Category Archives: Unity?

Is it okay to make accusations against The Church?

The purpose of this article is to find out whether or not it is okay to speak against The Church.  In fact, is it okay to speak against a local church of which is a smaller part of the whole Body of Christ?  Often criticism against the Church is popular among secularists and Christians alike.  In fact, some pastors would seemingly speak in such a way to attract people to their church particular part of the whole Body.  Usually this type of attraction is levied in such a way to try to get Christians to leave their church, or to reach those who say they are Christians who have rejected church.  That might be another blog someday.  While those on the other side, meaning, those outside of The Church universal would criticize The whole Body in general.  Many of these are those who want nothing to do with Christ because they have rejected Him by determining to live their lives on their own without Him.  In other words, they do not want to live lives influenced by Jesus Christ.  In fact, this is God’s gift to them anyway because He allows them to choose freely to live without Christ.  On the other hand, there are those who want the gift of life which only is available through Jesus Christ.  Yet, these sometimes only want eternal life and, therefore, follow Christ in the way that they see fit.  Sounds very similar to those who reject outright, but only God knows the heart; yet, Jesus does tell us that we will know them by their love, while Paul says by their Fruit.  In other words, these do not allow Jesus to be their Lord, but will allow Him to be their Savior if such a distinction is possible.

When trying to put our minds around the idea of Church, the Bride of Christ, it is helpful to remember that The Church is both Human and Divine at the same time.  It is important to understand this concept in order to properly address the question at hand.  As a result, this simply means that churches can make mistakes and need correction from the Word of God as prompted by The Holy Spirit; hence, Human and Divine at the same time.  This is usually needed when the church has gone outside of the boundaries of what is written in the Bible.  In fact, when correction is needed, it is not necessarily from an individual who is not associated with The Church.  Therefore,  denominationally, there is usually supervision that comes from those whom God has placed in leadership and their charge is to hold a local Body accountable to operate within the boundaries of what is written in The Bible.  These leaders are overseers that we trust that God has placed in these roles.  If not, God will remove them.  In fact, when governing  a Body, leadership will seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, The Bible, and historically from the early Church fathers.  This should be a comfort for those who tend to be suspicious of churches.

It seems that many Christians in America, in particular, have not been discipled properly.  In other words, it seems that many fall into the group of people who want to be saved by Christ, but they do not want to follow and obey Him.  This may be the result of praying a simple prayer to receive Jesus as Savior and then believing that the finish line has been reached.  This is far from the truth.  In fact, receiving Christ is the starting point.  Yet, most churches, unfortunately, do not disciple young believers (not young by physical age, but still new in their belief) into a healthy relationship with Jesus as their Teacher for life.  Jesus is supposed to teach all believers not only how to live Holy lives, but also how to love and protect The Church while existing in a hostile world.  After all, He gave His life for everyone to be incorporated into The Church (God’s Kingdom; the New Israel).  In fact, Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24-25).  Further, in this same passage, some accused the work that Christ did as being the work of Satan.  This is blasphemy against The Holy Spirit.  Jesus warned them about this type of accusation.  Therefore, it only makes sense that Christians are not quick to make accusations against Christ’s Church and churches.  After all, if God is doing something unusual through The Church or churches, it is better safe than sorry.

The Apostle Paul addressed the importance of The Church in the world, by dealing with the Corinthian Church which was part of the whole Body, in 1 Corinthians.  In fact, contrary to popular belief, churches exist to hold members accountable according to this book.  In this church, Paul said that there were those who were not Spirit-filled and seemed to build the church from the foundation of everything but the Cross.  They did so because they operated under the influence of the world’s wisdom and not under the Spirit’s wisdom which is not of this world.  Therefore, when listening to those who would criticize The Church, one needs to decide whether or not someone is has a unifying spirit or not.  God desires that His Kingdom be united here on earth.  If not, then it is usually because the person may not be filled with the Spirit. This means The Church should not listen to someone who fits this mold.  In fact, if someone is not filled with The Spirit, The Bible seems to classify this person as someone who is part of the Kingdom of this world.

