Sunday, October 2, 2016

Memberships, Life Groups and Church

2 Corinthians 3:1
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

Luke 16:10
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

I have had much research looking for reason of the above, and none is worth much value except what you place in it.  

First, membership.  It is amazing how much merit is placed on people to become a "member" of a local assembly of believers.  I hear pastors and leaders put so much emphasis, but why?  In some mysterious cloud, many believe you will become more active and willing to serve within a body of believers.  Also, the view of democracy fits right in with America.  But how does a democratic view piece itself within the confines of a monarchy?  Doesn't Jesus pick the pastors (Ephesians 4:11)?
I know some will use the "elect" mentality for the elders and deacons.  If this is true, the word "elect" and "predetermined" is used by Paul in his epistles to the Romans, Corinthians and the church in Galatia.  We can't use the same study for these words.  It would then appear the God holds a "vote" to see how is approved as a believer.  Also, nowhere in the Word of God does it say to hold a congregational vote to determine leadership in the church.  It is picked accordingly by the leaders.  The only "vote" is when there is sin among the leaders and there better be accountability.  If there is none, it is best for you to find another assembly of honor.
Jesus called us to be faithful stewards.  We are to be faithful to HIS work and glory, not to your respective place of assembly.  ALL believers are called to glorify Christ, not the church we attend.  It is good we do this among our brethren but leaders restrict many to their own flock.  We are ALL part of the Body of Christ, not just a limb or even a finger.  
What membership did Paul have?  What about Peter?   James?  Timothy?  Philip?  Did all of these need letters of commendation to prove who they are in Christ?  Well before our current forms of instant communication, these men's reputations went before them.  It wasn't membership that approved them, it was their faithfulness to glory Christ.  Paul took beatings, even among the Jews, to prove what he went through for the gospel.  Simply, when believers die, they will not hear Jesus pronounce their membership to XYZ Church.  The words "good and faithful servant" will echo out from the words of their Savior.  This should be the importance.  If you are faithful, no membership is needed.  These people are there to serve Christ, not XYZ Church.
Life groups are today's church method of keeping it as simple and superficial as they can.  It actually takes the calling of teacher out of play.  Here's why.
Most Life group leaders are not trained to study and teach the Word.  Just get a study guide or book (other than the Bible) and let the author do it for you.  You can take as long as you want, and there is a good chance the leadership will approve it, since it takes the individual out of play.  It also takes the Holy Spirit out of his ministry.  How do I say?
His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  I am not saying all of this wrong, it is many are now going the way where it is easy to follow along to another author's steps in becoming a better Christian.  This may fit well in some areas but not as a whole, for many do not begin our walk with God from the same starting point.  
Another thing that is not mentioned is to get to know what the author is writing about and to, one of the best forms of acknowledgment is to understand "said author."  If James Doe wrote a book on area restaurants, it will be tailored to his liking and tastes.  He may not approve of a certain type of pizza because of spices, while others may enjoy it.  It all begins with knowing the author.  
There is a very slim chance we can bring James Doe into our restaurants and get a "feel" why he likes and dislikes certain food.  Since the Holy Spirit assisted in the writing of the Bible and Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we can have the Spirit with us when we study the Word of God.  Bringing this author in with us creates a whole new ability to understand the Word, for He is the guide to all Truth.  
Here is another difference that many leaders will either disagree or despise.  Many do not trust in these leaders' ability to teach straight from the Word of God.  One former pastor held to others as no problem.  God even admonished to him that if you teach the Word righteously, they will teach it correctly as well.  Once you begin to lose confidence in those underneath you, it may be the leader that needs to see this need of change.
Many pastors cannot rely on those leading life groups to teach the Word righteously.  Many of these pastors themselves are not teaching the Word with a depth and a strong desire for their congregation to be good Bereans.  They rather have them follow them and trust them rather than the leading of the Holy Spirit.  So what do they do?  They want Life Groups to keep it on the surface where they can oversee them.  In fear, these Life Group leaders pick something they believe the pastor will support, so instead of letting the Holy Spirit guide them through the Word, they pick a study guide with questions - where even a monkey can follow the steps.  Easy, neat and clean - but very superficial.  
Western churches have become so fearful of people leaving and keeping their chairs filled than filling their hearts with the Truth.  We severely lack living water, and we have been taught and fed the same bowl of cereal the congregation expects nothing more.  With such superficial ways, we go home and there isn't enough nourishment to where many want more meat, so they will read and study at home.  
We need to be more zealous of being with God, but also acknowledging it will require getting burned with getting close to the all consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28).  Our sin will be exposed as well as our pride, and any worthiness we feel will be of Him and not of us.  We are being taught to take our rowboat and go great lengths to cross the ocean.  If we are taught our gifts and act in the same accord to cross the ocean, we can all build a ship and carry as many as we can.  Only if you are willing to work together and know God's will for us, then we can attain the ultimate prize.

Jeremiah 6:15-16