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Mar 22, 2009

What's Keeping Them?

I have learned that no matter how much I write and talk about the Free Believers Network and what it is, people will always see it as a bitter, "anti-church" movement. I am often reminded of Jesus' words to the people, "Why is my language not clear to you?" It seemed that no matter how much He explained something to the people, they just couldn't get it. They jumped to radical conclusions that had nothing to do with what He had spoken.

After years of explaining and re-explaining this message till I'm blue in the face, and after asking myself and God what's keeping them from getting this; I finally discovered what it was. I also found out why people immediately associate my words with heresy and accuse me of being "anti-church." It has to do with what they believe the ORIGIN of the institutional church is.

They believe that the church we know today was created and ordained by God Himself.

The system - the once-a-week service - the offering plate - the paid staff - the choir - the CEO Pastor, right down the line, they believe that this is a system that God created and put in place. They will admit that man has messed it up over the years to some degree, but when all is said and done, they believe that it was created by God Himself and walking away from it is not allowed.

When people believe that the system of church that we practice today came from God, they usually can't make the separation between the "system of church" and the "body of Christ." They see the two as being the same. They've grown up hearing the system calling itself the body for so long, they just believe it without thinking. They believe that ALL fellowship is found only within the system. All Christian growth, all learning, all healing, all relationships, all knowledge, all communication with God, everything that is Christian and everyone who calls themselves Christian exist ONLY within the modern-day system. When anyone talks about the state of the "Church," people immediately assume they're talking about the state of the system. Stepping outside of that system is spiritual suicide.

The irony here is that even if these people are shown historical evidence that the system ascribed to has nothing to do with God, they still can't let it go and see it for what it is. There is something in them that believes this is from God regardless of the evidence and logic that tears that argument apart. When I explain that it's a man-made system, people immediately translate that to mean that I'm anti-church. They consider it a cut-down for me to say such a thing.

For people who believe this way, hearing the term "Institutional church" is extremely offensive. Applying the word "institutional" to something they deem as sacred, is unforgivable. The very term in and of itself dethrones the system and strips it of its glory and power. You can detect their offense in their comments on this website. One gentleman sent me an email with the words, "Why does your eschatology have to villainize that which so many hold dear?" He literally had no problem at all defining what it was his heart held dear.

This deification of the system accounts for about 90% of the negative responses elicited from Christians after reading my articles. They'll say stuff like, "Okay, so you're hurt, I get churchthat, but you can't just leave the whole system," or "Rather than talk negatively about the church, why don't you discuss what can be done to fix it." There is an overall tone that forbids the idea of total abandonment as though going down that road isn't even an option. Even if you are hurt, abused and nearly destroyed in that system; you mustn't blame it. Speaking against that system is disgraceful. It's like speaking against God Himself.

I believe that when we get to the point where we adore our system of doing things more than we adore God Himself, we are more lost than those we claim to lead. This generation of Christians is guilty of this charge! They hold the Method to be more sacred than the Message. Because of this, they no longer know He who is the message. They look for Him in the method and they find Him NOT.

The system, in and of itself, is not bad. However, when a person believes that the system came from God, it becomes DEADLY! What we believe about the system of church is key. The Free Believers Network is not trying to do away with the system of church; we are simply trying to show people that it's not God-ordained. They have a choice. They don't have to do it this way. They can stay or they can go. The mere revelation of this opens so many doors in a person's life that they almost always leave the system angry, because of all the lies they've been told about that system.Darin Hufford people

Free Believers believe that THE PEOPLE are the Church. We put people before anything and everything. The status quo up until today has been to serve the system and hold it over the people. That manner of thinking is quickly disintegrating. As this generation slowly comes to the knowledge that our system of "doing church" is man made; people are breaking free from something that is clearly dead, and are exploring the limitless possibilities of relationship with God outside of organized church.

Contrary to popular belief; Free Believers are not against public, organized meetings like what we see in a traditional church setting. It's not the meeting that is harmful. It's the government that is allowed to control that meeting. In most American churches, the government has risen to a level of dictatorship and has taken over the entire denomination. When the government becomes sacred, its next step is to rule the people.

I used to think it was sad that people left the institution either hurt or angry. I've asked myself many times why it has to be this way for so many. Today, years later, I finally see what is really taking place when a person gets hurt by the institution. Their eyes pop open and they see firsthand that the system they've always believed was from God, has absolutely nothing to do with Him. It seems that for most of us, nothing can open our eyes to that BUT pain and bitterness. This is why we are warned so often against becoming bitter, because those in charge of us know that we'll most likely see it for what it really is.

I sit in dismay as I listen to Christians warn each other against talking openly about what happened to them in the confines of the institutional church. It's not only frowned upon, but it's considered downright ungodly to even open your mouth and discuss your pain. Putting blame on the system is even worse. It totally reminds me of the trashy mother who catches her boyfriend molesting her nine-year-old daughter and instead of coming to her defense, she blames her daughter for leading him on. She makes her feel responsible for it. She won't let the poor child express her pain to anyone. This is how heartless the present-day Christian mindset is when it comes to standing up for the institution at any cost. They become blinded to the obvious.

