Many people confuse church doctrine for Bible principle this is not necessarily so. Church doctrine is just like the rules in a neighborhood that has a Homeowners Association (HOA).it varies from place to place. The reason I prefer a non-denominational church and living in a non-HOA community are one and the same: God has enough principles for me to live as He wants me to and the government has enough laws for me to live so as not to offend my neighbors. Many of the people I am friends with prefer their denomination and though not as many I have a few friends who prefer to live in a HOA community.
How much of an individual can you be? If you live in a community that has a Home Owners Association there may be guidelines for lawn maintenance, house painting, parking and such. Whereas, if you leave in an non-HOA community you cut your grass when you feel like, paint your home the color of your choice, and park according to the laws of the county. Homeowners Associations discourage individuality and promote conformity.
It is easier to determine which are HOA rules and which are federal, state, and municipal laws than it is to determine which are church doctrines and which are Bible principles if you have not studied your Bible. For example: Which day of the week should you attend services? Adventist and Jewish individuals honor the Sabbath on Saturday. The Bible declares:
“So don’t let anyone stand in judgment over you and dictate what you should eat or drink, what festivals you should celebrate, or how you should observe a new moon or Sabbath days- all these are only a shadow of what shall come. The reality, the core, the import, is found in the Anointed One.” Colossians 2:16-17 THE VOICE
Like moving into a community with a HOA people join a church without fully appreciating the ramifications of the rules. I had a friend that painted her house the color she thought was required except it was slightly different, barely noticeable to the naked eye. This friend was cited because she had not purchased her paint from the designated store who had a contract to sell a particular color of paint to those homeowners. Another friend joined a church and was shocked to discover another member was told she could no longer be considered part of the church because even though she gave it was not ten percent of her income. The woman with who lived in the HOA did not have to repaint her home because she had an advocate point out their were homes that were not painted and other homes who had not maintained their property according to the guidelines. The other friend left the church.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as In my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13
Church doctrine are guidelines the particular group of believers will follow just like the Homeowners Association has guidelines for the homeowners to follow. Most people will read the rules of the HOA before purchasing a home they would never move into a community that has rules that go against local, county, state or federal laws. Very few people will read the church doctrine, their statement of faith, and compare it to what is written in Scripture.
Philippians 2:12-13 tells us that salvation is an individual responsibility. Read the Book!
Satan cannot stop what God has started unless you let him; he will try to stop you. Jesus said:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10 NKJV
Many people do not recognize when they are being attacked because they are focused on what people may or may not be doing. But the thief, Satan, comes to stop you from fulfilling your goals (kill), take away your peace and joy (steal), and sabotage your relationships (destroy). Directly with attacks on your finances, health, emotional well being or indirectly by attacking your loved ones if it means stopping you from moving forward he will do it.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shadow of turning.” James 1:17 NKJV
The bad stuff is not from God, it is Satan doing his best to stop you from reaching the blessings God has for you. However, if you don’t quit you will have what God has assigned to you. Yes, it is hard particularly when you are in the middle of a health or financial crisis.
As Christians we must remember to keep our eyes on Jesus. We must know and subsequently remember God’s words and His promises. It is because of Jesus that Satan cannot stop you.
“Finally my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pastures!” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1 NIV
It really doesn’t get any plainer than that. If you are in any type of leadership position God is holding you responsible for those you lead. I use to think of shepherds as only pastors; a shepherd is a person who leads a person or group of people. Therefore a shepherd can be: parents, employers, church leaders, and even government representatives. If you expect people to follow you you are acting as a shepherd.
“Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing.” Declares the Lord.” Jeremiahs 23:2-4
God’s will will be done, this is especially good news today. There are people who are creating strife, generating confusion and leading people in the wrong direction by manipulating God’s word, lying and omitting biblical truths from their messages. Those who are children of God will be delivered from this lack of godly leadership because God will put individuals in their path who will point them in the right direction.
But Scripture declares to those who are destroying the people and moving them away from God’s covenant they will suffer the consequences. That day is now.
“And He called the twelve to Himself, and bean to send them out two by two and gave them power over unclean spirits.” Mark 6:7
I have seen churches grow very big, greater than 500 members, I once thought it was wonderful that so many people were learning about Jesus. After becoming part of the leadership of one of these mega-churches serving as a Bible Teacher and leading a Helps Ministry I got to know more about the people associated with the church. One of the most disturbing things I discovered were people who had been a part of the church for more than a year and did not believe in heaven and hell. There were also incidents of individuals who had attended the church for months and were no closer to making Jesus Lord of their life as they were the first day. It is a sad testimony to Senior Pastors who take great pride in revealing the number of attendees they have on any given Sunday.
Today there are many ways a person can learn about God without attending a church. Because on any given day one can watch: Les Feldick, Andrew Wommack, or ______ (just to name a few television Bible study ministries)fellowship becomes a very important component in church attendance. What I noticed is the cliquish nature of Small Groups, people get to know the leader and the regular attendees a new person may be welcomed and still not feel like part of the group.
Communication is done via email, text messages and social media. It was a loosing battle for me to constantly remind leadership that not everyone utilizes technology AND it is important for someone to make sure the traditional senior members of the community were acknowledge in a way they can appreciate: telephone calls and home visits. Yes, some churches do this; an advantage of a smaller church is the Pastor takes it upon himself to personally visit contact the body whenever possible.
