pacifying down a crowd is of no particular indicator; our “good works” around the world were in fact lending more help to the kingdom of darkness; our “gospel” so heavily watered-down as not even homeopathic.
    It is the Spirit of God who awakens whomever should come out of systematic religion. Those who leave on their hurt or complaint would be wise to skip house church — small is more intense, painful & humbling still because, if it’s real, there’ll be nowhere to hide in “anonymity”. beware: Jesus Christ in His Presence will make your senior pastor look like a pre-teen babysitter.

  13. ian vincent says:

    There is little or no evidence of purpose-built church buildings for the first 3 centuries of the church, and that’s as long as there has been an America.

    And, the advent of church buildings, and apostasy, seemed to be in tandem.

    Why take 2-300 years to get around to building ‘a church’? Its bcos the Apostles had a reason NOT to do it. Not bcos they couldn’t afford it or that persecution stopped it.

    There’s a fundamental reason why they are problematic: The true church is a set of relationships in Christ. Building a church building changes that, and a certain group of people “own” “the church” : see the subtle shift? “The church” is now centered around who owns, or controls, the building, so the building itself, and the committee which owns it, becomes “the church”.

    (ironically, similar to Marxist theory: who owns the capital controls the people.)

    “The committee” or registered society which is formed to legally manage the building then becomes subject to the civil authorities ….. ??? See the problem?

    And, “the committee” becomes a political entity, and not under Christ’s headship at all. (either a committee, or a dictatorship: one man business)

    If they had registered themselves with the Roman Empire as just another religion (in a polytheistic society) and come under their authority then the persecution would have stopped.

    Under the Apostles tenure this couldn’t have happened.

    There’s many more reasons why they didn’t build church buildings, but i think this is the foundational reason.

  14. ian vincent says:

    P.S. How do i know that Christians would have been allowed to “worship” in their own buildings if they had bowed the knee to Rome? Bcos the Romans allowed the Jews to do exactly that, and gave them complete freedom of worship, just so long as they submitted to Rome.

  15. ian vincent says:

    I echo what Marshall wrote. Spot on!


    Another factor concerning the incorporating of “a church” (rather than relational church) is that the thing takes on a ‘life’ of it’s own. As Marshall said, it becomes a machine. It can function without the Holy Spirit. In fact the Holy Spirit is the main obstacle in its way.

  16. Molly says:

    I think you might find the book The Gathering by Ray Barnett to be an interesting and informative read. It focuses on bible-based worship modelled after Jesus and the first century Christians. I think the questions are, what pleases the Creator? and How can my worship best please Him? This book sheds much light on those topics, and doesn’t pull any punches. I highly recommend it and blessings to all.

  17. Mark Ketchum says:

    Church is not a destination but rather a connecting point… to worship our Lord and to be then sent out. Our connection groups or home churches are one way to stay connected throughout the week with small groups of like-minded believers to stay accountable.

    The large church building serves a great purpose in God’s Kingdom… one way is to serve as a place for those who are seeking a church to find one easily… as opposed to going door to door and asking if a church is happening there. Another way is to impact the community in a greater way than a small house church or a group of house churches can do alone… they should all be connected to a bigger group, I believe.

  18. I’ve finished pretending that what labels itself Christians in America is actually biblical. And what’s more, its getting worse. Now its just about hunkering down and waiting for the fire from heaven to fall on a nation that has turned its back on God and/or simply invented one they liked more than the real one.

    Great analysis by the blog author. The endless empty ritual of evangelicalism is dying a miserable death complete with ever greater pleas to an ever more disinterested congregation.

    To say I am burned out in church is an under statement. I have been burned to ash by “church” and blown away by the wind, but even though I love Jesus with all my heart and care what His word really says, the church acts as if I simply don’t exist because I won’t play the games they wrongly associate with religion.

    The whoring American church will eventually become entirely corrupted.

    Good for you, and blessed are you that you see this clearly. Fake is as fake does.

    • fleebabylon says:


      I can relate to so much you write brother.

      “Now its just about hunkering down and waiting for the fire from heaven to fall on a nation that has turned its back on God and/or simply invented one they liked more than the real one.”

      For sure brother, but I was recently convicted by this because I started having the same attitude that Jonah and the disciples who called down fire from heaven did! I am not saying this about you (since I don’t know you!) just a general encouragement to keep reaching out in love to those trapped in the system as we have opportunity. In one sense the worse it gets, the easier it will be for true saints to see it for what it is.

      “Fake is as fake does.”

      Interactive religious theater, americas favorite past time…

      God bless you Larry -Jim

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