If we were talking about a department store that was mistreating their employees, these same people would be the first to lead the protest. They would encourage everyone to walk out and never come back. The difference is that they don't believe a department store was created by God. They know it's a creation of man. They would never tell the abused employees that they shouldn't talk about their abuse or the abuse they received was probably their fault. They would encourage them to blow the whistle on their oppressors and shout it from the roof tops. They wouldn't think of telling the people that leaving that store would be a dangerous choice. More importantly, they wouldn't tell the people that leaving that store was the same as leaving God.

When someone tells you that the Free Believers Network is against church; don't believe them. It's not church we're against. It's the deification of the church system. Believe it or not, we are also not against institutionalism or government. Any time there is a planned meeting of any sort, there needs to be some level of government. Someone needs to call everyone, someone needs to unlock the building and turn the lights on, someone needs to set up and break down chairs. There has to be some sort of leadership for this to work. The question is; how much do we allow that government to rise in our church?

Sadly, it seems that in the vast majority of churches in America, the "institutional" part has overtaken the church part. When that happens, the message becomes contaminated and the people suffer incredible bondage and abuse at the hands of the institution. When the institution declares itself to be "from God," everything from Sunday sermons to casual conversations are centered around lifting it up and serving it. Every good fruit of a Christian gets sucked up and swallowed by that Institution. People's resources, their time, their money, their friendships, and their service are funneled into the institution while the world remains unaffected and untouched. Rather than bringing God to the world, they bring the Institution to the world, because to them, there is no difference.

More than half of my Free Believer friends still attend a local Church. The difference is that they don't go there thinking it's God's system, God's house and God's order. They go because they want to go and because they have relationships that they value. Many of them  go because they enjoy the Bible teaching and many more like the worship service. They treat it as a community center with activities and chances to meet and connect with other Christians. I think that's wonderful. As long as they attend with a balanced perspective, I believe it can be beneficial.

I was just at a church in Wisconsin where my friend Ed Johnson is a pastor. He's got a church of about a hundred people. This man is committed to the freedom of his people. He has successfully caged the government and he makes it serve the people. This church is living proof that it can be done. The people are free and loving life. It's not about church for them. They come together NOT because they're supposed to be faithful to church, but because they like being together.

My friend Ty Bean has also proven that when the people are put before the government, the system can be a good thing. His congregation is perhaps one of the most loving and sincere groups of people I've met. Ty and Heather serve the people; they don't try and get the people to serve them or the church. This is rare indeed.

I honestly believe that those in charge of "church" had better brace themselves. They simply will not survive this wave of revelation that American Christians are getting concerning the church system. Once the people know that they don't have to attend, it will be rather interesting to see who still comes back. My prediction is that only the pastors who made it about serving the people, will survive. The ones who made the people serve the church are about to lose everything. They were able to be as sloppy as they wanted because they knew the people believed that they didn't have any other choice but to return each week. Now that folks are getting the revelation that they DO have a choice, things are going to change.

Darin Hufford



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  1. Gravatar

    Yeah! Yeah! What he said! Thank you Darin! God gives you wonderful analogies. They are always so eye-opening. I love the comparison to the department store. It makes things super plain. I have felt that pressure not to say anything that might make the institution look bad. So what's wrong with calling good 'good' and evil 'evil'? If it was bad and wrong, it was, and there should be no 'cover up' going on. Thanks for the encouragement.

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    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Sherri. I'm with you. We should be able to call a spade a spade:)

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    You have the gift of articulation, Darin. You put into words what I already knew but just couldn't find adequate words for. I'm glad this is all on facebook now where more people will find you. I sure wish I could find a church like the ones Ed and Ty lead (or facilitate?)

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    Hey Darin,

    I like what you said in this post. I was one of the people who left the system angry. I can still remember the Sunday service where I finally got how abusive and controlling the whole thing was. I felt like throwing up. It took a couple more years before I physically left the 'system'.It was like coming off crack or abusive relationship. Hey thanks for spreading the freedom around..

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    One of the reasons I keep coming back to your posts is you are real. Lately as I have been connecting with other folks in church I just want to pull my hair out, turn in my believer card and walk away. Ekklesia.. should be as natural as your left hand not knowing what your right hand is doing. "Church" has become a gym of Spiritual Calisthenics with Brick worship.., Bible worship and censorship as the rule. It makes me sick. If I have to hear that I need to "Love" them into seeing the truth one more time I think I will vomit. Thank you for giving me a place to speak my truth right or wrong. It is no wonder that the word "Christian" brings snorts and chuckles from the world. We are a laughing stock and I think the unbelievers are doing a better job of calling a spade a spade then we are.