In answering the question of whether or not it is okay to make accusations against The Church, or part of the whole Body, one needs to see what The Bible said about it.  In fact, Paul talked about the dangers of someone who believes he or she is wise.  The issue he dealt with was that unity had been challenged by those who followed certain leaders and their particular teachings.  Division was brought about because worldly wisdom seemed to help shape the Corinthian Church.  Paul believed that those who created division and operated under the influence of worldly wisdom were actually destroying The Church.  Here is his reply, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple  is sacred and you together are that temple” (1 Cor. 3:16-17, NIV).  This is usually a passage that some like to use to discourage Christians from drinking and smoking.  But, in the context that it is found, and the plural “you” that is used, it is obvious that God has a major problem with those who are destroying His Church whether knowingly, or unknowingly.

Therefore, creating division and making accusations seems to be dangerous.  It is true that people can have an opinions.  Yet, those opinions must submit to the authority of God’s Word.  At least if these who say they are Christians would desire to please the Lord.  According to The Bible, Satan is one who accuses the Saints, those who belong to The Church, and with that knowledge it is a very serious thing to bring accusations against The Bride of Christ.  Moreover, it seems that these Scriptures, along with others not listed, seem to exist to cause one to consider carefully what he or she says.  In my opinion, it is best not to bring an accusation unless the accuser has had a Burning Bush experience.  Yet, even then, signs and wonders would accompany such an individual.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Church bashing??, Discipleship, Ecclesiology, Unity?

Right church, wrong church and division

Small churches become aggravated at megachurches because many leave the small church for the megachurch.  On the other hand, megachurches have a way of defending themselves that seems to lash out at small churches who criticize them.  Both groups have stereotyped the other side.  One side will say that the other only entertains, while the other side will say that the other is old and is not a church that people want to attend. This is counterproductive to the Kingdom building that is supposed to be taking place.  After all, people leaving one for the other is not an increase in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, this back and forth between these two sisters has brought much confusion to many believers.  What is more, it has brought confusion to those who find themselves in a place where they are not committed to a church, but may actually be in the process of  looking for a church.  What I mean is that they have heard the echo from those in both camps of this issue.  So this means that they are hearing this discussion between the two sisters, and I would argue it is a negative discussion, which is aiding people who are not committed to Christ choose the church in which they worship and serve at that may not be the Spirit’s leading.  With one side pointing out the imperfections of the other, it seems appropriate to outline those characteristics of what aright church looks like.  There are four universally, historically, marks that someone should look for in a church so that he or she may decide whether or not they have found a right church or a wrong church.

Those who are looking for a church should be looking for distinctive marks that seem to help define church on whether or not it is a right church, or wrong church.  Of course this type of discussion is nothing new.  In fact the Early Church set forth The Marks of The Church, which can be observed from the book of Acts.  You may recall that the book of Acts is a book that describes the birth of The Church as a result of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell those who receive and follow Christ.  According to H. Ray Dunning, in 381 B.C., The Marks of The Church were stated formally for the first time in the Creed of Constantinople” (529).  Four Marks were named in the Creed, Unity, Holiness, Catholicity (which means universal), and Apostolicity.  Dunning further pointed out that these marks are produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  “They are not the result of organization or administration but are the creation of the Spirit” (529).  This last statement is another discussion for later, but it certainly should cause one to pause at the role of leadership, and administration, in many Protestant churches today.  Since these marks are understood to be the creation of the Spirit, this means that people, both inside and outside, of the Church, should be able to see these traits as reality.  If these traits are not seen as reality in regard to a group, then it is possible that group may not be a right church.  Here is a little more clarification to aid understanding these marks.

The first mark in our list of four is Unity.  This mark is one that both small churches and megachurches need to consider again.  Remember the discussion in my intro of this article.  Each side tends to point out what the other side believes to be wrong with the other.  Jesus’ teaching to His followers should be applied in this situation, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).  If both sides rightly understood this, then each could be beneficial to the other which would glorify Christ.  Consider a statement that makes a great point, and should be a rule that is kept in mind,  James B. Chapman said, “The Christ in me will never be at variance with the Christ in you” (Dunning 531).  This obviously should demonstrate the unity of Christ’s Church.  These two statements are important for each side to consider because these were made in reference to what leads to disunity, and what should help to create unity.  Christ is not divided against Himself.  The Holy Spirit should be aiding to keep this from happening.  Our goal as those who are part of The Universal Church is that we be united as part of, and by taking part in, God’s Kingdom.  When we work against each other it creates disunity and this means there is no benefit to the Kingdom.

