Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Something New

Well, a year long adventure is seemingly over. We have studied and written on why we are losing our young people to the world and apostate churches. Is it really as simple as we have written-as one commenter wrote? Was all that work "simple?"-as one author ponders? We shall see.
So what now? What to write upon? I truly would love to have others input on our comment pages in days ahead-just be sure to add your name to it. "Anonymous" is a synonym for coward many times.
Something new....
Recently, I surveyed our high school and asked a question:
What makes up church?

The responses were various, but mostly were "people, pastor, Bible, worship, choir, singing, preaching, specials, offering, invitation, Sunday school, ministries, academy, friends, busses, etc.
I believe we Independent Baptist are many times as caught up in man made traditions as the Catholics. Jesus warned against this in Mark 7:1-9. The Pharisees then loved washing their hands; we read, "For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders." Well, the Lord's disciples ate and didn't wash their hands! The Pharisees accused the disciples of being 'unclean.' The Lord taught a very important lesson here:
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition

The Lord never said 'washing your hands was wrong.' Rather, He taught that the Pharisees had lain aside the commandment of God, and had promoted their traditions as the principle element. Their worship to God was done in vain.
What a terrible thought. They honored the Lord with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. Their worship was all done in vain.
We think of catholics, evangelical, and such and accuse them of this very thing. We, as Baptist could never be guilty of such...could we?
Since becoming pastor, the Lord has stirred my heart to stop doing what we have always done, and examine it closely in accordance to the Word. What does God's Word say about it. Has any thing changed? Oh, yes indeed! I have learned dating is not Biblical, but rather a worldly practice that every Christian should avoid. I have learned that education of children is the parent's responsibility. I have learned that topical preaching is shallow and insufficient when that is what is only preached. I will never forget the day the Lord spoke to me about this. It was after a conversation with another pastor who said the following: "I have a great message put together, I just need a verse." Shouldn't that be the other way around? We are to preach the Word!
I have learned so much since becoming pastor; and I have unfortunately dealt with many heart breaks. But God is good through it all and our joy is constant!
While dealing with problems and re-evaluating all things Biblically, I found something else.
Maybe I am the only pastor this applies to, but most problems I deal with concern the following (probably in this order): our academy, nursery, Sunday School Jr. Church, music, and sin/doctrinal stands.
As with dating, I began to look in Scriptures as to how to handle these ministries and the problems they bring. I was running these ministries the way I had always seen them run while growing up in church. I was adapting principles I had learned at college to help these ministries and the problems they incur to run smoother. Problem was, I couldn't find most in Scripture.
There are no Scriptures for running a church academy. There are no Scriptures for how to organize a nursery. There are no Scriptures for how to use Sunday Schools to train children. There are no Jr. Church ideas in the book of Acts. I can't find one verse on how to use a choir in the New Testament church.
I then looked to my other passion in life...History!
When did these ministries begin?
Sunday School...1780 Robert Raikes, an Anglican, to educate poor children in the slums in areas such as arithmetic, grammar, and sciences.
Jr. Church...1929 John Higgins, an Episcopalian, an experiment to separate children into their own age groups and reach them on their level.
Christian School...1684, the Jesuits, to educate children with a 'christian' philosophy (now I know all about the synagogues and such, but those are no where close to what our 'christian school are today'.)
Choir...300, Constantine, after his 'conversion' (false) he demanded that choirs be added to services just like the Greek operas and pagan worship he had enjoyed before 'conversion.'
Nursery...Billy Sunday, as part of his crusades, did not enjoy preaching over the distraction of crying babies and had the first nurseries built as part of his tabernacles.
We could go on and speak of invitation, bus ministry, sound room, etc....bottom line:
All man made traditions, and relatively new to our faith. And, may I add, none of them Baptist.
Sadly, the typical 'fundamental, strong, Baptist church member' if asked what their focus was on any given Sunday, would be: their singing special, turn to work in the nursery, their Sunday School class, bus route, etc. We have all but forgotten what church is truly supposed to be.
We are so busy with our man made traditions, that we have gotten far from the Word, Worship, and true Work of God.
Is there anything wrong with these traditions? Well, is there any thing wrong with washing your hands before you eat? It is just, we too often are so focused on our 'ministries' that we miss the purpose of church. Our lips honor him, but our heart is far from Him.
Think on these things.


Gloria said...

I am currently struggling with the Childrens Church class I teach. I won't even start on the sillines of the curriculum I teach. We bring children to church and then do everything with them to keep them out of church. We have them play games and color and then we do not understand why they do not "like" sitting in church hearing preaching. We are doing the classic bait and switch in churches. We talk against the emergent church, the engaging the culture or as I call it continue in my sin but we do not get to the true problem we are not following the Word of God. Lets get back to the Bible and let the church spring from that. Loved the teaching on the history of what we are doing. Please recommend some books on church history. Preach on.

Travis Burke said...

Thank you for your feedback. I would encourage you (and your husband) to sit down with the pastor and discuss these things with him.
It is an alarming problem. As I have written earlier: we wonder why our young people are so attracted to those kind of churches that are so relaxed, drink their coffee and snack through the service, and use the world's is because we have taught them in our Jr. Churches that this is what church is.
I will work on getting a list of church history books together.
God bless you.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Pastor,

We're Baptists with the "B," Bible sole authority. And then often times we're regulated by what is written between the lines. What's actually written is sufficient. I think you're asking, "Do we believe that?" And if church has become more about things not in the Bible than those that are in it, is God getting glory?

Travis Burke said...

Absolutely correct Bro. Brandenburg. I just see too many churches and wonderful people so wrapped up in the 'extra curricular' that they are missing the primary elements.
And it is these 'extra curriculars' that seem to generate a majority of church problems. Just something I have been studying and thinking upon. I think you said it best when you preached for us last July,
"If we just focused on what we know we should be doing as found in Scripture, we wouldn't have time to worry about the 'grey' areas."

Rebecca said...

Bro. Travis,
All I have to say is WOW! and Bless the Lord. The Lord has allowed us this last year in our lives to really examnine what we believe and it is amazing the same things you have written are some of the very things we have been discussing. Traditions of men can really mess us up. Mike has spent much time trying to teach me the need to divorce myself of man's approval, He has a rough job, but with God all things are possible..AMEN?

It had been engraved into my mind the traditions of man and he has worked very hard to help me seperate myself from those thoughts. We as humans take much pride in our ministries and it is hard to understand that God would still be pleased with me if I did nothing for him, (a type of self righteousness with a wrong motive.)
We spend to much of our time doing things to be seen of men, out of the fear of what man may think of us.(am i faithful? to what? God or our ministry?) We have lost focus of what God wants from us.
He wants our heart, not just our service. I really enjoyed reading this post and have gathered much knowledge.
You and my husband are some very wise men,,,,not many of you (a Burkism)
To God be the Glory!