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    Darin, this is so good that you even made it rhyme! "Why does your eschatology have to villainize that which so many hold dear?" He literally had no problem at all defining what it was his heart held dear. Great blog! :-)

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    A year ago when I brought up this same subject with a pastor friend of mine, he said he views the local Institution as a ministry of the church..not as the church. However, when I attend this Institution I still hear the leaders urge members to remember their responsibility and "give back to GOD a portion of what they have been blessed with"...(refering to the tithe box, not the poor, the orphans or the elderly mother who is barely making it in her 'golden years' after raising children by herself). I get mixed signals.

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    I'm continuing my rant (if this isn't the place, please tell me).
    I don't mind visiting the local IC, but it seems in no time at all, they want to wrap a rope around my neck, brand my butt, put me in the coral, claim me as THEIRS (God's?)and track me in their database! Then my 'maturity' is measured by attendance and my devotion to one of the official 'small groups' whose leaders maintain attendance and who knows what else via their software on the web.

    I can't stand ropes around my neck!

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    Left "church" over 2 yrs ago and only 6 months ago realized that I don't have to find another one. I work as a security guard on weekends, so used that as my excuse to others about not going. Have just found you and others on the computer. AM NO LONGER ALONE OUT HERE. Will once again have fellowship, even if it is on the NET. Will seek others now and be a part of the solution. Thank you. JMC - WASP - 33yr believer - 62 yrs old - missionary - street evangelist - husband - LIBERATED CHRISTIAN

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    Darin Hufford

    Rich - extremely well stated. "Maturity is measured by attendance and my devotion to one of the official small groups..." Yes, I remember this mentality well:)

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    Not sure I agree (but then again I only skimmed the article). I work in the news business. A place where information is alledgedly exchanged. We deal with value systems, ideologies, belief systems all the time. It is very VERY commmon to see people over-react or react without proper proportion to the subject at hand no matter what that subject may be. Its human nature. It takes a very open, mature and patient person to not react, but process information. When someone challenges you or some conventional notion in some way, let the knee-jerk reactions commence. There is a reason we are admonished to be slow to anger and quick to listen.

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    Nina Austin

    Thanks Josh for all you are doing to help others including myself. I don't look at this site as anti- church. I see it as pro-God! You know how hard headed I can be but I desire to be humble, just like you and so many others who have touched my life. Thanks again Josh. Shalom! Nina

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    Chris Pack

    Darin, I agree with you wholeheartedly here. I think some folks don't get it because they think today's institution was established by Christ or the apostles. My parents would fall into this category. However, I also think that others don't get it because, despite the imperfections of the institution, they still fail to see a better alternative and don't believe that, biblically speaking, they have the option of doing nothing at all. Still others want things for their kids and since Sunday school was "good enough" for them it's also "good enough" for their kids. I think there are many shades of what you are talking about, but you are exactly right. Let's face it, house churches, simple churches, organic churches, etc. haven't exactly shown themselves to be more than little ICs.

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    "People are the church!" There is freedom when we are able to walk in a building knowing we are the church coming together to edify one another and share a commen theme. With this knowledge comes responsibility in realizing that relationship is personal and not a one size fits all. There is no "I'm a member of a popular church or a popular belief." A free believer finds themselves in the open range defined by a relationship they choose to have on a daily basis that partakes in everyday issues in their lives. Not the agenda of a church that is serving itself and enlisting people to carry out their mission. Darin, thank you as always for the balance. Raw and real.

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    David Backus

    Darin, sometimes, as much as I love your insight, I believe you are beating a dead horse. You can write, preach, scream, sing, do charades, write with sharpie markers on won't matter...people see what they want to see and judge everything based on what they were indoctrinated with. I was even considering getting into ministry in the church system speaking the truth. and I still might. siggghh...keep preaching bro!

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    Darin Hufford

    Unfortunately, to a degree, I agree with you. It's very rare that any person actually reads something with the intent to learn. We almost always read something, looking for it to agree with what we already believe and if it doesn't; we shut down. I think most of my motivation in writing is to further convince those who are already convinced. Perhaps to give them confirmation that they're on the right path. Maybe even give them a way in which they can explain their position to others if the need should arise.

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    I heard this from Wayne Jacobson,that when people heard this free way of living and thinking, it's like people feel like they have been given permission to think,to question,etc. for themselves as well, maybe I'm not I saying it right, but I think your blogs and podcasts in a sense, say to people,it's ok you too have the ability within yourself to question or look at things in a new light, not necessarily in the way that perhaps has been handed down to you from the IC or whoever. In the IC I was at, you didn't question anything, if you did, your salvation was "in question" because you weren't trusting God. Now, I think of the verse,"If you ask your father for a fish, is he gonna give you a serpent?" Point being,Don't be afraid,God's not gonna pull a dirty trick on you if you ask questions.

