Questions for the Church-December 2013
Q. You talked about membership. How do we know that it's biblical, rather than just an inference from a few proof texts?
A. 1. Listen to the talk, 2. Principal is biblical, not the practice
Q. In Revelation, John acknowledges individual local churches with encouragements and admonishments. As the Pastor of Grace
Fellowship Don Mills, what would be your encouragement to this local church (i.e. where are we healthy?), and what would be your urgent admonishment/exhortation (i.e. where could we grow in health?)?
A. Health: Growth:
- Bib theo - more leaders (more followers)
- membership - more discipleship
- preaching - more evangelism (creativity) / conversion
- discipline - more prayer
- fellowship - stay in the word
Q. Also, what would these be for the universal Church as a whole (i.e. one encouragement and one urgent plea for changed behaviour, motives, etc.)?
A. - so much more than I can see (globally);
- avoid worldliness (from comfort to entertainment to celebrityism)
- recognize that not all aspects of ‘global village’ are good—focus on our own problems
Q. What sort of issues / sins are 'church discipline worthy'? Is it just unrepentant? What about private sin?
A. 1. Check talk / handout
2. All (in a pre-emptive, formative way)
3. Heinous / public sin (for outside witness)
4. Unrepentant (for the brother’s good)
5. Divisiveness (for the unity of the church)
Q. Technology has enabled the emergence and growth of a new church model. While churches such as ours have started as a church plant (with local teaching elders), there is a growing number of churches - including here in our own city - that use a satellite model where most (if not all) of the teaching is done by a pastor from another location on a screen. In light of the healthy marks of a church, is this a healthy model for the church to continue to pursue? If this trend continues, will this likely be healthy or harmful to the church - particularly in North America?
A. As I can see, two reasons for this: (1) pure pragmatism and ease; (2) honest evaluation of generational gifting ‡ evangelism.
Bottom line‡pragmatics always have a price to be paid; no elders, deacons, etc., will have negative impact. (Perhaps devaluing or Roman Catholicising of the word since delivered by some impersonal, disembodied person. And remember, the gospel itself is an embodied message. That should have impact on how we live.) Always harder, but always better in the long run to have churches with pastors, deacons, members, where people know each other, etc.
Q. What are some strategies to develop leadership potential that we as a church can pursue?
A. 1. Be at Sundays, 2. Be at TAG, 3. One-to-one or other studies, 4. Reading w/ others, etc., 5. Read on your own, 6. Discipleship tracks coming up!
Q. How can I increase my desire to talk about Jesus to others, particularly unbelievers?
A. ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ (1) Communion with God. (2) Evangelism.
Q. What are the specific indications that a church is making disciples? How do we know that everyone is being discipled? Does discipleship occur in a group, as a church family, or on one-to-one level as well? It is mentioned in the notes that "discipleship cannot be reduced to Christians getting together", what forms can disciples take if it is not reduced to gathering together to pray, read the word or fellowship?
A. Where take place? All those things mentioned. What’s it look like? Prayer, word, fellowship, etc., but also DOING LIFE. How do we know? People moving from A‡B. Often fruit of that is seen in small groups.
Q. I'm wondering, why a person can be denied membership based on something like their view on baptism which is admittedly a secondary issue (granted their view is not errant such as in the case of baptismal regeneration, but more along the lines of paedobaptists)? Why can a person partake in the ordinance of communion where they are not required to show proof of their faith, but then cannot become a member because they are convicted that they received a legitimate baptism, or hold to different views about the mode/timing? Is allowing someone to partake in communion not saying that they can identify with Christ and his body, but then denying them membership saying they are not qualified enough to be part of the local body? Why, if the persons who desire to become members are willing to submit to the teaching of the church, would it not be possible to make exceptions and include them in membership, especially if their consciences don't dictate that they need to be baptized again since in their minds they have already received their baptism?
A. 1. Primary for salvation is not necessarily primary for fellowship. On this issue, there is proximity (if not to the gospel, then to the church’s mission) that needs to be weighed. More than merely Christian necessary to be a member of a particular local church; not so for Lord’s Supper (which can be taken as a one-off).
2. Submit to teaching and authority? Already there is one profound exception.
3. ‘Substantial agreement with our confessional statement’: But in this case we’re talking about a settled conviction that is different to the confessional statement of this church. (Other examples? Trinity; Catholic Bible; second experience of grace in baptism of the Spirit)
4. Paedobaptists do this too.
Q. Over the last several weeks there has been much emphasis on the roles of individuals within the local church. How should a healthy local church relate/fit-in with the global Christian church? What does this look like?
A. Sharing theological resources; sharing missions resources; sharing mercy resources; partnering for salt & light purposes.
Q. What is the role of the Church in the political sphere of society (e.g. advocating law changes regarding abortion, prostitution, etc.)? Acknowledging that ultimately the government will never succeed at solving our world's problems, should we be focused on evangelism and prayer at the individual level (in order to see changed hearts one at a time), or do we have a responsibility to engage in upholding the moral integrity of society by involvement in political issues and law advocacy etc. (which obviously doesn't guarantee hearts turning to Christ)?
A. Care, yes, all should. Do? Not all, but some, according to passions, burdens, gifts. Individuals should be equipped, empowered, trained, sent, supported by local churches.
Q. It has been quoted to me in several contexts that Christ said ""I will build my church"" (Matthew 16:18) - Was Jesus referring to the local church? Global Christian church? What is the context of this quote?"
A. Early church ‡ local church multiplied ‡ universal church. Historically, you can’t have universal without local.