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  1. Corby says:

    Regarding the early church being geographical and not sectarian. I agree, but here’s the thing. They all held to the same exact doctrine top to bottom. Origins, end times, Holy Spirit, gifts for today, predestination and free will, etc. There were no divisions based on doctrine (at least not initially), not because they knew how to get along and we don’t know how, but because there was no division in their doctrine that wasn’t corrected in things like the epistles.

    Paul had a low tolerance for diverging doctrines and sects and dealt with them. It seems clear to me that to Paul, you were either in or out. He wanted them in and therefore encouraged correction in love with hope of restoration. In many obvious, and not so obvious ways, we value restoration over repentance. The renewal movement comes to mind immediately for many. So do some CC situations. But I believe it should be much more granular that we make it. And you don’t have to be narrow minded, exclusive, and divisive to think so. You just have to have a heart for truth, where word and deed are one.

  2. centorian says:

    I’m tired of the gurus, not them personally, but all the misspent energy given towards them. There were some here awhile, I no doubt raised some eyebrows, but had better things to do and did not attend. FIRST!

  3. centorian says:

    sorry, not FIRST!

  4. Michael says:

    Corby,

    If you’re talking about the apostolic church, you have a point.
    Post apostolic, many doctrines were in process and there was great diversity and some bloody arguments.
    Do you think that we as pastors of different bodies in the same geographic locale have a responsibility to the whole area?
    That’s where my head is today…I could be wrong.

  5. Bob Middleton says:

    Michael
    In our area the Pastors of local evangelical churches and leaders of other para-church ministries get together every Thursday morning to pray, worship, and talk about the needs of the greater community. We have Pastors and leaders from such broad denominational backgrounds as AG, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Calvary Chapel and Lutheran, among many others meeting together. We don’t have any gurus, but we do have an 80 year old Conservative Baptist Pastor from a church of 50 people who keeps it together. It is one of the highlights of the week for me.

  6. Corby says:

    OK, I see. This is where it can get fuzzy because we have more questions that answers from the word. I am talking about the apostolic church. But the question then becomes, is the model they employed for things as an organization (official doctrine, leadership chart and accountability) the model that was supposed to be employed forever? If we were under some kind of apostolic model today I would say that we do have a responsibility to our geographic area in the context of our role in that area under the “bishop” and what our “sister” churches are doing. What I see in the word is a “bishop” over various house churches in a geographic area that comprise the church of Ephesus, etc.

    But we aren’t under that model.

    Instead, what I see today is that we are responsible to the local body (The Exchange Church, First Baptist Church, CC Podunk, etc.) that has put itself in submission to the church body and its leadership, and then a responsibility to those outside who would accept our help. That’s what seems to make the most sense to me in this context.

  7. Michael says:

    Bob,

    That sounds very edifying.
    How successful have you been at doing community or neighborhood projects together?

  8. Michael says:

    “But we aren’t under that model.”

    I’m thinking thats the problem…

  9. Corby says:

    Michael – On a philosophical level I would tend to agree with that. The next question becomes, were we to somehow want to get back to that on a global/universal level, who gets to decide anything/everything about that? We can’t even agree on what the Bible says, we can’t even agree if the Bible says one thing or is open to interpretation/application on many topics. There are far too many things where some are happy to say “we can agree to disagree and still be in fellowship” whereas I would submit that that kind of mentality would not have flown in the apostolic era.

    Take it further, there are those who name the name of Jesus and take the Bible seriously, and those who do not take the Bible seriously. Three buildings down from me is the United Church of Christ and it’s lesbian pastor. Yet if I say her ministry isn’t Biblically valid, I’m the divisive and hateful fundie who is the problem and not the solution. It’s an issue of authority, and an issue of Bibliology equally. Who/What is your authority? The Bible. Whose interpretation of it? At this point it’s take out of the hands of God and put into the hands of man, and the Bible really isn’t the authority, man is. No wonder things are so screwed up.