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    Great post. I've been outside the walls of IC for over 2 years now, it feels so good to be free. Just before I stopped going to IC, I was trying to find a church to get involved in. After the service at a small church near my home, the minister came up and welcomed me, he asked if I had been attending a church before coming to his church, I said yes but was looking for a church closer to home, he said he was glad I was looking, but he didn't want to be stealing someone elses sheep. That one sentence didn't mean much to me until a week or two later....aren't we all sheep under one Shepherd...Jesus. I didn't go back to that church. I've known churches that have to vote you in, you can't just join them, you must be approved of....thank heavens Father isn't like that.

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    "We almost always read something, looking for it to agree with what we already believe and if it doesn't, we shut down." This is true. The question is - who and when injects us with the set of opinions we consider to be the absolute, only and definite truth? When does the process of accepting new things, opinions, points of view end? Who ends it? Who defines it? I guess it's the denomination where we grow up. They are the boxes that are so hard to leave.

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    for me the proces from "church" rules to "freedom" rules was gradual and in God's timing, i guess. If i had read this site 25 months ago i would have said it's wrong. Then i was trying to wrap my head around "God will never leave you, NEVER!", i then learned about grace from a preacher called Joseph Prince and learned that i am free in God's love and he taught me to think i am righteous not sinner and i don't have to spend each prayer before bed saying forgive me for my sins. And i was still enthusiastic about the church program, until i realized they didn't accept the way i saw grace and forgiveness.

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    12 months ago, jumping on the web i found a guy named "paul anderson walsh" in london and steve mcvey, while visiting london for my thesis project, i was able to visit his church/group. there i heard "if you are not free NOT to give money, then you are not free to give money", i got two of his books that further opened my eyes. God doesn't want me to present "spiritual" children to him to gain his affection (an analogy in the old testament of one woman trying to bear children for isaac or jacob to gain his love). HE is already pleased with me if i sit down and do nothing.

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    Richard Palsgaared

    no IC = grace (active brain and sanity)
    IC = no grace (brain death and insanity)

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    Then 6 months ago, i found the god journey: again, by following some links on websites. there i heard "God was IN christ redeeming the world unto himself", i had believed God turned his back on Christ so he wouldn't turn his back on you, but that went down the drain too. after listening to most of the god journey podcasts, there was one with darin, so thats how i found the free believer site 4 months ago. even then i was sort of suspicious :). and here i heard "if i say to my daughter I love you and will never leave you, i will douce you with gas and turn you on fire", which just hardened my believe God will never leave me even more.

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    during the whole process God has been busy unlearning stuff and learning stuff, all in his time and just in time! if i hadn't believed God will never leave you 24 months ago, i would never have ventured into the territory that says "give only if you are FREE to give" or "god doesn't need you to do anything for him to love me". all the steps were necessary, even though now i am much less certain of a whole lot of things, i don't know how to pray, read bible etc... only thing i know is god is taking me somewhere and i hope he gives me some of my friends back like Paul and barnabus seperating violently but in the end commenting that each had what god had meant for good ... anyway thank you! Now, it is time to accept God's timing for others while finding out when he wants me to say something.

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    One of the best blogs I have ever read! Very well put. Thanks, Darin.

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    I am convinced from experience that the reason people fight this message so strongly is because they are afraid they may find out we are right. For some, the implications of this message being true are not simply being correct on a point of doctrine but undermining something they felt "called" to and have invested their entire lives in. If I am an 18 year old Kid straight off a missions trip and I feel "called" to the ministry and I invest my money in bible school and never learn how to do anything else, the prospect of me being wrong can be the most frightening thing in the world. I do have a question though... Do you think Jesus was "bitter" and angry towards the institutional mindset of His day It's possible to love people and be bitter toward something that is destroying them.

  27. Gravatar

    Definition of Bitterness.
    marked by intensity or severity:
    a: accompanied by severe pain or suffering
    b: being relentlessly determined
    c: exhibiting intense animosity d: harshly reproachful
    e: intensely unpleasant especially in coldness or rawness

    I think Jesus exhibited all of these at one time or another in his ministry. That being said...Can we truly be Christlike without being bitter towards something?

  28. Gravatar

    I also think people don't want to face the truth because of the sacrifices they've made for "the man". I know women who stay married to men who treat them like slaves, but are told it's a sin to leave unless and then there's this list of rules. How would you feel if you stayed married for decades and then you find out, you didn't have to, I'm sure there is a feeling of relief but also the thought, "You mean I didn't have to put up with that,I was free to leave all along." Women in general have been treated in most churches as second class citizens, and we accepted it, because we were taught, or I was, that this is the way God ordained it. I was taught women pastors are unbiblical, and so I would obediently sit and listen to some guy just saved for 3yrs teach me about God. Ya feel dumb too.

