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Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 11

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 11
To start this series, go here.
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  1. Leadership with depth of spirituality

This should probably be #1 in this list.  This goes with #9.  Deeply spiritual men are hard to find.  I know the term is hard to define, but when you meet one, you will know it.   These men are marked by humility, acknowledging readily and openly their sin and weakness in brokenness and repentance.  Their total dependence is on God, relying completely on the power and infilling of the Holy Spirit to do the ministry God has called them to do.  They admit there is nothing in themselves that makes their service of any use, and at times, may not even want the job, feeling they are inadequate for the task.  They use their spiritual gifts, not natural talents, to fulfill their God-given calling.  The outcome of this may cause a tension in their being, because it most likely goes against what they have learned of what works in the world’s marketplace.

These men will inspire you just simply with who they are.  Their lives will challenge you to live more carefully in the footsteps of Jesus, in repentance and humility .   Paul said for others to follow him as he was following the Master.  How many in leadership dare say that today?  But these are very the men who should be elders in the local church.  They should be the ones who preach every Sunday. They should be the ones who are making the decisions that affect the local Body, spiritual and otherwise.

So I am looking for spiritual men who can challenge me to be more like Christ, to combat sin in my life, to become more of the godly husband and father I need to be.  I have heard it said that a congregation will spiritually rise no higher than the pastor.  After spending my whole life in the church, I want to be challenged to be more than I am now, and that can only come from men who are already there.

Why is it that “Bible” studies are mostly attended by women?  Where are the men?  Have men been so marginalized in the church that they are now depending on the women to be spiritual leaders, not only in the church but at home, so they don’t see the need and just stay home?  Yes, for some reason, women were created more sensitive to the things of God, but where does that leave men?  Are we relegated to playing catch-up all the time, leaving the spiritual training of fellow believers and our children to the women, especially our wives?  I’m looking for a church where men are seekers after God, who want to be challenged by His Word by study and self-examination , who seek to live Godly lives and want to humbly lead their families and their church in righteousness and holiness.

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Well that’s my list.  All of these points are Biblical and needed, in my view, to have a Biblical church.  From your experience, can you see why it’s so hard to find one?   Do you have a similar list?   Where has your church compromised in its quest to become bigger and better and user- friendly?  What Biblical compromises have you had to make to attend there?

As a side note, we have indeed found a place to call our church home. I have a check mark in my little notebook beside every one of these notes that this church body fulfilled, and that was only after our first Sunday there. All of what I have listed here is met in the leadership and the people, and after several months there, attending just about everything they have to offer, I am more convinced they fit the criteria I set out to find.  I have intentionally not mentioned this until now and will not tell where it’s located unless asked directly and personally, because I do not want this to become a cheap puff-piece of advertising for this Body of Believers.   It’s not why I have shared this.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”.  Eph. 3:20

This verse has direct application to our search.  When we sat through that first service, I could not believe what I was hearing, seeing, and experiencing.  I thought for sure that we were going to have to compromise something Biblically essential to finally find a place to call home.  I pulled out my little notebook and went through the list…it was all there that morning.  Is this possible…is this really happening?  My wife and I wept during that first service, and looked at each other after it was over, knowing what the other was going to say.

“Thank you, Jesus, for your grace extended to us in our search, for it is truly over.”

Now we can get on to fulfilling what God has in store for us in our new home, becoming more like Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and serving others in His Mighty Name with the meager offering of our broken selves on the altar of selfless servanthood.

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The full text of this series can be found here.  It’s 10 pages printed out.

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 10

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 10
To start this series, go here.
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  1. Complementary roles of men and women believed and taught

I may lose a few of you with this one…here goes:

This goes along with #8 and 9.  There has been a movement in the church for decades to be more “inclusive” in doctrine and belief, and one of the things that has resulted is a redefining what the roles are for men and women.  The Bible teaches that God created men and women equal in His creation but He has assigned different complementary roles for them to play out, not only in the church, but also in the family (complementarianism).

These roles are not more or less important or significant, just different, with different responsibilities in the church and the family.  The Bible is clear about these roles, but that does not sit well with those leaning towards the more liberal feminist interpretations of Scripture, (especially to those who want to cater to the current secular mentality), so these sections of the Bible are re-worded and reinterpreted to mean something other than the plain reading of the text, to the point that men and women have equal roles (egalitarianism).    These new roles are meant to not only apply in the church leadership (women in spiritual leadership over men and ordained) but also in the home, something totally against the created order, made clear in many passages.  To defend women being ordained into the ministry, I have heard, “God never intended…”, which is the same argument used by satan to Eve in the Garden.  A pastor recently said, “I am not a liberal” and then proceed to preach, regarding ordination of women, “God is doing a new thing….” When one takes that view, anything is possible in the church or family or culture at large.

