I have prepared a chart listing both the qualifications of elders or bishops in the church and the qualification of Christians to show that only five are unique to elders. The chart is based on but adapted from an article written by Ancil Jenkins for Sound Doctrine, 12 July 1983. The wording is from the New King James Version. Check it out H-E-R-E.
A Coffeehouse By Any Other Name
by John Gaines (used with permission)
A recent news story announced that the Starbucks Coffeehouse chain is going to test market the concept of opening new locations branded only with a local name. The first such location will be called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, located reasonably enough on 15th Avenue in Seattle. The Starbucks logo will be nowhere in sight and even the coffee will be rebranded “15th Avenue Coffee” rather than Starbucks.
It will still be Starbucks. The product will be exactly the same as Starbucks. It will simply be called by a different name. A company official said that the new name was meant to give the store a “community personality.” That sounds a lot like what has been happening with some churches in recent years. For example, the Saddleback Church in California was established under the name “Saddle back Valley Community Church” in 1980, but its pastor, Rick Warren, said in a 2005 interview, “I’m Southern Baptist, our church is Southern Baptist….” However, they never presented themselves under the Southern Baptist label.
Advocates of the Community Church movement have explained their desire to appeal to all members of their community and think that the use of denominational names might discourage some from other backgrounds attending their services.
Just as Starbucks may call itself something different, but it’s still Starbucks, so a Baptist church might not use that name, but it is still a Baptist church if it teaches Baptist doctrine.
Looking at the website of the Saddleback Church, one finds a section titled “What We Believe.” Much of the information on that page is biblical and accurate. We have no difficulty at all with the beliefs they affirm about God, Christ, and the Bible being inspired and error-free. However, keep reading and you find this sentence in the paragraph on baptism: “Baptism does not save you, but shows the world that you have already been saved.” While that sentiment may be totally consistent with Baptist church doctrine, it starkly conflicts with Bible teacher in 1 Peter 3:21 that “baptism now saves you.” So the point is simple. If the coffee is the same, it doesn’t matter if the place calls itself Starbucks or 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea. If the teaching differs from the Bible, it doesn’t matter if a church wears the brand of a recognized denomination or identifies itself as a community church.
How much better it would be if all believers in Christ could be content to simply follow the New Testament and be Christians! In the book of Acts, we read that the disciples in the city of Antioch were called Christians [Acts 11:26]. The name we wear should honor Christ, who is our Lord, and who gave himself to purchase the church with his blood [Acts 20:28]. It might not matter much what men call the institutions they have established, whether it is coffee shops or denominational churches. However, if we want to be the church built by Jesus Christ, we ought to honor him both by wearing his name and by teaching the doctrine the Holy Spirit gave us by inspiration.
Community Churches and Generic Names
by David Sain
Some churches of Christ are changing their names from names like FIRST STREET CHURCH OF CHRIST to generic names, such as THE COMMUNITY CHURCH or THE FAMILY OF GOD. Proponents of such a change, with whom I have discussed the matter, say that the traditional name, CHURCH OF CHRIST, has “too much baggage” attached to it, and that “it has a negative effect when people see that name on a sign in front of the church building.” It is argued that a generic name will not “turn people off” and will be more effective in reaching people.
I find this to be so ironic because of something that took place recently in Florence. After worship one Sunday morning, I met a young couple who was visiting us for the first time. Sean and Candice had just moved here from Oregon, after he accepted a position with Big River Broadcasting Company. He was Catholic and she was a Mormon.
Rarely have I studied with anyone so hungry to know the Truth as they were, so I was not surprised when they were baptized for the remission of sins and became Christians three weeks later.
Now, here is the ironical part. Sean told me that, before they came to worship that first Sunday, they were walking in downtown Florence and saw our sign which reads, WOOD AVENUE CHURCH OF CHRIST. They did not know anything about us – had never even seen “a church of Christ building.” But, Sean said they decided to come to Wood Avenue because they wanted to be a part of a church that unashamedly identifies themselves as a church that belongs to Christ!
