The Church Service

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Bud
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Re: The Church Service

Post by Bud » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:23 pm

Hi JR,

You described the gathering you attended and asked:
"So did we have Church?
Can you have Church without a sermon?"
My answer, Yes and Yes.
It all sounded rather idyllic to me.
I'm happy for you and your fellow congregates.

Thank you for sharing,
I've been to similar gatherings before. I hope such happen more and more.
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard [it,] and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. (NASB) :)

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psimmond
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Re: The Church Service

Post by psimmond » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:21 pm

jriccitelli wrote: Objection! You would have false teachers and ill equipped teachers running amok throughout the church!

If a pastor does have that problem, well it just proves the pastors preaching hasn’t been very effective.
I don't think this is fair to say. I know several highly motivated people who would love to attend a meeting where they could move from table to table teaching new doctrine that God revealed to them. These people spend hours on facebook trying to persuade people that baptism is necessary for salvation, true Christians speak in tongues, God knows the future as possibilities, Jesus was married, the apostle Paul was a homophobe, or that the trinity is not a biblical concept.

(In his epistles, Paul often expressed surprise at how quickly his children accepted the teachings of false teachers when he wasn't there with them.)

I agree with you that there should be knowledgeable small group leaders and I think they should probably be stationed at the tables or roving from table to table ready to put out fires if necessary and perhaps to keep the discussion from wondering afield.

I'm not attacking your overall idea; I actually love it and hope to be a part of something similar. I just think your statement above was a bit unfair and harsh. ;)
Let me boldly state the obvious. If you are not sure whether you heard directly from God, you didn’t.
~Garry Friesen

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Homer
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Re: The Church Service

Post by Homer » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:05 pm

These people spend hours on facebook trying to persuade people that baptism is necessary for salvation
Is baptism optional, i. e., do we get to decide whether to be baptized or no?

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psimmond
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Re: The Church Service

Post by psimmond » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:46 pm

Sure we get to decide (unless you're a "hard" determinist). :D I wouldn't be in favor of forcing new believers to be baptized against their wishes.

That being said, I do my best to persuade new believers to be baptized, even though I don't believe failure to be baptized consigns people to hell.
Let me boldly state the obvious. If you are not sure whether you heard directly from God, you didn’t.
~Garry Friesen

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Paidion
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Re: The Church Service

Post by Paidion » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:16 am

... and now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’ (Acts 22:16 RSV)

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16 RSV)

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness* of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:36-38 ESV)
* or "forsaking"
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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psimmond
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Re: The Church Service

Post by psimmond » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:53 pm

Perhaps baptism is a necessary component of salvation but I don't believe it is. Nevertheless, I do see it as a very important and meaningful ritual. As all of you know, I could list verses that talk about being saved/born again that talk about faith/believing with no mention of baptism.

I was baptized by immersion (which I think is most representative of death and burial) and do believe and persuade others to do likewise. I'm very familiar with verses about baptism (and the position that says you must be baptized) because I attended a Church of Christ for several years. :)

Search the whole of scripture and let it shape your beliefs, and remember, we won't agree on every issue. :)

Since this is a very important thread on "The Church Service," I don't think we should derail it. I mentioned the necessity of baptism and tongues, open theism, belief in the trinity, etc. as examples of contentious issues that some people feel strongly about; sometimes these people will use every opportunity to covert others to their way of thinking. People like this can dominate and misuse discussion times in open forums like the type mentioned by jriccitelli with 4-5 people sitting at different tables. I wouldn't call all of them wolves in sheep's clothing (although some are), but their attitude and agenda can cause problems.

This is why I said...
I agree with you that there should be knowledgeable small group leaders and I think they should probably be stationed at the tables or roving from table to table ready to put out fires if necessary and perhaps to keep the discussion from wondering afield.
Let me boldly state the obvious. If you are not sure whether you heard directly from God, you didn’t.
~Garry Friesen

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jriccitelli
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Re: The Church Service