So I am looking for a Biblical church that believes and teaches these Biblical concepts of equal standing before God but different roles as given clearly in Scripture, and will use these concepts as a basis for leadership, roles in the church, and especially in marriage counseling.   There is nothing in God’s Word to restrict a woman from fulfilling her gifts and callings.  He has used women for His will in ministry for millennia and will continue to do so.  It just seems it rankles some that God restricts them from just a few roles in the church (elder, ordination for authority over men), to the neglect of all else they can have influence on with their feminine strengths and gifts.   And it seems they will do just about everything possible to twist the Scriptures to make it fit their preconceived logic and ideas.

Though I may have lost some of you on this point, that’s ok.  After you have gotten over your emotional response and thinking I am a bigot or sexist (easy labels to give but not so easy to Biblically defend), if you can find Biblical reasons for me to change my position, then give it a shot.  But I have read a lot of material on this and found liberal compromise on page after page, with lots of “God never intended….”, supposed or stated as such.

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 9

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 9
To start this series, go here.
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  1. Biblical leadership: Men only as elders/deacons with the pastor just being another elder, equal with the rest but with the spiritual gift of pastor.

I am so tired of those who proclaim that there are many Biblical forms of Church leadership and all are valid.  But take a census and I bet 9 out of 10 do not have Biblical elders as the leaders of the church.  I think one reason is that they can then have women in spiritual leadership, acting as elders but not having the name.  This feminist box contains more than just woman leadership roles in the church, and once brought into the church, won’t show itself for maybe years in the future.  I have sadly seen it happen first hand.  More on this later.

I also think the people want to have a say in the direction of the church, the “democratic Baptist” structure of leadership, so they have committees and boards and commissions filled with elected  people, many of whom serve out of guilt that they need to “do something for God”, whether they are gifted or not, or even want to or not.   Many of these are elected because of positions they fill in their secular jobs, and so, of course, we need to have Mr. Jones on the trustee board because he is an accountant or runs a bank or works at a brokerage firm.  Or Sue, who is a principal at an elementary school, so she would be perfect to run the children’s programming.  But, just maybe, the most appropriate qualified person for the job could just well be Bob, a humble school custodian or store clerk who is less likely to bring the world’s business  mentality into the decision-making process. He is more likely to ask, “What does God want us to do with the money/property/church calendar?  Let’s seek His Face in this in prayer” instead of acting “prudently” by hoarding or spending on “bigger and better”.

If elders are deeply spiritual people who are mature in their walk with God and humble in their talents and gifts, then the future of the church can be safely entrusted into their hands.  If people don’t trust them for this, then they should have not be appointed in the first place.  If there aren’t any qualified men to be elders, then it says something about the atmosphere of that church.  If the pastor himself is not a deeply spiritual man, he will not likely draw spiritually minded men into leadership.  If indeed he is and there are few to be found for the position of elder at his church, he needs get busy and start training men, teaching them, discipling them, mentoring them so they become who they need to be, to take over his position at any time.  What a concept! But with all the tasks a pastor is asked to fill these days, including keeping consumers happy, he has no time for the real work of the ministry:  reproducing himself in others to become leaders so they can do the same.

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 8

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 8
To start this series, go here.
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  1. Does not cater to consumer mentality

This ties in with #4.  It seems the larger a church gets, the more this happens, I guess because there is money for it.  But when the world dictates what worship will look like, sound like, and contain, then the church is in deep trouble with sheep and goats.  Because from what I have seen and experienced, no matter how sincere the leadership is, the goats are determining the content not only of the choice of songs sung in worship, how they are sung and what Sunday morning production looks like, but they are also catered to in the sermon content and presentation.

I always thought church was for the training of the saints for the work of the ministry (Biblical) But it has turned into an evangelistic (and that’s a stretch) program to somehow reach the lost with a non-threatening, bloodless Gospel.  So we get a lot of goats come in out the rain, looking for feel-good messages and small groups where they can “share”.  But there is no way to disciple goats into sheep.   Millions of Kingdom dollars are spent every year trying.

One of the things that happens when budgets swell and more and more buildings are built, it sinks the church in debt and once the monster is birthed, it has to be fed.  So it’s a perpetual cycle of more debt, more money needed to pay the debt, so we need more people to ante up to pay for it.  Yes, this probably is not in the minds of the leadership as they make plans, but it’s the ultimate outcome of catering to consumers.  Consumers have likes and dislikes, so the overall message of the church becomes one of, “Come to the Church of the Big Parking Lot and find a welcoming friendly atmosphere where people will love you, exciting  worship, and your kids will have all kinds of fun things to do.”  I’m don’t think the Apostle Paul, or James or Peter preached consumer oriented sermons nor are consumers likely to show up at a church where just your presence could get you killed.

If the fear of God does not permeate the atmosphere of the church and the destructiveness of sin with the answer being total abandonment to God is not taught regularly, then that church will probably succeed with consumers.  There will be nothing to shake their self image of “I’m OK, you’re OK, let’s just have a nice church for nice people.”   Jesus had some hard things to say to “nice” churches in Revelations, statements that should make any church leader tremble.

