Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Churchianity has Failed

Churchianity has Failed!

By Dene McGriff

Deception is the rule in the last days. Anyone who stays in the institutional church stays at their own peril. The Western church is compromised beyond recognition. The time has come to get out and get real.

The organized church has failed! It is dead! It does not resemble in the slightest the corporate body life and living community of believers seen in the Book of Acts. I have been repeating this for I don’t know how many decades. If I hadn’t experienced a non-institutional, free flowing church life years ago I would totally despair, but I know it is possible because I experienced it over a ten year period. We had large meeting and small. Every member participated. Leadership was there just to keep it on track. You truly appreciated the portion each member had to contribute.

I spent the last forty years trying to find it again and have become more and more convinced that the thing we pass as “church” today would not be recognized by Jesus Christ. We tried meeting in homes, halls and store fronts and never came close. The idea of “body life” is completely foreign to Christians today. They are too caught up in the performance and the “message” to realize that the body life is where all have fresh, living experience of the Lord in their lives and something to share as a result.

The Jesus Movement churches began as a protest against the established church which had become irrelevant. But gradually the movement lost its fire and participatory nature and became institutionalized – lifeless – as signs and wonder seeking Vineyards or music and teaching-driven Calvary Chapels, or purpose-driven modern marketing and entertainment marvels passed as “centers of worship.” We’ve gone from seeking to emergent, from Christian to post-Christian, from organic to organized. The church remains nothing more than an empty shell. Outwardly, it appears alive, singing, engaged and happy, but inside “Christian” robots go through the same motions week after week, the same greetings, same songs, same sermons, same, same, same…. are pagans getting saved, or is it all just “transfer growth” … believers going from church to church, ever seeking or “ever shopping” but never coming into the reality of real church life, real community.

I am not saying that there aren’t some born-again believers in those sterile buildings with a little spark of life in them. I’m not saying that God isn’t working in His people, but I am saying the average saint is on life support. The pastor is exhausted as he tries to give spiritual CPR to his congregation week after week. The worship group tries to lift the peoples’ spirits but for those who have been through it for decade after decade you realize the monotony of it all. Many “Christians” live in lonely quiet desperation with little joy in their lives and little relationship with the Lord or with their brothers and sisters in Christ other than their weekly worship gathering called “church.” Church growth and its movements are a hoax!

Do you think Jesus is pleased with our churches? Does He appreciate the sermon? The worship team? The programs? Or is He having a Laodicean moment wanting to vomit up a bunch of lukewarm people who come to listen to the same old messages once a week so they can hurry back to their real life of work, soccer and TV?


When it comes to the “end times” there are two types of Christians: Fallen (apostate) Christians who once had a relationship with the Lord but lost it along the way and real Christians who are not invested in the world, religion or churchianty but in the Lord and in living communities of believers. There is the self-absorbed, spiritually stunted, apostate Christian who will be a persecutor of the true church and there is the persecuted – those who stand against the tide and in the simplicity of total commitment to Jesus and one another.

We talk about the glorious church, the bride prepared for the bridegroom. We talk about those people so in love with the Lord that they are willing to lay down their lives for Him and for one another in the face of the greatest tribulation the world has ever seen. Matthew 24:9, 21 describes it:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake…For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

So who will the good “church going” Christians be? The ones being delivered up or the ones delivering those who have rejected “churchianity”? Where is the Christian who “overcomes by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony and loves not his life unto death?” (Revelation 12:11) Where is the saint who is willing to lose all, including his life for the Lord who gave them His? For every one of those, I’ll show you 99 who are anticipating the rapture – the great escape.

So where is the real church? Probably in Asia or Africa where persecution of Christians is common. But here in “mega-church land” in the good old USA, the “church” is totally accepted by society, culture and politics except for the “radical” fundamental fringe (pro-family, pro-life, etc.). The radical fundamentalist element is less concerned with spiritual things and more concerned with changing society back to the way it was. They see political involvement as the way to do that. The Western Church has a stake in the world and world improvement like never before. They see schools falling apart, liberals taking control of the economy, health care and everything else. They see the moral slide and want to turn the clock back. There is a clash between the hardcore religionist and the liberal but does that have anything to do with the real church or eternity?


