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 Independent churches thrive

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KINGSTON TWP. - In a modest room above an insurance company, with a take-out sushi restaurant next door, 20 people meet Sunday to worship God.

The River of Life at Kingdom of Power Ministries, holds Sunday services in an office building on Route 309 in Shavertown. The fellowship is one of a handful of independent churches operating in the Wyoming Valley.

Some of the churches have bypassed the traditional church building, choosing instead to meet in store fronts or homes. The River of Life church and another in Tunkhannock meet in storefronts, and a church recently formed in Lehman Township has services in the pastor's home.

Church leaders say an independent fellowship gives them the freedom to try new programs. Parishioners are attracted to the conservative interpretation of the Bible and the fellowship of a smaller congregation, church leaders said.

"We have the freedom to let the Holy Spirit move among the congregation," said the Rev. Edward C. O'Mara Jr., head of the Lighthouse Fellowship Church in West Pittston.

These churches are part of a growing national trend toward non-denominational churches. While some denominations, such as Methodist and Lutheran, have seen their numbers decline, small independent churches are the fastest growing Christian sect, religious scholars say.

"They are growing rapidly," said Flavil Yeakley, a religion professor at Harding University in Searcy, Ark. "Denomination loyalty is not what it used to be."


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2004/9/5 21:17Profile
KingJimmy
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 Re: Independent churches thrive

A lot of people are oblivious that they are even part of a denomination, even in denominational churches. Or, if they are aware of it, they don't really seem to care. It seems that most of the people that care about the actual denomination are leaders within that denomination.


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Jimmy H

 2004/9/6 6:30Profile
crsschk
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 Re: Independent churches thrive

Quote:
"We have the freedom to let the Holy Spirit move among the congregation,"


GASP! :eek:

Quote:
"Denomination loyalty is not what it used to be."



Well, I can only say, Praise God! Not where our loyalty should be anyway, agree with the King...and THE King of Kings!


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Mike Balog

 2004/9/6 7:26Profile
philologos
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Reading, UK

 Re:

I think you may discover that very 'dependent' churches thrive, irrespective of the label over the front door. ;-)


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/6 11:28Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
I think you may discover that very 'dependent' churches thrive, irrespective of the label over the front door.


Yes brother Ron, I feel the reasons for people leaving main-line denominations are sometimes out of a spirit of rebellion and the reason why they couldn't fit into their original church was that they were not following the leading of the spirit. But on the otherhand sadly there are many denominational churches that are becoming very traditional and status quo, becoming wordly and lukewarm. I believe these are churches that Jesus wants to REPENT and have revival in. But in Gods timing there does come a time for some of the people of like-mind to come apart and seek God for a genuine move of His spirit.

What worries me is accountability. Even though all of these 10'000's of new church plants and home groups each claim a free flow of the Holy Spirit moving, the sad perdiciment is that there is not a leading into all truth but rather 1000 of other doctrinal differences and even heresies that show up. The early church had a loose network of accountability which I think is very healthy.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2004/9/6 11:53Profile
crsschk
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 Re:

Quote:
What worries me is accountability. Even though all of these 10'000's of new church plants and home groups each claim a free flow of the Holy Spirit moving, the sad perdiciment is that there is not a leading into all truth but rather 1000 of other doctrinal differences and even heresies that show up. The early church had a loose network of accountability which I think is very healthy



Well said Greg.

My offhand comment prior was quick on the draw. Guess I was thinking on the 'loyalty' factor in a derogative sense. Being that there is such a tendencies towards decisiveness over what seems to me issues that need not be worth breaking fellowship over I have developed a real dislike for 'labels' and 'denominational' tag lines.

If the emphasis was more along the lines of say fine wines, where certain aspects were more emphesised... that they were all good, just a matter of taste, it would be much easier to swallow. (Pun intended) ;-) and sorry for the anaolgy...

And I am just as sure that there is a great deal of this that is happening, just seems that a lot of what I hear is a breaking down of theological constructs, pitting one against the other..just so much squabbling.

Had just heard a message last week on this very issue of accountability from our local pastor's radio program out here. You hit it right on the money and it gave me pause then and also confirmed what I have been sensing of late, that it is time to pack up camp and leave this wilderness (out of church) and get back into a good local fellowship. Never really wanted to become some kind of rebel in the first place, just felt driven [i]out[/i] if I could put it that way, needed to reassess a number of things mainly within but also just what a church should be according to what the Lord has said not as to what my preferences are necessarily.


