John Waddey
John Waddey

September 8th, 2004, 6:28 am #31

A NEW BIG PICTURE: “THE CHANGE AGENTS ARE COMING! THE CHANGE AGENTS ARE COMING!”


Some congregations of the church of Christ are getting caught up in the excitement experienced by many previously conservative denominational churches which have “successfully” transitioned to the culture-driven, community-based church growth schemes. Generally, churches of Christ with strong biblical and spiritual leadership and with effective Bible study programs are most resistant to these schemes. However, such resistance is being overridden and overpowered by misdirected, power-driven prominent change agents in operation within the church.

This article is intended to give both church leaders and members a quick overview of the Change Movement, a spiritual disease that’s infecting our brotherhood, even as we speak. Incorporating changes in denominational churches is usually more easily accomplished than in churches of Christ. This is due to these main factors: our heritage, the uniqueness of the church, and the power of the Restoration principles embedded in the minds of faithful members. But complacency and unquestioning acceptance of the change schemes will only hasten another division in the church, if not its extinction, in the 21st century.

I will attempt to present both: (A.1) a simplified method and (A.2) a more detailed list of procedures aimed at TRANSITIONING AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED CHURCH. I will attempt to briefly but clearly define (B) the role of PROMINENT CHANGE AGENTS IN THE CHURCH. Finally, I will provide (C) a CHECKLIST TO EVALUATE THE TRANSITION IN PROGRESS.

It is an impossibility to include all the aspects of the various change movements at this time, even the evil attempts of the change advocates who are selfishly motivated to seize power within. So, this thread will be dedicated and restricted only to this specific topic and will be updated or expanded in time.


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A.1 — SIMPLIFIED PROCESS OF TRANSITIONING AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH
——— SOURCE: http://www.churchtransitions.com/about_cti.htm
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The process of transition that we teach is a simple one:
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STEP 1—Prepare for change
STEP 2—Define your changes
STEP 3—Plant your vision with your key leaders
STEP 4—Share your vision with the whole church
STEP 5—Implement your changes
STEP 6—Deal with the opposition
STEP 7—Make adjustments
STEP 8—Evaluate the result

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Dan Southerland is the founder and director of Church Transitions Inc. Dan developed
this process for change while serving as the pastor/teacher of the Flamingo Road Church
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During the thirteen years of his ministry at Flamingo Road, the church
made some major changes:

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APPROACH ——— from being program driven to being purpose driven.
TARGET ————— from reaching believers to reaching the unchurched.
WORSHIP ———— from traditional to contemporary.
PASTORS ———— from a senior pastor model to a shared pastor model.
LEADERSHIP——— from a committee led church to being staff led.
MINISTRY ———— from pastors doing all the ministry to pastors equipping people.
SMALL GROUPS — from a traditional Sunday School to a relational cell group model.
SERVICES --——— from one weekend worship service to five weekend services.

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He has been teaching at the Purpose Driven Church conference held by Saddleback Church
for the past 5 years as well. About half of the events we do each year are co-sponsored
by Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven Ministries.

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A.2 — ANOTHER METHOD: HOW TO TRANSITION AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH
——— SOURCE: http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID (Chuck McAlister)

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The following steps can be applied, I believe, to any church that desires to make this transition.
Our transition involved an eleven year process that continues to this day and will continue….

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PLAN YOUR TRANSITION: A PRESCRIBED PROCEDURE IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER
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— Focus on preaching for change to set the stage for determining your church purpose.
— Determine your church purpose: must embrace the five NT purposes for a church.
— Emphasize the church’s responsibility to reach the unchurched.
— Launch a New Member’s class.
— Encourage your members to embrace the church purpose as their personal purpose.
— Adopt new church by-laws: organizational concept and structure of the church biblical.
— Implement a covenant process for personal, spiritual growth of church members.
— Enlist the support of your senior adults.
— Transition the church ministry to the people; the maint. of the church to the staff (paid or volunteer).
— Transition the education ministry to make it life-empowering.
— Lead the church to decide to relocate.
— Locate new property for the relocation.
— Pay for property.
— Plan for a new facility.
— Raise funds for the new facility.
— Lead the church to change its name in preparation for the relocation.
— Launch in-home community groups

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MULTIPLE STEPS INVOLVED IN EACH OF THE STAGES LISTED ABOVE: STEPS THAT
NECESSARILY INCLUDED OWNERSHIP OF THE CHANGE BY THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH

