Ask Your Preacher
I am a minister that has been called to minister for about six years. Though I have been called, I have not always followed; I have recently accepted the position of youth pastor. I am expected to teach on purity and abstinence before marriage; how can I teach something that I myself did not preserve?
Dear Feeling Hypocritical,
If it is impossible to teach on something unless you have done it right yourself, nobody could say anything about morality because all have sinned (Rom 3:23). Paul preached on peace after killing Christians (Rom 12:18), and Peter preached on boldness after denying Christ (1 Pet 5:15-16). The truth is the truth regardless of how well we have personally followed it.
On a separate, but related note: a minister is different from a pastor – which one are you? If someone is going to be a pastor, he must meet the qualifications found in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Tit 1:5-9. Another thing to consider is that the Bible never talks about ‘youth pastors’ and ‘senior pastors’. We would encourage you to read “Senior Citizen Pastor” because it sounds like you are caught up in a religious movement that doesn’t take God’s pattern for the church seriously, and if we don’t take God seriously, it doesn’t matter how much we clean up our lives.
Is there a way to ask God a question and get an answer?
God doesn’t answer us by directly speaking to us. God speaks to us through His Word (Rom 10:17) and His Word says that we should pray without doubting (1 Tim 2:8) and that we should ask in faith (Jas 1:6). God says there are very few things that will cause Him to ignore our prayers. Read “Whose Prayers Count?” for the list of things that will make God turn His back on your prayers.
God answers our prayers according to His will, not ours – in fact, we should pray that the Lord’s will be done (Jas 4:15). Having said that, it is perfectly appropriate to keep praying until the answer is clear – God is pleased with the consistently prayerful (1 Thess 5:17). He wants you to ask over and over – until He gives you an answer. David prayed vehemently for the life of his child until the child died (2 Sam 12:22-23). Paul prayed for his sickness to be removed three times until God told him to accept the pain (2 Cor 12:8-9). Cornelius’ prayers were constantly before the Lord until Peter was sent (Acts 10:4-5). Even our Lord prayed in the garden repeatedly that He might not have to die on the cross (Matt 26:39). The key in all these circumstances was that the requests ceased when God answered. Once God made His decision apparent, whether it was yes or no, acceptance began.
God never gets tired of hearing from His children. Christians are to constantly seek Him in prayer. The most direct example of this is Christ’s parable of the unjust judge in Lk 18:1-5. Christ taught that parable so that “men ought always to pray, and not to grow weary”. God wants to hear from His people. So don’t stop asking for help; He is listening.
We offer the Lord’s Supper in the evening to those who choose to miss morning worship for whatever reason, be it their job schedule, illness, or just to sleep in. It seems to me that, as was done in the early church, the Lord’s Supper should be offered once on the first day of the week. If a congregation chooses to have an evening Bible study, at least some, like myself, might not wonder whether I am, in fact, forsaking the assembly by not attending evening services. What is your position on this matter?
Two Too Many
Dear Two Too Many,
Let’s deal with the “job schedule, illness, or just to sleep in” statement first. If a congregation is actively saying that it doesn’t matter if you wish to skip part of the services on Sunday, they are wrong. God tells us that Sunday is “the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10), and the pattern we see is that faithful congregations emphasize attendance and emphasize prioritizing classes, services, and active involvement with the brotherhood. That certainly is the pattern we see in the early church (Acts 2:46-47). If a congregation has moved into the “multiple services, come if you feel like it and it is convenient” mentality – there are already bigger problems than whether or not you offer the Lord’s Supper twice.
Now having said that, a second offering of the Lord’s Supper is an issue that many good brethren wrestle with. Does a congregation have the right to offer the Lord’s Supper twice on Sunday? Is it biblical for a local church to offer communion in the morning and then offer it again at a Sunday evening service? We believe so, but we also believe that there is room for disagreement on this issue, and if a brother or sister doesn’t feel comfortable with a second serving of the communion, they should abstain. We must all seek to serve God with a clear conscience (1 Tim 1:19), and if you can’t do something in faith, you shouldn’t do it (Rom 14:23). Having said that, here are our thoughts on the subject of offering the Lord’s Supper twice on Sunday.
