Started, Changed, Ended
A group of believers begin to share their thoughts. They could be regulars at a particular coffee shop or restaurant. Possibly they work for the same company and enjoy their lunchroom discussions about the Scriptures. What an exciting time as all can talk about anything and everything. Most, if not all, are already attending a structural church, but they are seeking something that is lacking in their traditional worship services. Over time, others are attracted to these open discussions. Meaningful, close and lasting friendships are established. The group begins to grow.
Eventually, someone poses the question, “Why don’t we find a regular place to meet?” So they rent a vacant storefront, set up some chairs and a structural church is begun. Suddenly, the freedom they previously shared begins to fall by the wayside. Now they have schedules. Now someone is appointed to give a message. Now there is confining structure, order and rules. Ironically, the very things that led them to meet as a group have now been manifested in their structural church and they have become like every church.
Gone are the freedoms that they had in their small group meetings. Originally, they were drawn together because they could engage each other in open discussion and learn about the Scriptures. Before they had the liberty to ask difficult questions and get an answer. But now that they have pulpit and rows of chairs such questions seem inappropriate. The spontaneity of a congregant to raise their hand and ask a question, or interject a comment, is frowned upon because it does not fit into the schedule or planned order of the service.
And folks, that is why they stop attending. They had the passion, and the liberty, to engage each other in open and honest dialogue; to go farther in their understanding of God’s Word and develop their Christian walk. The traditional structure and lecture model is what extinguished their fire.