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— Work your plan—stay committed … in spite of the challenges … the people who leave your church.
— Communicate your vision regularly—the validity of each stage of the process.
— — We utilize our New Member’s Class to share the process with those coming into our church.
— — We then ask our newcomers to take ownership of our vision by making four commitments:
— — (1) Learn their spiritual gifts; determine where they would like to minister through our church;
— — (2) Tithe;
— — (3) Join a small group (Fellowship Bible Study class);
— — (4) Write out their story (testimony) of how they came to Jesus personally,
— — — - which they are encouraged to share with non-believers.
— Take your time—give people an opportunity to buy into each step of the plan.
— Maintain flexibility—the key word is adaptability . . . the uniqueness of your church.
— Stay put—the transition process takes years . . . cannot be accomplished in a few months.
— Refuse to abandon your process—the distractions will be numerous; problems will arise.
— Become an expert on the process of change—you need His supernatural involvement.
— Stay connected with and enlist the support of your senior adults.
— Continually emphasize your church’s responsibility to reach the unchurched.
— Graciously release those members who choose to leave—it will not please everyone.
— Celebrate the completion of each advance—celebration builds momentum.
— Always honor Jesus—never take the credit when things go well.
— Don’t be afraid to take risks:
— — For that reason, you must wait to construct the new facility only after you have sufficiently
— — transitioned the church, so that it is a new church occupying a new facility. … As you prepare
— — to transition to your new facility, remember that while the new building is important,
— — you must guard against it becoming the defining element of your church’s ministry.
— Keep your sense of humor—enjoy the journey rather than viewing it as a drudgery.
— Constantly pray for God’s wisdom—in each decision you face in transitioning a church.
— Maintain your personal integrity and your walk with God.

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SIMULTANEOUSLY TRANSITION YOUR WORSHIP STYLE AS YOU MOVE THROUGH THE PROCESS OF CHANGE.
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B. PROMINENT CHANGE AGENTS IN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST—THEIR UNIQUE BEHAVIOR PATTERN
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WHAT ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
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What is a “closet change agent”? When asked this question, John Waddey responded as follows: “A change agent is a false teacher within the brotherhood of Churches of Christ who is not content to follow the faith and practice of Christianity as set forth in the pages of the New Testament. He or she therefore works to convince our brethren that they should adopt changes in their faith, worship and practice that will be more acceptable to the world of the 21st century. The adjective ‘closet’ means they operate undercover, or covertly to accomplish their evil purposes.”

Kenneth Sublett has stated in a recent post, “End Time Serpents with Horns”: “We have NOTED SEVERAL times that the band of CHANGE AGENTS all WRITE (Scribes) and they all endorse and sell one another’s books. Even events such as the recent “Look to the Hills” are the prophetic TRAFFICKING. This fulfills the first century and the present Satan sending out a FLOOD of waters trying to wash the Word and Church off the earth. [Many] churches are involved in the same thing on a lesser scale: sending out sermonic renderings and new style a cappella praise music to SEDATE. These are Apollo’s LOCUSTS whichever wing they fly on.”

Sublett states further: “There is now a FLOOD of new books. It suggests that the Accusers of the Church are in a TRAFFICKING pattern to make money and ACCUSE the brethren who pay their UNLAWFUL wages. It works, as Paul might say, ‘because fools love to be fooled.’ . . . Purpose-driven CHANGE AGENTS believe that they have the right to lie, cheat, steal, threaten and use the law to steal the church property.”
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WHO ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
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John Waddey states: “The most prominent of our self-appointed ‘agents of change’ is Bro. RUBEL SHELLY of Nashville, TN.” MAX LUCADO of the Oak Hills Church (formerly Oak Hills Church of Christ) is one of the prominent CHANGE AGENTS in the church today. His website describes him in “UpWords” (his teaching ministry) as a prolific writer “with more than 28 million books in print.” Other influential leaders of the change movement are Joe Beam, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Mike Cope, Terry Rush, and Marvin Phillips. There are others.

Waddey cites examples of who they are in his article “Little Men”:

--- Men who do harm to the body of Christ while being supported to build it up.
--- Men who claim to be helping the church while fomenting chaos and strife within.
--- Men who rush forward to offer a fix for the problems they themselves have created.
--- --- They offer staff services to help churches resolve the conflicts caused by their changes.
--- Men who seek to build their status and influence by bashing and attempting to discredit the godly …
--- --- preachers who blazed the trail before them and built the congregations where they now serve.
--- Men whose teaching and practice lowers respect for the authority of God’s Word.
--- Men who refuse to recognize and honor the church of Christ as the body of Christ.
--- Men who think they know more about how to worship God than did Christ . . .
--- Men who undertake to change the unchangeable kingdom of Christ.
--- Men who presume that the new is better than the old in the realm of faith.
--- --- They care nothing for the old paths (Jer. 6:16).
--- --- They are like the pagan Athenians, always searching for something new or different.
--- Men who’d rather not speak boldly of Christ as the “founder” of the church of Christ.
--- Men who prefer to speak of Campbell and Stone as founders of their denomination.
--- Men whose favorite word is “grace” to mean salvation without obeying its conditions.
--- Men who love to speak of “freedom” to ignore Bible teachings on worship restrictions.
--- Men who love freedom to fellowship and be accepted by denominational bodies.
--- Men who speak of “patternism” as a sarcastic put down of the brethren true to God’s pattern.
--- Men who thirst for an emotion-based worship in the electronic churches of the televangelists.

