Let me enumerate some of what happens when the above occurs:

1. Our spiritual in-Christ relationship is structured into an organized form never authorized by Jesus. There is no requirement or pattern for such in the NT.

2. Our spiritual "individual-to-Christ" relationship is de-emphasized and the "individual-to-church institution'' relationship is stressed.

3. It disrupts the oneness of the body members by walling off God's people into independent, sell interested, isolated, functional units, thus promoting a non-cooperative mind-set on the part of the saints. They belong exclusively, as members, to one and only one local church corporate institution.

4. It makes members of Christ (redeemed people) "outsiders" until they officially become members of the independent unit. Their loyalty and allegiance then belongs exclusively to that institution and its officials.

5. It measures faithfulness of a member of Christ by:

  1. One's docile subjection to the eldership.
  2. One's support of the corporate projects, services, budget, classes, "gospel meetings," workshop, and programs.
  3. One's regular attendance at all of that unit's meetings.

Rather than:

  1. By one's labor of love, work of faith, patience of hope.
  2. By demonstrated fruit of the Spirit.
  3. By Godliness and holiness in life.

6.It changes the theme and thrust of the good news message from: Going into all the world and preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified -- sowing the seed of the kingdom,

TO:

  1. Taking the church to the lost
  2. Planting the church in foreign fields
  3. Introducing the Church of Christ to people who have never heard of it -- the organization or institution in which salvation is to be found.
  4. High concern for "the image of the church" -- the religious organization.

7.It Demands:

  1. Ascribing an exclusive name (Church of Christ) by which this form of organized religion will be known, thus denominating this institution of people as the "Church of Christ."
  2. Inscribing specifically the form of local government -- the officials and ruling body -- that the institution shall have.
  3. Describing the acts or items of its corporate worship rituals while proscribing all other acts.
  4. Proscribing the work of the corporate body, allowing only certain prescribed functions as determined by the ruling caste.

8. It subordinates the individual freedom of disciples to the controlled management and decisions of the local church institution rulers, the corporate officials.

9. It restricts the individual and removes his freedom to function as a free person in Christ.

10. The privilege and right to function in corporate affairs is allowed only after membership is officially placed. And only then if one is approved by the ruling body; mainly the preacher/clergy class. They decide on the worthiness or condition of each person.

11. Individual shepherds are formed into an authoritative body or board, called The Eldership, to oversee the work and functions of the unit -- local church institution.

12. The nature, character, scope, and realm of the duties of elders is radically changed from individually teaching, feeding, tending, caring for the flock to management of corporate affairs.

13. Responsibility of The Eldership toward members commences with the point of placing membership in the functional unit; and ceases when a person resigns or withdraws membership.

14. Removes basic truth of individual stewardship; and replaces it with "The Eldership" or corporate stewardship.

15. The collected individual funds becomes corporate institutional funds, therefore subject to the sole care, custody, and control of corporate officials.

16. Fellowship between disciples/saints is structured and exercised within the corporate framework, rather than freely extended and exercised by reason of the spiritual relationship shared in Christ and with one another.

17. It introduces (and necessitates) an employee-employer status into a spiritual relationship, whereby one or more members work for (hired), become subservient to other members.

18. The employer-employee relationship violates the basic truths of Jesus:

  1. We are all brethren; no differences or distinctions.
  2. We are all members one of another
  3. "Subject yourselves one to another."

19. It allows (and demands) some workers to hire other workers to do the work God has assigned to them. It sets up a religion of proxy service.

20. The institution, functional unit creates undue, unnecessary pressure upon members to maintain financial support for the works, projects, buildings, equipment, upkeep, campaigns, and activities that they (the members) neither approved nor knew about in advance.

The above are some of the results of the unscriptural concept and practice of the local church institution as is being promoted today. The concept will lead to Rome, not to Christ. We must recognize what this concept and practice has done to the people of God, and I have tried to describe it above. It can only get worse. Therefore, we must call a halt and begin to correct the situation; and the accomplishment of this to any degree is going to mainly depend upon you -- the people in the pews, the non-clergy. Our preachers, in the main, have a strong vested interest in the current set-up and in moving more in that direction. How can they "grow a church" organization if there is no local church institution for them to "grow?" They are employees of the corporate church, work under the control of the corporate officials and receive their livelihood from it. They will violently oppose any effort to change or endanger this.

Let me add a few observations about what our in-Christ relationship should be like:

(1.) As to essence, it is "spiritual," not worldly -- not predicated on the things of this world. It is of the Spirit; the result of the Spirit's work, from the words of the Spirit, and blessed by the Spirit.

(2.) As to its nature, it is personal; that is person to person and saved to the Saviour. It is not the person to the corporate body. It is a response from the mind or heart of the individual who has responded to the provisions of God through Jesus Christ and recognizes that "all to Him I owe." Therefore, he has the desire to give himself/herself in loving service to the one Lord, and the ruler of the total life.

(3.) As to character, it is individual, not institutional or collective. That is, our service is on an individual basis. Our faith is individual, our action before God is individual, our moral life or conduct is individual, our responsibility and accountability are individual. There is no institution -- local church -- responsibility, accountability, or judgment.

(4.) As to duration, it is conditional. That is, our life in Christ is such that we enter into Christ, maintain our relationship with Christ, only as we individually and personally yield ourselves to the leadership of God's spirit through His word. In other words, our continuing in faith and acceptable service to our one Lord is dependent upon each one of us alone as we "live for Jesus" in following Him. "For each one shall bear his own load" (Gal. 6:5).

-- CAH