Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                           July 24, 2011                           NO. 29

 What Constitutes Church Sponsorship Of Social And Entertainment Activities?
    We regularly receive notices from congregations that describe some upcoming event. Often these are programs planned for specific groups of people, such as the teens, or the women of the church, etc.  The advertisement will detail the classes or lectures that are scheduled and identify the speakers who will present the lessons. Our concern is about a note usually found in smaller print near the bottom of the announcement. Here’s an example from an ad we received just the other day: “After the Bible lessons provided by the church, individual members will extend hospitality to our fine young people at _______ Park . . .”
    It seems clear that many of our well meaning brethren think that if the church does not spend any funds for an activity, it therefore proves that the church is not supporting or sponsoring the event.  They claim that the church is not involved in that part of the planned activities, even though they have attached their name to it and are advertising it. Those who think so need to think again.
    Consider this extreme scenario: Some men decide to enter a team in a beer chugging contest at a local bar.  They use their own money to buy tee shirts and have them imprinted with ‘Church of Christ Chugging Champions’.  What!?! Absolutely NOT! Even though the participants involved are not even members of the congregation, no one wants the church’s name associated with such an event. Do you see it? Even a reference to such an activity tends to link the church to the action.
    Let’s make the circumstances a little more realistic: Some men decide to enter a softball league. They use their own money to buy tee shirts and have them imprinted with ‘Church of Christ Softball Sluggers’. For some reason folks do not want to draw the same conclusion this time, but the end result is the same. By allowing the church’s name to be associated with the action, perhaps even announcing the schedule for the team’s games, etc., the church has become involved. They are promoting the softball team and are truly linked to it by virtue of lending their endorsement as a sign of their support.
    Now, back away one step further. Is the previously mentioned church (that is planning an event for young people) really not associated with the ‘fun and games’ at the park that are announced in the flyer they printed and mailed out? Can you see it? The fact that they have promoted that part of the program under the name and banner of the church makes them a sponsor of what is being done. If not, why not?
    We understand the importance of planned activities that allow for the social and recreational involvement of the young and old alike.  But we also know that it is not the authorized work of the church to provide for such (1 Cor. 11:22,34). Let’s be careful to truly keep such things in the individual realm where they properly belong. Think!
---Greg Gwin
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Placing Membership
    The scriptures indicate that Christians should be not only a part of the “universal church”, but also a part of a “local church”. When Paul arrived at Jerusalem, he endeavored to “join himself” to the disciples there (Acts 9:26). Paul and Barnabas later became “identified” with the church at Antioch (Acts 11:26, 13:1). 
    Though it is conceivable that conditions may exist, where for a time one is a member only of the “universal church” (Acts 8:35-39), he should, as soon as possible, become “identified” with a “local church”, as did Paul and Barnabas (Phil. 4:9). If there is not a faithful congregation of the Lord’s people meeting in that area, he should begin one. Thus, the idea that one can be a member of a “local church” where he has not worshipped for weeks, months, and sometimes years, is denominational in origin and unscriptural in concept.
    Some, to avoid responsibilities and discipline will become “floating members”; just visiting around from place to place, never “identifying” with any one congregation. If these people become needful of discipline, and are approached by the elders of any of the congregations where they attend, their immediate reply is; “but, we’re not members of your congregation!” Therefore, to eliminate this, when we move to another town, or permanently sever our connection with a congregation, we should find another faithful congregation of the Lord’s people and “join” ourselves to them; settle down and go to work.
    Also, we should not lightly sever our connection with one congregation and “place membership” with another. Naturally, if we move from one town to another, it becomes essential that we do so at once. Sometime we may deem it necessary to become part of another “local church” within the same general area where we have previously worked and worshipped because:
     (1) We feel it necessary for our own spiritual growth.
     (2) We feel that such will enable us to be more effective and useful for the Lord.
     (3) There are unscriptural doctrines and/or practices in the former congregation which we are unable to correct. However; let us be sure that we can substantiate our claim of such.
     (4) There is such a strong difference of opinion as to the advisability — not scripturalness — of a particular work or  activity that we feel it is better for peace and harmony that we work and worship elsewhere (Acts 15:36-41). If this is the  reason, when at all possible, we should “forbear” with one another (Eph. 4:2).
     (5) We have been unscripturally and unjustifiable “withdrawn” from and are unable to get the mistake corrected. This sometimes happens. But let’s be positive it is they that are wrong, and not us! Also, that we have done ALL in our power to rectify the error!
    When we leave one congregation and become “joined” to another, we should be ENTIRELY POSITIVE that our motives are honest and justifiable. It should never be done:
     (1) To put pressure on the former congregation to honor our particular whim.
     (2) Because the truth has been preached and our toes thereby stepped on.
     (3) To escape discipline or responsibilities.
     (4) Through jealousy and envy because we have been passed over for some particular work. If it be for such reasons as these, we will soon be dissatisfied with the new congregation!
    When one “identifies” himself with a congregation, he should be admitted into the fellowship of that “local church”. If there seems any reason to doubt or question his previous faithfulness, the elders should exert every effort possible to satisfy themselves that this person is faithful and not in need of restoration. If it is found that he has not been faithful, or transferred membership to escape needed discipline, then the church should institute disciplinary action against this new member just as they would against any other. Likewise, if we seek to sever our connection with one congregation that we may be “joined” to a religious body in error, the elders have no course open but to begin disciplinary procedure.
---James Dennison (edited for length)
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Appreciation is one of the rarest, but also one of the most beautiful virtues.
The man who lives only for self is engaged in a very unprofitable business.
Don't blame God for the harvest since you are the one
who did the sowing.
Regardless of what your past has been, you can have a
spotless future.
The one thing that most people "in love" don't want is advice.

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