Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Church is NOT a Social Club

Let me begin this article with the Biblical premise that the Church is the base from which people are trained up and sent out to DO ministry AND in the midst of doing genuine ministry that God ministers both to, and through His children. Now that may not sound very profound, but let me tell you this is NOT the view of the church even by most of the people sitting in those steepled buildings on most Sunday mornings.

Matthew 28:18 – 19, Ephesians 4:1 – 5:2 and from an abundance of other scriptures we find that we are primarily to be the servants and not the served. Yet today I hear both people in the church and people visiting our churches speak of the church as if it were a social club where one pays his dues and therefore has certain expectations and rights. Visitors often say to me openly that they are “shopping for a church”, or “looking for a church that can best serve them” or “seeking a church with the best programs for their needs”. All of these are excellent measurements for a Social Club or for evaluating a Community Center perhaps, but this in NO WAY is the Biblical measure of any church.

Go to the back of your Bible to the book of Revelation and see how God judges the churches in Revelation 2:29 – chapter 3. Certainly this is the word of God concerning how God will judge His churches in the end times, but these are also God’s standards of HOW He is judging His churches today!

The church is the place where you come to be equipped for ministry (Eph. 4:12) and where you come to do ministry (Matt. 28:19). Most of the complaints I hear from church members is because they have this very basic Biblical construct of the church turned upside down. They come to be served and with their eyes focused not on what their family can give and how their family can best serve, but immaturely in a way that gets puffed up when someone in their family is not stroked just right or pampered in a way that is totally and completely focused on themselves and without regard for what this may mean to others. When this happens 100% of the time it is because the person has registered the church in their mind as a social organization established for the purpose of meeting their particular needs. This is further exaggerated by the fact that additionally they see their tithe, not as belonging to God already but as dues which issue them certain rights as “members” of the assembly. …and when they give more than their tithe, they often expect Platinum Club status with even greater privileges. God’s word to us is this concerning those that look for special acknowledgment and accolades: “they have received their reward already” (Matt. 6:2).

The truth is that most of us ministers are highly at fault for this misconception as well as the ungodly attitude that it brings into our churches. With the whole “Church Growth” movement and the high emphasis being placed on how many people any given church can get in the door, we (church leadership) have turned to how we can best “market” our particular church to the community instead of how we can best genuinely prepare ourselves to reach people for Christ in that community.

I can not tell you how many times I have heard the words: “but my situation is different,” or “my child is different and has special needs”. I’ve got news for you, everyone’s situation is different and everyone’s child has special needs. If you are a Christ follower who actually reads and studies the scriptures you will realize quickly that the way to find healing for you and your children is for you and your children to find a place of service where in the process of REALLY ministering to others God begins to show you your place and bring actual healing into your life. This requires a person to come with a humble and hungry spirit ready to learn and to grow under the leadership and mentorship of another and thus become better and better prepared to serve. When one comes with an attitude of superiority or a human spirit that needs to be fed “ego bites”, then this is just another “give me”, self centered social club agenda and God’s work is very rarely done by that person or in the environment that they create.

Leadership is not a right of chronological age, personality, financial prowess, or political favor as a result of last name, athletic ability or popularity. Christian leadership is a gift of God that is developed and honed under the tutelage of Godly leaders who also must keep what is best for the flock as their primary focus. Sometimes that means those whose needs are worldly who are trying to fulfill those needs in a church environment will have to be removed for the greater good of the entire flock (see the detailed instruction in Matthew 18 for more on this or pick up a copy of the Belview Baptist Church July 22nd Morning message on dvd which is free for the asking).

No, the church is not a social club, not a recreation center and not a place that caters to ANY one person at the sacrifice or even the harm of others. Even the story of the lost sheep in its context of history and tradition understands that what the shepherd did for the one lost sheep was never done at the risk of the entire flock (also see MacArthur commentary on Matthew and the dvd of the Belview Baptist Church August 5th Morning message). There were typically multiple shepherds in any given flock which were normally the property of the community NOT a single individual or even a single family.

Today the problems are many in the church, but the hurt and harm caused by individuals getting upset because their particular way was not established or maintained is more often than not in the center of most unholy debates and the root of passions out of control. These kinds of attitudes and actions never bring God glory.

If we would just remember that it is ALL about Jesus.