Church Fables

Church Fables which I once embraced include all of the following.  I will expand upon each one of these with the related scriptures in upcoming posts. (You can click on the links below to read posts on these fables:)

Testing “The Pastorate” by the Bible

Clergy Laity Distinctions”: I firmly believed that there were clear distinctions between two classes of believers…otherwise known as “clergy” and “laity”, those who were “ministers” and those who were “not in the ministry”, those who worked in “spiritual work” and those who worked in “secular work”, those who were in “full-time Christian work” and those who were in “part-time Christian work”, those who were “servants of the Lord” and those who were “servants of men”!  Traditions of men assigned to the first class distinctive titles, certificates, papers or letters, distinct responsibilities and privileges, distinct places of ministry, distinct means of support, and in some places even distinct clothing! But I eventually learned that scripture never distinguishes between clergy (God’s inheritance) and the laity (God’s people)! Not one of the above distinctions can be scripturally defended!  In both Old and New Testaments the clergy and laity are designations of the very same group of people! It is true that under the Old Covenant God ordained that men of the tribe of Levi were the only ones who could be priests and ministers, but under the New Covenant every believer is a priest, an ordained and gifted minister and no class of believers has ever been called to “part time ministry”!  This doctrine creates all sorts of divisions among God’s people! Thus I had to repent of this doctrine and practice and refrain from any further participation in it.

To see more posts on this subject click on the following links: Clergy/Laity Distinctions, Questions On Acts 1,

 “Local Church Membership”: For many years I was proud to be a member of my church. But that membership distinguished me from other Christians who were not members of my church! But as I searched the scriptures on the subject I learned that membership in scripture is always associated with a body which has a head. No local church is ever described in this way nor does scripture ever speak of “’members” in a church at Jerusalem, Ephesus or Corinth. The only scriptural church which has members is the church which is Christ’s Body of which all believers are members! The whole concept of membership in local churches thus creates many unscriptural divisions among the people of God who are one in Christ!  So I had to repent of this doctrine as well and abstain from seeking “membership” in any gathering of Christians which would exclude any who belong to Christ.

To see posts on this subject click on the following links: “Local Church Membership an introductory Poll (Part 1)”   , “Local Church Membership an introductory Poll (Part 2)”

“In Fellowship/out of Fellowship”: For many years I distinguished between those of us in my church who were “in fellowship” and others whom we believed were “out of fellowship”. But then I learned that neither of these terms are scriptural ones! Fellowship is not something you can be “in” or “out of” but rather something which you have or do not have. It  is not something that others can extend to you, withhold from you or “put you out of”!  The doctrine of “in fellowship” and “out of fellowship” has been created to justify and create countless divisions among those whom God has united by His Spirit!

To see posts on this subject click on the following links: “Fellowship (Part 1), Adding (Part 2) and Reception (Part 3) of New Covenant Believers”, “Adding (Part 2)”, “Reception (Part 3)”

“Church collections” and “Church tithing”: For decades I faithfully contributed every Sunday to collections which were made in churches where I was a “member” or “in fellowship”.  I felt that this was an obligation which every faithful Christian would accept. But the greatest percentage of those collections was spent on maintenance of church buildings and paying church staff or those in “full-time ministry”. No collection is ever recorded in a church gathering in the new testament! Nor did any first century churches  receive collections for the purpose of paying for “church buildings” or paying “salaries of church staff”!  The collection of I Cor.16:1,2 was to be laid by in store by each believer to be used for poor saints! The teaching of “church collections” and “church tithing” are really all about human control of the financial resources of God’s people when in reality each believer needs to be listening to Christ their Head regarding how He would have their collections disbursed! So this is another teaching and practice of which I had to repent in order to ne obedient to the scriptures.

 “Church Leadership”: For most of my life I looked up to and followed “church leaders”, then I trained to be a “church leader”,  I became a “church leader” and began training others to also be “church leaders”!  I never questioned the whole concept of “church leadership” until I began to test all of my beliefs and practices by scripture. It has only been recently that I realized (to my surprise)  that God never intended that any man other than the Lord Jesus Christ should be a leader of His people!  The Lord Jesus did not train leaders, did not assign the task of  “leading” to any of His followers nor did He appoint apostles, elders, deacons, pastors etc to “lead “ the church! Rather the Lord Jesus called and trained followers who would also train others to follow the only leader whom God has ever appointed over them and that is Christ. Thus I learned that all of the many practices that I associated with the idea of mortal church leadership only served to divide Christians, cause us to follow a multitude of leaders and distract our attention from the only True Leader which God has given us, His own lovely Son!  So I have had to repent of my participation in, the poor example I set and the teaching I gave to others regarding being “church leaders”. Now I simply desire to encourage all believers to be eager followers of Christ rather than following any mortal leaders.

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7 comments on “Church Fables

  1. Tim says:

    I share your concerns on things you list here. I have not come to the place where I throw out the concept of leadership. I just throw out all positional and titled leadership where leaders dominate. Jesus said “you are all brothers” to the disciples when the disciples were trying to set up a hierarchy of positions. Jesus rejected the use of honorific titles for pedestalizing leaders – do not call anyone father or rabbi or instructor… The concept of setting the example is a leadership function but requires no positional elevation, thus Peters instruction for “not lording”. Leaders often take the back seat and encourage others to express, teach, encourage etc. There is a place for the equiping of the saints to do the work of the ministry, but this requires no paycheck, dominating of expression, lecturing the word, or honorific titles. God’s design for leadership is in full mutuality in “one another” dynamic. Oversight, eldering, and deacons are leaders, but not by position or title. They are organic leaders who reproduce, like living body parts do, since we are a body. They need no authority, because “all authority has been given” to Jesus in the great commission.

