It’s church Jim, but not as we know it!

Throughout the last two thousand years, and all around the world today, Christians come together in churches of an almost endless variety. Whatever shape or size of church you prefer, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be something out there somewhere that fits the bill. Moreover, it seems pretty clear as well that the vast majority of Christians in this myriad of completely differing churches are quite happy to endorse the believers in pretty much all the others.

Across the world Christians in churches that are, for example, led by priests, happily endorse other churches which are not led by priests. And, of course, vice versa! How many Christians in (let’s say) Baptists churches are going to condemn their brothers and sisters for being in Episcopalian ones? I would imagine very few! Yes, by and large Christians don’t tend to fall out with each other over what kind of churches they attend. And, of course, quite right too!

But I have discovered something in all this which is, I think, rather strange, because there does appear to be an exception to this rule, and one that generates a goodly amount of controversy too. You see, whereas most Christians in churches that, for instance, baptise babies, are happy for other Christians to be part of churches which don’t, and vice versa; and whereas most Christians in churches whose worship is somewhat akin to a pop concert are content for other believers to be part of churches which would positively reject anything other than a pipe organ or piano, and vice versa, there nevertheless does seem to be one way of doing church of which the vast majority of Christians, and especially church leaders, are deeply suspicious, and on which most seem to positively frown.

I have discovered, over a period of four plus decades, that pretty much any which way of doing church is, broadly speaking, acceptable to the vast majority of Christians except that of simply replicating what churches were like as described in the pages of the New Testament. Christians are free, it would appear, to do church pretty much however they choose with the exception of just copying how the apostles of Jesus set churches up in the first century.

Worship, it seems, can be completely liturgical, or not liturgical at all. It can be raucous and charismatic or ecclesiastically sombre. It can be happy-clappy or quiet and reverent. But what it can’t be, it would appear, is open and participatory, with all present free to take part as the Lord leads as taught by Paul the Apostle! The Lord’s Supper can be pretty much any kind of ritual with bread and wine that you care to think of, whether administered through the medium of priestcraft or non-ordained laymen, light and airy in tone or more formally ecclesiastical; but what it apparently can’t be is having a loaf of bread and cup of wine as part of an actual meal as was the case in the New Testament churches!

Further, church leadership can take the form of Archbishops, Archdeacons, Vicars and general priesthood or, alternatively, it can be the other end of the spectrum and comprise non-priestly – yet still ordained – Ministers and Pastors and the like. But what it apparently can’t be is plural elders raised up in, and recognised by, the church of which these men were already a part even though this is what Bible scholars unanimously accept was how the early church functioned in such regard! And we note finally that it is quite normative for Christians to gather in Cathedrals, Basilicas, Church Sanctuaries, Chapels, rented building and village halls etc, but should a church simply meet in the homes of those who comprise it, as Bible scholars unanimously confirm that the New Testament churches did, then not only are such gatherings of believers not even recognised as being churches, they are positively guaranteed to invoke the very greatest of suspicion!

This is amazing, is it not? Pretty much any which way of doing church you can think of is acceptable in the eyes of most Christians except, that is, the way the New Testament describes that churches were actually like! When it comes to what form church life ought to take the consensus of Bible believing Christians throughout church history has been that pretty much the only way not to do church is the way the Bible actually teaches.

I think that is something we should think about very seriously indeed!

Isn’t life strange?

 

 

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6 thoughts on “It’s church Jim, but not as we know it!

  1. Hi Beresford this is Janice from Canada. I wholeheartedly agree with you! I attend a Pentecostal church in the small city where I live. I was not raised in the church, but came to Christ at age 18. I have attended a myriad of “churches” and home churches as well. I have yet to experience anything close to what you have described. I have studied my bible for all these years and I agree with the things the Lord has shown you. I told my daughter a little while ago that If I could go on a holiday I would visit the churches I have connected with online such as yours (even though youve only just described your meetings) I would love to see you put your gatherings on youtube so that we can kind of participate from a distance. Zac Poonen has similar meetings that they have live on the day they worship together. They are very simple yet you sense the lovely presence of the Lord there. They do not allow multi participation that I have noticed anyway.

    Keep writing Beresford. I am loving every word and saying AMEN Brother, teach it!

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    • Hey Janice, Welcome to the site and thanks for your kind and encouraging words. I will indeed keep teaching this, along with the whole counsel of God as revealed in scripture. Us Commonwealth folk need to stick together. Take care and God bless.

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  2. The only realistic reason this can be is due to one or more evil religious spirits keeping people in bondage in these places. Along a similar line, I have had so many people tell me that they completely agree with me when discussing how New Testament assemblies function and yet are completely content in doing the exact opposite through mans institutions. They supposedly agree and yet their behaviors betray their beliefs on every front.

    I can honestly say that although I have not shared these truths with as many people as you have Beresford, still in 18 years of speaking about these things and even asking people here and there to defend their present positions, not a single individual has ever even attempted to do so- not once. The reason isn’t hard to discover- their simply isn’t any scriptural evidence for what they claim is so vitally important to their Christian life and practice. Now that’s sad.

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    • Thanks for the input. Yes, it’s a tough road to tread and most don’t want to hear these things. But hey, we’ll keep right on going nevertheless. The Lord and His truth is just so worth it!

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  3. Hi Beresford, The Greek seems to agree with a plurality of elders – it is what kind of elders? Do they hold ‘positions’ , and what kind of ‘authority’ do the hold. Is it hierarchical or something else. Maybe the next article? I enjoyed this one very much. Best regards denis

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