Wednesday, August 22

Things I wonder about

Gail Graves recently sent me his "Basic Simple Church Discovery Questions". Some of the below are adapted from this document. The rest are just things I have wondered about over the years. If you are willing to shed any light on any of the below, please feel free to jump in!

Where in the Bible does it refer to believers as members of a local church?

Can believers be part of more than one local church at the same time? (eg. a member at FBC-Dallas, Faith Bible Church, and Misión Evangélica Sión all at the same time) Why or why not?

If there really is only One Body of Christ, why do we persist in separating ourselves from one another and clinging to our denominational distinctives?

Why don't we ever hear any sermons on 1 Corinthians 12:28ff "And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues..."?

Related to the above question, why aren't our churches structured according to Paul's order, rather than the way we are structured today with Senior Pastors leading the list? Are pastors even mentioned in the 1 Cor. 12:28 list?

Who are the Ephesian 4:11 apostles, prophets, and evangelists amongst us? Can you name any apostles, prophets, evangelists in your church today? What happened to these folks? Have their roles been absorbed by the pastor-teachers in our midst? If so, is this what the Holy Spirit intended?

Were Paul's epistles written to individual local house churches in Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. or were they written to ALL of the Church in each of these cities (house churches-plural?)

Why doesn't Paul ever address his letters to the pastor or leadership of the churches like we do today when contacting churches?

Where in the Bible do we get the idea that listening to a prepared sermon is an essential part of believers gatherings?

Why do we delay baptizing new believers when every instance recorded in the Book of Acts indicates immediate baptism upon profession of faith?

How small can a church be and still be a church? Does the Bible say anything about how big is too big for a church to be?

What is a church? When does a group become a church? What is the Scriptural support for your answer?

Does a seminary education help or hinder those seeking to multiply new church starts?

What happened to celebrating the Lord's Supper as a meal? When did we begin substituting the Lord's SUPPER (meal) for a tiny cracker and sip of grape juice?

Where do we get the idea of paid/salaried pastors and church staff when 1 Corinthians 9 is clearly referring to itinerant apostolic workers?

Along these same lines where do we get the idea that "double honor" in 1 Timothy 5:17 for elders refers to a monthly salary and benefits package?

Why do we program our gatherings into hour long meetings rather than allowing the Head of the Church (Jesus) to lead and move among us as He desires?

Just wondering...

10 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Guy,

Excellent questions! I think that Scripture answers some of these questions. I think Scripture is silent concerning some of these questions. I think we've run into problems of answering those questions for God, and then holding people to our answers.

-Alan

GuyMuse said...

Alan,

Interesting perspective of why we run into problems when we are the ones answering the questions and expecting everyone else to hold to our conclusions. As I stated in my post, these several of these are questions that I am still pondering. I don't have the full answers. At best I have a partial understanding. Some are clearer than others, but remain open to others input on what they have learned.

Bryan Riley said...

The really good news is that some people are asking these questions again, because it seems that even to ask such questions has often been looked upon as a sign that the questioner may not be "of the faith." These are great questions. At the same time, the more we work within our giftings and disciple others to do the same, I'm not sure we would have much time to question such things... we would just be doing what He intends for us to do and seeing Him add to the Kingdom!

Harold M. said...

Guy,
This is a great post. These are questions that I have been asking since about 1980. The problem is, when I ask questions like these out loud, my friends think that I am either crazy or just a rebellious old hippy. I don't think I have the answers to all of these questions but they remind me of how far the church of today (especially in the western world) has come from the church of the NT.

GuyMuse said...

Bryan,

You are right about it being a lot more important to DO what He said to do, and worry less about all our unanswered questions. But it still doesn't stop me from thinking about these things! :)

Harold,

Thanks for stopping by. It's good to know others are wondering about some of the same kinds of things. And BTW, welcome to the club where all crazy, rebellious hippies are accepted!

Brent Davis said...

Guy,
Wow! These are profound questions. Questions that trustees from certain denominationally oriented mission sending agencies may not appreciate :-) Especially the ones who are pastors that preach sermons from 1 Timothy 5 in an effort to justify "compensation packages".

I have a few more questions for you about common practices today that seem to have their roots in traditions rather than revelation:

Why do churches use "Sunday School", "Youth Ministry" and "Children's Ministry" to "disciple" people when Jesus, the Apostles and the early believers never even hint at such things?

Why do pastors preach "Storehouse" tithing when Jesus, The Apostles and the early church never even hint that such a thing should be normative?

These next two may hit a little close to home but, I feel compelled to ask them:

Why do missionaries "go to the field" for a "career" and then "retire" back to their home country? Is this what we see in the book of Acts?

Why are missionaries "sent" via "sending agencies" that "insulate" the missionaries from the churches that "send" them in the first place?

Why do these agencies look more like the army complete with a "chain of command" than the simplicity we see in Acts?

So many questions!! I am excited that people are asking them! I believe that as more people ask these questions and arrive at the same conclusions I have (the traditions of men have far more to do with modern church practices than do the examples of Jesus, the Apostles and the early church), they will start looking to the One Who Is The Answer rather than some new program, or gimmick, or larger-than-life preacher type to be the next pied piper.

Your Brother,
Brent

GuyMuse said...

Brent,

Thanks for adding to the list! Your questions are worth pondering as well. Unless we ask the hard questions we are doomed to be led more by our traditions than the Bible we profess to be our sole authority for faith and practice.

I don't expect to be able to change much of what is being asked, but do try to not fall into the same patterns with the new works we are being used to start. So much of this is ingrained in us and to try and establish new patterns more in line with Scriptures is a lot easier said than done. In other words, tradition reigns! Anyway, thanks for sharing.

Tim Patterson said...

Guy,

Thanks for the provocative post. It is good to rattle our cages and reflect on extra biblical methods/ structures in our churches and mission initiatives. This causes us to stop and think before we establish a precedent in our work that may not line up with biblical patterns.

I don't think there is much we can do with the way things are in the established church, except to mobilize the church to focus on Jesus and obeying His word. Then, as we experience transformation and are used by Him to accomplish His mission in the world... we will see at least a partial reformation that will make the established church more like a living organism than a lifeless organization.

You hit on an important point, you... "do try not to fall into the same patterns with the new works." Avoiding extra biblical methods and structures in the beginning of a new work will empower the new churches to reproduce and multiply... until once again... extra biblical barriers are erected to slow down or stop kingdom expansion.

Darrell said...

Guy thanks for keeping it real. It is a joy to begin new works where none of these questions are at issue. I challenge those living in North America to consider beginning new works like those discussed here. It is not enough for us (in North America) to ask these questions and go back doing the same. We must act upon the truth God gives us. How can we follow Jesus if we ignore what He shows us?

GuyMuse said...

Tim,

Your "partial reformation" is what seems to be taking place more and more here (as well as Stateside). As more open and respectful dialog continues to take place, people are beginning to make needed changes. In five more years I predict many of these questions will be fairly well accepted by "mainstream" believers.

Darrell,

The smaller the group the easier it is to be of one mind. As numbers increase so do the many different viewpoints about everything. It is a work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to be able to accept and continue to work and love those who have differences with us. Just look at the Corinthian church divided into factions within a short time of its formation. Are we any different?