  10. Preston says:

    It’s my understanding that Obama is still signing the proclamation for a National Day or Prayer… he’s just not throwing a shindig at the White House like W did.
    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/prayerday.asp

  11. Michael says:

    Corby,

    Here’s what I’m thinking…and I haven’t completely thought it through.

    In my little community there are seven or eight churches that could get together for mercy ministries specifically targeted to our community.

    Maybe even for evangelism at it’s most fundamental level.

    That keeps doctrine out of the picture and puts a different face on “the church”.

    If we can’t do that, we need to quit claiming that we are going to take care of the health care and poverty issues instead of the government.

  12. Bob Middleton says:

    Michael, very successful. Over the years many of the churches (not all, because of individual ministry focus) have participated in a wide array of projects, including a community baptism and all the churches support a community passion play that is one of the biggest in the U.S. Last year almost all of the Pastors and several of their lay leaders met together for a day of prayer and fasting.

  13. Michael says:

    Bob,

    Would it be possible in your opinion to expand that into a unified mercy mission for your locality?

    You’re getting me excited about possibilities here…

  14. Michael says:

    Thank you, Preston!

  15. Corby says:

    Michael – ah, well, that’s a whole other thing I suppose. My take on that is the people in my church pay taxes to “take care of” the health care and poverty problem. When I get calls from outside the church my first action is to refer them to the existing system and tax subsidized public assistance programs. That’s why they exist. (Again, this is my take, not what I think all churches should do.) That leaves more church funds to take care on church member needs if/when they arise.

    As for evangelism, and maybe I’m weird this way, I don’t think it’s the church’s job (meaning the pastor and “staff”) to evangelize the community, meaning being the exclusive means of evangelism. Rather, I think it’s the church’s job to equip and support the saints for the work of evangelism. I have nothing against outreaches or inter-church things like that, but I think God uses people to reach people right where the live/work/operate. And that’s starting to pay off here.

  16. Corby says:

    And just to clarify, I’m not saying the church should do nothing in the community for the unchurched in terms of meeting needs, I’m saying that there should be some priorities in place when it comes to the resources God bring in. We aren’t going to solve poverty, ever, this side of eternity. “The poor you will have with you always.” But we do have a responsibility to do something, and a great deal of freedom in how we do that.

  17. Michael says:

    Corby,

    During the health care bill debate the continual assertion was that “the church” would handle those issues and the program was unnecessary.

    My guess is that most pastors would agree with your method…and therein lies the problem in my eyes.

    We either support the government programs or change our ways in my humble opinion…

  18. Pardon the Interruption says:

    Micheal,

    Excellent post, thank you. It’s always good to repristinate where things are becoming the Ecclesia, the New Testament, and how we are doing in these things.

    One thing, I do wonder if we don’t underestimate the authority of the local pastor. For the most part, it seems to me the general population of Evangelical Christianity is not so enthralled with the gurus and denom circuit speakers like pastors and church leadership junkies may be.

    Most folks will go to the local pastor for their preaching, teaching, and pastoring if they like the job he is doing and feel connected in some way to what he is doing, it seems. And this gives him, maybe in an under the radar sort of way, an even more powerful platform then the guys who headline conferences.

  19. Pardon the Interruption says:

    Sorry…”repristinate where things are becoming staid in the Ecclesia”…

  20. Michael says:

    pti,

    You may have a point there…and I hope you’re right.

    While I gleaned much from Pipers talk at TG4TG, my instincts are telling me that no name Baptist down the road may have some things to say I need to hear.

    I’m thinking we need city wide pastors conferences…that we could all get to and that speak to where we live.

  21. centorian says:

    City wide pastors conferences….. interesting ideal. Most of the talking heads don’t know what I deal with here in this little backwater town. In all fairness, I wouldn’t expect them to. This is one thing I do like about meeting with the local pastors here. They understand the landscape. It is of more value to me than spending large sums of money to travel to places and here things from men who have little to no concept of what I deal with. I would add that I have little concept of their world. One of the former regional pastors, who I have great respect for, was willing to acknowledge that in a conversation we had some time ago.

