Who Is The Church For?

I think the church today is making the same fundamental mistake that Israel made back in the Bible days! God’s purpose for choosing Israel to be His peculiar people was so that Israel might introduce and show God to the world! But instead of fulfilling that task, Israel became introverted and tried to keep God as her own peculiar treasure. Instead of being a conduit to share God with the world, Israel became a pool and tried to isolate God and herself from the world! Not understanding that God wanted to use her to reach the world, Israel concluded that her selection by God meant that she was better than the rest of the world and that God’s favor was for her exclusively.

churchliquorIsn’t that exactly what has happened to the church today, especially in America? Visit any urban city in America and you will observe an interesting phenomenon. In most locations, you will find a church building on many city blocks. However, within those same city blocks, you will also find buildings that provide housing for illegal drugs, prostitution, and liquor stores! In some locations, the church house and the house of ill repute are even situated next door to one another! You would think that one would offset the other! How in the world can they seemingly peacefully co-exist?

I think there are several reasons for this happening. First, just like Israel in the days of old, the church today has misunderstood her calling. Instead of being “for the world,” most churches today are mainly for themselves! And many of the ones who are evangelistic are making the fundamental mistake of trying to be like and liked by the world in a futile effort to win the world!

The Bible is clear on this subject and we should use the Carpenter from Galilee as our model. Jesus said; “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV) Jesus did nothing for himself, but rather his whole life was for others! He was born for others! He ministered for others! He performed miracles and healings for others! He was crucified for others! He died for others! Early that 3rd-day Sunday morning, he was raised from the dead for others! And one day, he’s coming back again for others! Yes! Jesus, the Head of the church, was for others! And just as Jesus was for others, the church should be for others!

The church will be what God called her to be, have the power and influence God ordained for her to have when she comes to the realization that she does not exist for herself but rather for others! Real power will return to the church when church members repent of their selfishness and come to the realization that the church does not exist primarily to serve them. Real power will return to the church when church members come to the understanding that they are members of the church so that their talents, time, treasure, gifts, and abilities might be used to fulfill the church’s mandate to reach, save and serve others for sake of Jesus and the Kingdom of God!

 

 

At Church To Have A Good Time?

people in a clubI posted a blog-post some time ago entitled: “The Crazy Things We Say In Church.” In that post, I listed some of the things that are commonly said in church that really don’t make any spiritual and in some cases, any common sense. Well, there is another saying that I’ve heard so much that I think it deserves a post all by itself! How many times have you been in a church service and heard an MC, a deacon, a preacher, or even a pastor say: “We’re here to have a good time”? Now, I wouldn’t have a problem with the saying if I hadn’t heard it somewhere else and it was theologically accurate!

Can you think of anyplace else where you have heard this statement? Hmm? Isn’t that what we used to say in our pre-Christian days when we were into the nightclub life? It was Friday night and we had just gotten paid so off we went to the clubs; to have a good time! Now, what’s so amazing to me is that many of us, although we now profess to know God, we go to church with a “night club mentality!” Let me show you what I’m talking about! When we were going to the club, we did not expect anything to happen at the club that would cause significant changes in our lives. We didn’t go to the club with an expectation of our lives changing for the better, we just went to have a good time! It was a hard week at work, so we went to the club to relax, forget about our troubles for a few hours, and to enjoy ourselves. Well, there are some people who go to church on Sunday mornings with the exact same expectations! They don’t expect any significant changes to occur in their lives. They don’t expect anything to happen while they are at church that will cause any significant change in their lives. They just come for an hour or two to “get their praise on!” They just come to have a good time! They left “hell” to come to church and then leave church with the full expectation to go back to the same hell they left! They don’t expect any changes. Sunday morning for them, is just a two-hour- reprieve from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!

But there is so much more to coming to church than just having a good time! Now, if you have a good time while you’re there, that’s all fine and well, but having a good time should not be the main purpose! Why should we come to church? Well, the main reason is to worship and experience the presence of God! And when we worship God, it is not about us; it’s about God! When we give God the praise and adoration of which God is worthy, our “good feeling” is just a by-product. But not only do we get a good feeling, God also moves on our behalf in our various life situations.

A good model of what should happen when we go to church in found in Isaiah’s temple vision in Isaiah 6. Isaiah “saw” the Lord, high and lifted up! When Isaiah saw how high the Lord was; he also saw how low he was! A true worship experience helps us to see the majesty and glory of God and recognize our own faults and failures. That experience caused Isaiah to exclaim (in the language of my fore-parents) “It’s not my brother! It’s not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord! Standing in the need of prayer!” Finally Isaiah was touched, cleansed, and commissioned. That’s what a real worship experience is all about! After a true worship experience; we don’t leave the same way we came! We leave with a sense of our sins forgiven! We leave with a determination and will to do the will of God! We leave stronger than we were when we came! The time we spend in worship at church is so much more than just for the purpose of having a good time!

Armor Bearer is NOT a Biblical Church Office: A Guest Post by H. B. Charles, Jr.

He picked me up from the airport. We headed straight to the church.

I wanted to look over my manuscript once more before I preached. But I took a few minutes to chat with my driver.

I asked my standard questions, including, “Where do you serve in the church?”

“I’m pastor’s chief armor bearer,” he said proudly.

I summoned all the self-control I could muster. But I couldn’t resist. I had to ask. “What does that mean?”

He explained the various ways he serves his pastor. “I am basically pastor’s right-hand man,” he concluded.

I changed the subject.

But there was another question I wanted to ask: “You do know that armor bearer is not a biblical church office, don’t you?”

This time, self-control prevailed. Thankfully.

I read Terry Nance’s book, God’s Armor Bearers, when it was first published some years ago. I found it interesting. Then I forgot it. I never expected it would get so much traction. Yet there is a now a movement of “armor bearers.” And I am not sure it’s a good thing.

Let me clear. It is good for men to have hearts and hands to serve in the church. And it is good when men are willing to serve their pastor. Every man should have another man in his life that he submits to. But I wonder if all this “armor bearer” stuff is taking things too far.

Christians are commanded to honor their pastors. At the same time, however, pastors are commanded to be servant-leaders, not celebrities.

  • Do you really need security with earpieces to protect you from interaction with your congregation?
  • Do you really need someone to carry your Bible, manuscript, and anointed handkerchief to the pulpit for you before you preach?
  • Do you really need the men in your church who have a servant’s heart to be used as your chauffeurs and butlers?

But there is a bigger question: You do know armor bearer is not a biblical church office, don’t you?

There are two biblical offices in the New Testament church: elders and deacons. Elders serve by leading. Deacons lead by serving.

Unfortunately, many pastors and congregations resist the hard work of developing biblical church leadership. Most would not dare consider establishing elders. And pastors and deacons often have a love-hate relationship, as they wrestle for power. (Trustees are not in the Bible. And they should NOT have final authority in the church, just because they handle the money.)

Brothers, if we are going to disciple men for Christian growth, service, and leadership, why not use the terms and offices the Lord has ordained? The church needs godly elders and faithful deacons not ecclesiastical rent-a-cops.

Come on, if you are going to fight what that armor, can’t you carry it?

As pastors, we should model Christlike humility and servanthood. We should labor to nurture biblical church leadership. Our goal should be congregational health, not personal comfort. We need Christian soldiers that will lead the army of God into spiritual warfare.

And may we do so dressed in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), so we won’t need anyone to bear our armor for us!

H. B. Charles, Jr.