Thursday, November 28, 2013

The changing denominations: A change of worship

Ray Johnson, senior pastor at Bayside Covenant Church near Sacramento, California states that their members are attracted by “a new style of worship.” He said, “We want to be a church for people who don’t like church.” “Community churches” change their “worship style” to make it more attractive. Choreographed drama, contemporary instrumental music, and multimedia presentations -- all supported by professional-quality sound and lighting systems -- are part of the new “worship experience.” Dogmatics are out of date and religious psychology now makes up the core material of “community church” sermons.

Although “worship” services at “community churches” are high-tech and entertaining, there is not much expected of the audience. The “service” is a gathering of individuals more than a gathered congregation. In fact, their worship is more like watching television. This type of “worship” leaves the person religiously entertained, but not acceptable before the Lord.

But what appeals to the people may not be what God desires. The first century church engaged in worship that consisted of singing (Ephesians 5:19), praying (1 Timothy 2:1-3), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-29), contributing of their means to the Lord’s work (1 Corinthians 16:2), and spending time being devoted to the word of God (Acts 20:7). This is true worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Come and be a part of our scripture-based worship.

Kyle Campbell

Monday, November 25, 2013

The changing denominations: A change of mission

Modern society has increasingly become conditioned to embrace the “social gospel” concept. Although the program of work varies from one “community church” to another, they all have embraced the “social gospel” concept, while demonstrating little desire to be governed by the sacred scriptures.

The “social gospel” concept appeals to Luke 2:52 wherein it says Jesus grew mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. Hence they reason that the church’s mission must be geared to the “whole man” concept. Of course, what is overlooked is that this approach obligates the church in realms unknown to its mission.

Many “community churches” offer “ministries” targeted for groups such as the deaf, grief recovery, anorexia/bulimia, schools, after-school activities, nutrition and weight-loss programs, financial planning sessions, singles ministries, and more. Unfortunately, our society has created people who are pampered, overindulged, and conditioned to cater to their flesh. The “social gospel” approach satisfies the objectives of soothing the uneducated conscience and catering to the flesh.

But in the first century, the church accomplished a simple but important mission. It edified its saints (Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:15-16), it taught the lost (1 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8) and it helped its poor (Acts 2:44-45; 11:27-30). There is not a mention of the many “works”  of the “community church.”

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The changing denominations: A change of doctrine

“Community churches” downplay doctrinal differences. When one enters the world of the “community church,” he leaves the concepts of right and wrong behind. The doctrinal distinctions that once stood at the very heart of denominational identity have largely disappeared from almost every denomination. Doctrinal differences simply are not conducive to “largeness,” and this is the main preoccupation in the “community church” environment.

“Community churches” advocate the theory that there are Christians in all denominations. While “community churches” may tout that they are “undenominational” or “nondenominational,” the real truth is that they are “multidenominational.” That is, they cross all sectarian and religious lines to find their adherents. This is a rejection of the New Testament pattern which says there is just one church (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:4).

“Community churches” follow the pattern of other “community churches” and not the pattern found in the New Testament. Rather than looking into the Bible for a pattern of the church, aspiring “community churches” learn the tips and techniques of the “mega-church” paradigm like Willow Creek and Saddleback. Associations have also been formed which provide trainers in the methods of successful “community churches.” Is this pleasing to God or man (Galatians 1:10)? Is this honoring the Lord who built His church with His own blood (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28)?

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The changing denominations: A change of preaching

The grand, overriding desire in community churches in reference to the message communicated is based more on what people want than what they need. Within most “community churches,” or “mega-churches,” preaching has been abandoned. However, in some churches were there is preaching, the style of it is frequently psychological and motivational rather than biblical.

“Felt needs” defines the modern “community church” marketing plan. The idea is a basic selling principle: you satisfy an existing desire rather than trying to persuade people to buy something they don’t want. Demographic information, community surveys, door-to-door polls, and questionnaires are the new tools.

“Felt needs” include issues like loneliness, fear of failure, “codependency,” poor self-image, eating disorders, depression, anger, resentment, and similar inward-focused inadequacies. These problems, we are told, lie behind all these different types of addictions all the while the real problem, which is sin and human depravity, is carefully skirted. “Pastors” are now counseled to find out what the people’s demands are, then do whatever is necessary to meet them.

Is this pleasing men or God (Galatians 1:10)? Is this preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27)? Is this to be considered preaching the word (2 Timothy 4:1-4)? Is this speaking things that are becoming of sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)?

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The changing denominations: A change of name

Throughout this country there are a growing number of local denominational churches trying to disassociate themselves from their parent denominations by changing their names, but not their basic doctrine. In the last several years, many “Community Churches” have cropped up all over America. Most community churches are affiliated with particular denominations, but they have elected to drop their denominational name and go by the more generic name “Community Church.”

Jesus built only one church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4). The Holy Spirit revealed that name to be the “church of Christ” (Romans 16:16) or the “church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Both of these terms, along with some others revealed in the New Testament are scriptural names for the Lord’s church. It is interesting to note that no denomination has changed their name in order to be more scriptural. Not a single denomination appealed to the word of God as a reason for changing their name. The thought behind these changes is the attempt to appeal to a broader range of individuals. It is seen ultimately as “less offensive.” Thus, the will of God takes a back seat to the will of the people.

The fact that many churches have chosen to use the name “church of Christ” is not sectarian as some seem to believe. Just being the same does not make a group sectarian (1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:1). It merely reflects the fact that some churches have tried to follow the pattern of the Bible (Hebrews 8:1-5).

Kyle Campbell

Friday, November 1, 2013

The changing denominations: Introduction

Societal changes in this country’s cultural landscape are causing churches to make drastic changes. Familiar denominationalism is not the wave of the future. Therefore, churches that are seeing their membership gradually declining are analyzing what they must do to spur church growth. Reacting to the loss of membership, churches are fighting back, using whatever appeals will draw the largest crowd. Rejecting the idea that the crucified Christ is sufficient to draw men (John 12:32), “community churches” are using many other things to draw a crowd.

The fastest growing churches in most communities are “community churches.” Some “community churches” have reached “mega-church” status; that is, having over 1,000 in membership (there are about 1,000 churches in America with 1,000 in attendance).

Although “community churches” have memberships that go as high as 15,000, are they pleasing to God? Jesus said,“Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). Jesus was speaking of “religious” groups which the Lord never created. Christ built His church (Matthew 16:18), and man must not change it. Over the next several weeks, this article will examine how denominations are changing to accommodate the consumerism found in today’s society and how the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and faithful Christians must stand opposed to the innovations and doctrines of man.

Kyle Campbell