  29. Gravatar
    Chris Pack

    Wow...just had a youth pastor friend let go from his IC because he wasn't "getting results" meaning more numbers. What a mess.

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    I like the post to a degree but I thought gathering in a church building was about worshipping God and bringing Him glory. Serving people is great and should be done but church should not be man-centered. Also, the bible says that some are gifted to be pastors etc. Whats the book of Acts all about? I'm confused.

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    Rose, if you grab a concordance and look up every reference to worship, you’ll see that it has absolutely nothing to do with music or singing. Worship is a lifestyle and it’s between God and each believer. It’s not a group effort. Pastor is a function and not a job description. A true pastor will function as a pastor as a way of life even if he doesn’t have the title. By setting up this website and encouraging believers, Darin is functioning as a pastor even though he no longer has the title.

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    Hi Rose, I was confused also when I first started down this path. They are not saying that we don't worship or have 5 fold ministry gifts in the church today. What they are saying is that 1700 years of religious instruction has redefined them to mean something that the first century Christians or the Apostles never meant them to mean.

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    I do like that you wrote of bitterness, but I must differ in that Christ was never bitter. For He only had righteous anger with those whom did harm to OTHERS, not Him. He never rose up angry or bitter when it was directed at Him. we need not be bitter, for the root of that gives place to the enemy. but instead we need to pray that God will remove the scales from the eyes of His Church, the people, whom He has called by His Name. And we need to forgive, for they know not what they do most of the time. We were all a mess at one time, and I know I have not arrived at perfection, have you?

  34. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Yes Rose, the book of Acts talks about different callings like Pastor, Evangelist, Apostle, Teacher and so on, but what we see as Pastor today has nothing to do with what was originally intended in the book of Acts. There is no place in Scripture where the church as we know it today is described.

  35. Gravatar

    Jeff provides a definition of bitterness and one could, based on the items listed, argue a case that Jesus' behaviour was consistent with the items listed. The problem is there are also other attributes attributed to bitterness which would not apply. For example provides the following definition of bitterness: marked by resentment or cynicism, which I think we would all agree does not characterise who Jesus is.

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    Hi mgray, thanks for the follow up. I fully agree with you so maybe I should clarify what I mean by "bitterness". The bitterness card is always played against this message so, if you define bitterness as unforgiveness and hatred towards people than I would never condone it...ever ! The "bitterness" I am describing is an righteous hatred towards ideas that enslaves Gods people. To that effect, Paul had a Holy Spirit inspired hatred towards the "Galatian" doctrine that was robbing Gods people of their liberty in Christ and attempting to bring them back under the Law, so much so that he called them cursed. In John 2-9 Jesus himself(motivated by perfect Love)seems determined to pick a fight with people everywhere he went to shake them of their religious traditions and fully embrace him.

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    Thanks Ian, that is what I meant !

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    I guess my question would be- did "the church" set itself up this way or has it simply become what it's people want it to be- a buffer between man and God? It seems easier for some to serve the institution than to seek The Living God. With the institution the rules are laid out for you- give this, support that, attend, sign-up, serve, etc. It's relatively easy if that is what you want. On the other hand, a true relationship with the Father is not prepackaged- it takes time and effort and real desire. The institution is a condensed version of that. It can make you feel good while doing you no good. I believe, though, that is what many of us want- so that is what we have. It is mutually beneficial- the institution retains its power and the people reamin comfortable and unchallenged.

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    Corey J Couturier

    I would rather fail in freedom, than succeed in bondage

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    Mark, I could not agree with you more! I am convinced of one thing from my own experience and watching others go through this process. Once we leave the IC often we are faced with the uncomfortable reality that maybe we did not have the relationship with Christ we thought we had. It is very easy to hide from Jesus in the confines of religious busyness when "plugging into" and "being involved" are the mantra. Once you leave you are forced to actually encounter him as your life rather than the church or the pastor's vision. In many cases the IC can be the catalyst for "fake fruit"...that which looks like the real thing but is not because Christ is not the source of it. Once you are in the wild and you grow organically you might not be as "active" as others but the fruit is REAL.

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    The IC has become an industry which defines itself as the work of Christ. Any work performed on behalf of Christ outside the prescribed industrial agenda is deemed worthless. Sadly, I bought into this for many years. I thank God for His grace in showing me truth. I thank Him for showing me that my efforts were of value and honored Him. He restored my soul.
    A popular scribe of our day questions the maturity of a Christian who believes church attendance is not mandatory. Most biblical references to maturity are relative to discernment. Ironically, it is the mature Christian who can spot unsound doctrine or purpose.
    Heb.10:25 is often quoted to me as the command to be in membership. What say you, Free Believers?