  22. Michael says:

    Centy,

    I think we’re caught up in idolatry to a degree.

    We ignore each other and spend thousands to go sit under the “stars” for a few hours.

    I really think this has to change.

  23. Believe says:

    “I think we’re caught up in idolatry to a degree.”

    Ya think?

  24. Believe says:

    …add a smiley to above 🙂

  25. sister christian says:

    “my instincts are telling me that no name Baptist down the road may have some things to say I need to hear.

    Michael, There’s one sure way to find out! 🙂

    “I’m thinking we need city wide pastors conferences…that we could all get to and that speak to where we live.”

    May God continue to stir your heart, encourage and bless you in this.
    Incredible possibilities as pastors find even a small bit of common ground and work together determining the respective needs of the community, identifying the challenges unique to your area and ministries while joining together in encouragement and prayer.
    Lord willing, finding solutions and greater strength in local pastors conferences and meetings.

  26. Michael says:

    Sis,

    This has been on my heart for a while…there’s a lot of Baxter in my head. 😉

  27. David H says:

    Regarding the statement – “If the church decides to be the church and not a political shill, God may answer some of the prayers we’re praying…”

    Thank you.

  28. Bob Middleton says:

    Michael, we have a small mercy mission in our town already (it’s not a big community) that most of the churches support. We also have a area-wide nursing-home ministry that most of the churches support on a rotating basis. I wouldn’t think of us as a “model” but it does work for us.

  29. Michael says:

    Bob,

    Sounds close enough for me…God bless you folks!

  30. I find it interesting that the modern day believers of Reformed theology are starting to act too much like pentecostals and charismatics in the area of starting to promote their own gurus (almost to the point of idolatry), promote their books and DVD’s at every opportunity, and also hold their versions of the “mega-conferences”

    “The same Holy Spirit that indwells Piper, Mahaney, Laurie, and Graham indwells the pastor of the little Baptist church down the street.” – AMEN!

  31. Another Voice says:

    During the health care bill debate the continual assertion was that “the church” would handle those issues and the program was unnecessary.
    —————————————————————–
    I would like to see some documentation as to whom you refer as making this ‘continual assertion’ as I watched the health care debate very closely (probably too closely frankly) and I sure didn’t hear this expressed by anyone meaningful.

    The Catholic Church is a huge supporter of government universal healthcare, as long as abortions are not funded.

    Now Michael, if you speak of simply a Glenn Beck and some of the tea party folks, I won’t doubt you. Maybe the assertion was made online in the blogosphere a fair amount of the time too.

    But this was NOT the Republican stance as a party.

    And I’m not looking to defend the GOP or be their apologists – I am just convinced the bill is a disaster, and the way it was passed was an abomination.

    And the GOP is to blame beause when they had the power, some of these common sense reforms that actually would help things were not ever brought up. Now that they have no power, it is too late to cry when the other side jams down their throats what has been a political goal for multiple generations.

    (My one and only post on the subject – if I am misinterpreted by anyone as a GOP hack, then so be it and have at it.)

  32. Another Voice says:

    I will say this one more thing, unrelated to the healthcare thing per se.

    I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but I believe the church will have again its chance to be the sole provider of charity when the governments of man, whether state or local, finally implode under the crushing, irresponsible debt and there just simply isn’t any money available. It will be quite a time for the gospel.

    And I do think it will happen not just in our lifetime, but quite soon. The last two years or so are just the beginning, not a normal economic cycle.

    And once more, I am not a gold-bug, gloom and doomer, newsletter writer. Frankly, I just know enough about economics to recognize what should be evident to all.

  33. Michael says:

    AV,

    I heard the assertion ad nauseum from pastor/Republicans online.

  34. Another Voice says:

    THAT I don’t doubt Michael. I think we need to deal with reality myself. That ship sailed long ago.