Post by jriccitelli » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:45 pm

Thanks Bud, and others for any, and all input on this, and you are right psimmond that some will continue to believe what they want, and try to persuade others. My quote sounds rough but I’ve given this alot of thought and unfortunately had to experience this exact thing:
Objection! “You would have false teachers and ill equipped teachers running amok throughout the church!”
If a pastor does have that problem, well it just proves the pastors preaching hasn’t been very effective.
This objection was almost verbatim from two different persons I have already encountered, one a pastor. My first ‘apologetic’ response to this objection was; “it seems rather we have false teachers and ill equipped teachers standing in pulpits and running amok throughout the church” probably not the most tactful way to respond, but it is true. A pulpit does not seem to keep bad teaching from pouring forth on a congregation. In fact the whole congregation is effected when this continues, and most in the audience accept this bad teaching as having authority ‘because‘ it is coming from the preacher or pulpit. It is really hard to check a pastor on this stuff, I have learned why some pastors ‘do not’ allow open discussion when they are leading a smaller group, because they can get checked on their doctrine and become exposed for their lack of knowledge on a subject (I think a lot of college professors have the same method of operation, but that’s another story).

I agree that despite ongoing lecturing some will continue to believe what they want, and try to persuade others. Boy do I have experience and stories about this happening in small groups.
So is the solution is:
Don’t let the members of the body speak to one another about spiritual matters. This is the approach the Catholic Church has taken for at least 17 Centuries. Step back for a moment and observe what Catholicism is all about: all authority for discernment is taken from the Laity and laid solely in the hands of the clergy. Most every spiritual presentation of the gospel with a Catholic will get you a “well why don’t you go speak to a priest (or nun) about that, I don’t really know much about the bible”
The devil doesn’t want us to know Gods Word, talk about His Word, or feel we are qualified to learn or talk about the Bible. The authority to read or teach Gods Word was taken away from the laity, and when the reformation came along not much really changed. You have to have balance, yet as we see within Catholicism the balance is clearly wrong and ‘all’ teaching authority is in the clergy, the laity possessing none. The reformation removed the Pope, and ‘endorsed’ the authority of God’s Word over man, but the impression left by the clerical authority and priesthood was toned down only by putting this ‘authority’ on pastors, and even preachers. The authority to teach (or at a minimum, the qualifications to speak Gods word) can be argued and debated but at the end of the day we will come to realize that: God destroyed the priesthood, “no longer shall any man teach His brother, but they shall all know me”, the ‘Holy Spirit was given to all believers’, “You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going”, ‘this authority was given to His Word, and to all who would believe in His Word’.

Satan wants to distort Gods Word, but the Word wants to be known by everyone. Satan teaches error, but Gods Word is Truth. God wants His Word known by all. The error is in squelching the Holy Spirit and squelching a person who can read with a bible in their hand. The error is proclaiming people should 'not' be able to talk amongst themselves over the bible.
I am an extremely zealous advocate for correct doctrine, extremely dogmatic about the dangers of false doctrine, I am well acquainted with apologetics and as a bible teacher myself I often find myself having to defend the need to have ‘qualified’ teachers in teaching roles, even small groups. But I have toned down abit since I am getting older and after leading small groups for years I have learned that the ‘goal’ is to get a group reading and studying the bible together – even if it means any biblical topic or chapter they want to read – Gods Word will come alive for them. God’s Word will be present with us in the room as we remember God does the work, not that I don’t ‘want’ to lead the group, or remind them that the subject I 'prepared' was on 2nd Samuel, or 1st John, or Angels, or Baptism, or Repentance, or something else, I have to remember Who is in charge – the Holy Spirit – not me.

I am dogmatic about having prepared questions or an outline of scriptures to study ready, but I am happy if one can just read and let the Spirit lead a Godly meaningful conversation also. My main objective is to get people to learn how to study (hermeneutics), to love His Word, to enjoy the study, to ‘know’ they can study, to gain confidence, to learn to disciple by actually conversing, and to learn ‘they’ can share the bible with others. Engage and model with them a Godly discussion around Gods Word, and when we all become comfortable with Gods Word in our hand we see God’s growth and work in our life and in the group, as we grow together in this one purpose. This is the purpose: for all of us to be one in Him.

