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THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Hello. I was curious to know from the Bible's standpoint, is it mandatory for the believer to work in their church? (Like sing, usher, handle the money, help with lighting and audio, things like that?) I'm sure it's a good idea, but if a believer wanted to just sit, is it his or her right? Or is it a biblical duty to do something in the church?
Ready To Rest
Dear Ready To Rest,
What you are describing is the church assembly, not the church. The Bible describes the church as the people who make up a local congregation. For example, Acts 14:27 talks about gathering the church together because the church is the people, and they needed to gather to have a meeting. God designed the church to always be working, and every christian must be someone who works and bears fruit for God (Eph 4:16, Jhn 15:8). It is impossible to be a faithful member of Christ’s church and not be actively serving Him in some way.
However, what you are describing is working in the worship service. There are some parts of worship that every member must do (i.e. sing to the Lord – Eph 5:19 and take the Lord’s Supper – 1 Cor 11:33), but there are other tasks that aren’t group activities. For example, women are specifically prohibited from preaching or leading during services (1 Cor 14:34). Christians are expected to worship and not forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24), but that doesn’t mean someone needs to take a leadership role in the assembly in order to be faithful. We must all be active participants in worship, but participation isn’t the same as having a specific leadership role.
With no religious upbringing, I was baptized in 2008 according to Matthew 28:19 at a conservative evangelical church. I moved and attended an apostolic church. I was told I had to be re-baptized in Jesus' name because I was not saved. And then the whole tongues thing. I made the decision to leave because I could not embrace their doctrine of Oneness, Jesus' name only, speaking in tongues… forget all the holiness issues. How do you suppose the Lord looks upon me for leaving? Should I have stayed to be a light of truth? Thank you.
Fleet Of Foot
Dear Fleet Of Foot,
You can only do so much to help others, but in the end, it is more important that you seek the truth and be part of a faithful congregation than it is that you stay and try and be the lone voice for a church that isn’t interested in changing. Your own salvation comes first (Php 2:12). Furthermore, it isn’t like the congregation showed an interest in studying or changing. In such cases, God tells us not to “cast your pearls before swine” (Matt 7:6).
As far as the doctrinal issues, you may find the articles “Just Gibberish” and “Gifts That Stop Giving” useful for future reference, but you are right to not embrace the doctrines you mentioned. Christianity is meant to be simple. If we take what the Bible says and follow its pattern, we will have the truth. All the religious division is wrong and completely unnecessary. Read “Down With Denominationalism” for an in-depth look at how denominationalism has strayed from the Bible. All we have to do is follow the Bible like an instruction manual, and we will be fine. We congratulate you on your stand for the truth, and we would be happy to help you get in touch with a congregation that has your same love for truth. We know of many simple, honest, Bible-patterned congregations; e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of service.
If a church has money, as in a treasury, but the church is the people… if a congregation experienced 100% turnover in members, whose money is it? Suppose a small group of twelve members had a treasury of $30,000 and owned a building. If two families moved, but a new family moved into town about the same time, could they just inherit the church's treasury as their own? How can a treasury of money be stored for generations and generations where the same members weren't there who gave to it in the first place? It seems like we have created an idea that the local church is an organization in and of itself apart from the people that define it. We then give money to the organization, like giving to the Rotary club, and it doesn't matter who the people are; the "club" still possesses the money. Is this the biblical example?
Dear Membership Required,
The local church is greater than the individuals that comprise it. The local church is made up of the christians that meet in that particular location (like the saints that met in Corinth – 1 Cor 1:2 or the saints that met in Thessalonica – Php 1:1). When a christian leaves that local area and attends elsewhere, they cease to be a member of that local congregation. Over time, almost every congregation sees a complete (or near complete) turnover of its membership. Christians have, and always will, be moving away because of jobs, life changes, retirement, etc.
This isn’t a problem because the church’s treasury doesn’t belong to the members – when new members come in, they don’t inherit anything because it belongs to the Lord, not us. When churches take up a collection on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:1-2), it is money that is collected from the christians and dedicated to the Lord’s work.
You mentioned that the church of Christ is not a denominational church. Each congregation is supposed to use the Scriptures alone to be a guide. What if members of the congregation disagree with a particular doctrine or practice? How are disagreements resolved when both parties use Scripture interpretation to support a point? In Acts 15, there was a council set up to resolve a disagreement regarding circumcision. The decision was binding on the universal church. Do church of Christ congregations hold councils in compliance with the Acts 15 model?
Make A Decision
Dear Make A Decision,
Acts 15 is a good pattern to follow when a congregation has questions or disagreements about a particular doctrine. The only difference would be that the council in Acts 15 affected the entire universal church because the apostles were there, and the apostles had authority over all the church. A local congregation is commended to their elders and to God – each group is autonomous (Acts 14:23), so any decision a congregation makes would affect them alone. No congregation has the right to impose their decisions on another local church.
In Acts 15, we see how we are supposed to find Bible answers when discussing doctrinal issues. When we take Bible verses and combine them together to understand larger principles, we are doing exactly what God intends for us to do (Ps 119:160). In Acts 15, we see that the apostles did that very thing. When the issue came up regarding the circumcision of Gentiles, the apostles listened to the evidence (Acts 15:12), studied the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 15:15-18), and came to a conclusion (Acts 15:19). They looked for commands, approved examples, and then came to a necessary conclusion from the data. That is exactly what every congregation should do.
Is the church of Christ a denominational church?
Doing My Research
Dear Doing My Research,
The church of Christ is definitely not a denominational church. Each congregation is led and guided autonomously by the Scriptures. Whatever the Scriptures say, that is what we do (Col 3:17). Denominationalism is wrong – read our article “Down With Denominationalism” for details on how the Lord’s church is being attacked by the religious confusion of the denominational world.