Tag Archives: church

Baptist Dysfunction #3

As we walk through the list of Baptist distinctives, we come to an issue of church polity and practice. Jesus Christ entrusted the church with many things, two of which get a special spotlight (and rightly so): Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There’s not a lot of controversy here, but I’ve got a few questions about these…

SacramentsStainedGlass01Two Church Ordinances

#1 – Believer’s Baptism

I know why we baptize believers – in obedience to Christ, for identification with His death and His church, and to proclaim the gospel. I also get the picture from the New Testament that baptism symbolized rebirth, so why can’t a believer be re-baptized when he rededicates his life? What would be the issue with re-preaching the gospel or identifying again with the church if one has become distant? Why can’t a Christian be baptized again? I mentioned that idea one time to some Christian leaders and they shot it down with disdain. Their answer was, ‘Well Jesus only died on the cross once, so you should only get baptized once.’  Not only does than answer lack basic logic, but it also implies an unhealthy connection to salvation.

Furthermore, at what point did churches get so particular about ‘receiving’ the baptism from other churches? I understand that some baptisms are given under false pretense (as if it is part of salvation) or by the wrong mode (sprinkling instead of immersion), but why do we dismiss baptisms from other brethren? Is it to pad our numbers? Is it because we are that distrusting of their water districts? I truly don’t get it!

Also, why don’t we work as hard for baptisms as we do salvation decisions? Why do we compare our baptism numbers (isn’t that a little self-aggrandizing)?  Some don’t, but many IFB pastors worship the numbers… or rather worship themselves through the numbers. They judge their entire lives by how many are in the pew on Sunday. If we count, we should count how many families had devotions this week, or how many people showed real patient love with a difficult person, or many hours our church spent praying for their co-workers… Those numbers are worth counting (if you’re gonna count)!

#2 – The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper was given to the church as a sacred sacrament. It’s one of the major things that we are urged to do together that reveals the gospel. Some churches practice it once a year, others once a quarter, while others once a month. So why don’t we do it more often? I’ve know…because we don’t want it to get old / ritualistic… Right! So why do we do it exactly the same way every single time? We read the same verses and the same people pass the trays the same way. Every. Single. Time. Why? Would it be a sin to be creative with communion?

With regard to the ordinances, why -in most churches- are only ordained men allowed to participate?  I have never seen anything more beautiful than a father baptizing his child or when parents lead their family in communion.  Just because the church was entrusted with these doesn’t mean we get to monopolize them! Agree? (And by the way, I think foot-washing should be considered… maybe not as an ordinance, but at least practiced occasionally. Humility & soap would go a long way to clean up some of the stink in our churches!)

 

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Don’t Worship the Faucet!

03faucet-running-water-lgnShortly after World War I, Lawrence of Arabia took several of his greatest men to visit Paris.    When they were about to leave the grand hotel at which they were staying, Lawrence found his men attempting to pull the faucets out of the wall!  Lawrence was confused and asked what the men were doing.  The men responded: “If we could bring these faucets back to our desert land, we could have all the water we desire!”  These men clearly had an appreciation for water, but they had an unhealthy and illogical appreciation for the means by which it was transferred – the conduit if you will.

Many Christians know they have access to the “water” Christ offers (see John 4), but many of us seem to make a much bigger deal about the conduit(s) through which the water comes.  In other words, we tend to worship the faucet!  We rave about our church; we gush about our pastor; we are quick to tell what a talented, wonderful worship leader we have.  But Jesus – the one who gives the church significance, the one who the pastor and worship leader are there to serve, the cornerstone on which “Christianity” is built – we don’t make nearly as big of a deal about him!

To The Church

Most Christians love and appreciate the local assembly of believers in which God has placed them.  Scripturally, they should.  In fact, Christ loved the church so much that He died for it! (Ephesians 5:25)  But I believe far too many believers have an unhealthy, illogical, and unscriptural appreciation for the church.  How?  By worshipping it and loving it more than they love Christ.  Christians must realize that Jesus is Christ is the water, and the church is only the faucet.  The faucet is important, but, without the water, is meaningless.

