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Many of our friends are churchgoers; but we have coined the term 'churchies' for some of our worst enemies. So what is the difference?

Churchies are people whose first loyalty is to the institutional church rather than to Jesus . They are defensive about the establishment and critical of anyone who supports the teachings of Jesus. Unfortunately, this includes the vast majority of churchgoers.

Churchies hate us for the same reason the Pharisees and other religious leaders hated Jesus--He pointed people back to true faith and signalled the end of religion as an institution, with all of its greed, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. (John 4:21-4, and Luke 16:16)

Jesus had no complaints about people learning from the good that was in the religious institution, as long as they didn't imitate its hypocrisy (Matthew 23:2-3).

Christian churchgoers share our frustration at the dishonesty and insincerity in the institutional church. They are usually trying to 'work from the inside' to steer people back to the ideals that the institution held when it first began. They too experience opposition from the religious establishment.

We strongly believe these people would be happier and more effective for God if they left the institution and worked on creating a sample of what Christianity should be, for the others to imitate. But we don't see their church attendance as wrong. If we had opportunity to do more from the inside we would take advantage of it too. It is just a matter of working out where our efforts will be most fruitful, and then working there.

Genuine Christians operating inside the religious establishment need all the encouragement and prayer support that they can get. It takes courage to speak up for Jesus there, where opposition to his teachings is most united. And it takes a close relationship with God to keep from becoming confused when his opponents profess utter devotion to him and claim dramatic religious experiences from him.

But a word of warning to believers inside the institutional church: it is easy to think you are a genuine Christian crusading within an apostate church, when in fact you are just a malcontent who lacks the backbone to get out and start something better. Malcontents are malcontents because down deep inside they know that they are dependent on the system that they are fighting against. Humbly examine yourself to see whether there may be some of that in you too.

We strongly urge Christians who want to operate from inside the institution to be sure first that they are prepared to leave it all if God says so, and then to find fellowship with at least one other Christian (This can be a husband or wife.) who will support you in your efforts to speak the truth from the inside. Be assured that, even if there are only two or three of you, Jesus Christ himself is there with you! (Matthew 18:20)

(See also Malcontents.)

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