The Identity of the Church of Christ

Conforming to Conformity #2

Last month, we looked at a potential problem facing many of our churches today. We are commanded to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) to see if we are in Christ or stuck in our traditions and past practices. Sometimes it can be a real eye opener about our own faith and how we elevate our traditions to a stature equal to law.

We are taught in the scriptures to maintain the traditions that have been taught to us by others and maintain what we have learned from God’s word. We are also commanded to study God’s word to show ourselves approved and so that we can rightly handle the truth of God. (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14)

Some adversaries of the church of Christ as well as many “change agents” complain that our worship is dull and boring to most viewers. To a degree they are correct in the fact that we do not jump and shout, we do not clap or dance, neither do we lose control of our faculties and emotions. Yet the dull and boring is only from the perspective of a person who’s mind is not set on things above. We should be open to examination of our services and do whatever we can to enhance and improve our spirits without going beyond the scriptures. So sometimes we need to be open to new ideas.

There are brethren we call “Mutual Edification Brethren”. They do not hire preachers, but the members take turns presenting the lessons. That is an excellent practice and should be done more often. They believe it is wrong to pay a preacher to preach (BTW, you do not pay a preacher to preach, you support a man so that he can do the work that he has chosen to do). Their problem is the fact that they have made this practice a sin, and anyone who does support or pay a preacher is violating scripture and is guilty of sin and not worthy of their fellowship.

Many times, when a preacher goes to another work, the former congregation spends hours discussing who they are going to hire and what they are going to pay him. This leads to very heated discussions sometimes. The problem is actually several problems. Either the former preacher failed to teach the members how to teach, or he failed to motivate any of the members to study God’s word in order to teach it. OR, this shows the fact that most of the time, the members let or make the preacher do all of the evangelism, while they sit back and do nothing except put their contribution in the plate when it is passed.

To suggest that a congregation could exist without a preacher is unthinkable in many of our churches today. It appears more important for many congregations to have a “big named” preacher than elders. How many times when visiting another place are you asked who your local preacher is? Have you ever been asked if you have elders, and if so, who they are? Not very likely.

I have heard people proclaim that their preacher is a relative unknown (and embarrassment accompanies such a statement). Well there are more of the unknowns than the well-knowns, and many of the unknowns are better all around as preachers and teachers of the Word, because they are more likely to be serving others, and less likely playing politics like so many do in order to keep their status.

Brethren, our mature congregations should be nurturing and building up younger preachers, but alas, most of them get and keep the big names, and many of them consider the smaller groups with their unknown preachers as less than what they should be. Think on these things (Philippians 4:8), and may God continue to bless you.

By Carey Scott

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