The second mark is Catholicity.  This term is not about being a geographical location, or part of any particular tradition of doing church.  It means that it is universal by embracing Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you (Christians who have been saved by the Blood of Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them) are all one in Christ Jesus.”  This again seems to be another way of saying unity too (532).  Clearly, this is what Paul had in mind here, and in his other epistles.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit ties us to all who are in Christ.  This means that those who have the Spirit are part of The Universal Church.  This is important because this means that there isn’t a worship style, or a particular way of being the church.  Instead, it is an outer reality, that exists on the basis of the inward reality of the Spirit that makes the church be the church.   After all, there is only one Savior; and He is not divided in Himself.  We are “doing” church right, when we are being the Church through the aid of the Spirit.

The third mark is Holiness.  Holiness, unfortunately, sometimes is understood in a variety of ways.  For example, does one become Holy simply because Jesus automatically gives it to those who He calls His?  Or does Jesus offer Holiness to those who surrender themselves totally to Him so that He they can receive another helping of Grace?  This is a debate without end.  Yet, as a Wesleyan, I believe that Holiness is imparted by Christ.  From John Wesley’s point of view, “Holiness of the Church is attributable because of a real, rather than imputed, holiness” (532).  It should be pointed out that the Church does have within her those who are babes in Christ.  In fact, we are becoming Holy by allowing the Spirit within to mold and shape us.  We also are learning from the Great Teacher, Christ.   This means that each person is walking in the light they are given at that particular point of their new life in Christ.  If this be so, there will be issues each church will have to deal with because of the universal impact of sin in our world.  Further, corporate Holiness also involves accountability within the church.  I recognize that writing this some might say that this leads to judgment and condemnation and more legalism in the church.  By the way, both sides of this discussion have this element to contend with.  On the contrary, I believe it is about motivation.  Holiness that comes from the Spirit is centered on love for God and others.  It is not involved in lording over other people.  Instead it is driven by the heartfelt need to keep a brother or sister from sinning.  This in turn helps to keep the purity of the Church’s witness.  In fact, this is why Covenant Memberships exist in many churches.  This, too, will be a topic for another discussion.  Holiness, as Dunning puts it, is “the conscience of the church” (533).  Moreover, it is time that we Christians understand that we are Saints; and that we should no longer be sinners.  This is the common cry of many Christians today.  It is important that we remember that God still has expectations of us.  Therefore, right churches will remain aware of this.

The final mark in this list is Apostolicity.  This is not to be understood as an office what one can seek.  Instead it is what should be present within the Church through her members.  Members who are empowered by the Holy Spirit who dwells within.  This is the same Holy Spirit who dwelt within the Apostles.  In other words, in regard to Apostolicity, “It is the truth of the gospel proclaimed in the power of the Spirit” (534).  In fact, this is why each person receives spiritual gifts.  These gifts are meant to build up the Church.  If we localize this by saying build up the church, which is part of The Church, then we realize that it is not about one person, or a few, who have the ability to attract.  It is about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who dwells within the corporate Body, and in individuals who make up the Body.  Therefore, it is not really about the greatness of the speaker, singer, or leader.  It is more likely that it is about the greatness of God who is present in His believers and among them as well.  With this type of understanding it easy to see that each person has a gift, or gifts, which they bring to the local church so that they too can help build up that particular church.  In turn, if the church being built up has these marks, then the Kingdom is being built up.  In fact, The Bible said that the Holy Spirit places in you in a church to do just that.

The purpose of writing this is to help those who may wonder whether or not their church is a right church.  At some point, All churches who claim Christ as their Savior must stop acting as if they are the only church who is really right.  Beware of that type of rhetoric, whether it comes from large or small.  It seems more likely that God uses both megachurches and small churches.  As a small church pastor, I want people to know that I understand these marks.  In fact, I wanted to write this because my church is small and can easily be labeled as a church that doesn’t get it.  Therefore, if Christ is in me and in those who attend my church, then it is dangerous when other pastors make blanket statements about churches who are not right or productive, in their opinion, because of a certain tradition that may seem to be out of touch with this new age.  Likewise, it is dangerous when smaller church pastors preach against what God is doing in larger churches.  The damage that is being caused is only to the mission of Christ to make disciples by using His Church.