When you last walked through the front doors of your church, what was your primary purpose?  Connecting with friends?  Christian fellowship?  These can be by-products of church attendance, but neither should be our purpose.

When you were talking to a friend, co-worker, or first-time visitor and explaining how great your church was, did you emphasize the groups, clubs, and activities offered to children?  Or did you emphasize Christ?  Youth groups are great avenues to reach the next generation; children’s clubs can be used to effectively teach boys and girls about the things of God.  But in the list you rattle off when touting what makes your church different or noteworthy, where do spirit-filled worship and Christ-exalting preaching rank?  Are you worshipping the faucet?

To Church Leadership

The culture in which we live encourages idolization of athletes, movie stars, singers – well, everyone really.  Unintentionally, some church members idolize their pastor and put him in a place that should be reserved only for Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately (and I hope unintentionally!), some leaders encourage this unscriptural practice by their words and actions.  The Jehovah God of the Bible is a jealous God – one who does not share the glory only he deserves. (Exodus 20:5)

A pastor or staff member placing himself in Christ’s rightful place or a congregant doing so of their own volition is a practice that can only end in disappointment and defeat for all involved.  And no matter the cause, we must remember that our ultimate affection should be reserved only for Christ himself.  To use the words of John the Baptist in John 3, the pastor and staff should strive to be a “friend of the bridegroom.”  Jesus alone is the bridegroom.  He is the water; they are but a faucet.

Christian: before you next enter the sanctuary, consciously acknowledge to God why you are there.  Spend a few moments in prayer asking the Lord to use the singing, giving, and preaching to reveal himself to you.

Pastor, staff, and Sunday School teacher: before you mount the pulpit or begin that next lesson, make sure you understand who the listeners should be talking about when you finish.  Better yet, as you prepare, ask the Lord to reveal exactly how you can emphasize Christ in your lesson or sermon.  Get out of the way, and give people the water!

 

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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I Don’t Know & I Don’t Care!

Wouldn’t you agree that the two biggest problems in our churches are IGNORANCE and APATHY?  It seems like we’ve crossed a threshold of comfort-level Christianity today.  The Scriptures warn us that the days will come when “sound doctrine” and “godliness” will seem to be things of the past (2 Tim. 3:5, 4:3).

Ignorance is epidemic.  Though many can quote Bible verses and go on and on about Bible stories, those same people have no real idea how Biblical principles impact their daily lives.  They don’t see the connection between their relationship with God and their marriage, between God’s wisdom and their parenting.  They don’t understand how the Bible relates to them being a good employee, a good citizen, or even a good church member.  Culture says: Church & the Bible are ineffective relics of a by-gone era and must give way to new ideas.  As a result, in order to show tolerance, to not offend, and to be politically-correct, pastors and churches have so watered-down the message that it’s no longer bright- or salty-enough to make a difference (Matt. 5:13-14).  All expectations should be thrown out when assuming an American’s familiarity with the core message of the gospel.

Apathy is the tragic norm.  I know you’ve heard this before – but churches are full of members with ‘big ears’ and ‘big rears.’  The average Christian’s spiritual life consists of coming to church, sitting on a pew, and listening to a sermon once a week.  While many sermons challenge a person’s gluteus maximus (by sitting through long sermons) and the tympanic membrane (by enduring loud or obnoxious voices), far too-few challenge a person’s volition (cognitive, decision-making skills) or their mind.  Too many pastors educate and never inspire.  The church doesn’t seem to care about what’s happening around them – calloused to the condition of the world.  Politics, the economy, natural disasters, wars… I’m afraid there are a lot of people who need to wake up to what’s really going on!