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WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF “CHANGE AGENTS” (AS THEY ATTEMPT TO PRESENT
THEMSELVES AS THEOLOGIANS WHO HAVE DISCOVERED NEW TRUTHS)?

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Change agents operate on faulty assumptions, John Waddey avers:
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--- That they have discovered a more spiritual kind of religion now than before.
--- That only they know, understand and appreciate the grace of God.
--- That only they understand the blessings/benefits of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.
--- That our concept is “restoration” of a specific congregation from 1st century.
--- That they have discovered a new and superior approach to Bible interpretation.
--- --- With that they claim to have found the true nature of the church.
--- --- In reality, it is the old, emotion-based, subjective approach of Protestantism.
--- --- Their Bible is a story book, serving only as a source for quotes for sermons,
--- --- --- but not for regulating/guiding the faith, worship & practice of the church.
--- That we are only interested in the doctrines and practices of the church.
--- That we are not truly dedicated to Christ and trying to be like him—they are.
--- That we are narrow, bigoted, and legalistic—they’re not.
--- That we claim that we are a perfect church. (Do you claim that?)
--- That we claim that we have attained complete compliance with every aspect
--- --- of Christ’s will for us. (Do you claim that?)
--- That we have misunderstood the way men are to be saved.
--- That we should be labeled “traditionalists” for our unwillingness to change.
--- --- When the truth is this: it is not change that we reject; . . .
--- --- --- Rather, we reject unlawful departure from God’s authorized Word and way.
--- --- When we are willing to change non-essentials (NOT substance or nature), as:
--- --- --- The hour, the length or the order of services …
--- --- --- Trying new songs or new hymnals …
--- --- --- Considering different methods of observing a communion service …
--- --- --- Accepting names for the church as long as they are all biblical …
--- --- --- --- without dismissing or discrediting the name of Christ, its head
--- --- When we do not consider “apostolic” traditions such “other” traditions as:
--- --- --- A tradition of a one hour worship service—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that calls for half hour sermons—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that expects a preacher to wear a coat and tie—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that we wear shoes to church—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that our meeting houses are built accordingly—that can change
--- That they can promote their changes without making one realize that TO DO SO:
--- --- The concept of restoring the original New Testament church is abandoned.
--- --- The changes advocated were not a part of the original church.
--- --- Ties are severed with those noble saints who went before us.
--- --- --- The faith and preaching of those predecessors would be incompatible with
--- --- --- --- the advocates of change … Like oil and water they would not mix …
--- --- Changes proposed will make the congregation one of 1200 denominations.
--- --- You are alienated/out of fellowship with simple Christians—churches of Christ.
--- --- The faith once delivered to the saints is abandoned.
--- --- Participation in causing division in the body of Christ is a fearful thought.

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Change agents are committed to change the church of Christ
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The third major segment below is a detailed list of changes that will reveal more of the characteristics and activities of change agents infiltrating, subverting the truth, fostering schism and acquiring your congregation. A careful examination of the list of changes will help pinpoint or isolate the SPECIFIC CHANGES that have caused “casualties”—expected or unexpected—in a particular congregation.
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C. EVALUATION OF THE CHANGE PACKAGE IMPLEMENTED IN THE TRANSITIONING CHURCH OF CHRIST
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Below is a compiled list taken from various sources, especially from various articles written by John Waddey. The list of changes will reveal more of the characteristics and activities of change agents infiltrating, subverting the truth, fostering schism and eventually acquiring your congregation. The purpose here is to have a means by which a congregation in transition or “transformation” stage may be evaluated in terms of the extent of progress made or the lack thereof. Churches vary in the level or depth of implementation of the Community Church scheme for church growth. For example, a congregation may adopt only a small segment from the list. But that segment may pinpoint or isolate the factors that have caused a church to grow or dwindle.

