Church & Ministry

Early Christian Decision-Making, Part 1: Did Americans Invent Church Voting?

There are legitimate questions for Christians to ask as they study their Bibles and become active in a church. Some questions are worth pursuing endlessly (questions about the character of Christ, for instance). Others have their limits, particularly when little or nothing is directly said in the Bible about them. As the discussion becomes long and drawn out, it also becomes, well, odd. We become either speculative or dogmatic without substance, since there is little in Scripture that substantiates our arguments. Whether Christians should vote, or did vote in the New Testament times is one of those types of questions. It is legitimate to ask, but limited in its worth. There is only one time in the Bible that Christians are directly said to have voted, where a proper Greek word for “vote” is used (2 Cor. 8:18-19). Read more about Early Christian Decision-Making, Part 1: Did Americans Invent Church Voting?

Is Congregational Voting Biblical?

For most of us, voting is a common experience. Many vote for our government representatives and, if we are involved in civic groups, we may vote in them as well. Voting is a means by which we express self-determination. “We the people” have the privilege and duty to help choose our future directions.

Voting is also how most congregations make their most important decisions. In Episcopal-style churches, the congregation votes on large purchases and on who will serve in various leadership positions. In “representational” churches, such as Presbyterian and American Lutheran, the congregation vote on leadership appointments, large purchases, and other membership matters. Independent churches such as Congregational, Baptist, or Bible churches vote on budgets, leadership appointments, large purchases, committee appointments, doctrinal changes, and membership matters. Voting is a common practice in most congregations, granting members a voice in the church’s affairs and decision making.1 Read more about Is Congregational Voting Biblical?

Who First Adopted Individual Cups as a Regular Communion Practice?

Individual Cups

On Sunday morning October 7, 1894, parishioners filled the Bedford Avenue Baptist Church of Brooklyn, New York, in anticipation of experiencing what The New York Times termed a “novelty in communion service” (October 8, 1894). Two newspapers had announced in late September that this church would implement individual cups. The September 28, 1894 issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle quoted Bedford’s pastor, J. H. Gunning, as saying that the cups would be used at the next communion service. However, attendees who arrived expecting the individual cups “were disappointed” to see the same old six silver goblets (The New York Times, October 8, 1894). After the service, Rev. Gunning called a business meeting during which he said he was anxious that his church be the first in Brooklyn to use individual communion cups. A majority voted, by standing, to purchase 200 three-inch tall silver cups lined with gold at a cost of thirty-five cents per communicant. Read more about Who First Adopted Individual Cups as a Regular Communion Practice?

Confronting Racism in the Church

Sermon preached at 2010 IL/MO state conference. Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin Jan/Feb 2011. All rights reserved.

By Greg Randle

In 1865 General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, to declare to slaves there that they were free. The order that General Granger took to those slaves had been signed two and a half years earlier. So although the people had been pronounced free nearly three years before, they did not know it until the general came and told them. In essence they were still slaves. They thought like slaves. They talked like slaves. They even lived like they were slaves.

Already Free

We have a lot of Christians today who are still thinking like slaves, still talking like slaves, still living like slaves. Although our emancipation proclamation was signed two thousand years ago by the blood of Jesus, we still don’t know how to treat one another in the Lord. God wants us to be able to come together in the Body of Christ regardless of our racial background, regardless of our ethnicity—to come and experience unity and fellowship one with another. In fact, Galatians 2 challenges us about an issue that we’ve been dealing with since the beginning of time: racism. Racism is the institutional power used to hold down a certain race of people through injustice or other unkind means. And the last place we should see racism is in the church of Jesus Christ.

Peter, the apostle to the Jews, and Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, confronted this issue. We see Peter’s failure, and Paul’s freedom to help him overcome his failure. Read more about Confronting Racism in the Church