I am approaching this from a biblical, theological and spiritual perspective (not because: I’m lonely, as at least one person argued as being my motive (?). l have attended, I don’t know I never counted before, but at 30 per year for 20 years that’s maybe 600 at least small group Bible type meetings. I’m estimating I have walked in on at least 5 false teachers, and had at least five disruptive people in my own groups over the years, but nothing that wasn’t easily enough handled. Although difficult at times, and sometimes someone will leave, it usually resulted in a practical lesson for everyone in growth and maturity. Most groups have grownups who are smart and can think for themselves. We thank God for the freedom to reason amongst ourselves and come to a solution (rather than appeal a priest). This is what creates a family, and this is what happens in a real family. Groups are generally stronger as a result, and having learned to work together through difficulties grows the 'together bond'. This sure seems to be what God intended by giving ‘us’ His word, His Spirit, telling us ‘we’ should love one another, and be one as He and the Father are One.

Thanks for not making this about baptisms, you are a good table leader.

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Michelle
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Re: The Church Service

Post by Michelle » Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:17 am

mattrose wrote:The non-interactive worship service would actually be fine if 'the church' was actively being 'the church' the rest of the week. I don't know that we can blame the 1 hour worship service for failing the church.

If a Christian is, on a daily basis, interacting with fellow believers, reaching out to lost people, etc... then they may find the 20 minutes of corporate singing and 20-40 minute message a helpful and meaningful time. If, on the other hand, a Christian is hoping to get out of the 1 hour worship service all their discipleship and fellowship... they will surely be disappointed.

Sunday morning in America has problems, but it is not THE problem.
I'm going to agree with Matt here (as I so often do!)

JR, the description of the home church you attended sounds wonderful. Your heart for believers who are starving for lack of spiritual food is admirable. I pray that God continues to bless you as you worship Him in the way you find most pleasing to Him and as you strive to extract truth from the bible with like-minded table-mates.

I am one of the many who have suffered for lack of fellowship in churches. I wrote about it here. I'm going to disagree, however, that my problem was with pews, pastors, and sermons. My problem was that small group interactions tended to be superficial. I did not find that intimacy that leads to brotherly love that JR talked about. So, for me, the addition of one more small group interaction is not terribly attractive.

I like listening. In fact, I am an auditory learner; I remember what I hear and, in fact, often have to read things aloud in order to get full understanding. I like to listen to podcasts, TED talks, sermons, and talk radio (used to drive my kids nuts when I had to chauffeur them around). I especially like any monologue that is well-crafted. I find it a privilege to sit and listen to a sermon every Sunday.

Here are some things I like about sermons:

First, they can facilitate unity, if the preacher preaches the gospel —not preaching the gospel in an evangelistic sense (which is what I think Haole was getting at in the OP), but reminding us that we are all under the lordship of Christ. That is where our unity lies.

Second, they can address the church at large and therefore be more efficient when teaching and correcting doctrine. Sure, discussion needs to follow for reflection and refinement, but a good sermon provides the context and parameters for that discussion.

Third, a well-crafted sermon that focuses on true doctrine and points to Christ will enable and enhance the rest of our worship.

So while I can't live without the intimacy and love of a small group of committed Christians (which I have found, by the way), I also enjoy the Sunday worship assembly of the saints.

Singalphile
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Re: The Church Service

Post by Singalphile » Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:30 am

I went to a small group at church this morning (er, yesterday morning now). It was the first time in years, I'm a bit embarrassed to say. I appreciated it very much, and I personally see more good come from it than the typical Sunday morning church service.

I'm not really a "people person" and I don't care for socializing or making new pals, so it was a little bit of a stretch for me, but I sweated through the initial "hellos" alright. It's a better way to become of more service to the Church I think, and it's good to sit and hear 1st-hand about what God's doing in peoples' lives and about different Christ-centered thoughts and ideas. I credit many of you with the assist on getting me out there. Thanks!

(Minor complaint: These groups tend to be divided up into groups for men, women, college-age, single 30s, newly-weds, single 40s, married, families, seniors, etc., etc. I suppose that makes some sense, but it is a bit limiting.)
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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Homer
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Re: The Church Service

Post by Homer » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:07 am

Hi Michelle,
Second, they can address the church at large and therefore be more efficient when teaching and correcting doctrine. Sure, discussion needs to follow for reflection and refinement, but a good sermon provides the context and parameters for that discussion.
Sounds like what the church we attend does often. The preacher gives a series of sermons with a particular theme and the mid-week home groups are encouraged to further discuss the topic.

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