Church & Ministry

From the Archives – 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).

Do not take me to mean that church order is unimportant. If you would look in my library at how many books I have on the subject, Church/Church Order, you would immediately understand that I do not take it lightly. There are several themes in the subject of Church Order which I am convinced are worthy of lengthy pursuit. One, for instance is church discipline. Another, the one I want to talk about, is group decision-making among Christians. Taking votes is one way of making a group decision. There are others. From a biblical perspective, the significant idea for churches is not vote-taking, but group decisions.

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“Think long-term, at least twice as long as you think you need.”

"South Korea was well equipped, with technology and infrastructure, to go online. We did it immediately. But most of us thought it would be temporary. So that’s the first bit of advice—don’t think it will be one or two weeks. It will more likely be two months or more." - What South Korean Christians Want You to Know About Coronavirus

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From the Archives – Ministry Success & The Great Commission

A two-fold assumption is often evident when believers are evaluating the effectiveness of churches, ministries, movements, and denominations. The assumption is, first, that the Great Commission is the standard of measurement and, second, that the way to apply the standard is to count the number of people who are hearing the gospel or are being brought into worship services.

Certainly it’s exciting when thousands gather for worship and hear the gospel. If they’re doing so in multiple locations linked by cutting edge video technology, many see that as progress into a new and wonderful future for the body of Christ.

But exciting and wonderful in our estimation isn’t always exciting and wonderful in God’s—even when our hearts are in the right place. Four principles argue that if we’re going to evaluate churches, ministries, and movements in a way that approximates God’s evaluation, we’ll have to consider more than the Great Commission, understood as number of souls reached.

1. The Great Commission is not all there is.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8) says nothing directly about worship or about the people of God as a worshiping community. Still, nobody questions that the NT church is worshiping community. However, many do doubt—or at least fail to fully appreciate—how vital the united, exclusive, divinely-regulated worship of God is to the identity and health of a local church.

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Children, Church Membership, and the Implications of Ephesians 6:1

Reposted from It Is Written.

Should we allow minors into the membership of the church? Most evangelical churches would, without hesitation, answer this question affirmatively. Those that practice infant baptism believe the Bible warrants the inclusion of the children of believers into the membership of the church de jure. On the other hand, many Baptist churches today pressure young children to “make a decision for Christ” and accept such decisions or professions of faith without careful reflection on credibility.

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Power of Problems vs. Power of God

In the mid-1700s Jonathan Edwards was serving as the pastor of a thriving church in Northampton, Massachusetts. He had been a faithful and hardworking pastor for 22 years. Though his gifts were clearly more academic than pastoral, he loved his flock, served them, prayed for them, and preached some of the most influential sermons in history from their pulpit.

Edwards has been credited by historians as having a leading role in starting the Great Awakening in which 10s of 1,000s became genuinely and noticeably converted. His famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God was the spark that ignited the movement. And yet he remained the faithful pastor of a relatively small congregation… until 1749, when something made him leave his flock after 22 years.

What happened? Simple: they fired him.

Edwards wanted to insist that communion could only be taken by people who had evidence that they were, in fact, Christians but this was against the church’s tradition of allowing anyone, no matter how blatantly unrepentant they were, to partake in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Edwards was dismissed but then agreed to continue on as their pastor until they found a replacement, which took a year.

Can you imagine the hurt and betrayal he must have felt? Most of us would have spiraled into depression, cynicism, or bitterness. But Edwards remained cheerful, content, serene through the whole ordeal. How did Edwards survive the humiliating, unfair, and devastating dismissal?

His happiness was out of the reach of his enemies.

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10 Questions to Ask When Looking for a New Church

Looking for a new church can be an exciting process, but it can also be discouraging and even frustrating. Here are 10 questions that may help you work through that process—5 you should ask before you leave your current fellowship, and 5 you should ask before you arrive at the new one.

5 Questions to Ask Before You Leave

Why am I leaving the church I am at now?

The grass is always greener on the other side. We can always find somewhere else we think we might rather be. But before we leave a fellowship, we need to prayerfully consider our true motivation. If we are motivated simply by self-interest, that is a good indicator that we may be missing the point entirely. If our priorities aren’t right (biblical), then no matter what church we are part of, we will be dissatisfied and maybe even frustrated. Often times fixing relationships is about fixing me, not the other person. If we simply consider how we can encourage one another to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24), and if we focus on being who we need to be in Christ, then perhaps God can use us to make a difference in the overall health of the local fellowship.

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