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.
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.