Is my congregation “right”?

The true nature of a Christian’s, or a group of Christians, character is not defined when things are easy. Nor is it defined with any one snap shot in history. Often times in discussions, we have found that people will point to “that one time” to say a congregation is misunderstanding or over reacting. They will use individual cases to attempt to refute categorical problems. While I in no way am claiming to have it all figured out… any of us can look at something and see if it’s flawed or not. The human eye for instance can perceive the most minor flaws in the metal of a freshly painted car. We can feel with our hands the difference in a fake and a real coin. We can smell bread cooking in the other room and a skunk several blocks away at the same time. We can taste the difference between honey collected in a forest, in a city, or an orange grove. We can process a thousand sounds simultaneously and identify which was different, or wrong… or right. However, imagine trying to see that flaw, or hear that note, or taste that honey, or smell that bread with your head stuck in the mud. You’re going to say something like “I don’t see it, hear it, taste it, smell it… or feel it.” Could it be that many people who have never noticed problems in a congregation, who don’t even acknowledge that there could be a problem, are just like those with their head stuck in the mud?

In the last article I brought up the idea that an “unscriptural congregation” is a faction.  So how do we know if “we” are right?  Simply put, we step back (maybe take your head out of the mud), we look around, and we compare what we see with scriptures.  We ask ourselves things like:  does a congregation have the same responsibility as an individual?  Can a congregation, or a group of people, fulfill an individual’s “scriptural responsibilities”?  And the answer is a resounding no.  All throughout the new testament, we find that things like “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God… that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17).  The congregation in the new testament is simply a collective of individual Christians trying to fullfill their individual responsibilities… while collectively encouraging each other.

Many times today people try and justify what they are doing with “it feels right” or “surely God won’t mind” or maybe even more so:  “This is how my parents did it”.  Sadly none of those approaches will ensure that we are following the Bible correctly.  The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).  In another article I will address the difference between my individual responsibility and our collective responsibility.  But for now…

How to know if the congregation I attend is “wrong”:

  1. Is the congregation its own entity? (Do you refer to the congregation in terms that single it out as its own independent organism)
  2. Does this entity answer to another entity for anything?
  3. Is this entity self-governed, create its own laws, or have a board of directors?
  4. Are business meetings, business decisions, and financial information kept behind closed doors?
  5. Are there by-laws? (rules outside the bounds of scriptures)
  6. Is this “entity” called by a name not found in the new testament?
  7. Does this entity do things without scriptural authorization?
  8. Does someone else fulfill your scriptural responsibilities as a Christian?
  9. Is there a constant discussion about “more money” to do “more works”?

 

How to know if the congregation I attend is “right”

  1. Do you come together to teach, admonish, and build each other up?
  2. Are the things done during worship found and authorized by the New Testament?
  3. Does each individual have his or her own responsibilities? Does each person feel a personal responsibility to uphold their christian responsibilities?
  4. Do the shepherds know and tend to the flock that is among them?
  5. Does the congregation seek to deepen your faith and Bible knowledge more than provide you with activities?

 

“It’s uncomfortable to consider hard and potentially controversial questions. Re-examining old prejudices and concepts, re-evaluating past assumptions and positions— those are all hard tasks. But they are necessary ones. We are constrained by our confidence in God’s word, by our reliance on His strength, by our quest for His glory to consider these vital and timely issues. Let us not shrink from the challenge. It deserves our best effort.” – unknown

 

 

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