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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Need For Change

I am not sure when the Nazarene Church began to consider
themselves an Evangelical Church. At its inception at the beginning
of the 20th Century, The Church of the Nazarene considered itself
a Holiness Church. This seemed to be a church closer to the New
Testament model than the current Evangelical model. And now
with the insurgence of the seeker churches, that model is being
driven farther from a Biblical construct than ever before.

By looking into the expressed and realized purposes of the
current church in the United States we should be able to
evaluate if we are acting Biblically in this area or not. Now, I am
not addressing the form of church government or control or even
issues pertaining to pastor lead or congregational lead services.
The thing I am concerned with first is whether the Church knows
it objectives or not and whether they are achieving those objectives.

From here on I will refer to individuals as Christians and the
organized church as the church. For the Bible gives different
commands to each.

Also, this is a thought process that I have decided to put out in the
open. It is something that i am still working through so you will
not get a bunch Scripture references at this time though I have
many written down and all analysis is derived directly from
Scripture or sources who have derived their analysis directly
from Scripture. Therefore, your comments are highly valued
for this discussion.

Here is a list of what I see the typical Evangelical church feels
is their objectives as a church. (I am attempting to refrain from
using the term 'purposes') These are not in any particular order
because I believe that every individual church emphasizes one
above another but that it is not universal.

Worship (corporate)
Instruction (equipping)
Charity (Ministering to the needs of the poor, sick, and elderly)

Some of these are certainly called for in Scripture, while some
are but not for the church but for the individual and others are
called for but may be applied differently today than when they
were first issued and some are not ever mentioned but all are
hindered by our misapplication of the call to "go into all the
world..." which has become the foundation of the Evangelical
Church, leading to churches filled with more non-Christians
than Christians.

So, if this is the case, then what direction should a church go?
What changes in model or philosophy should a church make?
One that many churches are taking to heart either entirely or at
least in part is the 'purposes' outlined in "The Purpose Driven
Church". Here is a list of the 'purposes' Pastor Rick Warren feels
the church is called to fulfill;

Worship (Know and Love God)
Fellowship (Love Others)
Discipleship (Grow Spiritually)
Ministry (Serve Others)
Evangelism (Share the Gospel)

Of these, some match the first list of the typical Evangelical
Church, although, his definitions of these are not Biblical. Some
are not called of the church but rather, the Christian. This is an
error with Warren but also with the current Evangelical Church.
The only one on his list that I can see as a Biblical objective of the
church and that is defined correctly is the third 'purpose'.
Discipleship - Growing Spiritually.

Instead of going through each one of these objectives listed so
far and pointing out the errors as I see through my studies, I am
going to list what I see as the Biblical objectives for the church
and through that you should be able to see where that differs with
what I have already listed. This is not specifically about the
"purpose driven" concept because what got me into this study
was not that but simply seeing first hand and trying to work
within the objectives of a typical Evangelical Church. As I found
conflict with what the Holy Spirit was directing and what we were
actually doing, the whole picture seemed to come into focus. I only
include "purpose driven" because he attempted to address this
same issue but has moved the church to a direction farther from
Biblical truth than it was to begin with.

Here is my list of what I see as the stripped down Biblical
objectives of the church. I have not gone far enough to actually put
them in a particular order;

Fellowship among Christians
Worship through song
Charity within the church

Fellowship among Christians:
The church is to be a place where Christians are able to develop
close relationships with others and where each one can use his/her
talent in order to build up the other. If we are called to develop
close relationships with people within our church, then it stands to
reason that the people within the church should be Christians. Not
that we are not to have relationships with any one who is not a
Christian but the relationships that are close and that we rely upon
should be with persons who are Christians. So how are we supposed
to build relationships that are proper with those at church if many
who are there are not even Christians?