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    Hi Jen, Hebrews 10:25 means something different to us us than it did to the people who received the letter 2000 years ago. Tragically, a lack of understanding this difference has led to the abuse and manipulation of God’s elect. Most denominations and even many independent churches follow the same model the lord used with Moses and the children of Israel. The days of God giving vision to one man and then in turn using that man to deliver the instructions to the masses are over. Under the New Covenant we are all personally indwelt by Gods Spirit and HE is the head. New Testament Leaders are tasked by God to simply assist local bodies and individuals in their experience of Christ personally and corporately, to encourage them to love one another and establish sound doctrine and then leave !

  43. Gravatar

    1st century Apostles knew nothing of organized programs as seen in today’s churches. You don’t see Paul ever mentioning to any of the Churches he planted that the Lord spoke to him about a corporate “direction” they were to take, the only direction he wanted them to go in was for Christ to be formed in them (Gal 4:19). the reason why this is such an important issue is because when a leader goes beyond the New Testament example it is very easy to use his “vision” to manipulate people to his end goal (keep in mind that sincere people can still manipulate). Paul’s goal was for each person to experience the personal leading of Christ without a human officiator

  44. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Yes Jeff, I like the way you put it. When you read Paul's writings, it's clear that he didn't promote the present system. He wanted us all to be prophets and hear God on our own. The present system stands directly against that.

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    Yeah, I used to rail on the Catholic church because it put a man as a mediator between God and man until I realized that the protestant church has done the same thing. I might go as far as to say that I feel much of that stuff is Anti Christ.

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    I was attending a church in the north west that brought in about $1.2 mil. year, 14 staff and 3-4 pastors all in a town of 9 thousand. when my wife and I needed help/counseling for my family, the church would not return our calls or evan take the time to talk with us on sunday. I explained to my wife that the company I work for makes about $1.2 mil with 1 CEO,2 supervisors and 12 staff and work very hard to provide great customers service. If my co. did not provide good service we would be out of business! The church as we know it needs to change and be more like Jesus. It's just that simple. Thank you Darin

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    My husband and I visited our church this sunday (I say this because that is all we do now is visit once in a while to see friends). It happened to be a big small group sign up day. A friend asked if I'd signed up already for one (I happen to know she's leading a group). I just kinda chuckled and said "Oh no. We barely attend church.". I thought this funny and felt completely free but immediately I saw this made her uncomfortable. She replied by making an excuse for us and commenting on the beautiful weather as of late. So weird. It is getting to the point where I feel so free at home and in life...that I feel I have to recover from my church visits. Like getting over a flu or something.

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    This is great! So many of my friends (and my adult children and their friends) have questioned me since I left the IC. One son told me to stop using the term "institution church" as it was offensive. Hope you don't mind, I'm gonna copy and paste (giving credit, of course) so I have a response! You have such a way with words!!!! Thanks again for all you do. God has really used you in my life.

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    The widespread influence of Hellenism on the Church over the centuries keeps many from truly KNOWING God, or from WANTING to know Him as He really is according to His Word.

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    Alice Scott-Ferguson

    your assessment is accurate, articulate and affirming, Darin. Thank you

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    Mike Morenz

    Hey Darin. First of all thank you so much for this post. It seems many of us "church kids" are waking up "Matrix" style to see goop and crazy plugs all over us. I have been born and bred in a man made system. Keep going man! So many need to read this post. It's so great to know there is not a big chalkboard in heaven with my name and two check marks next to it for disobedience. God just loves me. That's it! I feel very strong He is going to make a way for many of us to reveal truth to his church and set many free. Very exciting times! Thanks again for what you do.

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    I never imagined you would make such a positive impact in a shot time. Thank you for always telling it the way it should be through your life while going against the odds. God loves me and wants me to be happy. I want me to be happy too. Keep opening our minds and hearts so we can understand what God wants us to know.

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    T.R.U.T.H.! ....and the truth will set you.........

  54. Gravatar

    hi, I have to say that there is a lot of truth in your post, and I really did love a lot of it. But there are some things that I can't say I agree with. I was a missionary in Belize for a year with my husband and daughter and now we are planning on going to Kenya to serve in a orphanage, and I have to tell you that without the support of our local church we could not have done the things that we did. I know you all hate the institution, but because of tithes, and offerings we were able to go. I know you think the pastors just stuff it in their pockets, but we were supported through that money. And we being in Belize were able to see the Lord do absolutely amazing things, and now the local leaders are starting a local church devoted to that community...

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    I know now you might think that I have just been brainwashed into seeing only good in the church, that I need to step outside the box, but I want to ask you, how many of you truly pray for the flaws in the church. How many of you are on your knees? It is easy to say yes yes I am, I do... but be real.
    I have seen the good, al over the world I have seen the good, so I have a hard time saying that it is all bad. LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE. That is the motto my husband and I have tried to live by, keep it simple.
    But thank you. I think that your insight is awesome, my prayer is that people will receive it and the areas that our church is so off base will be revealed and that the leadership will have the guts to do something about it

  56. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Brittany I think you might have a wrong idea about what I believe. I certainly don't think that all pastors stuff the offering money in their pockets. I also don't hate the Institutional church. This article is just pointing out that it's structure was not put together by God. It was put together by Constantine of Rome. One thing I do know is that 85% of money given to a church goes to building payment, salaries, electric and so on. That's not good. I also have a problem with the statement "We could not have done the things that we did without the church." How big is your God??????