Today’s church is less concerned with the gospel than with keeping hearth and home together, having a lot of church activities and programs. I recently was at a mega church in Southern California and couldn’t believe the activities – several every single night of the week for every age and interest group. The church campus is like a small town with people bustling all over the place. It is near military bases so they were big on the American flag and honoring veterans. This is not to say that these aren’t wonderful people but their commitment is passive – sitting and enjoying the worship group, the sermon, the programs, etc. just as in most churches in America.

I must give it credit for one thing. I heard two messages on end times’ prophecy which is very unusual, but the keystone of it all was the pre-tribulation rapture or what I call the “great escape.” The pastor’s proofs were flimsy at best – I’m not going into that issue here because we have covered it extensively elsewhere. Their glorious hope was not to stand and testify but to escape and return with the Lord at the end of the tribulation – that way, they stay utterly invested in the things of this life, a sort of having your cake and eating it too mindset. Not only is the pastor giving people a false hope but a false teaching as well.

The idea that the Lord can’t allow the church to suffer (mistakenly, they mix God’s wrath with the tribulation period known as Daniel’s 70th Week) is not only cowardly, but an affront to all the martyrs gone before and those who consider it an honor to give their life for Him. Tell me, what gives them the “privilege” to “reign with Him” when they have not “suffered with Him?” Outside of the Western Church and its missionary influences (especially, evangelical ones) a pre-tribulational rapture of the Church is almost non-existent – especially in China and among suffering and impoverished believers!

As I said, we have dealt with the pre-trib rapture issue extensively but the fact that the Laodicean lukewarm church of the western world has come up with such an escapist rationalization is a travesty and shame to all who name the name of Jesus. It is emblematic of the worldly, lukewarm, compromised church of today. The idea that “tribulation saints” (those who get “saved” after the rapture of Christians) will become a prevailing witness (along with 144,000 Jewish evangelists that somehow bring them to Messiah) goes against the very nature of God’s work in us. The transforming, growing and maturing process takes time and the labor of each person in his own relationship with the Lord. The building up of the saints together takes time as well.

If God during the coming of Jesus was able to transition His work between “two peoples” (Jew and Gentile) at the beginning of the Church Age, then surely He can work with two peoples at the close of the Church Age – and in point of fact He has by regathering unbelieving Israel (the “Valley of Dry Bones”) since the birth of Zionism until now and the Church is still here! The Church is chosen as a witness to “principalities and powers in high places” – Israel has been regathered to be a witness to “gentile world powers” – the one, to the “heavens” and the other “to the earth” and both to the glory of God. The theological fact that God is working with two peoples at the same time baffles the hard-line dispensationalist, but liberates the Church to wholly participate in the greatest harvest the world has ever witnessed, while the full preparation of Israel awaits her Messiah.

What God wants and needs in the last days is a people who know Him, who express His life and love to the world through a family of believers. This can’t be organized, jammed into programs, or made pretty with music and fancy sermons. God is either real to these people or He isn’t and you can’t fake it! You can’t be a testimony of the life of Christ working in you and be compromised with the world.

The Western Church is fake, empty and dead (not to denigrate God’s work in some people) because the “Church” I speak of is nothing more than a meeting centered on music and a sermon, and its “community” is measured by the number of programs and activities offered. This is in sharp contrast to what the church should be – every believer with a living relationship with Jesus, an out-flowing of gifts and ministry, each member functioning, each living and active. There is no one-man show, no sermon, no order of worship and no musical performance. There are only the saints interacting with one another as directed and led by the Holy Spirit, sharing the gospel as a community in real love. Jesus is coming back for His Body, not just a mouth or vocal chords. He wants a living corporate entity where every member supplies life to the other. (Ephesians 4:16)

I don’t care how good the sermon is, how eloquent the speaker, how touching his stories, how persuasive he may be – the sermon has become an abomination to the body of Christ. It supplants the life and responsibility of each saint to minister to the Lord and one another. Spontaneous music can release the saints in worship, but moving from one highly choreographed and well played musical number is 90 percent performance. A meeting under the Holy Spirit’s leading is not planned and rehearsed the previous week. All the saints should be free to participate at any moment. I deal with the meeting in the latter chapters of Recognizing Apostasy and Deception. I am not talking about a home meeting per se – what I am talking about is a community of believers whose love and commitment to one another and to sharing His gospel is a “way of life” – not a performance!