There are more developed Marks of The Church, for example Mark Dever wrote a book called The Nine Marks of  a Healthy Church.  I have looked though this book, and it looks to be a good read and teaching tool.  However, I elected to stick with what I see as the earliest work on this subject.  I say this because I am aware that there are other variations of The Marks, but each should be developed from The Creed of Constantinople in my opinion.  I believe Dever’s is.  But his is a book, and this is only article that is meant to be basic.

Once one establishes whether or not a church is a right church, and there doesn’t seem to be division of Christ taking place, he or she needs to seek and hear from God whether or not that is the place to serve.  This should be helpful for those who are wondering what a good church looks like.

Works Cited

 

Dunning, H. Ray.  Grace Faith and Holiness.  Kansas City,

MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1988.

1 Comment

Filed under Church bashing??, Church Health, Ecclesiology, Holiness, Leadership, Megachurch, Pastor, Small Church, Unity?, Worship

Rightly Dividing the Word

Since we live in an age where college degrees are more common, and information is accessible, does it matter if someone has been trained to teach God’s Word?  The easy answer is no. Yet, should someone who teaches God’s Word be trained theologically, have an understanding of the original text, and be familiar with Church history?

It is obvious that God uses those who do not have this type of training.  On the other hand, it is obvious that God doesn’t use many either.  In fact, there are many who have had this type of training that fail to allow God to use them.  I’m always amazed at how people are so quick to follow someone who regularly misinterprets Scripture.  The Bible calls these people “false teachers.”

What is good about denominations is that most expect their ministers to be trained in rightly dividing the Word of God.  In fact, the Wesleyan Church offers those who believe that God called them into ministry the opportunity to receive training through various types of education.  What is more, Wesleyans also have supervised ministry in place so that ministers can be trained practically while being supervised.  New ministers are held accountable for various things, and also whether or not they are able to rightly divide the Word.

I write this post not to sound arrogant.  My goal is not establish some type of hierarchy.  Neither am I putting down autonomous churches.  I believe that today it is important that people can depend on the minister to have a good grasp for dividing God’s Word.

Here is the rule of thumb: if the person who is teaches God’s Word has no accountability, then when is no accountability a good thing?  Furthermore, Jesus said that we would know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).  This is a biblical truth that continues to be the best deterrent from being misled.

My advice is be aware of who you agree with, because you may be misled intentionally, or unintentionally.  The person who teaches me the Word must be formally trained and be accountable.  This person’s teaching must be in line with historical understanding, along with accepted orthodox theology.

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership, Ministerial training, The Wesleyan Church, Unity?

The Wesleyan Church needs to . . .

The Wesleyan Church has been in a constant struggle for change since I joined our denomination 13 years ago.  Sometimes I am on board with change and other times I think that we are drifting off course.  I am a first generation Christian from my family.  My purpose for saying that I am a first gen Christian is that it should help you understand where I am coming from.  I did not grow up in church.  I did not know what a Wesleyan church was until I was 26.  When I was 14 a student at my high school was killed in a car wreck and his obituary I heard that he was a member of the Wesleyan church next to my home town.  My wife attended the Wesleyan church before I got saved.  I thought, in both cases, that the Wesleyans were not really Christians since that local church did not us the title Christian Church.  I thought Wesleyans were like Jehovah’s Witnesses or something.  A little funny now as I look back on those thoughts. 

After I received Christ as my Savior, and made up my mind to live for Him, I knew that I needed to spiritually take care of my family by starting us in church.  I went with my wife to try the Wesleyan church out.  But I had in mind to go to another church; preferably a First Assembly of God church where I had experienced the Lord before.  Long story short, the Wesleyan pastor was preaching the Word of God correctly during our visit.  I knew this because at that time I had been reading the Bible for quite some time before I sought a church.  That is another story though.  Long story short here; I stayed at this church and later was ordained through Flame before I attended SWU.

As a new Christian, I was on fire with my learning.  God was showing me so much that I was unaware of through His Word.  When I learned that the Wesleyan Church focused on Holiness I realized that God is concerned with His Church being real inside and out.  I love that we emphasize total surrender to Christ.  That is what I did.  None of us like people who pretend; Jesus had a problem with it too. 

