Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Are You Frustrated With Church?

I think many people are frustrated with church for different reasons. I think the issues most people have with church can be broken down into different categories:
  • Issues with the building: too small, too large, too old, too expensive, not easily accessible  for your needs.
  • Issues with the programs:  issues with Sunday School, youth programming, seniors programming, prayer meeting, small groups. Not enough evangelistic outreach programs. Not enough outreach to the poor and needy. Not enough programs that connect and care for the people in the church.
  • Issues with the Sunday morning event: Sermon too long, too dry, too meaty, not enough Scripture, too boring. Music too loud, too fast, too slow, too repetitive, wrong style, or don't like to sing at all.
  • Issues with the teachings, doctrinal positions, and emphasis on certain viewpoints.
  • Issues with the organization: question organization structure, issues with decisions made, issues with organizational personnel choices.

However some of this frustration can disappear when we change our way of thinking about what church is, and what church isn't.

According to the New Testament:
  • Church is not a building.
  • Church is not an event.
  • Church is not about the programs. 
  • Church is not defined by a statement of faith, or core values.
  • Church is not a human managed organization.
When I look at the uses of the term church ekklesia  in the New Testament, I see two ways it can be used.

Church can simply mean the people, the body of believers, wherever and whenever. For example in Acts 8:1 persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. We know there were over 3000 believers in Jerusalem, and they met in various places.  I believe the term church in this case is best translated as 'all believers' in Jerusalem.

Church can also mean an assembly or gathering of people.  The word ekklesia was used outside of Christianity in reference to different types of gatherings. It was used when referring to the assembly of men during the beginnings of democracy in ancient Athens.

So when I think of church as the people who follow Christ, and whenever they get together, the frustrations listed above fade away.   Those things are not what church is about.

People can be frustrating too... but that's a different story. :)

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Jogging With Others

I went jogging last night with some friends.  If it wasn't for the invitation to join them, I likely would have stayed on the couch.  Even though the roads and sidewalks are a bit slippery this time of year, it was good to get out for that jog.

I have always thought I was a decent jogger.  I recall being the best runner at my high school.  But that was a few years ago, and I was a few pounds lighter.  In recent years, my body can't go as far as my mind thinks it can.

I wonder if I should join a running Club.

Joining a running club has some benefits.

  • you start identifying yourself as being a runner
  • running with others encourages you to get better at running
  • running with others is safer - if there are injuries or falls there is someone to help you out
  • source of running knowledge about best practices
  • source of knowledge about best places and times to run
  • source for tips about technique  
  • information about local races or challenges
  • anything that encourages you to run regularly helps keep you in shape

I sometimes like running alone. But I do understand the benifits of running with others.  And there are some benifits with making some commitment to a running club.

But not just any running club would do for me.  For example I would be turned off if the running club had a lot of paperwork to fill out to join. I would be turned off I was was expected to sit through a lot of meetings, and join different commitees related to the jogging community.  I would be turned off if I had to sit through a weekly meeting where some professional runner gave a lecture about how to jog.  I would get suspicious if the jogging club asked for 10% of my income so it could build a bigger jogging club facility, and hire more professional runners as staff.  I wouldn't like it if some running clubs fought with other running clubs about who was better, trying to steal members from each others clubs.

Yes, running with others is better than running alone.  And there is nothing wrong with joining a running club.  I guess for me a running club should be primarily about helping each member run better whatever races they are aiming to be a part of.

The more I think of it, the less structure the better. Personally, I'm happy just getting together with a few guys now and then to run together.

I think back to my high school races again. Twice at province wide races I ended up making a wrong turn because I wasn't running close enough to others.  I still have regrets about running the wrong direction for just a minute (downhill) and ruining my chances at an honorable finish.  I wish I had been running with others at those moments of those races.

As usual I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Levites Priests and Elders

In the Old Testament the Levites and Priests were responsible for the running of the Temple.

Throughout the Old Testament we also see many references to Elders.  Elders had a recognized role in the Jewish community.  They were older men with experience that the community respected and relied on for guidance. Here are a few references: Exodus 3:18, Leviticus 9:1-4, Deuteronomy 31:9, Joshua 8:33, 2 Samuel 19:11, 1 Kings 8:3, Jeremiah 29:1, Ezekiel 7:26.

However the elders in the Old Testament did not manage or run the Temple. They were not the religious authorities.

The New Testament church believes that their own bodies are the temple of God (Acts 17:24, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Pet 2:5, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:19-22).

The New Testament church believes that all believers are a new type of priest. (1 Pet 2:5, 1 Pet 2:9 ).

So it makes sense that in the New Testament church we don't see a continuation of the titles of Levites and Priests.

As the church expanded into non-Jewish communities, older respected men were recognized as elders in these new communities as well. 

By using the term elder, I believe the writers of the New Testament had a different role in mind that what we tend to see today.  There is no evidence these elders were responsible for religious buildings, church programs, church organizational policy, or church staff.  There is no evidence they were elected for a limited term, and then became non-elder laity again a few years later. 

What is my point?  I don't know. I guess I find it interesting how the meanings of terms we use change over time.

I believe the role of elders is important, and it makes sense to study what the Bible has to say on the topic.  Consider who are the older respected people in your life.  Recognize who they are. Go to them for advice and guidance. Let them influence you.  And at some stage in life you may play the role of elder to others in your community.

I know this is a brief summary.  I'd love to hear any feedback.

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