Worship in Song:
Narrowing the definition of Worship to merely music is a
destructive mistake, however, this does not mean that Worship
through music through music is not important. In fact, it is the
only time that I can find Worship specifically mentioned in
reference the the church. All other objectives are for the edification
of the Saints (which in itself is Worship in the proper use of the
term). So having a time to Worship God through song is necessary.
How we do this is certainly open as far as I can tell. There is a list
of specific instruments but to limit the church to use of these
instruments alone, I think is a misuse of Scripture. Besides, even
the churches who claim that music needs to adhere to a specific
style (church music) ignores the very Scripture on which they base
their convictions. Apparently, we can't use drums because they are
not in "the list" yet neither is the organ or the piano. Regardless,
the point is not the style but the fact that God is being Worshiped
through music. But this does bring us to the subject matter in the
songs we sing. Clearly, if they are meant to be Worship to God then
they should be praise TO him or songs about HIM. Singing a song
ABOUT Worship seems a bit daft to me. This is an area that
should be seriously evaluated.

If I were to list these in order of importance, I would certainly list
this one either at the top or close to it. There is no other place that
proper equipping can take place better. Personal devotions, parents
teaching children are also methods of equipping. However, due to
different people having different gifts, the best place for this to
happen is in the church where the Holy Spirit has positioned people
to perform these tasks. This is not confining this area to the pastors
at all. All who have the gift of prophesy and teaching should be
involved in the instruction that happens in the church. This seems
to be the area that is of least importance in today's Evangelical
church. Which stands to reason when many of the members of the
church are not even Christians yet. You are stuck at evangelism
and conversion, not able to move to equipping the saints. This is
the area we fall the shortest.

Here is an interesting area. While I would consider the Great
Commission to be strictly for the Christian, there is precedent
for churches to send out missionaries and support missionaries to
places where no church exists. And this can be accomplished must
more efficiently through the larger church than through individual
churches So a church needs to be actively supporting missions work
around the world through whatever mechanism their church
provides. But this is not simply a humanitarian effort. If churches
are not being planted and the preaching of the Gospel not the first
and foremost objective, then an evaluation of the missions of the
church needs to be made. Paul, Silas, and Barnabus amongst the
others preached the Gospel and were ministered to by the
churches. They weren't out there planting soup kitchens,
orphanages, or hospitals, they were planting churches. Which
brings us to the last objective of the church.

This is possibly the most misapplied objective of all of them. The
church as far as I can find, was never called to assist the poor,
the sick, the elderly, the widows or orphans in general. When the
church is called to these sorts of activities, it is to those WITHIN
the church to whom they are called to minister. And, again, how
are we to do this when many in our churches are not Christians?
We, in this area also continue to apply commands meant for
Christians to the church. The more the church spends time
and resources doing things the church is not supposed to do, the
less it will spend its time and resources on the things that it is
supposed to do. The result from that is Christians who are not
equipped to do the things they are called to do. The very things
the church is doing that it isn't supposed to do! So, we can see that
it is not the church's objective to help the homeless, the poor, the
sick, the orphans, or the elderly, it is the calling of certain
Christians to do those things as God has equipped them and as He
has provided the opportunity. It is the Church's objective to equip
the saints to do these things. Now, if a church has the resources
and Christians want to use the organization of the church to help
accomplish some of these things that an individual would never be
able to accomplish alone, then that is proper. But for a church to
make it an expressed objective of the church itself is not Biblical.

What I don't see as an objective for the church is Evangelism. No
where is the church called to evangelize. All Christians are,
missionaries are, but the church is not. And since evangelism is
the root of the Evangelistic Church, there needs to be a major
change in focus. It is the church's Biblical objective to equip the
saints to evangelize. Only AFTER a person comes to the saving
knowledge of Jesus Christ should he/she be welcomed into the
church. This doesn't mean that we keep non-Christians from
entering our churches but if they do come it should be from their
own valition, not because they were invited. We have diluted
the Christian's responsibility from "making disciples" (leading
people to Christ personally) to simply inviting people to church
where the pastor can lead them to Christ. Only once in the Bible
is it mentioned that a person might come to know Christ at
church. ALL other times it is somewhere other than church. Even
as bizarre a place as a hill dedicated to a pagan god! And the
reality, even today, is that most people who are Christians were
not saved at church despite our best Evangelistic efforts. In a
rudimentary poll of the young people at my own church, not even
one was saved at church, not one! 0% is a pretty good indictment
of that method of evangelism! That is not to say that our church
is a total failure, its just to say that the conversions through our
church were happening the way God intended despite our focus
on doing it our way.