Recently, our General Superintendents took part on a listening tour.  They wanted to hear from local church leaders about what we see as needs that we should focus on in the Wesleyan Church.  After all, we are not growing in North America at pace that we would like to see.  I was amazed at the difference of opinions that I heard about what we need to do.  One opinion that caught my was the need for more testimony time during worship service.  My thought, as soon as I heard that, was has been stopping that?  If the Spirit is prompting people to speak, then they should be speaking.  If He is and they are not, they are disobedient.  But we cannot manufacture an experience with our members.

Another opinion caught my ear; someone said that we needed to focus more on missions.  I think we do this pretty well for our size.  Yet, I thought to myself that missions is just what occurs as a result of a group of people, no matter what the denomination is, living for Jesus Christ.  If we love Jesus, then we will make that happen.  Yet, making it happen for the sake of an institution might be another story.  As a collective group who is sold out to Christ we cannot help but make it happen. 

There was a lot of talk about putting an emphasis on compassionate ministries.  I suspect that is being emphasized because of all of the cool books that are being written about this topic right now.  I am for it too.  I believe I am missional too.  Why?  Because I am a follower of Christ.  Compassionate ministries is the result of surrender to Christ.  Here we come to that fine line between works and faith.  Our faith creates our works.  Holiness goes hand in hand with this movement.

What was not talked about by our local leaders, including me because I felt that it would have been unpopular, was our massive effort to do church differently.  Nothing wrong with this if a Body of believers is led by the Spirit to do it differently.  There is a mindset that believes that if we are not playing the right music, dressing a certain way, following the right leadership model, growing a goatee (just kidding about this one; lol ) and trying to duplicate what the “successful” churches are doing, then we are failing as a result of our stubbornness to grow.  The problem is that God is the Lord of the Harvest.  Doing what works at other churches may not work at our local churches.

Here is what the Wesleyan Church needs to do; in my opinion.  First, we need to recommit to Holiness.  We don’t even have a common understanding of this among our local church leaders.  I like complete surrender, which results in love God and others. 

Get back in the fight against sin.  We tend to be so inviting that we tell people it is okay when they confess sin to us.  Let the Spirit do His job!  If He wants them to be sad about it, let them be sad about it.  Don’t tell them it is okay just so they will want to stay in church.

Start making transformation the focal point again.  I did not want to continue to be the person that I was when I got saved.  What I think is happening here is that those who grew up in church are trying to throw out this concept because it seems to them not be psychologically right.  Yet, this is what appeals to those of us who have been without Christ.  This is the Good News in this life. 

Quit trying to remove consequences from bad decisions.  If I make a bad decision, then God is going to teach me through the consequences that of that bad decision.  We need to begin reminding new Christians, and non-Christians, of this concept.  We are too busy trying to paint a Utopia for people so that they will want to attend church. 

Quit being ashamed of our doctrine.  Yes, we do not believe in Eternal Security.  No, it’s not popular.  Yes, we believe that if we die to ourselves that we can overcome sin.  Yes, people disagree with us.  What we need to deal with is, “Are we Wesleyans getting tired of dying to self?”  Do we want the perks that other churches seem to have?  God has blessed those other churches according to what His own will.  Is it our goal to become a large church like others?  Or, is it our goal to be distinct from the world because we live for the Lord?  I know that I am being narrow here but I think it is at least worth thinking about. 

Pastors need to reexamine their eschatology view.  Is the Rapture really a Holiness concept?  Enough said about that.

Our doctrine, when lived out, accomplishes all of these things that I have pointed out because the Spirit calls us to do them.  These things cannot be legislated.  These things have to be God-birthed in each local church. 

In my opinion, Wesleyan pastors need to be required to pursue yearly theological training at least as a refresher.  Local churches need a better emphasis upon discipleship that includes doctrine and theology mixed in with the other great things that are being taught.  We need to “keep the main thing the main thing” as Lee Iacocca once said.  Holiness is what takes us from an institution to a movement again.  

Show me a church that Christ is the Head of, and I will show you a church that is being successful and growing God’s way.  As I post this, I realize that there are things that I may not have said well enough.  I also realize that much of what I said can be debated.  Yet, you have a view from someone who is still new to this because I have not tradition that is influencing me.  I trust it is the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

One final statement.  I am simply questioning our motives.  Everything that I call into question does not mean that it is wrong.  It simply means that I am questioning what motivates us to do church in these different ways.  The Spirit? Need for success?  What?

