Christian, Christianity, Conference, Jesus, Leadership

Pragmatic Solutions For Doing Church In Challenging Times

Preamble:

In this writing, the Author proposes practical suggestions for any church that undergoes leadership and organisational conflicts that deprives the rights of her regular members from corporate worships. It’s a sad reality that the two dominant factors for church conflict results from the misappropriation of power and money. Such unresolved conflicts which happens at the top echelons of the church’s hierarchy, hampers the worship routines of her members right to her grassroots levels.

This results in disillusioned members that grapples with the core issue of worship which is forces them to look out for other churches to meet their spiritual vacuum; or even to consider organising independent solemn assemblies outside its home church boundaries.

1. What is church according to the New Testament?

Let us remind ourselves that the original meaning of the church which is the Greek ecclesia means, the gathering of the ‘called out ones’.

Quoted: Latin ecclesia, from Greek ekklesia, where the word is a compound of two segments: “ek”, a preposition meaning “out of”, and a verb, “kaleo”, signifying “to call” – together, literally, “to call out”. Although that usage soon passed away and was replaced with “assembly, congregation, council”, or “convocation”. (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 5:25, 32) (Ref:webpage:simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesia_(Church))

In our ignorance and out of our familiarity, we have come to use the term ‘church’ to refer to the name of an entity or a building, thus devoid of its original meaning.

2. Church requires fellowship

There is a critical need for these “called out ones” to meet in fellowship assemblies to fulfil the purposes described below:

Bible Study of Acts 5:42 

“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:42 (NIV)

a) Believer’s Action 1: They met

b) Believer’s Action 2 : They met daily

c) Believer’s Action 3 : They met in different houses

d) Believer’s Action 4 : They studied God’s Word

e) Believer’s Action 5 : They proclaimed the good news

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.”  Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

f) Believer’s Action 6 : They met to encourage each other 

3. Dangers of not participating in regular worship assemblies

We must realise that our faith requires regular connection with God, failing which we run into the danger of the seed sown in our hearts, even our very salvation to be stolen by Satan.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Mark 4:15 (NIV)

Failing to be part of regular fellowship assemblies results in the following (not exhaustive):

A. Hardened by sin’s deceitfulness

Bible Study of Hebrews 3:13 

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

a) Consequence 1: Heart becomes hardened

b) Consequence 3: Heart becomes vulnerable to sin

c) Consequence 3: Heart becomes overcome by sin’s deceitfulness

Thus, there are process that builds up to cause our hearts to be overcome by sin even though we have been saved by grace 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" Ephesians 2:8 

To re-emphasize this, we could fall out of grace due to our heart’s hardness and sin’s deceitfulness.

B. Shipwreck of faith

Bible Study of Hebrews 6:4-8

"(4) For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, (6) and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. Hebrews 6:4-6

a) Threat 1 :There is a constant danger for believers who have tasted God’s goodness, if they fall off due to the realities of life.

b) Threat 2 : It will be an uphill task for them to be restored back to faith in Jesus Christ.

c) Threat 3 : This puts tp shames the whole redemptive work of Jesus Christ , as these believers nullifies their very faith by their turning away from God.

4. Key action required

Definitions:

Term 1: remnants: The Author uses the term ‘remnants’ to refer to these believers who have been fragmented from the home church assembly.

Term 2: catalysts: The Author uses the term ‘catalysts’ to refer to individuals stirred by God’s Spirit with a burden for the common good of the larger community, who would steer the movement of God’s people.

a) Key Action 1: The remnants requires leaders who could mobilize others 

In times like this, it is critical for catalysts, those stirred by God’s spirit to arise to respond to the challenge and the need of the hour, to be a leader to mobilize others facing similar situations to gather for regular independent fellowship assemblies.

b) Key Action 2: The remnants must assemble

As such, the catalysts should challenge the like-minded ones to assemble at agreed places regularly; if they would be prevented from using their own home church premises; ironically which is rightfully their heritage.

c) Key Action 3: The remnants requires modification in the style of worship

Two important factors that needs to be resolved at such independent fellowship assemblies are liturgy and sacraments which has very deep meaning particularly to the psyche of believers from traditional denominations backgrounds.

(i) Liturgy: It is time that believers in such situations to realize that liturgy used at her home church is not the only modus by which they could to worship because liturgy is only a predefined order of service to govern them in the course of their fellowship. Thus, such assemblies should consider modifying or substituting their common liturgy for the one purpose of worshipping Almighty God; and to be administrated by one of the catalysts as they operate outside of their mother church.

(ii) Sacraments: Every church only allows their clergies to administer the sacraments as part of their church tradition. However, in new fellowship assemblies, the catalysts must now be entrusted to conduct few if not all of the sacraments especially the Holy Communion, which Jesus commanded to be done as often as possible to remember His redemptive of the cross 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

d) Key Action 4: The remnant requires other spiritual leaders to assist

It is imperative for the catalysts who now act as leaders of these assemblies, to get the assistance of ordained ministers from other churches to administer God’s Word and the Sacraments and ceremonies like baptism and funeral for the members of their fellowship assemblies.

5. The pragmatic way forward

The pragmatic way forward is for believers in such predicament to either join other churches ; or to organise their own fellowship assemblies to meet their spiritual needs.

Conclusion

Caution is to be exercised by such believers in the interim if they do not continue in Christian fellowship assemblies that they may caught themselves to be in a place of disillusionment and in the worst scenario they may even loose their faith in God. 

Disclaimer: The writing is the Author’s opinion and does not refer to any church or denomination and can be applied by the global church.

Rev. George Varughese

The Church Called Transformation

“ A Global Borderless Church”

Aug.9, 2019

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