Most churches exist for their members. There is really no outreach, no new people coming in, maybe some “sheep stealing” – members being ripped off from other churches – trading places but little net growth. Then there are some churches that are totally committed to new growth as if the only purpose for the church were evangelism (not many, trust me). Churches are something people go to, but not what they are. People are so spread out, it is impossible to go door to door fellowshipping. Instead, you drive suburb to suburb and meet in a “church” building.

Somewhere in this whole mess, we miss the purpose of the church – a people called out of the world to be holy to the Lord. The gospel is only one aspect of it, but the growth of each member and the corporate testimony to the world is what God really wants. When saints are together, they express the life and love of the Lord to the world which is drawn by what they see—not just what they hear from a single preacher. (Colossians 3:15-17). Please read Ephesians 2-4 and you will see that God doesn’t want a few spiritual giants but a corporate body (Eph. 3:8-10) that is full of the unsearchable riches of Christ and is a testimony not only to the world but the heavenly principalities and powers. God’s eternal purpose is not just the gospel but a living testimony of His transforming life in people. The true gospel of Jesus Christ results in a dynamic and living relationship we call the Body of Christ. Both go hand-in-hand, incessantly and in full cooperation with the goal of the gospel the Bride and Body of Christ.

Where did we get this notion that the “blessed hope” and the “glorious coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” is somehow rephrased into the “glorious cop out?” I’m looking at the “signs of the time” and Antichrist’s presence on the world scene is surely one of them – but then our critics go on to say that we’re, therefore, looking for the coming of Antichrist and not Jesus Christ? That’s utterly ludicrous – Jesus warned us that “many antichrists” and “false prophets” would abound and the “love of many would grow cold” – THEN shall the end come (Matthew 24). Was Christ telling folks to look for antichrists and not His Second Coming? Nonsense! Jesus surely was warning us – and telling us that there would be great tribulation, along with brother betraying brother, and even “doctrines of demons” and a whole bunch of negativity, etc., as I said at the beginning of this article. Brethren, don’t take away my Blessed Hope – and that Blessed Hope (the only thing positively going on around here) has nothing to do with a secret cop out – it has everything to do with Jesus Christ Himself and being a vibrant Spirit-filled and energized Church of the Last Days awaiting her Lord!


Dispensationalists say that in the last days the church is raptured at the beginning of the tribulation and now the job of evangelism (as if that is all there was to God’s plan) falls on those Jews who are left behind who get saved and empowered (somehow – now that the Church and apparently the Holy Spirit is gone). They finish the job in 7 years – a time frame the church failed to do in 2,000 years! What is wrong with that picture? God has never forsaken His physical people, the Jews, and His covenant with them is eternal. But by removing the Church, he has removed His spiritual testimony from the earth. This just doesn’t make biblical sense on several levels.

1. Redemption is instant but salvation is a life process. It seems very unlikely that a brand new Christian would have the maturity and growth in life to handle the greatest tribulation the world has ever seen.

2. Isn’t a new Christian after the rapture still part of the “church?” And if the church shouldn’t be allowed to suffer why not zap them out as soon as they are saved? Partial rapture would make the church at a pre-trib rapture in the heavens and then the rest of the one Body, the church, still here on the planet – Jesus is not a polygamist!

3. What is so special about me that I may have gotten saved the day before the rapture? I go and my best friend doesn’t because he waited a day?

4. Please see the first three chapters in the book “In Search of Mystery Babylon.” The timing is clear and straightforward. The rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation and before the judgments (or see Doug Krieger’s Israel’s Prophetic Witness and Jesus Christ Does the Work of Antichrist?).

