What to do about unfaithfulness in the church?

 Hot cold taps

Movements are characterised by Commitment to the Cause. They take their faith seriously and learn to live it out in obedience to what the Scriptures teach. None of us live up to that ideal. That’s where grace comes in. 

But what of the modern-postmodern heresy of relativism in the church? In which any belief and any action becomes a matter of personal preference. The problem is not that we fall short of Biblical standards, but that we deny them all together.

Some great insights from John Lomperis on what needs to be done — although, I’ve travelled enough to know that the problem is not unique to America or the western world.

… one key way in which American evangelicals have not been closely hewing to the faithful biblical example of our spiritual forefathers and foremothers is in the basic attitude and response we often have towards what to do about blatant unfaithfulness within the church itself.

People often romantically long for the purity of “the New Testament church.” But in the New Testament I read, I see a church with some really serious problems.

In the Revelation to John, we see Jesus Christ not giving up on but still loving certain churches, calling them to Scriptural holiness, even when the Ephesian church had forsaken its first love, the church in Smyrna included people devoted to false teaching and sexual immorality, the church in Thyatira tolerated Satanic teaching and a woman leading others into sexual immorality, the church in Sardis was spiritually dead, and the church in Laodicea had not yet repented of being so infamously lukewarm.

Members of the church in Rome were harshly judging and being stumbling blocks for each other. The very first “reconciling congregation” in church history, which took an “open and affirming” stance towards sexual sin, was the one in Corinth, which also included members with a scandalously nasty habit of dragging each other to court. The Galatian church was being led to follow a false Gospel, and heard from Paul about his own experiences elsewhere with “false brothers” who “had infiltrated our ranks.” To the Philippian church, Paul noted that some preachers of Christ were driven by insincere motives of selfish ambition and jealousy. The Colossian church was plagued by a heretical false teachings that mixed in elements from non-Christian belief systems and struck at the very heart of the Gospel. The Thessalonian church had its own struggles with practice, needing to be warned against sexual immorality and then having problems with sinful, mooching laziness. The churches in Crete, overseen by Titus, had within them a disruptive faction who were spreading false teaching, and who had become part of the church despite not even knowing God. The church folk who first received the epistle of James appear to have had an ugly habit of treating rich people better than poor people. Peter’s second letter strongly warns against the inevitable problem of churches being infiltrated by dangerous false teachers. The recipients of John’s epistles were apparently in churches in which people were evidently believing the claims of spirits and false prophets who were not from God, there had been the spread of false teachings so dangerous that they endangered Christians’ eternal salvation, and there was even a corrupt man in a church leadership position who was slandering faithful Christians and abusing his power to put some faithful Christians out of the church. Finally, Jude’s little epistle is worth taking a moment to read in its entirety. He was addressing a church into which false teachers had “secretly slipped in,” people who “pervert[ed] the grace of our God into a license for immorality.”

Sound familiar?

I fear that for too many American Protestants, their first reaction if they heard of a church experiencing even one of these problems would be “if something like that was going on in my church, I would just leave and go to another church – even if that meant abandoning a faithful local congregation because of something happening in the wider denomination!”

This is a profoundly unbiblical mindset. The New Testament presents us with a number of responses to such church problems: Teaching that explicitly refutes false beliefs. Church discipline. Patient endurance. “Contending for the faith” – and note that when Jude gave that command, he was talking about fighting unfaithfulness within the church itself! Warning about the ultimate eternal consequences of persistent unfaithfulness. Waiting for eventual justice for enemies of the Gospel. Even rejoicing over some good preaching by very corrupt individuals!

But what I do not see in Scripture is this idea that when the false teachers have gained a small foothold in or even overwhelmed a local church, we have any right to just surrender everything to them, give them full, unchallenged leadership over the local flock, just run away and quit, and maybe try to rebuild everything from scratch somewhere down the road.

What to do about unfaithfulness in the church?

 Hot cold taps

Movements are characterised by Commitment to the Cause. They take their faith seriously and learn to live it out in obedience to what the Scriptures teach. None of us live up to that ideal. That’s where grace comes in. 

But what of the modern-postmodern heresy of relativism in the church? In which any belief and any action becomes a matter of personal preference. The problem is not that we fall short of Biblical standards, but that we deny them all together.

Some great insights from John Lomperis on what needs to be done — although, I’ve travelled enough to know that the problem is not unique to America or the western world.

… one key way in which American evangelicals have not been closely hewing to the faithful biblical example of our spiritual forefathers and foremothers is in the basic attitude and response we often have towards what to do about blatant unfaithfulness within the church itself.

People often romantically long for the purity of “the New Testament church.” But in the New Testament I read, I see a church with some really serious problems.

In the Revelation to John, we see Jesus Christ not giving up on but still loving certain churches, calling them to Scriptural holiness, even when the Ephesian church had forsaken its first love, the church in Smyrna included people devoted to false teaching and sexual immorality, the church in Thyatira tolerated Satanic teaching and a woman leading others into sexual immorality, the church in Sardis was spiritually dead, and the church in Laodicea had not yet repented of being so infamously lukewarm.