Therefore, why should we keep fighting for doing it our way
instead of trying to change back to what God intended and what
obviously works? I say we shouldn't, everyone who the Holy Spirit
touches about this subject should use the power they have to begin
to make the shift back to the Biblical objectives of the church. This
will be painful and will take a long time, even on the local level,
much less the national and international level but it needs to be
done nonetheless.

In closing, there was an article that I found very useful. You can
read it here:

The final two paragraphs sum it up so nicely. He also touches on
the idea that Worship is 24/7/365 in the life of a Christian through
obedience. This is the main focus of 2007 for my Youth Ministry.
This church is from a Calvinist background so they may consider
Nazarenes as heretics but if you can get past that, the main points
are awesome and there are lots of great Scripture references to
use in your consideration of this topic.

Please comment about this topic, as there is much to hash out as
far as what this should look like in the 21st Century. All I know, is
that the Holy Spirit has been bringing this back to me over and
over again, from many different angles and perspectives and the
urgency I feel from the direction of the church and the impact that
will have on this country and therefore the world is no longer


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Hardy Ulmet said...

I think there is a HUGE need for change within the (c)hurch (Organized institution.) and because of that the (C)hurch (Entire Body of Believers.) is often left floundering over worship protocols, meeting times and days, need for such, etc. The church has so failed itself and continues to. In My Obnoxious Opinion (IMOO), today it is all about survival longevity reflecting such in its financials whose percentages spent on self survival, is always within the 85-99% range.

When you work within that "selfish" environment, one is often left to hash out worship protocols and diminish the need for evangelism, as the whole structure being funded allows for the prior and extincts the latter.

I'm not certain of the necessity of any of your priorities in a universal sense. Not only is it virtually impossible to find contextually correct scrpture to apply, emphasizing any of our precious worship concepts, but then to go and extract it from context and apply universally some 2000 years later, is perhaps a bit presumptuous (Putting it nicely.) as usual on our parts? (Please note the question mark at the end of that last line.)

The Joe Blow of today seeking a haven of worship is seldom in search of people who desire to drown him in their fellowship, in my observation and experience. Indeed, the active church member is normally over exposed to our fellowship concept leaving little quality time for their own families and homes. That leaves the middle folk who attend for whatever reason who really don't care much about anyone else but their own comfort.

It's a fact we churchmen are paid to actuate the "suddessful" worship protocols of our particular geographic locale. When "success" is experienced, normally categorized as such by numbers of participants in a particular engagement, immediate dissection of its long term benefit is analyzed by paid staff when in essence, all that happened, was a moment rightly timed in a correct context that though may again be repeated time and time again with accompanying "successful" numbers, quickly becomes part of the local norm of worship whose productivity quotient decreases through repetitious endeavorings, now becoming a new but now "mandated" part of our decreasing budget structures, whose financial expenditures rising or falling, will determine the moment of its ultimate demise.

(By the way, when you encounter a successful wave of worship enhancements, be sure and publish, seminar, tour the country, and make great money as the Christian market is always susceptible to such evangelical superstardom.)

What is the end of your worship protocols and priorities? That should, IMOO, be the ONLY question to be answered to determine the order of priority within the
(c)hurch. The (C)hurch will always be with us and determinent upon our "success" in our worship protocols, under your philosophy of worship, the numbers attracted from the Body to your body will rise or fall.

With no evangelism via our precious worship priorities playing a role, we will indeed have simply become organized proselytizers relegating us even to a lower level within the
(c)hurch movement.

I have found few Praise & Worship minutes or hours to translate into increased "discipleship", as we of late we like to label the purpose for the modern church. Certainly, personal warmth and emotional gooey-gooiness within, often results, but how that will transition into increased productivity of this long sought for "discipleship" (Which I presume you intend to result in evangelism outside the walls of the building.) seems not to work in "successful" role models available to us. There always seems to have to be other parameters at play including the geographic aspect, timing, leadership personalities, etc., which we have often encapsulated into church growth science, but more often than not fails the experimentation of that to prove the theory, as it plays out in other (c)hurches with differing influencing parameters.