So I’m looking for a church that completely seeks out what God wants for us, teaching us what He wants from us, not what we want, which is usually to feel satisfied or fulfilled or comfortable.  Filling coffers and spreadsheets and calendars saved no one, never did and never will.  If the Gospel is clearly preached and lived out, if sin and Salvation are clearly presented faithfully regularly, God will add “daily, those who were being saved”.  But won’t happen with the current rush to see how many folks we can fill our sanctuary with or how many we can pull off the streets with our cool “worship” show on Sunday morning.

 

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 7

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 7
To start this series, go here.
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  1. The Cross and the shed Precious Blood of Jesus mentioned often.

If the core of the Gospel is that Jesus died for our sins, and the Cross is the central point of history (as we are often reminded… well, maybe not often enough), one would think that this fact would be sung about and preached on regularly and with great passion.  But weeks can go by where the Cross is neither mentioned nor referenced and even not evident as a symbol in church.  How is this possible?  If our central malady and sickness is sin, causing no end of havoc in our lives and relationships with others, then it would seem the cure would be talked about, preached about, and shouted from the steeple.  But I think the reason we don’t hear much about it is because sin has been downplayed and reduced to “mistakes”, making us not such bad people, in need of just a few more seminars and videos and information to get it right the next time.

So we have an endless parade of sermon series on marriage, child rearing, relationships, social gospel, personal growth, etc, when the core cause of the need for all these fix-it types of sermons is sin.  And the cure is the Cross.  To not mention this in just about ever sermon is a disservice to those attending, leading them to believe they can do this on their own, that they need just a little bit more information, just another small group video series on any one of these topics to help them along the road of life.  These are just putting band-aids on melanoma cancer.  Without rooting out the sole cause of social ills, whether in or out of the family, the church will suffer and thus the culture will suffer.  I’m not saying that dealing with topics isn’t helpful, it’s just that they usually don’t go far enough to proclaim the ultimate cure, the Precious Blood of Jesus.

Take a look around.  For all the millions of dollars that have spent on self-help hype by the church for the church, are we a holier people today than last year?  After the last fad of “40 Days of  ________” has run its course, did the impact on our neighborhoods, states, and nation become greater and greater?  I heard once that it’s not so much the nation that needs the Gospel, but the church needs to fall on its knees and repent of its own sin, and preaching a sinless, bloodless, Cross-less message.

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 6

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 6
To start this series, go here
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  1. Brokenness and repentance as a key part of who leadership is, evident in their actions.

This goes along with #3.  Humility resulting from brokenness is so rare in church leadership today.  Since worldly success seems to be shown in numbers of people who show up and the size of the “campus” the church has, leadership has been chosen because of, and depended on, personal skill sets, natural talents and gifts, and the world’s marketing tools to achieve this goal.  There is lip service given to “spiritual gifts”, but when the rubber meets the road, it’s what they can produce with what they have that matters.  Worth to the ministry is measured by performance, with the better performers, actual and figurative, having the most face time with the sheep.

There seems to be no sense that this is God’s church and it is to be lead God’s way, and God’s way is complete humility and servanthood in leadership.  And this true humility only comes from admitting I know nothing, my skills are nothing without God’s touch, and that as a broken sinner, even my best efforts are filthy rags to Him.  And only God can do the true breaking of a person’s life and will.  He only has broken tools to work with and no amount of posturing or duct tape or designer fig leaves will prove this wrong.  If leaders don’t realize and confess they have nothing to offer God but their brokenness and shame, they will fall into pride in their own skills, using God only as a last-resort 3A card to get them out of the ditch when things go wrong.

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 5

Notes on looking for a Biblical Church part 5
To start this series, go here.
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  1. A reverence and carefulness regarding God and His Word.

This fits with #2, but I think it bears further mention. There seems to be a carelessness when handling the things of God.  By this I mean that there is a sloppiness and frivolousness when reading God’s Word and a prevalent presumption regarding God, that I can tell jokes about Him, call Him the “man upstairs”, and in general, not be serious about Who God is and what our role is to be before Him.  “God is my buddy” is nowhere taught nor even hinted at in Scripture.  Fear and trembling are associated with one’s reaction to the Almighty and one’s attitude should reflect that.  We are not to be afraid of God, but no New Testament text takes away the Old Testament fear we are to have of Him. If the fear of God means anything, it means we take Him seriously.

Jovial, inane banter may be OK for talk radio and TV game shows, but when it comes to God, there needs to be a carefulness that comes from a heart of a healthy fear of God.  If Jesus were truly present at a church service, I doubt He would laugh at the jokes told about Him or the light-hearted attitudes towards the Gospel and the Christian life;  His wounds would probably start hurting all over again, and probably think, “I suffered and died for this?”