Church As Family

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Krish Kandiah writes for Christianity Today, “It’s time to reclaim the church as something we belong to rather than just an event venue.”[1] He argues our churches have become places you go to instead of a community to belong to. We have made our churches another consumer product that is marketing to the public.

He says, “…the American church is fundamentally shaped by free-market capitalism…Church leaders frequently act as salesmen, and evangelism strategies often resemble marketing campaigns. Churches end up competing with one another for attendees just like business compete for customers”

The competitiveness between the churches has been one of the major barriers to church unity. It has stalled many attempts to bring churches together to reach out to the community as one.

The solution Kandiah gives is changing our mentality when it comes to the Church. We need to see the Church more like a family. The Scriptures are filled with familial language calling people in the Church brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. The Church is something that we belong to, something to BE. It is not a place we go to. The Church is family.

Sure, families are messy. We don’t always get along. And we certainly don’t choose our family members. But, we show grace, mercy, and love especially to our family. Let us learn to do the same for our Church family.

Galatians 6:10 (NIV): Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 

[1] Kandiah, Krish. Church as Family. Christianity Today, January, February 2019. Print. 67

Conviction + Freedom = Denominations

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Dr. Albert Mohler answers the question, “What about denominations?” The skeptic and church critic wants to know. [2]

He begins by quoting Sydney Mead, a church historian. He says, “Theological conviction plus religious freedom equals denominationalism.” It is a simple math formula that describes why we have so many different denominations in the world.

Mohler adds the caveats that the differences in theological conviction is not about the authority of Scripture, the nature and work of Jesus Christ, or the creeds and doctrines of the universal church. This is how we make a distinction between churches that claim to be Christian, i.e. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints.

Though there are many denominations with different theological convictions we do have a foundation upon which we all stand: Jesus Christ. Through him we all can come together, work tougher, and see the kingdom of God in our world. Our diversity actually helps us in bringing the kingdom of God to our world. Our different perspectives, different strengths, and our combine resources will go far in advancing the kingdom of God.

Bob Ekblad says, “It is urgent that people from diverse sectors of the global body of Christ humbly learn from one another and partner when possible. God’s kingdom will break in sooner and with more power to a desperate world as people serve each other in unity.” [2]

Working together will only bring about the good for the Church, good for our neighbors, and good for the kingdom. The time is now to begin to work together in unity to see the kingdom of God come.

 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZURPJvyXFc
[2] Ekblad, Bob A New Christina Manifesto: Pledging Allegiance to the Kingdom of God. Kindle. Loc. 179

Schisms in the Church

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

Schisms are nothing new to the church. There have been many throughout history. Most Protestants know of the Reformation where Luther posted his 95 thesis to the doors of the local church. But, what most people don’t know is most schisms throughout history have largely been a political schism and not a doctrinal schism.

The Great Schism of 1054 is often sited to be about the filioque, a Latin term that was added to the Nicene Creed. It describes the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father AND the Son, instead of just the Father. The church in the East disagreed with the church in

the West. Though this is one issue among many. The real issue was authority and control.

In 1054 Pope Leo IX declared that all spiritual authority and rightful head of the church is the pope in Rome. The Eastern church did not take to kindly to such decrees. The pope died shortly there after, but, he had sent his emissary Humbert of Silva Candida to negotiate with the Eastern church. But in the end the Patriarch Michael Caerularius was excommunicated by the pope’s emissary to the East. In turn the Patriarch excommunicated the pope’s associates! He rejected the claim of the papal primacy. This is when the church split between East and West.

It also didn’t help the West sacked Constantinople, the center of the Eastern church, in 1204. The Eastern church became known as the Orthodox Church and the Western the Catholic Church.

Fast forward to today and we see the same issue of politics disrupting church unity. On January 5, 2019 the Ukraine Orthodox Church gained its independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. Issues of politics, nationalism, power, and control, all played out and eventually led to the split of this great church.

I don’t know enough to say this is good or bad on the part of the Ukrainians or the Russians. I do know this is not the church that Jesus had called us to be.

The politics of this world are not the politics of Jesus Christ. The more we blur the two, the more we will be divided. The more we allow the politics to determine our practices, the less we will love our neighbor. We are to be IN the world, influencing it like leaven in bread. We are not to be OF the world having it influencing our practices and faith.

The church in the US will do well to learn this lesson.

2019 & Beyond

It has been a while since I posted any content on this site. I assure you, this is not because the issue of church partnership or the gospel means any less to me than before. But, the reason is largely in part BECAUSE of my love for church partnership that I have not written on the subject for a while.
Last September my wife and I accepted a position to manage the local homeless shelter called The Refuge.

The Refuge is a rotating shelter. We have no formal building to which we can house the homeless at night. We instead rotate the guests from church to church each week. Every night of the week the guests are fed and sheltered during the cold winter months here in Michigan. And it takes church partnership to do this.

The Refuge is the largest volunteer organization in our county. We help the local churches work together to give the homeless in our county food, shelter, and the love of Jesus. We are equipping churches to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I’ve been with The Refuge since 2014. I have always been impressed with their work and ability to get the churches together for one cause. It is the best program I have seen that has brought churches together to make the world a better place. I am honored to be working with such a great organization.

That being said, this is why you have not heard from me in a while. But, this not to say you won’t hear from me going forward. I will be stepping up and writing more about church partnership and other subjects as I feel led. Also, I foresee doing some videos concerning bible study, current events, and discussing books that I have enjoyed.

The best way to keep tabs on my writing is to subscribe to this blog. Or follow me on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll post links when I post to my blog.

New Translation of the Old Testament – How to Read the OT

I highlight some of my favorite passages of  John Goldingay’s new translation of the Old Testament called The First Testament.

Also, I discus a recent article in Relevant Magazine where Andy Stanley says,

“Participants in the new covenant (that’s Christians) are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of their Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant: as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Article: https://relevantmagazine.com/god/why-do-christians-want-to-post-the-10-commandments-and-not-the-sermon-on-the-mount/