Order, form, and the church have always been a topic of discussion for Christians. There are those who say they want more freedom and then there are those who say they want more order. The Apostle Paul had to deal with the same questions in his day. And, the overall answer he gives is one of order (See 1 Corinthians 14).
In Corinth, Paul was dealing with the disordered and at times ecstatic like experiences of the surrounding religious groups creeping into the church. There were of course many problems that were taking place in Corinth. The difficulty for Paul is that he was constantly offering Pastoral counsel to groups that were 1) Fresh in the faith 2) Had differences in social class 3) Immorality from the surrounding culture 4) Fractions within the church 5) Surrounding Religions that were offering other spiritual practices.
How does Paul offer an authentic Christian witness that allows the good, avoids the bad, and protects the community, while at the same time reaches out to the culture? We find ourselves in a similar place in our own day. Each church needs to decide how they can best minister to their people and their community. This means we need to be aware of the consciences of the people.
And in our own local church, we are growing and there are many other backgrounds joining us. These include non-Christian backgrounds as well as different Christian backgrounds. Without awareness of where others are, as well as without awareness of the ancient faith, we end up forwarding the pet-theological projects of any one given contingent of the church. Let us remember that in the Nicene Creed we confess “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” This means that our foundation needs to be apostolic and that it needs to cohere with the instincts of the historical church. What we absolutely need to avoid, is offering our own pet-version of Christianity alone. Paul is adamant that this is wrong (See 1 Corinthians 1 and 3). Paul is even clear that he will do nothing that spurns the consciences of other Christians.
The Church has always been good with some difference of opinion, but only when fringe strands don’t take center stage. When they do, they end up boxing Christianity into what one particular (whether trained or untrained) leader wishes to make the church. We need to be very clear that we are offering historical-biblical Christianity, and not some version of it. Jude 3 tells us to “contend for THE FAITH,” but not for any individual version of it.
Every time we do offer the individual versions, we end up alienating a host of other possible converts as well as new members. This is in part why I have made the focus of some of our services on questions and answers. This affords people, from each of their respective developments, the opportunity to develop along with us. When we set our focus on the “mind” as well as the “fruit of the Spirit” we set our focus on ancient footing. And, I do believe this is an area we need to focus more on in the future.
I know we have been given a trust here at Living Water Church. However, if we don’t give people good reason to trust us, whether with our service formats or our culture, then they simply will not stay. Therefore, let’s make our culture here at church a safe place, not just for those within one contingent of Christianity, but for all people to gather around the very center.
Let’s constantly be aware of what we are gifting to those who visit. Let’s be aware that we need to go beyond personality or contingent, and all meet in the center.
In Christ and for His Church,