OKAY, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE CHURCH??
There was once a magician on a cruise ship who performed mainly sleight of hand tricks. He had a regular spot on the ship’s cabaret evening entertainment, and he was actually quite good, but his routines were regularly ruined by the onboard parrot that would fly around squawking and giving away his secrets like:
“It’s up his sleeve, it’s up his sleeve!” or “It’s in his pocket, it’s in his pocket!” or “It’s in his mouth, it’s in his mouth!” The magician was getting pretty sick of this and threatened to kill the parrot if it ruined his act one more time. That evening, right at the climax of his act and just as he was about to disappear in a puff of smoke, the ship hit an iceberg and sank in seconds. Amazingly, the magician and the parrot were the only two survivors. The magician was lying on a piece of driftwood in a daze. As he opened his eyes he could see the parrot staring at him out of its beady little eye. The parrot sat there for hours just staring at him and eventually said, “OK, I give up! What did you do with the ship?”
The story, meant to be a joke, is supposed to bring a smile or a chuckle to your normally mundane day. BUT—when the church begins to disappear, it suddenly becomes very serious and not funny at all. Suppose someone were to ask a congregation, “OK, I give up! What did you do with the church?”
In these days of the church of Laodicea, we hear many answers to that question. Examination of them will help us to see just what HAS happened to the church.
Pastor: Well, it is just hard to get people to commit to God and His church. With all the worldly attractions they just don’t want to follow Christ. They won’t visit, they won’t witness, and they won’t take part in the services or teach classes. The people are killing the church. I can’t do it all, you know.
Deacons and Leaders: The pastor spends too much time in his office when he should be out building the church. He’s just too lazy.
Congregation: Some say the Bible reveals that this is what is going to happen in the last days. We can’t do anything to stop it, so why try? Others say the services are so boring. What is there to get excited about? No one is being saved or joining the church, so why should I bother.
Outsider: They really don’t have a lot for my kids. My kids are easily distracted or bored and the church has no regard for them.
Well, we can easily see what is happening with churches and why they are beginning to disappear. The problem is—ATTITUDE! “Well, it sure isn’t my fault!”
According to God Himself, each person has a job to do, and he or she must do it to the best of his or her ability. Otherwise the church WILL disappear. SO, let’s take a look.
I Corinthians 7:17 tells us, “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk, And so ordain I in all churches.” Later, in verse 20, Paul wrote, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”
Pastors have a specific job. The apostles described that job in Acts 6:2-4;
“Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
Pastors are to study, pray, and preach the whole counsel of God. Their job is NOT to mow grass, clean buildings, or see to the physical aspects of the grounds. Their purpose is to preach the Word, the whole Word, and nothing but the Word! How many times do pastors get roped into stressful situations that should be handled by deacons or other members of the congregation? For every extra problem that crops up in the church that he is left to handle, that is just more time taken away from his study, prayer, and purpose.
Great! That means the congregation actually has to get up off the pew and do something! This can’t be good. After all, the congregation doesn’t get paid to do this. God forbid that anyone would do something for the Savior who died in their stead without being compensated monetarily. Visitation in the hospital, with the elderly and shut-ins, or to the downtrodden should be put on the shoulders of good members who have loving hearts and willing spirits. Sadly, too many will make no time to do the Lord’s work. Therefore, it falls on the shoulders of the pastor.
The men of the church are to take the lead in the administration of the church. God has plainly stated that women are not to usurp the authority of the men in the church. Therefore, the men must take the leadership role very seriously. After all, it is God’s church, not man’s church, for which we have been given responsibility. God demands our best and the men of the church have the vast responsibility of making sure the inner workings of the church are what God would have them to be. These include finances, maintenance, discipline, exhortation, and instruction. So men, do your duty and lead out. Don’t be afraid of the consequences of making such decisions, and thus allowing them to wind up on the pastor’s already full plate.
Women were, however, very instrumental in Paul’s travels. In Romans 16 he commends Phoebe to the Christians at Rome as a servant (diakonos) of the church at Cenchreae and sends greetings to women who had been of assistance to him. He mentions Priscilla and her husband Aquilla as “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” (v. 3), and a certain Mary “who labored much for us” (v.6). And in his letter to the Phillippians he urges the congregation to “help those women who labored with me in the gospel” (4:2). Nor should we forget the many women who ministered to our Lord during His earthly ministry whose names are recorded in the Gospels. Women may, for example, teach Sunday School and Vacation Bible School; serve on committees in an advisory capacity; assist the pastor and elders in calling on the sick, shut-ins, and singles; and also assist in works of charity in the church and in the community.