May I suggest that you print the list and mark only the items that, to the best of your knowledge, are applicable to your congregation’s situation. An honest personal evaluation may assist in determining where your congregation stands on particular conflicts and issues.
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AGENTS ADVOCATING CHANGE: THEIR OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES
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[_] Agents of change are busy rewriting our church history to: . . .
[_] --- Paint a different picture of the goals and intentions of our forefathers and
[_] --- Wish to cast their efforts as a “unity movement” and
[_] --- Depict them as seeking fellowship with and not rejecting denominationalism
[_] Prominent change agents are invited by churches and schools as guest speakers:
[_] --- Rubel Shelly, Max Lucado, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Joe Beam, etc.
[_] Interlopers must be resolved not to leave; others against change must leave
[_] Interlopers are not obligated to start their own from scratch
[_] Young people are the future of the church; their needs must be met with urgency
[_] Homebuilders (parents in their 30’s & 40’s) are the key to a successful program
[_] Transition is a long-range mission accomplished after passing of older generation
[_] Their goal is conquest and dominance of the entire brotherhood
[_] Their scheme is to first transform large congregations
[_] They insure that buildings, facilities and property are not acquired until fully paid
[_] They insure that the subverted will not overthrow their schemes and plans
[_] They are never to admit being false teachers so as not to be rejected
[_] They resort to warning the non-accepting brethren to “get over it”
[_] They claim to be helping the church to disguise their fomented chaos and strife
[_] They rush forward to offer a fix to disguise problems they have created
[_] They send a team to resolve conflicts caused by their changes
[_] They advocate that leading and guidance emanate from the Holy Spirit
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as narrow, bigoted, legalistic and Pharisaical
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as “traditionalists” and them as “progressives”
[_] They accuse the unwilling to submit as claiming to be the perfect church
[_] They claim to have found the true nature of the church
[_] They abandon the concept of restoring the original New Testament church
[_] They preach that the absence of a “thou shalt not” means a practice is condoned
[_] They sever ties with our predecessors as much as possible; discredit their efforts
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as the ones inconsiderate and without love
[_] They emphasize “fellowshipping” [among the sects]; “brotherhood” is exclusive
[_] They share fellowship with denominational preachers, churches and events
[_] They do not refer to “the Lord’s church”—that is being exclusive of others
[_] They do not refer to the church as the kingdom and also to the reign of Christ
[_] They refer to the church only as “our faith tradition” just as others have theirs
[_] They define “freedom” as a way to ignore Bible teachings on worship restrictions
[_] They feel extended “brotherhood” should encompass the Christian Churches
[_] They implement a market-driven program to provide what people want or seek
[_] They divide an existing congregation so as to implement the “community” model
[_] They have less contact and fellowship with mainline churches of Christ


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CRITICISM FOR EFFORTS OF THE PAST: EXAGGERATED AND ENCOURAGED
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[_] A superior way of “doing church” has been discovered
[_] Those over 50 are stubborn, close-minded and impervious to change
[_] The church of Christ of the Restoration Movement is just another denomination
[_] Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone founded the “Church of Christ”
[_] The church of Christ is a real, bona fide, but pitiful denomination
[_] The church of Christ is the poorest of the evangelical denominations
[_] Ties with those noble saints who went before us are severed
[_] The faith and preaching of predecessors are incompatible with those of change
[_] Men of Restoration were imperfect men and often taught erroneously


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COMMUNITY CHURCH: MODEL FOR CHURCH OF CHRIST IN TRANSITION
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[_] Dismiss or discredit the biblical name “church of Christ”
[_] Despise and ridicule Christ’s church and make it irrelevant
[_] De-emphasize the glory and honor to Christ, the head and founder
[_] The name “church of Christ” is offensive to denominational groups
[_] Crave acceptance with neighbors of the evangelical churches
[_] Do not want to bear the stigma of being exclusive from the denominations
[_] Mask from the community any affiliation with other churches of Christ
[_] Choose the model of being a “non-denominational” community church
[_] Prefer to identify with other groups rather than with your own brethren
[_] One motive is to place little or no emphasis on doctrinal loyalty
[_] Open to exchange, substitute or employ ministers from other denominations
[_] Allow acceptance of denominational churches as in good standing with God
[_] Encourage fellowship with denominational bodies
[_] The trend or direction is away from New Testament Christianity
[_] Transform congregations into charismatic, denominational churches
[_] Accept the new status of the church of Christ as a denomination


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MODERNIZE THE CHURCH: THE SECULAR- OR CULTURE-DRIVEN APPROACH
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[_] Celebrate Jesus’ birthday, like it or not; observe the Christmas pagan holiday
[_] Celebrate the “special” annual resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday
[_] Make Valentine’s Day a church event—apart from but similar to a social event


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BIBLE TRANSLATION & OTHER SOURCES: NEW TESTAMENT PRINCIPLES DEVALUED
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[_] Do not be publicly identified as a church with exclusive beliefs
[_] The Saddleback manual, “The Purpose-Driven Church” is a must-have resource
[_] Bible study materials may be obtained from denominational sources
[_] Be not concerned about the NIV version—a translational dialogue to consensus
[_] Church leaders should choose the NIV translation of the Bible for public reading
[_] Teachers should choose the NIV translation of the Bible (if used) in studies
[_] The New Testament is not the ultimate and absolute authority in faith matters
[_] Question the Bible’s inerrancy, its verbal inspiration and its authority
[_] The New Testament should not be viewed as a law to be obeyed
[_] The New Testament should be viewed as a love letter from God to His children
[_] Church leaders should implement a Covenant of Membership—Saddleback model
[_] Use drama as a learning tool with made up (non-factual) stories to entertain
[_] Do less teaching directly from the scriptures as that would be too boring


