I understand where you’re coming from. I’m now 67 years old and was a pastor for about 25 years and then 20 years a hospice chaplain after that. I also felt like you until the last couple of years where I had time to back away from the Trees and see the whole forest.
First, regarding the young man you described…this can also happen in an institutional church too. The fact he began a home fellowship has nothing to do with the inclinations of a man. You have evil intentions in the mainline churches and in some home fellowships too.
Second, and this is the real touchy one: around the world, we now have some 40,000 denominations–the religious Christian world is so completely divided. It took me a long time to realize that, even in my own valley (with 40 or 50 different churches), that they are not actual churches but merely, manmade institutions that are Christian in nature but not the church. These are just different places in the valley where the church has divided up and is presently fellowshipping. You mentioned that God wanted “elders and deacons” to be established. You’re a student of the Bible–did Paul have in mind elders at 40 different churches, each being selected by a different process and in many cases non-biblical? In actuality, the church in my valley is just one church (anytime where 2 or 3 are gathered in His Name). There is no paid local clergy (not mentioned in the Bible), there is no state corporation, there is no tithing (not part of the New Covenant), and Jesus condemns the use of titles of address (Matthew 23). In fact, Peter just called Paul, “our brother Paul.” You didn’t have salaries, staff, w2s, etc. These “churches” are not the church, they are manmade institutions. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t work in flawed manmade systems, He does! And no doubt, many have been saved and encouraged through these institutions. God will use any and every means to save His creatures.
Most of my life, I’ve been where you’re at. It’s very difficult to walk away and see the whole picture. And when one is getting a paycheck from such an institution, it’s even harder. I know (and I’m ashamed to say it), that I didn’t always preach the truth for fear of losing my income.
I don’t think my comments will really change your mindset. I understand. It wasn’t until I turned 65 (two years ago), and reinvested my studies in an objective approach that I rounded a corner and a new understanding took shape. But hopefully I’ve planted a seed.
Church is not a Sunday event. It’s a life event where brethren are a part of each other’s lives weekly. Where they can meet from house to house as mentioned in Acts. In fact, even when you consider giving, in the New Testament, benevolence wasn’t a part of the budget, it was the budget. They didn’t always give weekly, but they would save weekly for the needy saints (1 Cor. 16). We also see some offerings for traveling missionaries and apostles, but we don’t see salaried full time local preachers in the Bible. In fact, Rabbis didn’t even receive a salary until about the 6th century.
Be blessed my brother.