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Mike Balog

 2004/9/6 13:43Profile
philologos
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 Re:

Quote:
The early church had a loose network of accountability which I think is very healthy.


Tell me more...


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/6 14:05Profile
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"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

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 Re:

Quote:
Tell me more...


haha do I percieve you trying to catch me in my words. I shall take a furlong to think over these things before I give an official response.

Quote:
You hit it right on the money and it gave me pause then and also confirmed what I have been sensing of late, that it is time to pack up camp and leave this wilderness (out of church) and get back into a good local fellowship. Never really wanted to become some kind of rebel in the first place, just felt driven out if I could put it that way, needed to reassess a number of things mainly within but also just what a church should be according to what the Lord has said not as to what my preferences are necessarily.


The sad thing about 'out of church' phrase is that its speaking of the physical church which really isn't the true church. As George Fox stated to the professors of religion that the true church is comprimised of living spiritual stones which build themselves into a holy temple in the Lord. Thats whats so amazing about this online fellowship at SI there is somewhat of a fellowship of livingstones represented here. But that does not take away from the meeting together in person, which I feel is lacking in my life.. a true fellowship of believers. I would rather meet with 2-3 genuine believers and have fellowship in the Holy Ghost than go to a large 'church' building to have quote unquote church once a week.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2004/9/6 14:31Profile
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 Re:

Quote:

philologos wrote:
Tell me more...



Well I think the fact that Paul was able to speak into the lives of the churches, ie Philipi, Colosse etc means that there must have been some sort of accountability in place. On what other grounds would he have the right to exercise any teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness if not that of the churches being accountable to him as there spiritual 'Father'?

I am quite interested to hear your response based upon your views expressed in the thread about leadership. ;-)

Zeke


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Zeke Oosthuis

 2004/9/6 15:10Profile
philologos
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 Re:

Quote:
I would rather meet with 2-3 genuine believers and have fellowship in the Holy Ghost than go to a large 'church' building to have quote unquote church once a week.


Me too.

I am sometime a little reluctant to get into these local church threads. The church of which I am a part (notice a church is not a place that I attend) is by no means perfect. We have much to learn and practise but we are blessed with a great openness to the Spirit in our midst. Our meetings are all 'open'; that is to say anyone who ... hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. is encouraged to share it. Although we occasionaly have visiting speakers that we 'make room for' there is no predetermined preacher in the normal pattern of our meetings. Last night we had three preachers with gaps in between for response and prayer but a powerfully 'themed' meeting that was not man-designed. Our prayer meetings are designated 'waiting upon God' and we do. Prayer requests are often shared but there is no compulsion to pray for them; we pray as we are led. Often prophetic ministry will focus our attention upon some issue and then we will 'wait upon God' again.

My reluctance to talk about it is due to the fact that I know most Christians throughout the world do not have this opportunity. This posting is not to commend our church or to boast; to whom much is given much is required. I am writing to express the view that denominational or non-denominational structures are of comparitively little import, but real 'fellowship' in the Spirit with brothers and sisters is a great blessing. And I am quite convinced that more is often accomplished, in the Spirit, in small home gatherings than in most mega-meetings.

If you can find other believers with whom you have a sense of belonging (and ultimately responsibility and accountability) seize it with both hands. Preferably a group without an agenda for world evangelisation or elaborate church growth programmes. A group that is content to be, however moderately, a little home for God. A local church was intended to be a house for God; we have made them many other things but in its essence the place where God is 'comfortable' and can 'be Himself' is the heart of real 'church'.

Sermonindex is a great tool in the Master's hand but it can never be 'church' in the fullest sense. It is an opportunity for fellowship and testimony and instruction; and in that it is a real God-send but it can never be church in the 'real time' sense of eye to eye fellowship. Pray my brethen. God always intended to 'set the solitary in families' (not in football crowds! ;-) ) Perhaps the family that he has prepared for you is closer than you know. Don't settle for 'what's available', keep your heart open for some special provision from God.

When I read of and visit churches in different parts of the world Nehemiah's pain touches me; the walls are broken down and the gates burned with fire. But that was the beginning of the story not its end... Where there is no possibility God will provide emergency measures but we cannot make His emergency provision the norm. Pray... and when the opportunity for prayer and fellowship with like minded saints comes don't be afraid to plunge in.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/6 15:15Profile





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