    Everyone knows the verses that say “obey your leaders and submit to them” Heb. 13. You need to address these scriptures specifically or saints will not be convinced by your statements alone.
    Another one I addressed to a pastor who was giving his testimony how he was “called to the ministry” is Romans 1:1 where Paul says he was “set apart for the gospel of God”. We know this does not mean set apart from secular work to only do spiritual things because we know Paul “met his own needs and the needs of his companions” and would rather die than give up the boast that he ministered free of charge. 1 Cor. 9. Set apart here is a locational movement, he was leaving town to go to the gentiles with the gospel, not a spiritual climb up a ladder away from earning your own living but taking money out of the offering plate in a contractual arrangement as is done today with this verse.

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    • Hi Tim,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your excellent comment! I’ve long been aware that Hebrews 13:17 has been grossly mistranslated in most translations. A careful look at each word will reveal that a much better translation would be something like “be persuaded by them that are your guides or by them that set a good example before you”. For a detailed look at this passage see an excellent article at http://www.truthguard.com/Articles/solving-the-hebrews-13-17-dilemma-a17.html
      With a good concordance such as Strong’s, I would encourage you to search out the subject of “leaders”, “lead”, “leading”, “leadership” etc. To see exactly what the Bible has to say about the subject. You will find, as I did, that God is not looking for leaders! He is looking for men and women who are willing to follow the Leader whom He has already appointed!

      “Church leadership” has become a subject demanding so much attention these days that few seem to go to the scriptures to find out what God has to say about it!

      Brother, you mention that overseers, elders, deacons etc are leaders. Are you sure of that? Are any such men ever called to lead by the Lord Jesus or the apostles?

      Thanks so much for your comments regarding being called and set apart. Excellent!

      Your brother in Christ,
      Bruce

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  2. Galen says:

    Every true believer receives a ministry-gift from the Holy Spirit. Many are gifted for pastoral work, who will never become clergy. When some lead well, we may lay hands on them and designate them as “elders” of which there are two kinds: overseers and deacons. These men and women have a greater responsability but have no greater authority. Thus, the rest of us are urged to submit to their leadership, but they are not allowed to subject us to them. The bane of church is its clergy class that imagines it has a greater call and so grants itself privileges: titles, authority, salaries, unquesstioned monologues, directing every event, free office space and secretarial help denied to the other believers, and sole permission to obey the commands of Jesus to baptise and to partake of the Lord’s Supper. (What?!)

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    • Amen to most of your comment above, brother re all the “baggage” which has come along with clergy class distinctions. Scripture says not a word about qualifications to baptize or to “administer” the supper! So when such are reserved exclusively for “clergymen” there has been a great departure from scripture!

      But are you sure that deacons are or must be elders? Phoebe (Rom.16) was a servant of the church (diakonos) but did not qualify as an elder as she was not the husband of one wife.

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  3. Paul F says:

    Hey Bruce,
    Our Western/European mindset organizes things positionally, therefore we see things like Elders as a position, without being able to visualize the application of what is being said. When we begin to understand the chaos that many of the early church people where walking into, we then begin to picture what was going on, allowing us to understand better what is written. The early church was led by the Spirit, as it should be, and as the young pups where learning to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, which is Christ Himself, they needed someone to bounce off what they where hearing and trying to figure its application. The Lord simply raised up older and wiser people to help council the younger. The understanding is simply to have people of steady character, proven of the Spirit, to help ‘smooth’ out the masses. Since we have wrongfully substituted the Spirit with the Bible, the Elder responsibility has evolved into that of which we experience today.
    Phoebe was simply a servant of the church, a position often attributed to widows, who simply helped. She was akin to a den mother.
    We look at ‘ministry gifts’ in light of Ephesians 4:11, forgetting there are many more ‘ministry gifts’ in scripture. Baking the best apple pies and giving them to where the Lord says to give them is just as important a ‘ministry gift’ as any other.
    Um, a side note on Ephesians 4:11, these are actually verbs, not nouns, in the original. It’s what the brothers would be doing, not what ‘position’ they would hold.

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    • Paul,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and joining in the conversations here! I love it when various members of the Body of Christ take the opportunity to minister to others where ever, when ever and with whom ever they can. I call that www church! (practical appreciation for the church which is Christ’s Body Eph.1:22,23)

      I agree with you that we have far too often thought in terms of “positions”, “offices” and “titles” when the Spirit would have us think in terms of work to be done, service to be rendered, burdens to be lifted etc.

      I Tim 3 begins with the fact that if any man desires overseership he desires a good WORK! Not a good position, a good living, a good title etc!

      And yet, He did prescribe certain qualificatioons which MUST BE true of men who would do that work.

      Hope you’ll join in these discussions regularly, brother!

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  4. Larry says:

    http://www.truthguard.com/Articles/solving-the-hebrews-13-17-dilemma-a17.html Went and read this article and was gathering the kindling for the fire to burn my bible when I suddenly remembered Matt.23:1-3 where Jesus himself told the multitude and His disciples..The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe and do (obey)..
    Looks like a parallel verse to Heb.13-17 to me..
    I agree that no form of hierarchy belongs in the church today..

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