3 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Church Health, Holiness, Missional Resources, Small Church, The Wesleyan Church, Unity?

Community Life of Disciples

Key Scriptures for Disciples of Christ

Key Scriptures should define key elements to a healthy spiritual life.

Matthew 22:36-40; The Greatest Commandment

Matthew 25:31-46; The Least of These Warning

Matthew 28:18-20; The Great Commandment

Christ Centered Community Life Image

Worship in mind and soul takes place through meditation, prayer, and corporate worship.

Worship in heart takes place by recognizing God’s love for us which causes us to adore Him.  Jesus has wooed us to Him by His love for us.

Worship in strength seems to be accomplished by our works of righteousness.  Plus, in my mind it should also be accomplished in our commitment to the Lord when we do not feel like remaining committed.

Loving our neighbors occurs when we realize that the DNA of God is in them since He created us in His own Image.  We are told to be imitators of Christ.  Loving those who do not love us is also part of that strength in the first commandment.

These 2 commandments set Jesus Christ up as King in the world that we live in today.

We feed the mind, soul, and heart through discipleship.  This is accomplished by learning God’s Word together or one on one.

Worship and discipleship are vehicles that the Holy Spirit uses to transform us.  We are in the process of becoming more like Christ.

Fellowship with each other helps us to learn to love our neighbor; it is the proving ground.  Paul’s letters were written to the churches about how to get along with each other.  Remember, Paul said that we are to submit to each other in unity.  This deals with strength and heart.

The author of Hebrews conveyed the importance of continuing to meet together in worship and fellowship even though these people were being persecuted; much different than being teased.

James called righteous works, or service, real religion; another proving ground.  If we are being transformed in worship and discipleship, then we are rooted in the good spring.  Therefore, good works flows from us without faking them.  They are now natural to us.  This is also back to strength again.

Jesus simply told to evangelize; another proving ground.  We love Him and others and this now becomes the natural thing to do.

I made the pieces of the pie bigger in the areas of corporate worship and discipleship because these pieces feed the other 3 pieces.  Focus on the other 3 pieces without these 2 is idolatry.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church Health, Leadership, Unity?, Worship

Missing the Point

I just can’t get away from the frustration that I feel when I see or hear about churches arguing over a style of music, dress, and focus.  It really makes me feel tired.  I understand that these are serious issues in the church today.  Yet, these seem to side track us too.   

There are groups of younger people feel that they could reach more people for Christ if their churches would change their Sunday morning program to a modern music format.  In contrast, groups of older people believe that the church should not change and that the modern music is not of God.  They reason that the church must not change so that people will recognize that the church is unchanging just like God.  They also reason that their style of music is sacred and should not be tampered with.   

Some groups dress casual and others dress formal for church service.  Some pastors believe that dress can be a barrier for people to attend their church.  Both believe that the way the other side dresses will run people off.  In my opinion, these groups that worry about these issues have spent their entire lives in church.  Both want to leave something of themselves in the church.   

Most of the time these groups grew up in church rebelling against what was established beforehand.  Each generation fights the other.  Each sees where the other generation has faltered in some way.  Each side uses Scripture from the letters that Paul wrote to different churches to justify why they believe what they believe.  What is unique about Paul’s letters is that he stressed the importance of unity and submitting to one another within the Church.  He even, in a few letters, dealt with how each generation was supposed to treat the other.  Are we missing the point? 

I asked the pastor I was saved under if he remembered when I came to the church for the first time.  I reminded him that I did not grow up in church.  My point was that I did not have any traditions that were following me through life to worry about.  I reminded him that when I came to Christ I did not say to him, “Hey, I will accept Jesus as my Savior if you wear a certain type of clothing.” I also did not say to him that I would get out of my Lazy Boy chair and come to church if they would assure me that they would play the right style of music.  He confirmed that these were not issues that I struggled with in the beginning. 

People! Listen to me!  There are not any people who are lost sitting in their homes tonight saying to themselves, “If the church would play my style of music, I would get saved.”  Or, “If the pastors would dress like I think they should would get saved.”  The only thing that  I was interested in was finding salvation.  The only Person I wanted to meet, was not the cool pastor who thinks that the Church is not doing enough to save the starving children, but I wanted to meet Jesus.   