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CHURCH LEADERSHIP, ORGANIZATION, GOVERNMENT: EXPERIMENTATION
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[_] “Shepherds” rather than “elders” is the preferred way to identify the leaders
[_] New concepts of leadership for the congregation may be experimented
[_] One approach to a new and improved leadership is by “hierarchical” design
[_] Use a different kind of leadership model than “authoritarian” elders
[_] Define the role of women in the larger context of the biblical witness
[_] Dispute the passages that relegate women to a silent role
[_] Allow women to assume leadership roles and positions in the life of the church
[_] Allow women to serve as deaconesses, as ministers or preachers
[_] Allow older women to teach classes with baptized young men present


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WORSHIP: THE TRENDING “MUSICAL” WORSHIP CONTENT AND CASUALNESS
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[_] It is not necessary to worship according to the New Testament pattern
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because people like it
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because young people demand it
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because it feels so wonderful
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: where does the Bible forbid it?
[_] It should be an entertaining experience
[_] It should be based on emotion and popular opinion or practice
[_] Model emotion-based worship from the electronic churches of televangelists
[_] Use the excuse of “the audience of one” when musical worship is criticized
[_] Emphasize casualness in worship as a sign of being accepting
[_] Greatly emphasize “self,” including one’s own feelings and emotions in worship
[_] The Old Testament with its old laws is no less important to us than the New
[_] Provide the “traditional” and “contemporary” worship service alternatives
[_] Shorten the sermon; include more “religious” jokes or irrelevant funny stories
[_] Sermons may now end with an invitation to accept Christ by faith to be saved
[_] Tithing in Old Testament is binding on New Testament Christians
[_] Applaud the new convert after baptism as an outward show of rejoicing
[_] --- It won’t be long when there’s applause after the Communion
[_] Musical worship must be strongly emphasized
[_] The human-designated WORSHIP LEADER is now a high-level position
[_] The worship leader should initiate the handclapping on stage after a song
[_] The worship leader should encourage rhythmic handclapping while singing
[_] Allow the use of musical instruments in worship
[_] Allow the use of choirs, solos, duets, trios, quartets
[_] The choir must dominate the musical worship with excellent performances
[_] The choir must rehearse all parts of the musical worship in order to perform well
[_] The choir—not the congregation—must learn the new songs first
[_] The choir must deliver the music; the congregation may join in the singing
[_] For the transitioning church of Christ, the choir should be called “Praise Team”
[_] Music should be sometimes so complex that only the Praise Team can perform
[_] Praise songs and choruses should be “upbeat” to induce handclapping
[_] Use rhythmic, programmed handclapping to convey message of joy
[_] Use lifting of hand in prayer and singing to signify reaching up in praise
[_] Applaud after an exciting and cheering song has been sung
[_] Discourage the use of a hymn book and focus attention to the worship leader
[_] Discourage the use of a hymn book by not giving enough time to open it
[_] Avoid hymns unless there’s a “praise” song for the communion
[_] Avoid hymns unless there’s a “praise” song for the invitation
[_] Avoid hymns unless they’re new and hymn books may be opened then
[_] Avoid hymns unless they’re new and the Praise Team can perform them then


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THE LORD’S SUPPER AND SOCIAL FELLOWSHIP—MORE THAN JUST A MEMORIAL
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[_] The sacred meal can be mixed with a common or fellowship or pot luck meal
[_] The feast may be observed on another day not ordained by God
[_] Frequency of observance may be monthly, quarterly as the denominations do
[_] It is not only a sacred memorial of the death of Christ
[_] It is also to be observed as a “joyful celebration”
[_] It is also the occasion or a means of “fellowshipping” one with another
[_] There should be some story telling and human testimonies to be meaningful
[_] Praise Team members must be skilled during the partaking of the Communion:
[_] --- while singing or humming, clapping, holding the microphone and sheet music
[_] --- and remembering Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death


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DOCTRINES DERIVED FROM DENOMINATIONS: BIBLICAL TRUTH BEING PERVERTED
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[_] Salvation is by grace through faith or by faith alone
[_] Deemphasize and deride the steps necessary for salvation
[_] De-emphasize the importance of baptism
[_] Baptism is no longer for the purpose of remitting sins
[_] Accept the Baptist doctrine of baptism as an after-the-fact ritual
[_] Baptism is the first act of obedience after being saved by faith
[_] Only accept the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and be saved
[_] Follow the confession by praying the “sinner’s prayer” and be saved