  57. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I think the reason why people are done with praying for the flaws in the institutional church is because it’s not about the institutional church; it’s about the PEOPLE. Everything we do here is because we love people. The institution is NOT the church. The PEOPLE are the church and I don’t pray for the man made church because the actual God-made-CHURCH is doing quite well. It’s the institution that’s hurting the real CHRUCH.

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    wow, ouch ... so maybe I'm your problem =)

  59. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    How do you see it that way Brittany? I'm not sure where that came from. What do you mean?

  60. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Brittany the ironic thing is that if I were going to answer your first two posts, I would send you to this very article. Amazingly everything you said in your posts, was covered in this article. You started out by saying, "I know you all hate the institution, but because of tithes, and offerings we were able to go. I know you think the pastors just stuff it in their pockets......" I'm perplexed and left wondering if you even read the first paragraph of this article. It literally opens up with me saying, "I have learned that no matter how much I write and talk about the Free Believers Network and what it is, people will always see it as a bitter, "anti-church" movement." Honestly, the only answer I can give you is :Read this article. It literally answers your first two posts!

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    The group I have been involved with started out historically with the idea of supposedly moving away from the IC of the day and meeting as small autonomous groups where the believers were the church. But believe me there can be an institution without an institution if you know what I mean. Without the heart of God any movement will sink into an institution where everybody knows the "rules" within that institution and real love for God and one another shifts out of the focus.

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    "believe me there can be an institution without an institution" I know exactly what you mean. It's easy to feel free when you've been loosened from the shackles of the system, but we have to make sure the system doesn't follow us and we continue to uphold its error or we're only doing the same thing -> somewhere else. It does us well to examine ourselves, our motives, our faith, our purpose. With everything around us being institutionalized somehow, how we stop our faith in God being institutionalized by others is tough.

    I give no more answers to those in the system. This may sound like a dangerous generalization, but every person in leadership/ministry needs to ask themselves - why?

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    Vicki M.

    Perhaps the reason I tend to disagree with leaving organized church is because the one I go to is not one like you describe. Our pastor does not lord over the people, our church "government" is minimal. As for paying the pastor a MODEST salary, I see no problem with this, there is biblical precedent for supplying the needs of the worker.
    I also enjoy getting together with other believers, and I live in a rural area where people are spread far apart, if I didn't attend a "regular" church, I would very rarely see anyone else.
    I also know that real church is made up of all believers everywhere.
    My main problem with some who follow this Free Believers movement, is that they judge those don't, and accuse them of not knowing freedom in Christ. I say that is even worse than denominationalism.

  64. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Vicki the Free Believers isn't about leaving church. It's understanding that YOU are the church. If you enjoy attending a local church go for it. Most of the Free Believers I know attend a church, they just do so with a different attitude and understanding. Yes, there will always be people who will discriminate based on stupid things, but that has nothing to do with what is taught and talked about on this website.

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    Darin, I agree with your article. I don't have a problem with Believers coming together to financially provide a social place to gather at and have activities in, but when the people in the gathering remain poor, lose their homes, can't buy food, etc than there's a problem. New Testament Giving ALWAYS provided for those PEOPLE and there was NEVER a building program or a teaching on paying a salary to someone who has a GIFT from God to LOVE people. So all I got to do is get a fancy shmancy certificate and now I can convince people to PAY ME to love others? Come on people. Read the Bible.

  66. Gravatar

    I apologize..that probably sounded rude of me. We really need to read the Bible ourselves and not just believe what the one getting the salary tells us it means.

  67. Gravatar

    This is the reason I keep coming back over and over again to Free Believers, it keeps me free. I am reminded when I read something like this that I do not need to feel guilt about not attending a church anymore. I can embrace my love and relationship with God and with his people and develop these relationships without being told what I should be doing or not doing. I am free to let God lead me down his path and not one that a pastor and his followers are telling me to take. Thank you Darin.

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    Yeah, I totally agree with almost all of the article except the part about the system itself not being evil. Since the wheat and the tares are growing together only to be separated by God at some future date, evil is inextricably woven into the fabric of the IC.
    Besides an institution which always looks to the flesh first, will become corrupt and prey on people at the drop of a hat. They have no restraint for they believe they are the rightful authorities.

  69. Gravatar
    Vicki M.

    I realize there was nothing in your article, nor have I seen any other article on this page that seemed discriminatory, I was referring to some individuals I have encountered elsewhere, who are also a part of this "movement" or whatever I should call it. If I felt like this page had that tone, I wouldn't be reading it. :)
    I do agree that the church is the people.

