By looking at the many Christian religions available in the world today, it is obvious that most Christians want, like, expect, even demand, that another man act as a "go-between" between themselves and God. There are some small groups that don't, but these are a minority.
So to suggest a "do it yourself" religion is going to sound absurd to the majority of Christians today. Yet it has strong backing from the Bible, once the errors are isolated.
Before I go too far, it might help if I try to define what I mean by a DIY Christian religion.
Christians in general, do the following things.
1. Get in prayer every day
2. Get in some Bible reading every day [if they don't - they should].
3. Do Bible study to draw related Scriptures together.
4. Keep one day differently - the "Sabbath" - and if possible attend a service.
5. Want someone to anoint them when they are sick, and be available for counsel.
6. Keep God's Holy Days and observe special times.
7. Tithe on crops and animals increase.
Points 1 and 2 are done by the individual and have nothing to do with the type of Church you attend.
In a DIY religion, point 3 also becomes personal, and you have to buy the books and computer programs (some of the best are free) to do your own study.
Points 4, 5, 6 and 7 are where the main differences come in.
Point 4 (Sabbath) - Because most churches that exist today, incorporate some of the errors in our English translations, you can't become a "member in good standing" without compromising your own beliefs - if you are trying to put God's will first. However, there are many Sabbath keeping churches that are happy to have you attend as a visitor - provided you don't cause trouble by bringing out your own "different" beliefs. The alternative is to come up with your own traditions of making the Sabbath "different", and keep the Sabbath at home.
Point 5 (Anointing and counsel) - In your average Christian group, this is all taken care of by someone who is an elder in the group. For DIY people, you have to find someone who will do it for you, and/or use government provided counselors, or people who are available for a fee. Financial advice from a bank advisor could be the best advice you can get - so why not use it. For anointings, the Bible uses the word "elder", which just means a senior person. A simple definition of an elder is someone usualy over 40, mature, a sincere Christian, and can demonstrate some of the fruits of the Spirit. Many men serving in the office of "minister" or "pastor" also qualify.
Point 6 (Holy Days) - Is much like the the Sabbath, but harder to find a group who keeps the Holy Days on the correct day - as per the Biblical calendar. However, you can keep them at home.
Point 7 (Tithes) - This one is a bit hard, as tithes are for supporting a group providing religious services. If you use e-Sword, then you can use tithes to support that group. Likewise, if you have a NET Bible, you can use tithes to support them. Two worthy organisations who are trying to provide a service to others - but I am sure there are more.
The minus of having a DIY religion is that you have to do a lot more work yourself, and take the time to check out the people you want to deal with in life. Another minus is that you do not have a ready made group with which to fellowship.
The plus is that you don't have a man or organization standing between you and Christ - the Head of the Church. The concept - of looking to Christ for our teaching (Mat 23:8) - takes some getting used to, but once you see it happening, you wouldn't want it any other way. I'll explain that a little more later.
As I see it, there are three main reasons why most Christian religions of today have priests/ministers/pastors standing between the people and God. The first reason that helps to bring this about is the fact that many men - and women - want to hold this position. This desire has been given extra "authority", by the Bible being mistranslated in certain places to make it look like "ordination" into a hierarchy has God's approval. The only hierarchy I can find described in the original Bible is, God - Christ - Husband - Wife - Children.
The next reason is that most people have just accepted the situation. They have been brought up with an established "tradition" and have made little or no effort to find out if that is God's will.
The third reason comes about because of an urge deep within humans to have something they can "see" when they come before God. This human urge comes out in a number of different ways. The most basic is idol worship, but it also extends to having "religious objects" to "help" with their worship, and with having another human (usually dressed in a particular way) lead in the worship service.
These pressures make it difficult for people to understand that it is possible to have an invisible force - Christ - as our High Priest, and the only one operating between us and God. This is the situation described in 1 Cor 11:3, and is a form of hierarchy that has God's approval.
1Co 11:3 NET. "But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ."
If we take a composite of a number of translations, and change the word order a bit, we can come up with the following.