Titus gives instructions to the older ladies of the church in chapter 2, verses 3-5. “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Many good churches have died because men and women get their roles reversed. Each has a job, given by God, to do and those jobs must not be interchanged.
Young people, you also have a role in the church. Paul instructed a young man named Timothy regarding how to act in the house of God. I know you are probably saying to yourself, ―Timothy was a preacher. How could Paul’s instructions apply to me?‖ Every member has the task of spreading the Gospel of Christ. See what Titus had to say to the young men of the church. “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:6-10).
The problem isn’t that modern times are wrecking churches; the problem is that modern people are wrecking churches. People aren’t being taught by pastors, either because the pastor isn’t doing his job, or he is being overwhelmed with tasks meant for members of the church. Youth are being inundated with entertainment. Parents are using that entertainment for babysitting purposes while they work and watch TV or do their ―own thing.
If you desire to see your church flourish, you must get involved! There is much work to be done. Tell others about your church, pray for your pastor, teach a class, sing in the choir, help with maintenance on the buildings, and keep the buildings clean. Do this regularly and with a loving heart! Share the work load of a church both spiritually and physically. Teach your children that God loves them and take them to church every time the doors are open. Teach them to get involved. There is infinitely more to a youth ministry than just trips and parties. The main thing is learning God’s Word.
That apathy is rampant in the Lord’s churches should be no surprise. “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (II Thessalonians 2:3). There is a great falling away from the truth and into ―feel good services. Hell is still real, people still go there regularly, people still need Jesus, and heaven awaits the saved. Satan is real and we are falling into his clutches and traps every day.
Jesus will soon appear in the clouds and all will be well for the saved and the bride of Christ. God’s wrath will be experienced by everyone else. The church is the vessel by which we deliver the message to the world. So, as we see churches dying and shutting their doors, our hearts are saddened and we ask, “OK, what did you do with the church?” The question we each SHOULD be asking is, “OK, what am I doing for my Lord’s church?”
–Ron Provence, President Oxford Baptist Institute, Sept-Oct, OBI Newsletter
Tag Archives: selfcentered
OKAY, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE CHURCH??
I will give a few random thoughts and then make a few comments that might upset some.
I enjoyed the fellowship of the ABA this year. The feeling of harmony was all around. Those that I met, I truly enjoyed. I have come back to my Church (not the one I own, mind you, but the one I pester and that is not a misspelling.) with renewed purpose and a desire to change some things and get about the Masters business. Now there may be some that felt the new Missionary Committee overstepped their authority. I believe that they simply communicated with the sponsoring Church and Missionary what was occuring financially. The Church and Missionary had to make the decision to not recommend.
NOW: the fly in the ointment is the clapping. I have read and studied the worship of the Old Testament and have read where the Word calls them a Solemn assembly and have read the New Testament where Paul refers to the music and I am led to wonder about the appropriateness of the clapping phenomenon. I do believe it has been borrowed from the SBC and Indepedents who borrowed it from the Pentecostals and Chrismatics. Why do we feel we have to borrow things from unscriptural sources. Go ahead and borrow their doctrine if we are in the borrowing position. Some may get in a twitter – not the phone type – over these statements. Please keep it together to have a rational discussion on this issue.
I have never seen a theological, Biblical argument that has been rationally laid out in a systematic manner that could possibly prove that clapping in a solemn assembly, which is our worship service, is appropriate or would even be acceptable to God.
While thinking on these things I did provide my self with an argument for and an argument against clapping. They are both very simple. If the Bible does not specifically state a command against, then the practice is okay. That is my argument for. This opens the door for liturgical dance which I consider to be the dance of the prostitutes in pagan temples and many other things that clapping proponents would be against. This argument fails for obvious reasons.
I would like one wise in the word and with the ability, to put forth a reasoned systematic theological based argument with scripture that supports clapping in worship.
Understand: this leaves out the verses that refer to trees and hills clapping. It is hard to lug these into our houses of worship.
THE BREVITY OF LIFE
Jam 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Those of us that are boomers find it hard to believe that we are aging. Our mind is still young and thinking of days past when we were able to do anything, just about, that we desired. Now we find that we are classed as old and soon to pass away. Our children are attempting to bring us to the point of realizing that we need to make some plans for that day. They ask silly questions (where do you want to be buried, what type of casket, funeral in church or funeral home, what about a living will) that we feel is premature or unwarranted. Yet, these questions are very valid. What preparation have we make? On this earth, whether we have made preparation or not, we will be buried. But what about our final resting place? Have we make reservations for eternity?
