This is the third article in the series, following Church Money Problems
Obviously, Christianity requires fellowship. We are commanded “forsake not the gathering of the saints.” We can’t do it alone. How, then, do we find the “right” fellowship and gathering?
The answer we created for ourselves is more difficult and complicated than it should be. (Our attitude should be, “I am a member of all the Christians in <my home town>.) First, because we splintered ourselves into pigeon-hole groups of generally myopic focus, like, “is the communion actually, substantially, nearly, or just representative, of His body?” and “Do we sprinkle, dip, pour, or immerse ourselves for real baptism?” Some say these are very important issues . . . and they are! We should never stop talking about them until Jesus returns. But we did stop talking when we separated. Now, we just do it the way our denomination always did it, and ignore those who do it differently. Without a thought.
Then we went a step beyond reason. We let people who had no business in the pulpit or in leadership preach and lead, and took on “members” who are not members of Christ’s body! Rather than inviting and encouraging them to attend, we signed them up to “share” in the direction and administration of the body. That’s somewhere between letting kindergartner’s teach the class, and having prisoners control the jail.
Can we get back to something healthy? Yes, of course! It seems, however, that we might have to recreate the fellowship — and not through another denomination! We need to work at de-denominating. I spent six years preaching in a small country church. It had been a Wesleyan fellowship, that dropped the “official” title and took on a Methodist minister, then a few variable denominational and independent baptists, then a Pilgrim Holiness preacher, then me. Whatever I am. Christian. It was small enough to adapt, and bold enough to call out challenges during my sermons. Usually spot on, valuable questions, and often embarrassing.
<Your denomination here> needs that. If not in the way our little congregation “took what they could get,” but there is plenty of room for Christian “guests” in your pulpit, and Christian “guests” in their pews. Guests who can and will challenge strange doctrines. Make noise, but be polite.
If your denomination is “corporate,” you may have to resort to radical means. “If you will not address this issue in a theologically sound Christian manner, pastor, I will send my weekly tithes and offerings to third world countries that will use it preach the Gospel and serve a needy community.”
Our piddling $50 goes a long way when we get to send it to Christian orphanages in Africa and Pakistan. It hardly affects whatever fellowship we have joined, but a dozen people like us might make a difference. 100 would. 1,000 might create a vital revolution. Let the interlopers, anti-Christian, and syncretists have it.
10,000 unitarian, agnostic, and other strange fellowships will not harm the body of Christ, until and unless they run Christ’s Church on earth. Continued participation works against the whole Church of God, breaks it up more and more, little by little, and might really bring back the first Century faith, with real Christians gathering secretly in the shadows and being fed to the lions.