1 Cor 11:13 [God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of men. Husbands are the head of their wives] (Eph 5:23).
This means that all married men answer directly to Christ. Wives look to their husbands for leadership, unless the husband does not reflect the values of Christ - then, on those issues she has to look to Christ (Acts 5:29). Young males and females should look to their physical father, but it that is not appropriate, they too should look to Christ. For those families that do not have a physical father present, then certainly look to Christ and our heavenly Father for leadership, but also listen to the advice and counsel from close family, and people in responsible positions (school principals, bank managers, police, and so on).
If young people looking to God and Christ for leadership is a new concept for you, you may want to review how God worked with Samuel (1 Sam 2,3) Jeremiah (Jer 1:5) and David (1 Sam 17:33-37) - notice he was just a "boy" (NET).
As in all things, we need to keep the concept of a "do it yourself" religion in balance. We need someone to tell us about God and Christ in the first place. We need other people to baptize and lay hands on us, and we may need elders for anointing if we are sick. The big difference between a DIY religion and mainstream Christianity is in the qualifications of who can "serve" other Christians in these capacities, and the way they go about doing that.
Our Lord is subject to His Father. That is simple and straight forward. Men are subject to Christ - also called our High Priest (Heb 7:17-28). That also is simple and straight forward. Wives are subject to their husband. While the husband upholds the values of God and Christ, that too is easy to understand. The complications arise when a husband does not - or ceases to - uphold the right values. In these cases the wife has no option but to look to Christ, or continue to look to Christ if the husband has never been converted (accepted Jesus's sacrifice).
When Jesus was on earth, He was quite specific that men were NOT to put themselves into positions of authority. We are to look to Christ, not to men.
Mat 23:8-11 NET. But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. (9) And call no one your 'father' on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (10) Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one teacher, the Christ. (11) The greatest among you will be your servant.
Joh 13:13 NET. You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and do so correctly, for that is what I am.
I can't give you a total answer to this question, as there will be differences between individuals and situations. However, some basic things to look for are these.
Theory then practical.
As you read about certain Biblical principles each day [if you are not reading some of the OT and NT each day, then you are automatically rejecting much of Christ's teaching], you will find situations often will come up that require those principles to understand them correctly. Or you will be talking to another Christian, and the principle you read about in the past week will come to mind, and it will fit right into the conversation.
Another example. You might be reading about usury (charging excessive interest) being banned by God within the country, and then on TV one night (as I did) you might see a current affair type program showing how loan sharks are charging over 100% for a loan.
Reading about a Biblical principle, and then being presented with a practical example, is a common way Christ teaches, and it helps to make the principle "stick" in our mind.
Pieces of the jig-saw.
When you see this method working, you just have to shake you head in wonderment.
Christ, at different times and in different ways, and through different people, will give you pieces of information. It comes in such a way that you remember it. Then - often years later - the piece of information will fit into the jig-saw.
In trying to track down the truth that was in the original Bible, I have read many articles posted by people on the Net. Some of the articles were helpful in their own right. Some seemed to be incorrect. But often in those articles I could not agree with, there would often be a point of truth, or a Scripture mentioned, that I would find helpful later on. By doing my part by searching (Mat 13:45), Christ was doing His by leading me to pick up the gems that had been scattered across the Internet.
I find that talking to older people - the "elders" - is a great way to pick up some wisdom. Often they can summarize an aspect of life in a single sentence. Their life experiences finally come down to the core of the matter. If our Lord leads you to meet new people, don't miss the opportunity to engage in some deep discussion.
Pointing out our mistakes.
It may not be the nicest way to learn, but it probably is the most common way. We learn how not to do things by making mistakes. Christ will then use circumstances to bring these mistakes to our notice. If we deny our mistake, or try to ignore it, we miss out on a great learning opportunity. If we recognize our mistake, repent, and try to correct it if we can, we make positive forward progress, despite taking some backward steps to start with.
People following a DIY religion, can't afford to act like they "know it all" or are already "perfect". We all carry human nature to the day we die, and there will always be a conflict between our human side wanting the ways of the world, and spiritual side wanting to be like Jesus Christ.
