Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Guilty by Association?

The older I get - the more conservative theologically I'm becoming.

There is this whole debate within the brotherhood of our churches of who do you fellowship with? In other words, who do you consider Brothers in Christ, or Christians and why?

I'm reminded that we are Christians Only, but not the Only Christians. The objective of such a question is almost to divide rather than unite.

Are there churches and denominations of which I disagree with? YES.

Interesting is how people can connect one because you attended such a meeting and So-so was there makes you like that person. Fact is just because I attended a meeting where a Republican or Democrat was - doesn't make me a democrat or republican any more than going to McDonalds makes me a Cheeseburger.

I've been to my fair share of meetings, conferences, conventions, camps. Not every one did I agree with. Fact was one of the best Church Leaders' Meetings I went to (Besides the current Fusion one I'm in now)was mostly Church of Christ Acappella. Fact is not everyone agrees with me either.

So to better understand this issue I'm going to do a Question and Answer Format.

I. Who do you consider Brothers In Christ?

Anyone who knows they are saved by grace, through faith, are baptized and are on the faith journey.

II. Would you consider having Fellowship with those of a different belief system then you?

No. You see the word "Fellowship" isn't just saying "let's all be facebook friends - and agree on everything or diagree with everything" it is sharing life together. It is more exclusive than inclusive. The term "Fellowship" some use rather loosely, but in fact is part of the disciple-making process and about sharing things in common and living that life together. We see the term Fellowship and then have it equal with the term "associated with" - which it is not. Fellowship is building upon community and interacting daily. Even if I meet with a ministerial group or go to this or that meeting doesn't make it a fellowship.

III. Would you be friends with those that don't share the same beliefs as you?

Sure. Jesus was known to be a friend to sinners. I'm probably chief among them. I'm just forgiven. Thanks be to God for His grace. I have lots of friends and even some facebook friends (Some are more acquaintainces than friends). Some are Christians, some are not, some like hockey, some do not.

IV. What about the different doctrinal positions? Would you have their resources?

I would have them. I would learn from others. Fact is I don't know it all. There are positions I disagree with. There is also discernment. I would not be going to a Universalist Camp meeting any time soon - if that is what you are asking. I think as leaders - we need to watch our doctrine closely. We have to point out those things which we think are scripturally not accurate and be standing on the premise of being people of God's Word. In using discernment - we also as leaders don't give Baby Christians the whole steak, nor feed them rubber steak.

V. What about watch dog groups? Would you want to be part of that?

I don't see myself as a watchdog. There is alot of critics out there of everything and everyone. My time isn't best used to criticize every thing or everyone but to Know THE ONE!

VI. Would you say you are legalist in some things?

Some might say the same about Jesus. Sure I might come across as a jerk at times. I'm thankful for forgiveness and Grace. I'm very proud of my heritage (Notice I didn't say tradition). I think the Restoration Movement has some great things going. I think it gets it unfair share of critics - and do think there are some good checks and balances within the system. I, as a minister, appreciate the conservative branch of our movement and embrace that.

VII. What would you say to someone that sees you have something "Theologically inaccurate on your bookshelf"?

It was part of the learning process. Fact is I have several books by atheists on their view of Christianity. Does it mean I subscribe to their view? No.

VIII. What about supporting other organizations that bear the name "Christian" or are a parachurch organization that differ from your own background?

Again discernment. Not everything nor everyone do you want your name or the Church's name associated with it - though it might be a Very good Endeavor. It might lose the focus and vision of what you are trying to achieve as a congregation. We get this all the time. Requests to support certain missions - even local ones that are "non-denominational" - we have to ask ourselves "Does this take away from what we are trying to do as a church?" and "Do we want our name associated with such a thing?"
There are several good things to do ..but as a church body our own communications system (Bulletin, newsletter etc) are to be used for those church sponsor activities and not for people thinking - "Hey I have an idea - let's support this." - without them knowing the bigger picture. Does it mean we squash their zeal and creative juices for such a project? No. They can do it on their own or get a small group to help sponsor it.

Again discernment. We had this happen about a few months ago. Several people wanted to do some benevolent type projects and have the church sponsor it. Unknowingly to them was we were already doing some of that, and had to really discern what we could and could not do (We were also going through our budget and had to cut back $40 000 from it - including some staff and hours)

IX. What about leaders?

We test them. We look for leaders. We learn, study and grow from each other. I've been learning a lot from leaders of the past, present, and even some future ones.

X. How does this shape you?

The impact of different associations, friendships, networks tends to make me better. Gives me a better worldview and especially godly view. Seeing the world through God's eyes isn't easy. I think it breaks God's heart to see how things are so easily distorted. I'm just thankful for Grace and Mercy. I laugh a lot and have fun in ministry; but I also cry alot because of the heart ache and pains I see. May in all things God be given the Glory.

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