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    My husband and I were talking yesterday about the IC, and we both agreed that any good the IC has done in our world is almost accidental. Our country is a mess and the IC has done precious little to relieve poverty, unemployment, etc. I daresay our govt has gotten bigger as a direct result of the failure of the IC.....if we had truly been taking care of each other as Jesus commanded, and believed that God is interested in establishing His kingdom in the here and now (instead of trying to get everyone "saved" from hell), we would have no need for govt intervention.

    I am still astounded by the arrogance of those who defend such a system. And I think I have a right to be angry.

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    Teri Undreiner

    I loved what you said to Rose, : There is no place in scripture where today's model is described". I recently watched : MARJOE: a documentary film that he , himself, was making about what a scam he was doing!!! He said religion is " Big Business", and Darin, I was so grieved BECAUSE I had been in so many meetings like that. You can see it on YOUTUBE. This is still going on!!!

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    Vicki M.

    Sisterlisa, you commented after me that there was NEVER a "teaching on paying a salary to someone who has a GIFT from God to LOVE people." Do you mean that the Bible does not teach that ministers should be paid? Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant? Because I just read 1 Corinthians chapter 9, and even though Paul states that he... See More did not use that right, he does assert that it IS a right of those who preach the gospel.

  73. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Teri I actually saw that documentary when it was first made. I remember it well.

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    Darin Hufford

    Very good points Carolene!

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    Darin Hufford

    Paul was an Apostle who traveled from place to place. That scripture is talking about someone in Paul's position, not about Pastor. The Pastor in the New Testament times was not a position in a church that was paid. Pastors also weren't the CEO and president of the church like they are today. They were just people with a shepherding heart. There wasn't a paycheck for that position in the NT times because that position as we know it today didn't exist back then. We created it.

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    Here is what the Lord showed me about 'pastors'

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    Vicki M.

    Yes, a lot of things were different then too. People didn't have alarm clocks or time clocks at work. If a pastor was praying with a person in need and giving them counsel, he didn't have to be concerned with getting fired or docked 1/2 hour pay if he clocked in five minutes late. It was a very different world.
    I am of the opinion that pastors should not demand a salary, they are serving God first and foremost, and they should do it whether they are paid or not. I am also of the opinion that every pastor should have some marketable skill so he *can* support himself when he needs to. However, I don't think it is wrong for a church to offer a salary to a pastor who serves full time.

  78. Gravatar

    great blog and great to see the number of comments :)

  79. Gravatar

    great blog and great to see the number of comments :)

  80. Gravatar

    I've never been under any illusion about the status of the institutional church(es) - even as a child. Probably explains why I've nearly always had problems in churches. Nobody liked me asking questions. It's okay now, I go to two churches - one where it's fine to ask questions and another where it may or may not be fine depending on who you're talking to, but I can live with that.

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    Nina Ausyin

    Wow, I can understand what Darrin is saying. I was under the rule of a church that's teachings had nothing to do with the God I know today. In fact they emphasized an angry punishing God. I lived for years under this spell and paralyzing fear. I was afraid if I walked away, the wrath of God would be upon me, If I didn't tythe a certain % of ... See Moremyincome, If I failed to live the laws that were dictated to me. I would be separated from God thru sin and my destiny was eternal damnation.

    I truly, thru personal experience, understand EXACTLY what Darin is saying here.For years I allowed the church to control me. I was a puppet on a string! I am so grateful that I am a free and if I do choose to attend church(which is not a requrement or a ticket to heaven. Darin you are a wise man.

  82. Gravatar
    Amy S.

    Everything you said here confirms everything that has been in my heart. I just couldn't put it into words. I am so frustrated of the mind set of people that look at me and my hubby as one of "those" rebellious, has issues types. When we couldn't be more far from that. I don't even want to talk to anybody I have known in the I.C... I avoid it at all! Seriously, didn't know what to say. But this just solidifies and clarifies everything. Thankyou!
    Always always so grateful for all you share, Darin.. Amy

  83. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Amy. I appreciate you.

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    Awesome article. I get confused sometimes while listening to the podcast, because sometimes it is vague about exactly what is being referred to as the Institution. (I've never been a part of a church like that, and so I lack reference to some of what is being discussed.)

    I get it now. That people will substitute God for Church, or God for the bible is scary indeed. And that a church would tell people that the organization is equal to God, even scarier. I love going to the church I attend, but only because I love meeting with the people in it. I see it as a supportive family group.

  85. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    YES Tammy. You got it. When we refer to the "Institution" we are basically referring to the business side of church as we know it today. That only becomes a bad thing when we replace God with it.

    The message of the FBN is NOT that people should leave their church. The message is that God is love and they can know Him aside from their church. Knowing Him has nothing to do with what church they attend.

    Sounds like you've got this in your heart already. Blessings.

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