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Improvements to Consider

Liturgy, Church organization, sermons, church instruction, worship service, worship, church elder

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One way the congregation can be equipped is by using a study session format rather than a preaching session. With a topic chosen and made known ahead of time, people can look into the matter and develop intelligent questions or examine various views. The scriptures quoted in support of these views can then be examined for what they really say.

 

I Cor 14:29† ďLet two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.† 30† But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.† 31† For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.Ē

 

A prophet is Ďan interpreter of oracles or of other hidden thingsí (Str. <4396>).† This is not an office in the church, but anyone who sheds light on the words of Scripture.† In fact, Paul allows that ďyou can all prophesyĒ.† Everyone could shed light on the words of scripture.† This promotes learning by everyone.

 

This is obviously not describing the way a typical Christian worship service is conducted today.† That should tell us something.† Not that services need to be conducted exactly this way, but everyone should have the option to share a germane perspective they see as worthy of consideration.†

 

Note that those not speaking are to be judging.† The messages are not assumed to be free of defect.† They have not been purged and purified by strict adherence to firmly established church beliefs.† Doctrines are important, but should be limited to things that affect salvation.† What one believes on many aspects of prophesy will not generally affect how one will honor his Creator.† Our relationship with our Creator is the important thing.†

 

I Thes 5:19 (NASB) ďDo not quench the Spirit† 20Do not despise prophetic  utterances [preaching]†21But examine everything carefully hold fast to that which is good..Ē

 

Paul is telling us that we are quenching the spirit if we donít give due respect to any message that comes from a fellow believer.† All of Scripture should also be considered and respected (II Tim 3:14-17).† That doesnít mean we accept everything in the message, but we exercise the spirit when we carefully consider the message and latch on to what is good.† Again, the expectation is that each believer is responsible for judging the value of the message.†

 

Although it may seem like it would be better to be able to guarantee that messages contain only truth, a diet like this does not stimulate the audience to careful examination.† It lulls them into complacency.

 

I Tim 4:16 "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save

both yourself and those who hear you."

 

If one has a firm grasp on the ways of God one should not stray.† Certainly a leader should be in this position.† During the time of Paulís leadership in the Gentile congregations he had trusted and knowledgeable men that traveled, visiting the scattered congregations.† They were not assigned to a particular congregation.† Paulís stay in Ephesus of over two years was evidently not typical (Acts 19:9-10).†

 

New believers need to be very careful, but once one has a good grasp of scripture, there are alternative means of improving ones understanding. Often there is a tendency to consult only those with whom we agree. One can learn as much or more from those who disagree. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Our critics are our friends, they show us our faults." The same applies for weak points, aspects of our beliefs that may be on shaky ground.

 

Paul was instructed directly by Jesus Christ and the most respected of Jewish teachers as well. Most ministers donít come with a perfect knowledge of their doctrinal history, i.e., how it came (or didnít come) from the Apostles. Almost two thousand years have past. The truth has been at best clouded, at worst, lost completely. Believers cannot really assume anything. "I donít think thatís what it means," is an unacceptable explanation from anyone, including a minister. Verses that don't seem to fit should not be cast aside, but pondered and reconsidered. All scripture should be considered on a subject.

 

"I don't know" or "It appears to me" is an acceptable answer assuming various aspects of a subject don't fit together well.† That doesn't mean the subject is closed, but there is more to be learned.†

 

Truth is defined by the word of God. The believerís job is to seek it out, not protect it from attackers. The truth of scripture will stand. Our understanding of what any particular scripture means may not. After reading a scripture a certain way for years, one assumes that is what that scripture says. Sometimes that is not the case. Often people end up confusing what a scripture actually says with their explanation of what it means. Believers should always be willing to reevaluate the word of God and accept what it says.

 

If a matter keeps coming up over and over again, consider that it has not been addressed properly. Maybe some fundamental understanding is wrong. Some leaders have decided that a matter has been understood and settled. If missed the first time, a point of truth will come back time and time again. Ignoring the issue, brushing it off or digging in heals will never make it go away.

 

Many individuals in the congregation can be strengthened by being given the option to lead the group in a study. It doesn't need to be an earth-shaking new truth, but just something the individual has found interesting or valuable to them. Some will be anxious to do this, others will shy away. The option should be left up to the individual. Perhaps they feel they have nothing to add now. They may have something later. Leave the door open.