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HOLY SPIRIT and SPIRITUAL GIFTS: TEACHINGS IMITATED BY THE AGENTS
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[_] Worship “in spirit” should mean being “charismatic” in today’s language
[_] The holy Spirit of God or of Christ “directly” influences the individual Christian
[_] The holy Spirit of God or of Christ “directly” influences “the congregation”
[_] We must listen to the Holy Spirit for a call or whisper
[_] The indwelling of God’s Spirit makes a Christian “charismatic”
[_] Being “spirit-filled” means being “charismatic” in today’s language
[_] Music, although not listed in the Corinthian letter, is considered a spiritual gift
[_] Miracles, similar to those performed during the apostolic era, still exist today
[_] Speaking in tongues, contrary to I Corinthians 13, has not “ceased” yet
[_] Hold the Pentecostal view of another baptism—that of the Holy Spirit
[_] Perform “speaking in tongues” in public prayer as a testimony

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Donnie Cruz
<font size=4>A PORTRAIT OF A CHANGE AGENT</font>

A hundred and 35 years ago our brethren were locked in a desperate struggle with promoters of change who were determined to remake the church so she would be more attractive to the culture and society of their day. The Apostolic Times was one of the gospel papers that bravely opposed that change movement. Such giants in the faith as J. W. McGarvey, Moses Lard and F. G. Allen used their powerful pens to respond to the fallacious arguments of the progressive brethren. On Aug. 31, 1871 Bro. J. B. Briney wrote a brilliant piece entitled, “What We Need.” The following excerpt is remarkably applicable to our day and situation.
  • “There are some among us who seem to have imbibed quite an antipathy to first principles. They love to talk about the ‘higher spirituality,’ a ‘deeper piety,’ a ‘broader love,’ etc. Were it not that these men make such lofty pretensions to a ‘higher spirituality,’ you would be led to think that this is the very article they most need...

    “The man that is tired of the first principles of the doctrine of Christ is tired of the only thing that can convert men to God, and lift their souls in holy aspirations toward heaven. But when a man says he is tired of first principles, what does he mean? Does he mean he is tired of faith? No. He has much to say about faith. It is his theme on all occasions. Does he mean that he is tired of repentance? Certainly not. He is for repentance, theoretically, at least. What, then, is the substance of all this opposition to first principles and to the men who are devoted to them? Simply this: ‘I am tired of baptism for the remission of sins.’ This is what you get when you simmer all this talk about a ‘higher spirituality,’ etc. down” (p. 161).
When you hear our champions of change calling on their followers to move beyond the “traditional teaching” of the church, remember Bro. Briney’s analysis. The situations are identical. Isn’t it remarkable that so many people who claim to follow Christ and aspired to go to heaven refuse to accept what the Master himself accorded to baptism: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).

Tragically before the battle was over, Bro. Briney defected to the camp of the enemy and devoted has last year to tearing down what he has once built up. This is another significant lesson for those who are standing in the ranks to fight the change movement of our day. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:12).

___________________________________
* This quote was found in David Hester’s Among the Scholars, p. 95.

John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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John Waddey
John Waddey

October 6th, 2004, 8:30 am #32

A NEW BIG PICTURE: “THE CHANGE AGENTS ARE COMING! THE CHANGE AGENTS ARE COMING!”


Some congregations of the church of Christ are getting caught up in the excitement experienced by many previously conservative denominational churches which have “successfully” transitioned to the culture-driven, community-based church growth schemes. Generally, churches of Christ with strong biblical and spiritual leadership and with effective Bible study programs are most resistant to these schemes. However, such resistance is being overridden and overpowered by misdirected, power-driven prominent change agents in operation within the church.

This article is intended to give both church leaders and members a quick overview of the Change Movement, a spiritual disease that’s infecting our brotherhood, even as we speak. Incorporating changes in denominational churches is usually more easily accomplished than in churches of Christ. This is due to these main factors: our heritage, the uniqueness of the church, and the power of the Restoration principles embedded in the minds of faithful members. But complacency and unquestioning acceptance of the change schemes will only hasten another division in the church, if not its extinction, in the 21st century.

I will attempt to present both: (A.1) a simplified method and (A.2) a more detailed list of procedures aimed at TRANSITIONING AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED CHURCH. I will attempt to briefly but clearly define (B) the role of PROMINENT CHANGE AGENTS IN THE CHURCH. Finally, I will provide (C) a CHECKLIST TO EVALUATE THE TRANSITION IN PROGRESS.

It is an impossibility to include all the aspects of the various change movements at this time, even the evil attempts of the change advocates who are selfishly motivated to seize power within. So, this thread will be dedicated and restricted only to this specific topic and will be updated or expanded in time.


