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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Separating Method from Message

Many churches will tell you that their system of making decisions comes from the Bible. They will point to the presence of Deacons or Elders or Pastors or Congregational votes and tell you that this is the way the Bible said we should set up the leadership of the church. This just isn't so.

The Bible does not tell us how to set up the leadership of the church. It gives qualifications of those who are to be in leadership positions. It tells of appointing Elders. It speaks of the congregation giving its agreement. But it does not clearly tell us how to set up our church leadership. That is why different denominations have done it different ways. There is plenty of room to change the method and not violate any biblical principles.

Churches also make things sacred that are not sacred. For example, churches will get hung up on when the offering is taken. Members in churches will get hung up on the version of the Bible. They don't realize the number of manuscripts available from which to make translations. There will be no perfect translation. I believe God made it such so we would not worship the Bible. We worship Him and Him alone.

For some reason people want to make things sacred that are not sacred. The old sanctuary is sacred even though it is falling down and needs to be replaced. The stained glass windows are considered sacred when they are really just assurances from the past. The Lord's Supper table becomes sacred even though it no longer large enough to serve the congregation. The organ becomes sacred even though it is expensive to maintain and takes much needed money from other ministries.

Unfortunately, a congregation which cannot sort out the difference between its methods and its message doesn't understand what the message is. The Church is called to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She must become a body of His disciples. She must never let the message of the good news be tainted by methods. Methods are tools to reach people with the gospel. Once the tool is replaced when it is no longer the best for uses. If this is not the case, you should go buy a rub board for doing your laundry. You should get rid of your microwave ovens. You should have your central heat and air removed. You should throw away your cell phones and never touch another computer.

Each of the tools we are currently using will soon be obsolete. Things become obsolete because of function, style and quality. Most of our tools in the church become obsolete because of function. One simple maxim would make a tremendous difference: Stop doing it if isn't working!

The message must never waver. Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He has come to give us eternal life. He has called us to be and to make disciples. Use whatever method it takes to do this. 

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