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The Local Church in the 21st Century Observations and Discussions regarding the Local Church Movement in the Here and Now

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Old 11-17-2015, 08:29 AM   #1
micah6v8
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Default Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

I am not sure if there is already a thread for this, but I wanted to discuss why (i) LSM churches draw people or (ii) why people born into LSM churches do not leave the LSM churches.

I offer some reasons below. Feel free to add more or disagree with my list.

1) Comfortable Beliefs

Teachings like “It is not a matter of being right or wrong, good or bad—it is a matter of life.” may appeal to some people as it gives them license not to do good.

Doing good or doing the right thing does not come naturally to some people. After all, doing good others will involve spending one’s money, time and energy without benefit to oneself. It is comforting to be told that one need not bother to do good; you only need to be “open to the Lord” and call on the Lord.

2) Psychological Needs are met

I understand that the “Optimal distinctiveness” theory explains that individuals like to belong to groups with particular properties. This fulfils the individual’s two competing needs: (i) the need to belong and (ii) the need to feel unique.

LSM promises that if you join them, you will be part of a unique group in the centre of God’s plan and not part of “dead Christianity”. The chance to be part of an elite group is alluring.

3) Food

I agree with Witness Lee that as Christians we should not resort to gimmicks just to draw non-believers. His example was that some people go to churches because of the rock music there rather than getting to know God.

One thing he missed out though (whether intentionally or not) was the draw of food in LSM churches. One example of shepherding they teach is to invite people to your home for a meal. I don’t disagree with such an approach but sometimes it does not work out well. At some places, a love feast is like a pot-luck party, some people do get drawn into the meetings because of the variety and quantity of food and the chance to socialise. (Particularly for meals served at Small Group Meetings for college students who have just moved into a foreign country and have little money: what’s not to like about getting free food and meeting new people?).

And if you meet your life-partner (belonging to the same local church) during your college days, both of you might marry and be more embedded in the LSM community.

Note: this varies:- some of the saints have wised up and now offer simpler fare in the love feasts to filter out the visitors who are only here for the food. Or the saints get weary of cooking that they just gravitate to simpler fare.

4) International Network of LSM churches.

If you were raised in a LSM church and were moving overseas for studies, it would not hurt to be put in touch with a local church in the foreign country. You get a network of people to turn to and also enjoy a taste of home to help with the homesickness (There is a sense of familiarity as the format of meetings in the foreign country is similar in your home country). At one point (not sure if it is still true), my locality’s College Students group consisted more foreign students (quite a number were LSM church- kids from other countries) than locals. I think the sense of community was the important factor; of course having access to food (as mentioned above) played a role too.

Even if you were not a student, having an international network would help you if you were travelling. I myself benefited from this:- I enjoyed some hospitality (lodging, food and being shown around) when I visited a foreign country. My mum had put me in touch with her friend’s friend who was in a Local Church in that country). Also, if you were part of a visiting saints group who went overseas for a blending trip, you would similarly receive hospitality too (food, lodging, being shown around) from the host local church.

Last edited by micah6v8; 11-17-2015 at 08:31 AM. Reason: Formatting was off
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Old 11-17-2015, 10:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

In my experience throughout the years, I have noted that many of the people drawn to the local churches (and some may find this odd--but I HAVE noted this) have poor or non-existent relationships with their mothers. The relationship with the father does not seem to impact them as much. Many of those drawn to the church, especially in the 70s it seems, had unloving, uncaring, ineffectual, uninvolved, or, at the other extreme, authoritarian mothers. I have always theorized that the church took the place of the mother for these individuals. Those of us who had strong but not abusive parenting with more normal relationships with our mothers just never seemed as inclined to jump on every bandwagon that they presented nor did we seem as overwhelmed with the "glory" of the local church. Often, the parents (again, mostly the mothers) were lax in disciplining, away from the home too much, or frankly immoral. While no one diminishes the importance of fathers in the lives of children, it is good ol' mom who represents unconditional love and everyone expects his/her mother to be moral and to be able to supply what is needed for children on a day to day basis.