Gal 5:17 NET. "For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want".
Therefore all of us will make mistakes at some time or other. But we need to be willing to learn from those mistakes. Admit them, repent of them, learn from them, then move on.
Christ will use circumstances.
An example that comes to mind, though I now forget some of the finer details. An acquaintance gave me an address where you could send away for a free monthly news letter - which I did. This introduced me to Jonathan Gray - an author. Then it just so happened that we went to Trash and Treasure the day some people were selling some of his books at a stall. I bought a book written by Jonathan and got more information about the location of Mount Sinai and the Red Sea crossing, and so on. Without the prior contact, and some knowledge of who Jonathan Gray was, it is most unlikely that we would have bought the book - "The Ark of the Covenant".
There have been a number of times when I have met someone, and then some time later - in one case years - we start communicatiing and then a pearl of truth is given (or where to find a pearl is given) and then the person just disappears back into the woodwork - as they say. Sometimes they don't give a pearl of truth, but they ask a question that requires further research to answer, which in turn leads to a pearl of truth.
The bottom line.
At the end of the day, if we are looking to Christ to lead and teach us, He will supply the knowledge and understanding we need, if we are willing to do our part.
I have never tried a DIY religion before, and I don't know anyone
else who has, this is breaking new ground for me. As I move away from
the "normal" organized religion, and step out into a closer
relationship with Christ as Head of the Church, and away from men
power, I am finding a new freedom to explore the Bible.
One of the most important "freedoms", I feel, is that you can
change on a point of doctrine as soon as you are convinced that it is
correct. This "freedom" is rarely found in organized religions.
This greater understanding of the Bible that has come through this process, makes the extra effort required for a DIY religion worthwhile in my book. However, I can understand that there will be many who don't want to walk down this road. It has to be a personal decission.
To make a DIY religion work, I would suggest you will have to consider, and put into practice, the following points.
Each day you will need to get in a reasonable amount of prayer - in a quiet place and on your knees, if possible. It helps if your prayer can be split up into two or three sessions through out the day. Many times, thoughts and solutions to problems have come to me while praying. I have no doubt that God can just "put" thoughts into our minds.
Also on each day, you will need to read something out of the Old Testament and the New Testament. It doesn't matter if it is a chapter or a page, or a certain number of verses - what ever suits you and your particular Bible. Currently I am reading the NT in a Life Application Bible, and find that a page a day is best. For the OT I am using the NLT with cross references at the bottom, and again, a page a day suits.
Find a way to make the Sabbath special. When God created the Sabbath, He "ceased" from work. We too should cease our normal work, but doesn't mean that we have to sit around and do nothing all day. Walks that get us back to nature, extra time for study, communication with family and friends, are some of the positive things we can do on the Sabbath. If you are able to attend a service with other Sabbath keepers, and there is no pressure put on you to "conform" to the group, then that can be a good thing to do as well.
the Holy Days according to the Biblical Calendar. Atonement is a yearly
Sabbath, and as such is kept as a Sabbath. The other Holy Days have a
higher standard than the weekly Sabbath, and should be kept with the
least amount of physical things being done as possible. Ex
tells us that things to do with food preparation and eating
the Holy Days are OK.
As I mentioned before, we are dependant on people bringing us news of the gospel in the first place (Rom 10:14). Since it requires an ongoing learning effort to understand the gospel better, we do need to read books and search out articles. As you are able to afford it, build up a library of reference books, and books written on a specific subject. If you have a computer, many books can be downloaded for free, or at a reasonable price. It is a good idea to subscribe to a couple of monthly religious magazines, if you are able to sort out truth from error. If you are just going to read them and believe everything, then you would be best to stay away from them. Two examples would be the "Good News" and "Tomorrow's World". While both are free, we should follow the principle of Gal 6:6, and help out with the cost if we can.
While this information is made freely available (Mat 10:8b) , and can be printed out, it is done with the understanding that there will only be fair and honest use of the material, and that it will be copied in full with no alterations.