  35. BrianD says:

    City-wide conferences? Don’t give my church any ideas 🙂

    This sounds exactly the kind of thing an Acts29 church might try to pull off.

    (Ryan Couch and any Acts29 lurkers are you listening?)

  36. Em says:

    FWIW – i go past our local hospital (medium size regional care facility) on weekends and the parking lot (which overflows during the week) is virtually empty (doctors and nurses are on duty and visitors are there) – even allowing for non-essential technicians, doesn’t this indicate that the big expense are for office workers – expediting paperwork? government and private insurance? dunno…

    God keep all close this nite and pray for those in authority over us

  37. BrianD says:

    My naive comment aside…

    T4G had little to no impact here locally, save Jared Wilson’s assertion on his blog that waiters and waitresses noticed the lack of tips from attendees (along with the infamous dollar tracts). In fact, someone asked, I believe on Twitter, if anyone actually went out into the community and shared the gospel with the locals.

    T4G is a great networking opportunity, a great opportunity to get free books (which aren’t so free when you consider you paid $100+ to attend the thing), and a great opportunity to hear megastar Reformed pastors in a large auditorium. What is preached may or may not help you, depending on your situation and how God uses the preaching in your life.

    In the end, it pumps a little bit of money into the local economy. No one here talked about the Coming of John Piper or Matt Chandler. The megaconference had great impact in the Reformed world and only in the Reformed world.

  38. Michael says:

    It really didn’t have an impact on the Reformed world either.
    Half of them are pissed because it wasn’t straight “biblical exposition”.

    It’s ridiculous…the whole thing could have been a web cast and saved everyone a fortune.

  39. BrianD says:

    Just like Catalyst West Coast will/won’t have “great impact” in the evangelical world.
    I suppose the “great impact” depends on who you talked to. Some thought T4G was great, some would think it was a waste. I really think the greatest value is in networking, which you can’t do via a webcast. If you can’t network effectively, no one’s going to go to these things.

  40. centorian says:

    gotta love the testimony of low tips and dollar tracks

  41. Michael says:

    Networking is another name for “glad handing” and “butt kissing” neither of which does a thing for the local church.

  42. Michael says:

    Man, I’m cranky tonight…sorry…

  43. BrianD says:

    It drives these things.

  44. Michael says:

    You’re right, BrianD.

    I’m very glad I had the opportunity to meet some folks who have had a big impact on me.

    I don’t that it had any impact on my church.

    I’d go again, though…loved Geneva… 🙂

  45. filbertz says:

    just a couple quick things. Pastors meeting locally regarding the community is a great idea. Any ideas on how you get those guys to also recognize it is a great idea?

    generosity towards others is more than tips. It is respect, friendliness, unpretentiousness, humility, good humor, and more. If those are too tough, start with a good tip.

    finally, I’m stepping back for a spell as I’m burned out and running on empty. I’ll be looking in but contributing rarely until I’ve got something more constructive to offer.

    phil

  46. brian says:

    Can we pray for the fine people of Juarez Mexico and other such towns, for the soldiers and police that are trying to change it and for protection for the innocent. My heart aches for these fine people.

  47. Another Voice says:

    The problem with the church being the “the sole provider of charity” is the cost. Our recent event with our son being hit by a car while he was on his bicycle cost 46K just for 5 days of room and board. That does not include CAT scans, ENT Doctors and all the rest. We can’t be naive.
    ————————————————————–
    Since you are quoting my words in part, I guess I should respond to the naive charge.

    First, the ‘sole provider of charity’ line was in context of broke governments that simply will not have money. An economic Armageddon. Maybe others don’t see that as inevitable as I do – to each their own.

    I certainly would not equate skilled medical care with ‘charity.’ nor do I think most readers would. And since I certainly have no idea what this sort of collapse will do to our medical system, there is no need in speculating what role the church might have. I can imagine several scenarios.