IMOO, each (c)hurch is what it is based on leadership styling, personalities involved, geography, scheduling, etc., but all, even the "successful" ones of this era, seem to draw from the same trough of humanity, and that is the Body of Believers.

IMOO, evangelism is the ONLY aspect that changes that predisposition within the structure of the (c)hurch. Worship protocols not having that as an end result embracing the lost into our often overdone "fellowship", simply seems to fail the New Testament Smell Test. Utilizing popular
(c)hurch programming and instituting seminar induced church growth science, only seems to increase the budget at an alarming rate in ratio to the numbers of new souls actually won for the Kingdom.

At one time in our history, about 20 years ago or so, the Southern Baptist Convention led in this arena being able to document one new soul converted for every $26,000 expended. At the time, if my memory serves me accurately, the Church of the Nazarene came in at one per $52,000 expended.

I think if you will take current day numbers and apply across the board, you will find this number has only decreased in ratio in our "evangelizing" outside our national borders. Could it be the probably truth of that coupled with the reality that we're spending even more now and actual lost won, within our national borders, is lower in ratio than it was two decades ago in the CotN, COULD be aligned in this concentration of resources, both financial and intellectual, that are consumed within this "worship" protocols question?

I sure don't know. Whatta ya tink?

Trust your day is blessed!

Nicholas said...

Well, that was a lot to digest but it did raise a couple questions. Thanks for the comments.

Where do you find that the (c)hurch is called to evangelize?

How are people who already are "saved" to grow spiritually when every aspect of Worship is to the immediate end of evangelism?

I think that every part of the (c)hurch's ministry should have as an outcome, the evangelizing of the lost by individual members (whether that be through the resources of the (c)hurch or by individual gifts lived out in everyday life). Therefore, if a (c)hurch finds that it's methods of Worship are self-focused and there are no resulting lost who are 'saved', a serious evaluation of purpose, methods and usefullness needs to be done.

The problem is that in our (c)urches today, it has been so engrained in our minds that evangelism consists of inviting an 'unsaved' friend to church so that they can hear the Gospel from the Pastor(s) and get 'saved'. I see that model no where in Scripture. So it will take time and small steps to change this around, especially since the result of this current mentality has been (c)hurches with sometimes a majority of people attending (and participating in ministry on ocassion) who are not even 'saved'. And of those who are, the vast majority have not matured past the day they were 'saved'. How can this be rectified?

Hardy Ulmet said...

I will only say this at this particular juncture: IMOO, "Christ loved the (C)hurch and gave Himself for IT." That would appear to leave the (c)hurch without any scriptural substantiation, so further query on its protocols is probably without scriptural merit? (I think I said that already, huh?)

I believe God will use what He's left with to use at times (The (c)hurch), whether or not (c)hurch was His original intent or not.

So . . . if we perfect our unscriptural process, it will still prove productive for the Kingdom, I suppose, via His utilization of this sub-standard medium. However, "scriptural" mandates then become moot as the very essence of what we do or don't do really has little moral effect.

Hence, IMOO, the need for understanding your geographic cultures, the demographics you're dealing with, the right timing coupled with compatible scheduling with your target audience, and still probably most importantly in this somewhat scripturally vague universe: The personalities of leadership at the top and their compatibility with local yokels.

(Now that I'm blowing smoke, I feel like exhaling some more, so I will continue.)

Where do you find scriptural mandates to increase the QUALITY of the average potential inhabitant of eternal bliss? I mean, once you've crossed the dividing line and maintain existence there, you're assured eternity with Cahoona, are you not, regardless of the "quality" of your experience?

I think we can find far more so called "scriptural" substantiation for increasing the QUANTITY of those counting on eternal abode with Cahoona and the Great Saint Nicholas.

If that's true and our current practice of (c)hurch is not what He intended, then why not at least fulfill the mandates to increase the populace of Heaven in EVERYTHING we do, including assembling ourselves together?