Members of the church in Rome were harshly judging and being stumbling blocks for each other. The very first “reconciling congregation” in church history, which took an “open and affirming” stance towards sexual sin, was the one in Corinth, which also included members with a scandalously nasty habit of dragging each other to court. The Galatian church was being led to follow a false Gospel, and heard from Paul about his own experiences elsewhere with “false brothers” who “had infiltrated our ranks.” To the Philippian church, Paul noted that some preachers of Christ were driven by insincere motives of selfish ambition and jealousy. The Colossian church was plagued by a heretical false teachings that mixed in elements from non-Christian belief systems and struck at the very heart of the Gospel. The Thessalonian church had its own struggles with practice, needing to be warned against sexual immorality and then having problems with sinful, mooching laziness. The churches in Crete, overseen by Titus, had within them a disruptive faction who were spreading false teaching, and who had become part of the church despite not even knowing God. The church folk who first received the epistle of James appear to have had an ugly habit of treating rich people better than poor people. Peter’s second letter strongly warns against the inevitable problem of churches being infiltrated by dangerous false teachers. The recipients of John’s epistles were apparently in churches in which people were evidently believing the claims of spirits and false prophets who were not from God, there had been the spread of false teachings so dangerous that they endangered Christians’ eternal salvation, and there was even a corrupt man in a church leadership position who was slandering faithful Christians and abusing his power to put some faithful Christians out of the church. Finally, Jude’s little epistle is worth taking a moment to read in its entirety. He was addressing a church into which false teachers had “secretly slipped in,” people who “pervert[ed] the grace of our God into a license for immorality.”

Sound familiar?

I fear that for too many American Protestants, their first reaction if they heard of a church experiencing even one of these problems would be “if something like that was going on in my church, I would just leave and go to another church – even if that meant abandoning a faithful local congregation because of something happening in the wider denomination!”

This is a profoundly unbiblical mindset. The New Testament presents us with a number of responses to such church problems: Teaching that explicitly refutes false beliefs. Church discipline. Patient endurance. “Contending for the faith” – and note that when Jude gave that command, he was talking about fighting unfaithfulness within the church itself! Warning about the ultimate eternal consequences of persistent unfaithfulness. Waiting for eventual justice for enemies of the Gospel. Even rejoicing over some good preaching by very corrupt individuals!

But what I do not see in Scripture is this idea that when the false teachers have gained a small foothold in or even overwhelmed a local church, we have any right to just surrender everything to them, give them full, unchallenged leadership over the local flock, just run away and quit, and maybe try to rebuild everything from scratch somewhere down the road.

Chuck Wood drops into Tim Scheuer's Iron on Iron via Google Hangouts

Australia is a vast continent. So getting practitioners together for encouragement and accountability can be difficult.

Tim Scheuer has been experimenting with holding his “Iron on Iron” gatherings via Google Hangouts.

Eight to ten practitioners report in on what God is doing, what they are learning, and where they are stuck. Then they talk about what they will do next.

Tim has someone who is further down the track provide input for about 30 minutes. In this session it’s Chuck Wood starting at the 35 minute mark. The whole process takes 90-120 minutes.

You can then publish the video record to YouTube.

Chuck Wood drops into Tim Scheuer's Iron on Iron via Google Hangouts

Australia is a vast continent. So getting practitioners together for encouragement and accountability can be difficult.

Tim Scheuer has been experimenting with holding his “Iron on Iron” gatherings via Google Hangouts.

Eight to ten practitioners report in on what God is doing, what they are learning, and where they are stuck. Then they talk about what they will do next.

Tim has someone who is further down the track provide input for about 30 minutes. In this session it’s Chuck Wood starting at the 35 minute mark. The whole process takes 90-120 minutes.

You can then publish the video record to YouTube.

078-Curtis Sergeant on Training Workers for Multiplication [podcast]

Curtis Sergeant

Curtis Sergeant

Twenty-five years ago Curtis Sergeant saw his first church planting movement in China. Then he began training others. He’s seen movements in India, among Muslims and now in North America. Curtis talks about how he trains workers to multiply disciple and churches in the US and around the world.

To get in touch with Curtis and find out about his training visit www.metacamp.org

UPDATE: Bryan Entzminger at EngagingMissions has just released his own interview with Curtis Sergeant.

078-Curtis Sergeant on Training Workers for Multiplication [podcast]

Curtis sergeant Twenty-five years ago Curtis Sergeant saw his first church planting movement in China. Then he began training others. He’s seen movements in India, among Muslims and now in North America. Curtis talks about how he trains workers to multiply disciple and churches in the US and around the world.

To get in touch with Curtis and find out about his training visit www.metacamp.org

UPDATE: Bryan Entzminger at EngagingMissions has just released his own interview with Curtis Sergeant.

The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelical Christians Can Worship Idols

Idolatry 608x462

Andrew Wilson bravely goes public about his natural attraction to idolatry.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to worship idols. It’s not that my parents raised me that way, because they didn’t; I was brought up in a loving, secure, Christian home. But from childhood until today, my heart has been drawn to idolatry. In fact, if I’m honest, one of the defining features of my identity has been my desire to put something else – popularity, money, influence, sex, success – in place of God.

That’s just who I am.

For many years, I was taught that idolatry was sinful. As a good Christian, I fought the desire to commit idolatry, and repented when I got it wrong. But the desire to worship idols never went away.

I wanted it to, but it didn’t.

So it has been such a blessing to discover that worshipping one God, and him alone, isn’t for everyone. There are thousands of Christians out there who have found faithful, loving ways of expressing worship both to God and to idols, without compromising either their faith or their view of Scripture. In recent years, I have finally summoned the courage to admit that I am one of them. Let me give you a few reasons why I believe that idolatry and Christianity are compatible.

read on

Yes it’s a parody of the argument that progressive Christians make in support of same sex relationships.

Samuel James has a few thoughts to add.