Professional sports has popularized the term "free agency." It is a contractual concept by which a professional athlete, after serving, playing or performing under contract for a certain number of years, becomes free to negotiate a new contract with any other team. When that time expires, he is a "free agent." He no longer "belongs" to the team with which he originally signed.
Though it is very financially rewarding to the players, this concept is playing a major role in destroying fan loyalty. Players, especially the very good ones, are becoming little more than "hired guns" who give their talents to the highest bidder. They move from team to team, wherever they feel it will be most lucrative for them to play. Free agency is exposing the public to the greed that lies at the foundation of each player's heart and is turning people off by the tens of thousands. Fan loyalty to a team is being overcome by disgust.
The same negative force is at work in the church in the wake of the doctrinal changes. Many in the ministry are considered to be little more than hirelings to whom a paycheck, severance pay, or retirement income and benefits mean more than the truth of God and the spiritual health of the sheep. Many of the sheep feel abandoned and unprotected.
This distrust of the ministry is producing a fairly large number of "independent" Christians. These people will not join with any group. They are going to float and/or just go it alone because, they say, their Sabbaths are so much better now that they are free to pursue their own studies and teach their own families. They are relieved that they do not have to put up with all the hassles in the congregation or listen to another boring sermon. Besides all this, they distrust the church government and/or do not care for the policies. I have heard all of these expressions of independence uttered or written more than I care to hear or see.
This approach may very well destroy them! In them, the principle that the church is a "spiritual organism" is stretched to its very limit! In this extreme approach, there can be no such thing as an "independent" Christian since a Christian is made part of Christ's body when he receives the Holy Spirit. The spiritual body is one though it has many members (I Corinthians 12:20).
The independents like to give the appearance of being wise and strong—strong enough to stand alone and be independent, to be real leaders. But, in reality, they are just as devastated as anybody. In fact, they might be among the most devastated; their attitude and corresponding reaction are exposing the underlying problem. They are those who, in battlefield triage, would be left to die because they are too far gone, and little or nothing can be done for them.
John W. Ritenbaugh
In the Grip of Distrust