5. Also – “If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2:12) (The Suffering Church – Please Link)

So where am I going with this? I’m not going to go into all of the statistics about the moral failure, rates of crime, divorce, child abuse, etc., in the church versus society as a whole. I’m just saying that we are the most compromised, distracted generation ever to inhabit the earth. We carry around a computer in our pocket more powerful than we could have even imagined 10 or 20 years ago. We can talk to anyone anywhere in the world, access data, movies, songs, TV programs, games and twitter and tweet our lives away.

Meanwhile, we are about as aware of the moral decline in our society as the frog in a heating pot of water. But the slide is inexorable. Churches are dumbing down, becoming irrelevant, making “the gospel” attractive to everyone, entertaining all. There is only one thing that will shake Christians out of their lethargy and lukewarmness and that is a good dose of tribulation. Most will be deceived and go along with the flow, along with the most deceptive and lying government the world has ever seen – where black is white and white is black, where fear is hyped up so people will bow to ever increasing control, eventually rounding up all dissenters in the name of God and country.

Listen up – when health care is nationalized – we’ll be talking in America how in the past two years 50% of our entire economy has been taken over by Big Brother – and you voted for it!! (The Critical Unraveling of US Society).

The economy will melt down. The dollar will become worthless. People will be forced together – four families in a four bedroom house. They will pool their resources. There will be few jobs. Energy prices will sky rocket and cars will sit and rust. Transport will break down. Store shelves will be empty. There will be riots, disease, famine and martial law. Call me an alarmist? Tell that to the 25 million Americans out of work!

Out of this caldron of chaos will emerge a people who are not daunted by the hardship, not dismayed, not shaken but a hopeful, loving people who will pour out what they have to help others. Their lives, their attitudes and their strengths will draw people in. Why are you so different, they will ask? Because we know Jesus. We have hope. He is coming back soon. No matter how bad things seem, He is Lord and He is in control. People will marvel at these little communities of believers. If you make it out “ahead of time” – then praise God, make room for the host who will finally get fed up with the traditional baloney we call Churchianity today!

The religious establishment will be greatly offended by these so-called Christians who seem to answer to none who neither support nor fight the powerful government they support. And eventually, they will become so enraged they will come for them and deliver them up for judgment and throw them in prison. Many of the people watching this will wonder why these people are going without a fight, as they are led like lambs to the slaughter and they will learn of their hope, and their strength – Jesus, the one about to return.

Christians in China, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and throughout Africa are already paying the ultimate price. The Western Church is so accepted and ingrained in the culture and politics, those who remain within will become a part of the great deception. The apostate church will turn against those who abandon the old wineskin which demands their allegiance, support for the one world government, the new morality and all.

Hitler did not come to power as a sinner but as a saint, on a strong moral platform with the full support of the organized churches. He was against the loose living, the Cabaret Society, the immorality of the ‘20s. The Antichrist will not be new age, and immoral as many expect but he will have the full support of the organized church (Revelation 17 – The Woman Riding the Beast – see: Recognizing Apostasy). He will also support Israel. Only at the midpoint of the Tribulation, does the Antichrist turn against Israel and the church.


In this new era of liberality where we are afraid to offend anyone, we tend to let doctrinal issues slide. We separate issues that are essential and those that are non-essential to the faith. So let’s consider your end times’ view. Does it really matter when the rapture occurs? Does it matter what nation is prophetic Babylon, who the antichrist is, etc.? In terms of your eternal salvation, it has nothing to do with it. But, if we are in the last days, and I believe we are, your view of the end times will determine what you do or don’t do. What you believe, what you have been taught and hold dear determines how you will act and whether or not you will be deceived. The Christian expecting to rapture before the tribulation, who believes the US will decline so the antichrist can arise from somewhere else in the world, who thinks America is a “true” friend of Israel, who thinks America stands for truth and justice and is chosen to be a light on the hill – these people could well find themselves on the wrong side when the time comes.