I should also add that this poor parenting with the mother (or the mismatch between child needs and mother's supply) continued in the upbringing of THESE individuals as they matured, married, and had children. So very often, children were left to the church to raise and shuffled from home to home while the "saints" could go "get fed". Remarkably little concern was shown for these children during this time.

Yet another reason that many of these individuals have come to the church is that they came from the RCC, where teaching is scant, to say the least. They were ignorant of very much that is well-taught in the evangelical churches and this certainly left them vulnerable to the teachings of the LC. If you combine this with the total allegiance that those in the RCC are taught to have toward their church, you have a strongly-fastened and largely unquestioning member. Of course, some just came from really dead mainline denominations where Christ was only some far distance example of "being good".

These are the things that I have noted throughout the years. There are certainly other reasons and all of the above supplied by Micah.
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Old 11-17-2015, 02:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

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I should also add that this poor parenting with the mother (or the mismatch between child needs and mother's supply) continued in the upbringing of THESE individuals as they matured, married, and had children. So very often, children were left to the church to raise and shuffled from home to home while the "saints" could go "get fed". Remarkably little concern was shown for these children during this time.
Below is a testimony of a child raised in the LC. Seems to confirm the ideas presented above, about family relations.

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Originally Posted by juliep View Post
I was never close to my parents, as a young child there were meetings pretty much every night of the week. Sunday night Lords Table, Wed night Prayer mtg., Friday night regular meeeting, Saturday night Love Feast. Pretty sure there was Young Peoples Meeting Monday night (for the college age attendees). During those meetings we were left at another members houses, then woken up and taken to our own home to finish out the night. (Didnt make for the best rest for young children). Of course the parents justified it as for the Lord, and besides we were kids and fell back to sleep, nothing like being woken up out of REM sleep. (Yes, there is bitterness in between the lines, or not so in between) This was my life. (Of course for the sisters taking turns babysitting, I'm sure this schedule was not piece of cake, and meant their own children and families suffered from the intrusion and spouses/fathers gone from the home.)

We always had sisters living with us, lastly near a college in Dallas, SMU, which most have probably heard of. They lived upstairs and we all shared one bathroom. If I remember correctly there were at times up to 5 Sisters in the house. Again, quit a destraction for the family unit. Needless to say, as a child and as an adult, quite a bit of resentment there for never really having a close family. To this day, I'm very uncomfortable when it comes to family. I'm not close to my siblings, have no relationship with my parents and actually have trouble trusting and getting close to anyone.
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Old 11-17-2015, 04:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

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In my experience throughout the years, I have noted that many of the people drawn to the local churches (and some may find this odd--but I HAVE noted this) have poor or non-existent relationships with their mothers. The relationship with the father does not seem to impact them as much. Many of those drawn to the church, especially in the 70s it seems, had unloving, uncaring, ineffectual, uninvolved, or, at the other extreme, authoritarian mothers. I have always theorized that the church took the place of the mother for these individuals. Those of us who had strong but not abusive parenting with more normal relationships with our mothers just never seemed as inclined to jump on every bandwagon that they presented nor did we seem as overwhelmed with the "glory" of the local church.
I guess that could be true. But I would not label my mother as either overly domineering or unloving, uncaring, etc. She, like the rest of the family, had a level of thirst that extended beyond what our fellowship of birth had supplied. We had already found a little of Watchman Nee in a local Christian bookstore. The connection claimed by Lee was therefore enticing. And the early days did not reveal many of the things that were to later come. That does not mean that there should not have been red flags. But we were too focused on other things to notice them.

The light's red. The light's red. The light's red. THE LIGHT'S RED!!!
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Old 11-17-2015, 05:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

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Originally Posted by micah6v8 View Post
2) Psychological Needs are met

I understand that the “Optimal distinctiveness” theory explains that individuals like to belong to groups with particular properties. This fulfils the individual’s two competing needs: (i) the need to belong and (ii) the need to feel unique.