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A.1 — SIMPLIFIED PROCESS OF TRANSITIONING AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH
——— SOURCE: http://www.churchtransitions.com/about_cti.htm
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The process of transition that we teach is a simple one:
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STEP 1—Prepare for change
STEP 2—Define your changes
STEP 3—Plant your vision with your key leaders
STEP 4—Share your vision with the whole church
STEP 5—Implement your changes
STEP 6—Deal with the opposition
STEP 7—Make adjustments
STEP 8—Evaluate the result

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Dan Southerland is the founder and director of Church Transitions Inc. Dan developed
this process for change while serving as the pastor/teacher of the Flamingo Road Church
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During the thirteen years of his ministry at Flamingo Road, the church
made some major changes:

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APPROACH ——— from being program driven to being purpose driven.
TARGET ————— from reaching believers to reaching the unchurched.
WORSHIP ———— from traditional to contemporary.
PASTORS ———— from a senior pastor model to a shared pastor model.
LEADERSHIP——— from a committee led church to being staff led.
MINISTRY ———— from pastors doing all the ministry to pastors equipping people.
SMALL GROUPS — from a traditional Sunday School to a relational cell group model.
SERVICES --——— from one weekend worship service to five weekend services.

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He has been teaching at the Purpose Driven Church conference held by Saddleback Church
for the past 5 years as well. About half of the events we do each year are co-sponsored
by Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven Ministries.

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A.2 — ANOTHER METHOD: HOW TO TRANSITION AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH
——— SOURCE: http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID (Chuck McAlister)

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The following steps can be applied, I believe, to any church that desires to make this transition.
Our transition involved an eleven year process that continues to this day and will continue….

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PLAN YOUR TRANSITION: A PRESCRIBED PROCEDURE IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER
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— Focus on preaching for change to set the stage for determining your church purpose.
— Determine your church purpose: must embrace the five NT purposes for a church.
— Emphasize the church’s responsibility to reach the unchurched.
— Launch a New Member’s class.
— Encourage your members to embrace the church purpose as their personal purpose.
— Adopt new church by-laws: organizational concept and structure of the church biblical.
— Implement a covenant process for personal, spiritual growth of church members.
— Enlist the support of your senior adults.
— Transition the church ministry to the people; the maint. of the church to the staff (paid or volunteer).
— Transition the education ministry to make it life-empowering.
— Lead the church to decide to relocate.
— Locate new property for the relocation.
— Pay for property.
— Plan for a new facility.
— Raise funds for the new facility.
— Lead the church to change its name in preparation for the relocation.
— Launch in-home community groups

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MULTIPLE STEPS INVOLVED IN EACH OF THE STAGES LISTED ABOVE: STEPS THAT
NECESSARILY INCLUDED OWNERSHIP OF THE CHANGE BY THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH

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— Work your plan—stay committed … in spite of the challenges … the people who leave your church.
— Communicate your vision regularly—the validity of each stage of the process.
— — We utilize our New Member’s Class to share the process with those coming into our church.
— — We then ask our newcomers to take ownership of our vision by making four commitments:
— — (1) Learn their spiritual gifts; determine where they would like to minister through our church;
— — (2) Tithe;
— — (3) Join a small group (Fellowship Bible Study class);
— — (4) Write out their story (testimony) of how they came to Jesus personally,
— — — - which they are encouraged to share with non-believers.
— Take your time—give people an opportunity to buy into each step of the plan.
— Maintain flexibility—the key word is adaptability . . . the uniqueness of your church.
— Stay put—the transition process takes years . . . cannot be accomplished in a few months.
— Refuse to abandon your process—the distractions will be numerous; problems will arise.
— Become an expert on the process of change—you need His supernatural involvement.
— Stay connected with and enlist the support of your senior adults.
— Continually emphasize your church’s responsibility to reach the unchurched.
— Graciously release those members who choose to leave—it will not please everyone.
— Celebrate the completion of each advance—celebration builds momentum.
— Always honor Jesus—never take the credit when things go well.
— Don’t be afraid to take risks:
— — For that reason, you must wait to construct the new facility only after you have sufficiently
— — transitioned the church, so that it is a new church occupying a new facility. … As you prepare
— — to transition to your new facility, remember that while the new building is important,
— — you must guard against it becoming the defining element of your church’s ministry.
— Keep your sense of humor—enjoy the journey rather than viewing it as a drudgery.
— Constantly pray for God’s wisdom—in each decision you face in transitioning a church.
— Maintain your personal integrity and your walk with God.

