Saturday, January 23, 2010

#114-The Classification System (In Church vs. Backslidden)

A common trait of members of the Apo movement is the desire to gauge where fellow churchgoers are spiritually. Some would say that our “holiness standards” do a good job of creating criteria by which to grade fellow apo’s. While this may not be the goal of such standards, it has become an implicit secondary function.
However, I do not wish to discuss the role of standards in this post (as we are not there yet as a community), but the grading scale by which church patrons are measured.
There are two ends of the grading scale:
a.) ----In Church
b.) ----Backslidden
The criteria for being considered “in church” entails that said patron regularly attends all scheduled church meeting times, astutely holds all standards of their local assembly, has an upstanding reputation and abstains from all social taboo’s.
The criteria for being backslidden entails that said patron irregularly attends church, or not at all, holds to a small percentage or none of the standards of the local assembly, whose reputation is questionable and sometimes engages in social taboo’s.
Apo’s are usually quite quick to be able to gauge where on the spectrum an individual falls. If one were to illustrate the scale it would probably look like this:

Backslidden--------Backsliding----------On the fence-----------In church

Undoubtedly most of us could walk into our church on Sunday and grade the majority of the congregants on this linear scale.
An evaluation may go something like this:
“Christy usually comes once every other week nowadays, she’s been trimming her hair and wearing make up. I saw a picture she put on Facebook and I think she was holding a drink. I don’t know what it was but it looked alcoholic. It’s safe to say she’s backsliding.”
“Jacob comes to church every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He’s in bible quizzing, he wears long pants, even in the summer, he has TV Guardian and accountability software on his computer. He’s definitely in church.”
The criteria seems so cut and dry, and explanations for any breaks in the criteria are not usually sought out. If one misses church for school or work it doesn’t really matter, as church should be the priority over education and supporting ones self.
The other interesting thing to note about the grading scale is that the term “backslid” is the Apo equivalent of a derogatory slur. Being backslidden is the only thing worse than being charismatic (although most Apo’s call former Apo’s who “go charismatic” to be “backslidden”).
The irony about this scale is that it has nothing to do with God. There is no in and out with God. We’re all children of God, He loves us, He’s watching us, and in the end we’ll either be saved or lost. But right now we’re just people on a journey. We’re not saved or lost yet so these terms are for nothing more than our gossipy indulgence. They are our living soap opera.
Who’s “in” and who’s “out” this week. Who broke what standard? Who had a moment of indiscretion? Who failed? Who slipped up?
These degrading terms turn the sons and daughters of God into gossiping children in a giant lunch room, whispering and giggling, all the while reducing someone’s soul to a conversation piece.
A while back in Detroit there was a funeral held for the “n word”, in which abusers of the word swore to never use it again, and it’s use became unacceptable. I think “backslider” needs to be thrown in the tomb with it, along with anyone who thinks they can determine the status of an individuals walk with God based on the length of their hair or the tint of their make-up.


  1. You hit the nail on the head with this one! Please, please, please keep this up....This website makes my day.

  2. You said it. "we're not saved yet". We're on a journey....

    love this post. God bless...

  3. To some degree I can see the point of this post but at the same time I have to disagree with it. While I think we should be careful what we say and how we say it, and its NOT our place to judge. HOWEVER, If the man of God in my life feels like myself or someone in the church is in a backslidden state, I for one WANT him to tell me this about myself!!! Also, I TOTALLY do not feel like the "N" word is anything like saying that someone is backslidden. Totally different context, meaning, purpose and USE for the "N" word!The N word is a derogatory word that is used with contempt and used in a very demeaning way.

  4. Mary Frances, you've missed the point. You're right in the sense that if you called someone the N word, they would probably be more offended than if you had called them back-slidden. Both have unnecessary use though. I can't think of a situation where it would be appropriate to use one or the other. He's not comparing the two to be equally "hurtful" or "offensive", he's just saying let's get rid of it like the N word. I agree entirely with this post.

  5. "But right now we’re just people on a journey. We’re not saved or lost yet so these terms are for nothing more than our gossipy indulgence. " right now if God came...he would not take His church? Hmmmm you are either saved or will either make the rapture or not. What do you think...God is going to say?? Oh I'll come back. You are still on your "journey". I cannot believe you said we are neither saved nor lost......that is psycho. You people that think we are on a journey are nuts off your rocker. Yes, each day is new and we have to repent daily etc...but come on Joel....journey???

  6. Right now, right this very moment has God said to you that you're in? Are you in heaven? Has God said "Well done thou good and faithful servant"?
    No? Ok, then you're not saved.
    Yes, when God comes and takes you to heaven then you're saved. If you're alive, walking the earth then you're not there yet.
    It's pretty simple. If you're not in heaven yet then you can still be lost..
    I'm kind of aloof to your logic..

  7. May I ask what exactly constitutes backslidden? I know people who have left the church I attend. They still believe in God and they know the bible better than I. The thing is, they stopped attending church and started doing some the afore mentioned things in this blog such as the Christy character. Just because they don't adhere to every standard of the church doesn't make them backslidden. If this were true then we would all be backsliders for we all sin. I agree with burrying the "B" word as I will now ironicly call it and have henceforth taken a vow to do so!


  8. Glen, I respectfully disagree. Though I have to finish the race faithfully, the salvation we've received is a deposit toward the future. God is not chronological, so when you are saved, it is written ahead. I am not a believer of the "you're not saved until the gate closes behind you" theory. Our salvation is confident and secure. You are called a Son of God, a child of His, His bride, called by His name, you better believe He'd come and claim you if he were to return right now. We are saved by grace.

    To the individual who said this:
    "You people that think we are on a journey are nuts off your rocker."

    Do you and I read the same Bible? Are we not following Christ? It's not that we haven't found Him, but we're following Him. I could give you story after story, from patriarchs to apostles of this relationship being a journey. I suspect your hatred for the word is on other grounds, but certainly not biblical ones.

    He didn't leave behind monuments and statues, only footprints. I choose to follow. And while I follow His ways, and have not yet attained, I am assured I am already His.

    1. I know I'm 3 1/2 years late to this party/post/comment, but well said! We're sealed with salvation when we give our lives over to him.

  9. Sorry, the above note was me.

  10. Saved has a few meanings.
    1. We can say "God saved me from my sinful lifestyle, I'm saved"
    2. We can say we are in a saved condition.
    3. We will be saved when we get to heaven.
    So yes we're saved in the way Peter said SAVE yourselves from this untoward generation. No we're not saved in the sense as we're no in heaven.

  11. Now isn't that special! Like you!

    Jason Skarda.

  12. We are saved, just not yet redeemed. Argue with Paul.