If you have found yourself here, you have likely been on the search for a Christian community that adheres to the scriptures, tries to live like Jesus did, and follows the two greatest commandments laid out by Jesus himself.
Not sure what the two greatest commandments are?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV)
You may have even visited several churches that say, “We love Jesus!”. They claim that love is all that matters, and, indeed, that it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear or what you look like. Yes, this is true as Galatians 5:14 says that “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Yet, something is missing. It feels hollow. You are seeking something deeper. These churches often read a single verse out of context, then sing and rejoice in the name of the Lord! This is all well and good – not the reading verses out of context, but the singing and rejoicing part.
You may have visited some fellowships where they read the whole chapter instead of a verse, the pastor explains the passage in the context of several chapters or even the whole book, and everyone takes notes. There are songs and praying; everyone dresses modestly. But again, there is that hollow feeling. There is not much laughter, there are sideways glances when someone shows up in dirty clothing, everyone seems to agree on everything, and your questions are avoided, or worse, met with hostility, accusations, and an invitation to leave. You consider watching online so you can get the Biblical sermon without the awkwardness.
Then there is the option to find a group that meets in beautiful buildings. You could never tire of admiring the art on the ceilings, learning the history, and analyzing the liturgical prayers. Passages are read from the Bible every Sunday, a sermon that is loosely based on the passage is told, and everyone breaks bread and drinks the wine. There is a focus on confession and prayer. There isn’t much mingling after the service; everyone gets in their cars and drives away. Then you start looking around and there are people from all walks of life, old and young, strong and weak, poor and rich. This is beautiful.
Then you notice the store clerk who cussed out a customer in line in front of you and the guy who is repeatedly in the police blotter. You excuse it because a church is a place for sinners, right? We are not perfect after all, and you firmly believe in Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Then you run into a fellow parishioner on the job and he says offhandedly, “I went to church on Sunday – I’m good.” You find yourself wondering if there is a culture of a sin-confess-sin again cycle.
You’re fed up with Christians. You may even stop searching for a church because you just don’t fit in.
After you’ve had a few years to cool off, you go for the extreme.
“I’ll just move to the country and find a close-knit group of Christians. They seem to have it right,” you think to yourself. They are “removed from this world” as it states we should be in the Bible.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
So, you begin researching how.
First off, it is really hard to learn about a group of people on the internet when most of them do not even have electricity, let alone the internet, but you keep searching anyway. You find some print publications to subscribe to, and you research the history of the people. Quickly you are romanticizing wearing plain clothing, living in the country, sitting in a living room with no TV and fellowshipping with like-minded Christians in a real community. After a while, you start searching the right keywords on the internet and you find out there is an online presence! You excitedly reach out!
After some time, it becomes apparent that you need to tone down your vocabulary because many of these people do not have more than an 8th grade education, which is not a problem. Does it matter what words are being used if you are saying the same thing and praising God?
Then, someone kindly informs you that you need to change your clothing, but whereas you are not a member of any church you cannot wear what is common to any one group. “Okay?” you say, “I can handle that, after all I want to be ‘separate from the world’.”
When you ask questions about scripture they are avoided, or you receive what sounds like a rehearsed response that doesn’t answer your question. You meet some great people, but in the end you are left with that hollow feeling again. But you’ve learned a substantial amount and you have a good idea of what you want and what you don’t want.
With a little regained hope, you keep plugging along down the path. But where do you go from here?
Then you see a family in the grocery store. The mother is kind and gentle with her children; she is dressed modestly in a long dress and she is wearing a head covering. Her children are behaving and appear to be happy. The father is wearing work clothes and looks tired, but also happy to be present with his family. You ask them what religion they are part of and they kindly answer they attend a church that is located in the country. The research continues! You soon learn that they are part of the Anabaptist tradition which is the lesser-known third option to Catholicism and Protestantism. They believe in living like Jesus which includes faith and good works, non-resistance, remaining separate from the world, believer’s baptism, separation of church and state, and two-kingdom theology.
You decide to dig in deeper where you learn that many churches have the above listed in their belief statements, and you gain more hope. You find some websites and Facebook groups where you make acquaintances with several Anabaptists, maybe even attend a Conservative Anabaptist church in person, watch or listen to some sermons online. You really like what you are hearing!
After some time, you learn there seems to be a divide among the people. There are several who seem to care more about rules, clothing, politics, and traditions than following the teachings of the Bible. But then there are those who are genuinely trying to live in the footsteps of Jesus. It’s definitely a place where you can hang your hat for a while, but it is hard to find people you feel comfortable fellowshipping with.
You have a daydream where, in a perfect world, you take all the good from the above groups and you throw it into a bowl and mix it up with love. The acceptance of all walks of life and the singing praises from the first church, the heartfelt dedication to studying the scripture from the second group, the dedication to confession and prayer from the third, the obvious separation from the world from the fourth, and the original mission of the fifth. Toss in real fellowship and accountability with brothers and sisters who share similar beliefs and a similar passion for thoroughly following Jesus. Your heart swells and your eyes tear up with joy for what could be and the sad reality that you are certain it does not exist.
You pray that God will strengthen you to entirely follow Jesus on your own, that you will somehow be a lone beacon in the darkness that can help guide people to Christ, that God will provide the knowledge, the words, and the skills to reach out to those closest to you and shed all fear. You focus your efforts on your closest family and friends and your random encounters throughout the day. You read the scriptures for yourself; you pray and meditate on the passages you read. You begin with the Sermon on the Mount taught by Jesus himself, Matthew 5-7. You continue to pray for fellowship with Christians who are willing to lay it all down and, “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Then it comes to you… How did the church operate when it was still fresh under the influence of Jesus and his direct teachings? Enter the Kingdom Outpost, where several like-minded Christians are gathering together in a movement to wholly and completely follow the teachings of Jesus, and to operate like the early churches that Jesus’s Apostles helped establish.
Every journey is different, and every church has good people in it trying their best to follow the teachings of Jesus. This story just happens to be loosely based on my own path that brought me to Kingdom Christianity. If you can relate, please dive deeper, learn more about us and what we are trying to accomplish. Read about the early church from the Ante-Nicene period (before the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD). Read more about Anabaptist history. However, please do not follow us or the teachings of men – follow God! Never stop reading scriptures and praying in lieu of friendships and discussions about the Bible and God. Our personal investment in Jesus and scriptures is what keeps that hollow feeling away. Anytime you remove your spiritual relationship from the equation you will be left with an empty husk, a mission statement that doesn’t resemble your actions. That is precisely what we are trying to avoid here.