The Bible never tells us the amount of times that a congregation must offer the Lord’s Supper; it only tells us that it must be taken by the saints sometime on Sunday (Acts 20:7). This leaves us a twenty-four hour period in which a christian can gather with the church and fulfill this command. The specific times we choose to meet are an expediency… simply a matter of preference.
1 Cor 11:33 says that a congregation must “wait for one another”. 1 Cor 11:21-22 clarifies that the problem in Corinth was that they were eating the Lord’s Supper as a common meal and not waiting to do it solemnly together. The problem in Corinth was that they were eating communion for the purpose of filling their bellies instead of remembering the Lord’s death (1 Cor 11:34). The goal of waiting for one another was to provide a scheduled time to fulfill this command together. It didn’t mean that every christian needed to be present (otherwise, a congregation couldn’t partake of the Lord’s Supper unless every member was accounted for), and it didn’t mean that they couldn’t schedule multiple times to wait for one another. It simply meant that they had to treat the Lord’s Supper as a holy and spiritual meal of remembrance. The church is responsible for doing things in a decent and orderly way (1 Cor 14:40). Offering the Lord’s Supper in the morning and evening fulfills that command for order and decency. The congregation is providing specific orderly times for members to fulfill their command to gather with the church and take the Lord’s Supper.
The church is commanded to provide opportunity for christians to take the Lord’s Supper with the church, but the individual is responsible for taking it. If a congregation offers the Lord’s Supper in both the morning and evening, it is doing its job – providing opportunity. It is the same as the command to take up a collection. Most congregations provide opportunity for individuals to give financially at both the morning and evening services – which matches exactly with the command in 1 Cor 16:1-2. No one bats an eye when a congregation offers the collection basket twice. In fact, we would probably be shocked if a congregation refused to take someone’s contribution because they missed morning services. Yet, this is exactly the same as offering the Lord’s Supper twice. It is a matter of expediency. When a congregation offers the collection and the Lord’s Supper at both services, it is simply trying to provide opportunity for all (even those who were unable to attend in the morning) to fulfill God’s commands to give and take the Lord’s Supper on Sunday.
Your answers about tithing have been very biblical and correct. Thank you. And I already know your thoughts on our responsibilities as stewards of those funds... so what do you think about a huge treasury? If we are to be using these funds to do God’s will, then how can we justify, as His church, “storing up for ourselves on earth”? I mean, if we are to give of our means and know that God will take care of us… then why does His church need to try and keep bulk money in the account?
Not A Hoarder
Dear Not A Hoarder,
A congregation’s leadership would have the same reason for saving money as an individual would – savings is part of stewardship. If someone lives their life without a “rainy day” fund, we consider them unwise. Congregations have regular expenses and unexpected expenses – the problem with unexpected expenses is that you don’t expect them! God says that we must be wise stewards in all that we do (Lk 12:42-43, Matt 25:23). It is possible for a congregation to hoard money – this is wrong. It is also possible for a congregation to spend their money unwisely and not prepare for future expenses – this also is wrong. As in all issues of wisdom, there is a balance. You are right that churches should be using the funds they collect to do God’s will – that isn’t in question. The question is simply how and when to use those funds. That is trickier and requires wise elders to properly manage each individual church’s finances (1 Tim 3:5).
I am happy to write to you. I am wanting to know how you conduct your worship on Sundays.
God bless you.
Looking For Order
Dear Looking For Order,
The Bible gives us examples and commands for five different elements to the public worship.
- Teaching/Preaching (1 Cor 4:17)
- Singing (Eph 5:19)
- Prayer (Acts 12:5)
- Taking A Collection – Sunday only (1 Cor 16:1-2)
- Lord’s Supper – Sunday only (Acts 20:7)
Of these five elements, two of them are specifically allowed only on Sundays. The others can be done any time the brethren get together. The congregation here in Monroe, WA is a simple New Testament congregation, and our worship is just what you find in the Bible.