1. Be intentional about your growth.  Purpose to not remain stagnate.  The measure of this is NOT your amount of service at church or even necessarily your frequency to attend church meetings.  Although this is a tough one to measure, try to!  Ask yourself:  Do I spend more time with God than I used to?  Do I trust Him more?  Am I more/less patient with others than before?  Do I demonstrate more/less grace?

2. Determine to remain passionate about your faith.  Be sympathetic and don’t let the emotionless disregard for others dull your sensitivity for life.  There is so much to feel (compassion) – and so much to do (in helping others).  Locate and destroy any of pockets of apathy in your life.  Take this personally: it’s time we cared about what’s at stake!  Ask yourself: Am I numb to the reality of Hell?  Do I care about those around me enough to take action?  What would it feel like to love like Jesus loves?

I’m curious what you think… Is ignorance or apathy more rampant [POLL]?  Which is worst [COMMENTS]?  How should preachers respond?

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Joy Story

If you were to ask me to stop and recall one of my happiest times as a child, I would have to bring up the Toy Story era. Now before you laugh, whenToy Story came out it was well ahead of its time, not because it was the first successful computer generated movie, but because it solidified what all little kids were thinking: MY TOYS CAN TALK!

As an adult, life is little more complicated now isn’t it? It almost seems that the older you get, the more grumpy and sour you become. Why? Because simply put, life can suck the JOY right out of you. Remember when you actually enjoyed your job? How long has it been since you enjoyed your marriage? Being pointed, remember when you ENJOYED coming to church and seeing everyone?

We are foolish to think that God planned for your life to just putter along in misery. Thankfully, through Paul writing to the Philippians, we can truly find our JOY STORY and get back to loving life again!

Paul, under Holy Ghost inspiration, is careful to send a strong message to this first European congregation in Philippi. Depending on how you look at it, 16 times some derivative of JOY is pumped into this congregation. One of those words, REJOICE, is the ACTION of the emotion of joy. Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul gives us 5 FACTS to help us find our JOY STORY! (This post was from a message I preached recently, if you would like to watch it, click HERE)

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)

1. Take JOY in the FACT the Gospel Is Preached

A few verses earlier, Paul was saying that the Gospel was being preached FOR THE WRONG REASON (envy, strife, etc.) and because of the POWER that it had he still rejoiced in that fact! No doubt there is coming day that the glorious Gospel WILL NOT be able to be preached; let us be busy and find joy in the fact that it still can.

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:16)

2. Take JOY in The FACT that Your “Race” is Not in Vain

If there is anything that makes a Christ follower want to bail out on “Christianity” it is the question of, “IS IT WORTH IT”. We sacrifice, we struggle, we seemingly tread water … but it IS for a purpose. The situations we face are all specifically for our benefit, but the payoff (at times) takes FOREVER to be manifested. Paul goes so far as to say, “I’m content and have JOY in the fact that my suffering will make sense when I see Jesus!”

I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. (Philippians 2:28)

3. Take JOY in the FACT that Your “Race” is Not Run Alone

As was mentioned earlier, the reasoning behind some of our circumstances may not be understood until we reach Heaven. With that being the case, God has given us “co-laborers” that are in the fight as well. We should REJOICE, Paul tells us, simply because we do not have to carry our burdens alone.

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…  (Philippians 3:1)

4. Take JOY in the FACT of Who God IS

If there was no other reason to have joy, we should rejoice simply in who God is! He is your creator, sustainer, deliverer, redeemer, and FRIEND! Through Christ’s sacrifice your are ACCEPTED before God; take joy in that fact — Why wouldn’t you?

In Philippians 4:1, Paul starts off by saying, “Therefore” — (or in other words, because of everything that was just said) — we should take steps to insure that the fifth fact in intact:

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:2-4)

5. Take JOY in the FACT of Strength in a UNIFIED Body

We need to understand that quarrels and strife have no place in the Body of Christ. There is nothing that steals joy and destroys churches more than disunity. When everyone is on the same page, a unified assembly of Christ followers can truly change the world!

 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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