If we feel that it doesn’t matter and that God will sort it all out, we will find ourselves influenced by those around us and slowly brain washed to the traditional way of thinking. Believe me, it is not easy to take the stand we do. We are often met with unbelief, derision and contempt. Do you think most Christians will readily accept the fact that they are not the on fire Christian they think they are but worldly lukewarm and babies still on milk? Do you think they will easily abandon the safe teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture? Do you think they could ever consider that America may not be that friend of Israel, that savior nation bringing peace to the world?

You may say, “All my best friends are pre-trib.” That doesn’t mean you have to leave them, but you do need to understand the importance of truth versus relationships. It is no accident that Jesus said, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33) Unfortunately, relationships are a powerful force, especially in this society it is very easy to let a relationship trump truth. See Matthew 10:34-36 and it explains the severity of the problem. God has given us His prophetic word to warn us. Do we really expect many to heed His warning?

Christians expect to rapture, to see the Antichrist come out of Europe or the Middle East, to be a New Age Universalist. Yet, he looks and sounds like a Christian. Only then can he deceive Christians. Whoops, and you say Christians can’t be deceived – that’s deception in and of itself! We have dealt with these subjects over and over again proving from the Word that the Antichrist comes from the greatest apostate “Christian”, economic/consuming nation, the number one military power and friend of Israel. That only describes one nation. The key feature of the last days is deception.

If Christians stay in the old wineskin (the established church) they will be deceived. They will slowly but surely be influenced by it. If a person listens to the institutional church teachings week after week, year after year, they will believe them and have their minds enlightened by the truth. Few listen to our arguments. They are brain washed – gleefully and unconsciously so! They blindly trust their leadership and their experts.

It has been said that “people don’t change institutions but institutions change people.” Once introduced to an idea people don’t easily change their minds and hearts. Once taught, especially by “Christian” leaders they trust and respect, they seldom change. After 15 years I have had many people write in and no one has ever said, “thanks for something new. I never saw that before.” Instead they all say our writings confirmed what the Lord was already showing them. It takes a revelation to understand salvation, to know Jesus, to understand the Bible and prophecy. Scripture is inspired and it takes inspiration to understand it. Instead of taking a fresh look at prophecy in the light of the times, the same old teachings are passed on from generation to generation without much question.

Ninety five percent of prophetic teaching today is pure deception. The old wineskin of the clergy/laity, the worship group performance, the sermon and all the programs in the world, will never produce a mature, interconnected living body of believers but babies dependent on their weekly pabulum. Knowing one another “after the Spirit” and not “after the flesh” is so refreshing – man, it’s the Body of Christ in action, not dead religion.

If you think this is a harsh word, it is not mine. The Scriptures tell us time and again that the apostate church will turn on real believers and deliver them up. The reason it is so important to get out now is that people who stay in an institution become institutionalized – totally devoted to that institution and what it represents. Anyone who reads the Bible can see that this will be the greatest deception ever but they expect it to be easy to detect. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a great deception. If it were some “New Age”, Hindu, Buddhist new world religion, no problem – easy to see, so why worry? But few are expecting the fallen lukewarm, rich and worldly church to be the problem.

If you leave Churchianity, the Holy Spirit will open all kinds of doors for you to share Jesus, to meet people of like passion and liberation – you might meet them on face book, around the office, at school, at some function…just open up your heart, your eyes – begin to speak and to share your convictions . . . and pray, pray, pray. Yes, some will shy away, some will even be downright negative and mad at you – but eventually you’ll discover, there’s a whole new world out there full of seeking believer and non-believer and you’ll find a way to come together to share your experiences of Jesus and the real gospel of the grace of God!

Who rejected Jesus the first time around? The religious leaders of established religion. Who will reject Him and fight Him the second time around? His own established religion – a dead, lifeless form that is a man-made counterfeit passing itself off as the real thing. Stay in the institutional church at your own peril. This is not to say that there aren’t some wonderful brothers and sisters in it, but the thing that holds Christians back from following Him is relationships. We compromise because of relationships. We need to lay aside the sins that so easily beset us, the relationships that compromise us and follow Him outside the camp (Hebrews 13:13) where we will find a fresh relationship with the Lord and a committed community of believers willing to stand and testify in the last days.

Dene McGriff

Sacramento, March 25, 2010


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