Pastors who believe a growing church is a sign that there needs to be a bigger building are under the assumption that they are the only ones who can share the gospel with the people. Assuming mega churches have on hand Children’s Pastor, a Young adult Pastor and other associate Pastors it is the Senior Pastor’s responsibility to shepherd the people. I believe it is better to have twenty churches with 100 members than to have one church with 2000, even ten churches with 200 members.
Jesus chose and trained twelve individuals to do what He did. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd and if the Son of God felt it necessary to have leaders go out and minister to people instead creating a centralized location then why are so many Church Leaders doing so? The first time Jesus sent the disciples out it was two by two then He gave them the command to go (Matthew 28:16-20)into the world as individuals.
I considered the book of Acts that mentions the “church” growing. When the Bible speaks of the church it is not referring to a building but the group of Believers.
“And I also say to you, that you are Peter, and on this Rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 NKJV
Jesus said He would build His church a group of people. Today we refer to the building as a church and the people as Believers. Our focus should be on building Believers, a.k.a. the Church.
People in mega-churches are neglected. Many supporters of mega-churches suggest that people do not have their needs met because they do not speak up; this is true. Like sheep number 100, some people will go astray and it is the shepherds job to go after him (Matthew 18:12). That one sheep that has gone astray could serve as a testimony the world sees as evidence of why churches are not good or simply give up because no one saw his need.
The advantage of a mega-church? There are usually multiple services that accommodate busy schedules. There are lots of G-rated activities for young people and many churches have missions programs and community outreaches. Mega-churches have lots of busy things to do.
For me the bottom line is the commission Jesus gave his Disciples:
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”” Mark 16:15 NKJV
There is no “great commission” to build mega-churches for people to come to you, quite the opposite! Jesus says we should go into the world. If there were lots of little churches with leaders who preached the gospel it would be easier to shepherd the sheep.
Why do Senior Pastors believe that they are the only ones who can lead a body of believers? Why do successful Pastors believe they cannot teach someone to do what they do? Jesus said:
I can’t remember the last time I wore stockings to church but I can tell you I have never, in my adult life, wore a hat. The idea of wearing jeans to church is very appalling to some people and seeing me sitting on the front row of a Sunday service in yoga pants would be offensive! Forget about being non-denominational I am non-traditional. (For the record: I prefer wearing ankle length skirts but I do wear pants from time to time.)
Of course, there is no such thing as the perfect church on earth. Being non-denominational does not mean you get everything right.
As Believers we should grow in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. This means traditions that delay or deny growth should be eliminated. Far to many Christians get into debates about the method in which church is carried out and ignore the message that is being delivered.
There are songs that have been sung in churches for years that are not biblically correct. The words in these songs speak of children of God who are struggling, sick, and down trodden with hope of only enduring. Consider the words of “One Day At A Time,” a very popular song: we are not “only human” we are created in the image of God filled with His spirit empowered to live a victorious life. Many written today celebrate who God is, acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit and appreciate Jesus our Saviour and Son of God that agree with Scripture. Some reject these songs not because of the validity of the words but because of the instruments used.
There are a growing number of churches in which the Pastor presents a message by talking through a message as oppose to raising and lowering his voice to tug at a persons emotions. Far to many people are accustomed to the traditional loud preaching style in which a portion of a Bible verse is focused on for the entire sermon. Christians comment on the style of the messenger ignoring the content of the message.
There are traditional churches that are incorporating some of the newer methods of presenting the gospel to its’ people; it is being met with opposition by some. There are non-traditional churches who have gotten so far away from the integrity of church structure that the message of the cross has been weakened.
When I visit a church for the first time there is a mental checklist I have to go through: Can I wear pants; if I wear a skirt should I wear stockings (I do not own a pair so I would have to go purchase); what are the rules regarding where I can sit (I like to sit up front because people in the back are usually talking); if they have coffee before service can I take it inside the auditorium / sanctuary (what type of church will determine what the meeting room is called); does the Pastor want me to address him formally or casually? I have to prepare myself for preaching services because I really do not like a lot of yelling. I have to prepare myself for large choirs, particularly those who do not practice pronouncing words properly. And I have to prepare myself for the offerings, which in some churches can be more than one. None of the issues have anything to do with the actual gospel.
So what type of Christian are you?
“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6
You cannot force God’s hand by passing laws about marriage. God is very specific regarding what He defines as a marriage covenant. Our Creator made us so that a man will fit into a woman perfectly; a woman cannot fit into a woman nor can a man fit properly in a man. Confirmation of God’s plan is the ability to procreate. Man’s law cannot disallow God’s law no matter what penalties they associate with it.
We are living in a time in which Satan, who knows his days are numbered, is taking as many people with him on earth as he did in heaven with the angels. He, the devil, struggles to create his kingdom on earth as it is in hell. Many people have accepted his reasoning because of how it makes them feel.
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16 NKJV
Justified by a demonic influenced government same sex “marriages” are being presented as normal so that practicing homosexuals can go about a lifestyle that Scripture clearly proves cannot be consummated. As believers we can do very little about laws passed by man. What God expects us to do is submit to those laws unless they violate His covenant with us. The fact that people are flesh driven; materialistic and opinionated should not be a surprise. These are indeed the ending of times.