I find no evil or immorality in (c)hurch. Fact is, the right situation of said such, fits Cahoona nicely. There's nothing I enjoy more than a good 'ol camp meeting service where God's glory appears to abound, or the like in a good old fashioned "tent" or "brush arbor" style local revival regardless of the ornate walls in which it may occur. I find such fulfilling in a selfish spiritual sense, stimulating, and both in a Christian entertaining sense, regardless of the number of lost won by such relatively expensive efforts.

However, for us to place scriptural blessing on such, might be a stretch to some and is often to Cahoona, so their only continued value in Cahoona's way of thinking, is if they result in the winning of the lost in large enough numbers to rationalize the time, efforts, and expenditures necessary for such.

To fund these Christian entertaining and spiritually embossed efforts based only on the desire to increase the quality of those Christians attending, seems a bit of overkill to me likened very much to my continual habit of haunting the many and varied buffets in this region of the world.

I mean, I think I DO get hungry on occasion, but I won't starve and go to hell if I pass up the buffet now and again in preference for a more healthy alternative resulting in longer longevity for this human carcass I carry around.

I believe I think that if the (c)hurch would return to our long lost motive of "winning the lost at any cost" and pass on the spiritual buffets we force feed our people with continually in the name of churching, we'll rapidly transition ourselves from organized religiousity becoming even more adept at proselytizing, to an institution once again beloved for continuing to allow the lower lights to keep burning.

But . . . I said that in my original response to you and am therefore once again being repetitious.

I shall shut down for now.

I do trust your day has been blessed as never before.

Nicholas said...


OK, this idea that there is no Scriptural basis for the (c)hurch is something I wouldn't agree with. Jesus, Himself, started this idea with Peter. We also have much instruction of how the (c)hurch should look and work from other New Testament writers. (for a good synopsis of these, follow the link within my original post). I agree that God will use what He has left to work with despite it's imperfections but that should not keep us from trying to get as close to perfection as we can.

As far as Quality verses Quantity. I think there needent be a seperation of the two. I think some people are called to minister to the church and others are called to minister to the unchurched. It is in demanding that EVERYONE who is churched be involved in some ministry to the church that we begin to have a problem. A few should minister to the church in order to develop those who will then minister to those outside the church. (Not by bringing them to the church but by ministering there where they are) So, the importance of quality is not to increase it for their time in eternity, for that could never be increased by us, but to increase it for their time here on earth, prior to eternity. The fact is that life here on earth is improved by our relationship with God. And the deeper our relationship, the better our quality. The church is supposed to be there to assist the Christian in building that relationship with God. The Christian then is supposed to be there to increase the quantity of those who are having the quality of their existance increased by the church. Right now, the church is co-opting the task of increasing quantity from individual Christians and in turn are neglecting the increase of quality of those same Christians. And DESPITE this, God works through it somehow to bring people to Him. Again, I found that in my Youth Group and Young Adult Group, 0% came to know Christ IN a church. So God is completing His work the way He intends it to be, despite our efforts to do it a different way. What I am saying is that we need to shift our focus and start doing it the way God is already doing it and by that shift, possibly increase both the quality for those who are already Christians and the quantity of the same. I am not saying that we should never hold a camp meeting again or the like. Because through those things the resources of the church can be used effectively, or at least in the past they were. I do kind of wonder how effective they can really be in this day and age. But then again, the Holy Ghost is not confined by "context" and "culture" in the same ways we might be. So as long as we provide a place for the Spirit to move in the lives of people (whether in private or in public), He is faithful to complete the task. In my attempt at outlining what I see as a Biblical structure of purpose for the church, I tried to include every possible part, but that does not mean that every one of those things must be included in every church. I think Discipleship is the foundational purpose and all the others can exist or not within a church. But there are some things that are included now that shouldn't be and they are hindering the work of the Kingdom, not helping it. They are draining resources that could be used in other areas that would be more effecacious to the cause of Christ.
So after all of that said, let the (c)hurch attend to the increase of QUALITY in the lives of the (C)hurch and let the (C)hurch increase the QUANTITY of the (C)hurch who will then be ministered to by the (c)hurch.

Thanks for everything, God Bless!



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