Thousands more of God's people are “at home” (Col. 4:15), whether individually, in families, or in very small spiritually organized congregations (i.e. no legal organization).  Their precise numbers can only be estimated.


Most of these thousands are at home not because they prefer it orneglect assembling together,” but because they understand that God's command to shun apostate doctrine/teachers takes precedence, as Mr. Armstrong taught and the Bible makes clear, over the exhortation to assemble:  that exhortation rightly applies only where there is unified acceptance, upheld by the leader, of the doctrine God authoritatively delivered to the Church.  “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).  “I [God] cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting” (Isaiah 1:13). “If anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed” (II Thes. 3:14-15). “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition” (Tit. 3:9-10).  The following verses contain important additional instruction on this crucial point:  Rev. 2:14-16, 20 (Christ gravely warns the Church about continuing to congregate with apostate teachers); II John 6, 9-11; II Tim. 2:16-17; Jer. 9:2; 15:17; Ezek. 13:9.


Under normal circumstances the principle of assembling together coincides with that of shunning apostate doctrine/teachers, but part of the searching test God has brought on the Church is that these principles diverge today.  The test also brought the principle of shunning apostate doctrine/teachers into conflict with otherwise right principles of Church government, including waiting for God to correct the appointed leader rather than leaving the place of worship God clearly founded; this conflict caused many of us spiritual anguish in considering whether and when to leave the WCG.  The same divergence of these principles likely happened when God tested other Church eras with “better understanding” proclaimed by false apostles/teachers (Rev. 2:2, 14-15 and 20-25).


Mr. Armstrong taught that the Church is a spiritual body, the body of Christ, not an organization or association of people.  Obviously, however, Church worship has partially physical aspects subsidiary to its greatest meaning—direct communion with God in the Holy Convocation, in which we are specially called into His presence in the Spirit.  Chief among these partially physical aspects is that the Church's Sabbath observance normally includes interaction with other worshipers. Additional physical aspects are a customary meeting facility/location, and customary service arrangements and procedures.


These partially physical aspects all potentially carry significant spiritual value, but if separated from the essential spiritual aspects of the Church, they are worthless.  Consider, for example, that unless things have changed in recent years, the church Garner Ted Armstrong founded conducts services just like a congregation of the true Church:  a minister officiates in the customary way, with all customary arrangements/procedures, and the members “fellowship.”  Indeed, the same could be said even to this day of the former WCG's Sabbath-meeting congregations.