LSM promises that if you join them, you will be part of a unique group in the centre of God’s plan and not part of “dead Christianity”. The chance to be part of an elite group is alluring.
Not just psychological needs, but even more, emotional needs. The idea of belonging, somewhere.

I grew up in a dysfunctional home, and can trace dysfunction in my family to the turn of the century (not this century, the previous one ). Before the LC church life, my only real home was in bars and clubs. I had no clue what "normal" looked like. In our LC we essentially tried to re-create the day of Pentecost every meeting. We'd get in each other's faces and scream whatever the slogan of the week was. It was pretty sure to raise the blood pressure; then we were "in spirit".

Then my demons came back. I got discouraged, and went to meet with the lead elder. "I have problems", I told him.

"No, you don't", he replied.

"Okay".

Later I felt discouraged and went to the other elder. "I have problems", I told him.

"Just be positive. Focus on the Lord. Exercise your spirit."

Okay.

Later on I was still discouraged, and went to the third elder. "I have problems", I told him.

"We all have problems", he replied. It was clear that he wasn't interested in the details.

"Okay; praise the Lord, amen."

But I'm grateful for the experience. The LC, for me at that time, was better than what was in my rear-view mirror. Just keep truckin'. Don't give up. Like the apostle wrote, looking away from what is behind, and stretching forward to what is before. While we live, we hope, and labor, and struggle, and persevere. God is good. Fight the good fight.
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Old 11-17-2015, 05:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

Here is an interesting post on the idea of belonging to a community, when that community was affiliated with Lee's LSM.

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...if there is one thing that seemed quite impressive (as long as everything was going right) was the community. And I can still admit that this is true.

But I also realize that some of it was marred by the fact that it completely disappeared once you got out of sync with them. ...when we needed what would amount to counseling, there was nothing to be found, especially in Irving where you didn't exist if you weren't deep into volunteering at the LSM.

And if there really was this wonderful community, there would have been more than one phone call from someone who knew us less than most when we did leave. That one fact alone sort of shoots the "wonderful community" thinking in the foot for me...
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:19 PM   #7
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Dear OBW: I was not speaking of everyone's situation, of course. I know that there were some great parents in the LC. But I also know for a fact--through long association with several-- that what I shared was and is true--so true that I took note of it and became aware that it was a fairly common situation. These were mostly those individuals that came in as teenagers without their parents. I rejoice that it was not true for you and your family-- because the long term effects are difficult to deal with. It appears that your entire family came in as a unit and that was good for you and yours. One thing I do know with absolute certainty is that during the 70s and 80s, the children of the majority of those in the LC in which we participated were ill-served and very poorly shepherded. It appeared that they were seen as obstacles to enjoyment rather than the precious gifts that they were and are.
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Old 11-18-2015, 03:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
my demons came back. I got discouraged, and went to meet with the lead elder. "I have problems", I told him.

"No, you don't", he replied.

"Okay".
This conversation, and others, took place about 27 years ago. Eventually I left the LC, and years later, my life turned when I learned one simple thing. What I do to others, God will do to me. So I began to focus on helping others, and lo and behold God began helping me.

My problems didn't vanish overnight. Most of them took years of effort. But I can testify that when I began to help others, God began to help me. When I began to have compassion on others in their situations, God began to have compassion on mine. Etc.

I discovered "the way out" - not to masticate the processed God, but rather to help others find the way out. Do unto others as you'd have God do unto you. Of course it's good to eat divine manna as well. But remember what Jesus said was food: to do the will of the Father (Jo 4:34). And chances are, the Father has placed someone even more wretched than you, nearby. That's your opportunity - take it!
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Old 11-18-2015, 06:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: Reasons why people are in the LSM churches

Ones who are raised in the local churches and receive the Lord, they know no other Christian fellowship apart from the local churches.
It's ingrained all devout Christians are meeting in the local churches and those meeting in the so-called denominations aren't serious with the Lord and it's a Sunday kind of venture with them.
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