    I would mention that there is no reason the care your child received (and I praise the Lord for that) should cost as much as it did – especially since you are just quoting room and board. Nor do I think it will cost this in the future under my premise (in relative dollars). So we really are comparing apples with oranges here – looking at today’s costs which are a symptom of today’s problems that will lead to tomorrow’s collapse, but also speaking of tomorrow’s challenges as if they will be the same.

    When I speak of ‘sole provider of charity’ I speak of having food and clothing and shelter, not to mention other activity such as job training, and neighbor helping neighbor with the skills they possess.

    I live in a state that is about to collapse and has been forced to IOUs on more than one occasion. States can’t print their own money, nor can they borrow nearly to the endless extent of the feds. Nor can they tax indefinitely since the earning citizens will (as they have here in CA for years now) vote with their feet.

    And can we even dream of the day our seniors don’t get a social security check?

    I know the future I describe seems as far fetched as GM, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers all going bankrupt in the same year….but I’m sure we will all get raptured first, right?

    Or would that be ‘naive’?

  48. brian says:

    You know I have spent decades trying to start self supporting services for people with disabilities, I have gone to some churches, big mistake, I repented of that many years ago. God has opened another door, I hope to really make some way forward. When I first got into this line of work it was only suppose to be a summer job, that was twenty five years ago. Now in the church being a state worker was perhaps the lowest form of life on the planet. I dont talk much about charity around the church to be honest. For example some basic care for individuals with disabilities, can be as high as 8 k a month. This is basic care, for high risk folks. The alternative is, well let em die. Now another example, bed sores, they cost 70-125 K per month care, preventative measures, cost about 600 bucks a month, what does the state do, cut the preventative care. It is quicker, and I understand that. People want to see the bucks lowered.

    Personally I dont know what to do, I am opened, I know I have put 1000’s of hours into finding solutions, the almost constant theme, we dont want to hear it.

  49. brian says:

    An aside I am working with several business people on the non profit I told you folks about, I am really trying to make it self funding. I must admit when I stepped away from trying to start a ministry in the church and went way out side it, I found a great deal of support, encouragement and help. I was overwhelmed by these peoples generosity. From with in the camp, well I wont go into that.

  50. Dansk says:

    The church gets its money from people. So do insurance companies, and so does the government. (In fairness, liberals actually believe that the government has some magical source of money other than people.)

    Whatever you get from the government, or from an insurance company, came out of someone’s pocket, somewhere.

    If the church can’t afford it, neither can the government.

  51. Another Voice says:

    Dansk…well said.

    One small exception. The government (federal) also can (and does) print money and that is what is leading to the disaster (in my opinion).

  52. Em says:

    re: AV’s #52
    long ago ( 🙂 ) my late husband observed that the government’s debt was no problem for Washington as they’d just print their way out – and i’ve lived long enough to see gasoline go from 19 cents a gallon to, what did i pay yesterday? $3.22? that doesn’t even look right as i type it 🙁
    He who has the gold rules and that ought to sober us a bit – somehow, i don’t think that Buffett and Gates are running things – dunno…
    all of which is to say that i think we Christians have some prophesies regarding the situation that is shaping up that seemed far-fetched and irrelevant when i was young and ‘planning my plan’ … not!

  53. David says:

    Actually Obama didn’t cancel:

    http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/04/22/doj-to-appeal-national-day-of-prayer-ruling/

    The Justice Department says it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that deemed the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

    In a “Notice of Appeal” filed in the Western District of Wisconsin on Thursday, Justice Department lawyers said that, on behalf of President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, they were asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to overturn the judge’s ruling.

    In a 66-page opinion issued April 15, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said the holiday violates the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment, which creates a separation of church and state.

  54. Eric Hoffman says:

    BrianD:

    I’m now helping plant an A29 church….and I like your idea.

    Maybe in due time….so far most pastors in this area are dooming us to fail. 🙁

    Thankfully….Jesus will build His church. 🙂

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