Yes, I do care about the starving children and other injustices.  My point is that we Christians focus on the wrong things too much.  Don’t you think the devil loves our disunity over trivial issues?  My point is that we need to keep the focus on Jesus instead of on the non-essentials. 

When it is all said and done; I think the problem is that we just want to look like what we think a real Christian looks like.  We want to impress people with our huge compassion for the things that matter to the world.  We want to show people how intelligent we are by connecting the Word of God to the issues today.  We want to be the new, and improved, church.  Or, we want to be the church that did not change so that we can look super spiritual.  God’s point is, “When will His people get the point of Scripture and simply be the Church?”  In other words, when will we learn that we can find Jesus when we choose to look? 

I am not hindered by the style of clothing that I, or anyone else, wears.  I am able to enjoy all music that points me to Christ.  Why?  Because I know that I was lost, but now I am found.  I know what fate I avoided because of my desire to let Christ love me and save me which caused me to want to live for Him.  That is the point.

2 Comments

Filed under Church Health, Holiness, Missional Resources, Unity?, Worship

Right Worship

While at Family Camp this week I have enjoyed the worship and preaching.  This year our district had The Difference from Southern Wesleyan University come to lead our worship in music segment of the nightly service.  It is great!  I’m blown away with the amount of talent that God has given to the SWU; it is like that every year.  Let me tell you, those young guys and gals, I guess I can say that since I am 40 now, really give it up to Jesus.  Hey, isn’t that awesome!  I say yes!

I have sensed that not everyone is excited about allowing a different style of music to be played during our Holiness    camp setting.  It is possible that some think it is the world being mixed in with the church.  I confess, as a person who was young in the Lord, I entertained those types of thoughts some time ago too.  I think God brought me out of that by showing me that He is not limited in the ways that He chooses to connect with people.  Besides, what is right worship?  Jesus said that it is in spirit and truth.  In the OT God desired obedience over sacrifice and noted that His people worshiped Him with  their lips but their hearts were far from Him. 

One thing that I come back to time after time is the thought that people who are lost (those who are not trusting in Christ as their Savior) are not having heated debates about what style of music should be played during church service.  American Christianity is something else sometimes.  We continuously find ways to focus on everything but what matters.  Jesus forgive us!  Listen, I can worship traditionally, or worship with older tradition like chants, or contemporary.  You get the picture. 

Without going into a long story about an experience I had with Christ I will tell you that the outcome of it was that I sent an email to my pastor and his wife and asked them if they wanted to come over to my house to worship with me.  It was in the middle of the day and everyone else was at work or I would have called them too.  Now this was a lot like a child calling another up and asking the child to come over and play games for the day.  I didn’t have any special music in mind, I only knew that the Presence of Christ was with me and that I wanted my friends to worship Him with me. 

Wouldn’t we Christians do better to focus on bringing the lost to the Presence of Christ so that they could make a decision to accept Him or reject Him?  I think so.  But, most of us believe that before we can invite someone to church that the music has to be a certain way or that the pastor has to be a certain way.  We Christians are wasting precious time that some who are lost do not have debating over whether or not modern music is better than traditional music and vice versa. 

It is funny how many are in a continuous search for the right ministry or church to be part of.  Can we ever be honest admit that it is ultimately about us instead of Christ?  It tires me.  The path that leads to the Presence of Christ is to truly seek Him and only Him through humbleness and Holiness.  Good, or bad, music has less to do with it than we would like to admit.  It is a tool that the Spirit uses to help put me into the right attitude.  Seeking Him is about thirsting for Him and when you find Him you bring others to the drinking hole where you found refreshing. 

So what is right worship?  Is it seeking Christ with the heart?  Or is about finding the right pastor, the right type of music, and making sure things are done the way they have always been done?  Then if everything meets our standards then we will give approval and consider that to be our worship for the day.  Let me tell you that giving our approval is missing the bulls-eye by a mile.  Meaningless.  It is about us coming in to His house so that we can receive His mercy.  Then we adore Him because of who He is.   

So I say let’s not burn up our energies on this issue.  Instead, let’s use our energies to seek Him and bring the lost to Him.  This is right worship to me.

2 Comments

Filed under Holiness, Living it, Sacrifice, South Carolina Wesleyan Family Camp, Unity?, Worship