How ironic. That which initially attracted Sean and Candice is the very thing that some want to change!
My SOURCE: The Pilot Oak Flier
Don’t Join Any!
All up and down this troubled land confusion reigns today;
As honest folks on every hand in doubt are heard to say;
“I cannot tell which church to join, there are so very many.”
To whom we offer this advice-you never should join any!
You cannot join the church of Christ, no man can vote you in,
The Lord Himself will add you, when He saves you from your sin.
Then take no chances, neighbor; this race but once you’ll run.
A church you’d join would be of man, and not the proper one.
Beware a church you cannot find within the sacred pages;
Be safe, dear sinner, rest your soul upon the Rock of Ages.
Be added to His blood-bought church, and drink salvation’s cup.
For every plant God planted not, it shall be rooted up.
No mourner’s bench on Pentecost, the inspired Peter fitted,
But said, “Repent and be baptized, that your sins may be remitted.”
The Lord, who saved and added those who did, that day, His will;
Will do the same for you, dear friend, for He is adding still.
Let not false teachers lead you wrong, nor close your eyes in slumber;
When Jesus said He’d build His church, ‘Twas not in plural number!
No choice of churches, neighbor mine, is found beneath the sun,
Though men may have ten thousand, our Savior had but one.
The Lord’s Church is Magnificent
by Jim Ward
The term church occurs nine times in the book of Ephesians. With nine additional references to the church using the term body, and one each using household of God and temple, it is apparent that this is one of Paul’s major themes. The church is obviously significant in God’s scheme of things. Nowadays, though, it seems to me that we overlook the church in our teaching and preaching. Let’s try to remedy that neglect just a tiny bit in this brief article. Please consider a chapter by chapter approach to Paul’s treatment of the importance and magnificence of the church.
Read more by clicking H-E-R-E.
As I was preparing for Sunday’s sermon, I ran across a very interesting article which was originally written by a relative of mine exactly 50 years ago today! I was struck by the power of the writing and decided to present it here on this blog. Its truthfulness and simplicity and understandibility are amazing to me. I am thankful to have read it! Please click on the link below to read the complete editorial.
There is But One Way
by Reuel Lemmons
People must never be allowed to forget that there is but one way. The idea is entirely too prevalent that there are many different ways of reaching heaven. The thought is usually advanced that we are all trying to go to the same place, and that some way somehow we will all make it. The Impression is quite universal that since we read out of the same Bible and profess to be serving the same God, that every man may go his own way and that all roads will some day end in glory.
There could not be a more dangerous thought. No man ever received this idea from reading his Bible. The Bible teaches no such doctrine. If he believes this, it is because he has heard some human being make the statement, and has blindly followed the man rather than the word of God.
Did you ever take time to search the scriptures to find out whether this thought were in the Bible? Perhaps we believe that way because we WANT to believe that way. We would like to do things in religion as we want to do them; we would like to be what we want to be; and would like for God to accept us when life is over as we wish to be. An unwillingness to bend our wills to God’s will is usually behind the idea that we can pursue any course we please and still go to heaven.
Read the entire editorial by clicking H-E-R-E.
To read a brief bio of the writer, click H-E-R-E.
Written by Drew on July 10th, 2008
Studies have shown that Americans are losing interest in denominational affiliations. Forty-four percent of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another. The demographic benefiting the most is the one that carries people who claim no religious affiliation. People moving into that categroy outnumber those moving out of it by a three-to-one margin. These changes in affiliation are swelling the ranks of nondenominational churches, while Baptist and Methodist traditions are showing net losses.
One of the greatest needs, then, of the church of Christ in the 21st century is a strong sense of her nondenominational character. Here are some practical ways to promote this attitude:
[To read the rest of Drew Kizer’s article, click on the link below].