My decision upon what casket, what funeral home, etc. is rather unimportant compared to eternity. The very word eternity indicates a long time – forever. What preparation have I make? I have benefited from a loving father and mother that introduced me to the Master and Owner of eternity at a very young age. I put my total trust and faith in His Crucifixion and resurrection when still a child and I know my reservation cannot be canceled for He said He would keep me till that day when He calls my name to be with Him in glory. Jesus Christ the Son of God has His reservation book open, waiting for you to trust in Him and make your reservation to join Him when our temporary life here ceases.
Why don’t you make that reservation today before it is too late?
WHAT WE ARE
I have been mulling over the most recent things I have posted and have come to the conclusion that we are a unique generation. Maybe I should say generations. Beginning during the 60’s and continuing into this day we are a number of generations of narcissistic people. What do I mean by that statement? We are totally self center and care more of self than others. We think it is all about us. Our statements reveal our self-absorption and navel gazing to the world.
I think, I feel. I (there I go) took a quick look at a book that is purported to be a daily devotional/inspirational book. It began with “I choose” stated nine times. One devotional is – You’re something Special. I know the intent was to bring people to a point of making a decision to change their life, but the big I gets in the way.
Notice what we require today. If the Sunday school class does not serve coffee and donuts, we skip it so we can eat breakfast. Yes, I know of a pastor that prepares for Sunday School by making the coffee and setting out the donuts purchased the night before. His explanation to me was – They are so busy and so tired after the week that if they don’t have these here they skip Sunday School. Now, I am going to editorialize on this so if you want to change channels go right ahead. There may be some sarcasm that may injure your tender sensibilities.
My aunt related a little family history that I just went over the other day. She related the family work schedule. This was a small Arkansas farm where they raised their children. This was before the union eight hour work day. This was before the forty hour work week where anything over was time and a half. Also this was family so child labor laws were not invoked. The whole family was involved in preparing the ground planting and harvesting. My aunt’s husband was busy with the garden, the mules, the cows, the pigs and also, most times employed as a carpenter or working at a saw mill. This was not five days a week per union contract, this was a seven day a week work.
Sunday! That day given to God from whom all blessings flow was a day that the animals had to be fed and watered. The family had to dress eat breakfast and then put straw and blankets in the wagon for a little more comfortable ride to church. Many times they packed their own lunch. Oh! By the way, this was not a small family. There were six or seven children in this family. They made it to church on time, having already eaten breakfast, they were ready to worship. Today – well what can I say, we choose to have our lives so busy that we are totally exhausted Sunday morning and it is the only day of the week we can sleep in and get a little extra sleep. Wait, you had Saturday off. What happened? Well we had this to do and we had that to do. What employer required you to do this and that. Well none, it is what my family and I wanted to do. So there you have it. It is not the necessities of life that keep us away from the house of God, or continually late, it is the wants that we have that make us so tired that we drag until we are late or don’t even make it to the house of God. How pathetic is that?
There is another area that shows me that we are a narcissistic people. That is; “What does your Church have for me? For the young married couple – do you have a young married couple class. For the single person – do you have a singles class. For the college student – do you have a college or career class. For the couple with children – do you have children’s chapel. For those divorced – do you have a class for divorces. Once again it’s all about me. I am so special and my needs are so different that I need to be catered to. There is hardly ever a question about what is taught. What doctrine do we teach, believe and practice. There is never a question about salvation, security or the Church. The idea is the church is to babysit my kids during the worship hour and I need to be make to feel comfortable, with preaching that tells me I am accepted and catered to. Be easy and sweet with the Word that is preached. The message sent is; in my flesh make me feel good and valued when I leave. Don’t preach too hard against sin.
One Sunday morning, at the end of service, my wife and I were shaking hands as people left and a gentleman that had been visiting for several months came through the line. I had been preaching fairly hard against obvious sin that so easily besets us. He shook my hand and made this statement – “I see now why your church is so small.” Bless His heart, he didn’t come to church to hear about the sin he should shun. He came to Church to hear about how good he is. Now don’t preach anything that may cause the Holy Spirit to prick the heart. Preach soothing words of comfort. One again – “HOW PATHETIC!!
Now we have programs that cost a lot and take responsibility from the people. We call it evangelism. That responsibility is freely given to a person to use in the way he sees fit. Begin a ministry that has a very narrow focus. That focus could be magic, extreme fighting, motorcycle racing or any other activity. The people will gladly pay for it just as long as they don’t have to take the time to tells others about Christ. Our evangelism is bought and paid for and somebody else has the responsibility.
Jesus said to go. This instruction was given to every church member. It cannot be done for you. Jesus sent 70 out to witness of Him twice during His ministry. This is our example, to go, to tell, to baptize, to teach. Money is not the answer. We, personally, are to tell all we meet about our Savior – Jesus Christ.