a tale of two churches

church

Sometimes when I start these things I really don’t know where they’re going and there are a lot of words written and a lot of words erased. I had no clue where I was going with this one!

I was talking to a pastor friend about another pastor friend who knows another pastor friend. I heard that he’s resigned or is resigning or is going to resign or something like that. From what I understand he’s a good pastor. I met him a time or two. I’m told he’s a good guy. I could speculate as to why he resigned.

I could first off guess what it wasn’t about. It wasn’t division about the Trinity. It wasn’t about the virgin birth. It wasn’t about election, calling, regeneration, sanctification, or perseverance of the saints. I doubt it was about how many books are in the Bible. I don’t think that it was about whether Jesus was fully God or fully man.

I am going to speculate and take a shot in the dark. I think it was likely about something really stupid. There, I said it. If I was a betting man, and I’m not, but if I was, I’d bet that it was over something grey that the Bible isn’t clear on. Romans 14 has a lot to say about our liberty in Christ. I wrote about it just a while ago. I think it was last week.

I think of another church that I know about. Pastor preaches the gospel. I’ve listened to a couple of his sermons on-line and it has been rich. Good old biblical truth that feeds the soul. People are excited to be involved in that church. People are coming to Christ, people celebrating, people locked into ministry and loving it.

Two very different scenarios.  If I could oversimplify them, and it will be completely oversimplified because I don’t have God’s vantage point and I am just a simple observer from a distance. My suggestion is this: one church likes to hear it’s own voice and the other likes to hear God’s voice. As I said, it’s an oversimplification but it’s worth considering.

There is no doubt in my mind that at Church A there are people who love to hear the Word. I’m sure there are some good servant-hearted people that love the Lord and are serving. But I would suggest that some have other agendas who like to hear their own voice. They may want to major on the minors or minor on the majors. They may be self-serving and self-seeking. They may be weak believers or unbelievers. They may be wolves in sheep’s clothing. I’d suggest that God’s Word isn’t at the top of their flag pole.

But I think of Church B. They have had their share of kerfuffles. One man needed to be put under church discipline and he was gently restored. They have lost some people but after some left, some more came that were about following Jesus and His Word (as if you can separate the two). Some more came that were servant-hearted. Some more came that were teachable. Some more came that were hurt and needed healing…and they did. Some more came that didn’t know Jesus but they heard the Word preached and it showed them the gospel…and God in His grace saved them.

Side note: the church is the greatest tool for evangelism. That’s another post for another time but consider these verses:

[34] A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. [35] By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV) 

When a church is loving one another through forgiving and asking for forgiveness and encouraging and correcting and confronting and helping that screams ‘God’. That screams ‘gospel’…and that’s compelling. That’s attractive.

I’d suggest that most churches are more like Church A than Church B but it doesn’t have to stay that way. It doesn’t have to be that way. Mid-course correction is possible. My prayer is that more churches become like Church B. It takes work. It takes prayer and the Word (Acts 6:2,4). It takes discernment. It takes qualified leaders or leaders that are moving in the right direction. It takes repentance from wrong thinking and wrong actions. It takes a submissive body. It takes a body that is more about God’s voice than it’s own.

[27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 ESV)

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