Does this sound like your church?

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Ever begin a project just to decide that after a while it wasn’t going to be completed? This is my second swipe at writing this week. The first attempt was a five-hundred word essay that resolved the controversy about speaking out in tongues and speaking forth prophecy during worship. I didn’t have a good concluding statement, so it was scrapped and you’re reading a whole different thought stream. Perhaps I really did not resolve the decades-long controversy. What I did was write my position on the topic but it was sweet; too bad I chose not to post it.

Now for the real reason for writing.

JeffWhitesideEvery good student knows that when constructing an essay, there should be an orderly and purposeful sequence leading to a conclusion. Paul’s conclusion on the topic is found in First Corinthians 14:26, “Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” So… just how do tongues and prophecy promote building up the church? Honest Christians are divided on the topic. Those opinions range from making public supernatural occurrences normative to declaring them to be satanically inspired. I can’t imagine the responses that would come from making a declaration on the topic. I’ll let those wanting to do so, do so. I want to one stream of thought I jotted down as the sermon was presented.

Who can be found in a worship service and are non-Christians moved closer to God through their experience with churches? It caught my attention that the Corinth church included different types of people: believers, nonbelievers and inquirers. Does this sound like your church? The services there included some Godly, supernatural manifestations. Those manifesting them appeared to be the source of divide in the group. Those with one gift believed themselves to be superior to others. Does this happen in your church?

It seems to be a human characteristic to see how we compare with others. But what does this competition do to all the types of people found in a church? The divide does not seem to advance any of the three types of people found in a church. Believers don’t move closer to God if they spend time looking at each other. Believers through the centuries have spent time dividing instead of uniting. We want to be confident of where we stand with God and where he stands with us. Apparently the Corinth believers thought that the more demonstrative the gift, the more they pleased God.

Yes, there are people associated with churches who are not Christians. The reason that unbelievers choose to be associated with a church are varied. A hope is that each will be converted through their exposure to a church that works and the God who makes it happen. But what happens if the models are a distraction? What happens when competitive believers stand in the way of people moving to a saving relationship with Christ? I think that those believers will be accountable to God for being such obstacles.

One point of Christianity is that people are attracted to faith. We believe that God draws people to himself. In our Brethren tradition, we believe that more souls are propelled to faith over a kitchen table than over an altar table. Watching a Christian go through life’s ups and downs is a technique God uses to move people to faith. But… watching Christians compete does nothing beneficial for inquirers. I wonder how this grieves God as this happens. Any spiritual seeker, or inquirer, is going to have problems in a competitive church.

I’ve totally avoided the supernatural gift topic and instead looked at distractions to faith. I think the topic is more universal. But moving to faith in Christ is important. What believers do to promote that or discourage that is worth consideration.

~Post written by Jeff Whiteside

One thought on “Does this sound like your church?

  1. Samantha

    Great article! I just stumbled across this today (from Ben’s post on Goodreads) and was pleasantly surprised. Keep up the good work – people are reading!

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