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SIMULTANEOUSLY TRANSITION YOUR WORSHIP STYLE AS YOU MOVE THROUGH THE PROCESS OF CHANGE.
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B. PROMINENT CHANGE AGENTS IN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST—THEIR UNIQUE BEHAVIOR PATTERN
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WHAT ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
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What is a “closet change agent”? When asked this question, John Waddey responded as follows: “A change agent is a false teacher within the brotherhood of Churches of Christ who is not content to follow the faith and practice of Christianity as set forth in the pages of the New Testament. He or she therefore works to convince our brethren that they should adopt changes in their faith, worship and practice that will be more acceptable to the world of the 21st century. The adjective ‘closet’ means they operate undercover, or covertly to accomplish their evil purposes.”

Kenneth Sublett has stated in a recent post, “End Time Serpents with Horns”: “We have NOTED SEVERAL times that the band of CHANGE AGENTS all WRITE (Scribes) and they all endorse and sell one another’s books. Even events such as the recent “Look to the Hills” are the prophetic TRAFFICKING. This fulfills the first century and the present Satan sending out a FLOOD of waters trying to wash the Word and Church off the earth. [Many] churches are involved in the same thing on a lesser scale: sending out sermonic renderings and new style a cappella praise music to SEDATE. These are Apollo’s LOCUSTS whichever wing they fly on.”

Sublett states further: “There is now a FLOOD of new books. It suggests that the Accusers of the Church are in a TRAFFICKING pattern to make money and ACCUSE the brethren who pay their UNLAWFUL wages. It works, as Paul might say, ‘because fools love to be fooled.’ . . . Purpose-driven CHANGE AGENTS believe that they have the right to lie, cheat, steal, threaten and use the law to steal the church property.”
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WHO ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
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John Waddey states: “The most prominent of our self-appointed ‘agents of change’ is Bro. RUBEL SHELLY of Nashville, TN.” MAX LUCADO of the Oak Hills Church (formerly Oak Hills Church of Christ) is one of the prominent CHANGE AGENTS in the church today. His website describes him in “UpWords” (his teaching ministry) as a prolific writer “with more than 28 million books in print.” Other influential leaders of the change movement are Joe Beam, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Mike Cope, Terry Rush, and Marvin Phillips. There are others.

Waddey cites examples of who they are in his article “Little Men”:

--- Men who do harm to the body of Christ while being supported to build it up.
--- Men who claim to be helping the church while fomenting chaos and strife within.
--- Men who rush forward to offer a fix for the problems they themselves have created.
--- --- They offer staff services to help churches resolve the conflicts caused by their changes.
--- Men who seek to build their status and influence by bashing and attempting to discredit the godly …
--- --- preachers who blazed the trail before them and built the congregations where they now serve.
--- Men whose teaching and practice lowers respect for the authority of God’s Word.
--- Men who refuse to recognize and honor the church of Christ as the body of Christ.
--- Men who think they know more about how to worship God than did Christ . . .
--- Men who undertake to change the unchangeable kingdom of Christ.
--- Men who presume that the new is better than the old in the realm of faith.
--- --- They care nothing for the old paths (Jer. 6:16).
--- --- They are like the pagan Athenians, always searching for something new or different.
--- Men who’d rather not speak boldly of Christ as the “founder” of the church of Christ.
--- Men who prefer to speak of Campbell and Stone as founders of their denomination.
--- Men whose favorite word is “grace” to mean salvation without obeying its conditions.
--- Men who love to speak of “freedom” to ignore Bible teachings on worship restrictions.
--- Men who love freedom to fellowship and be accepted by denominational bodies.
--- Men who speak of “patternism” as a sarcastic put down of the brethren true to God’s pattern.
--- Men who thirst for an emotion-based worship in the electronic churches of the televangelists.

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WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF “CHANGE AGENTS” (AS THEY ATTEMPT TO PRESENT
THEMSELVES AS THEOLOGIANS WHO HAVE DISCOVERED NEW TRUTHS)?

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Change agents operate on faulty assumptions, John Waddey avers:
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--- That they have discovered a more spiritual kind of religion now than before.
--- That only they know, understand and appreciate the grace of God.
--- That only they understand the blessings/benefits of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.
--- That our concept is “restoration” of a specific congregation from 1st century.
--- That they have discovered a new and superior approach to Bible interpretation.
--- --- With that they claim to have found the true nature of the church.
--- --- In reality, it is the old, emotion-based, subjective approach of Protestantism.
--- --- Their Bible is a story book, serving only as a source for quotes for sermons,
--- --- --- but not for regulating/guiding the faith, worship & practice of the church.
--- That we are only interested in the doctrines and practices of the church.
--- That we are not truly dedicated to Christ and trying to be like him—they are.
--- That we are narrow, bigoted, and legalistic—they’re not.
--- That we claim that we are a perfect church. (Do you claim that?)
--- That we claim that we have attained complete compliance with every aspect
--- --- of Christ’s will for us. (Do you claim that?)
--- That we have misunderstood the way men are to be saved.
--- That we should be labeled “traditionalists” for our unwillingness to change.
--- --- When the truth is this: it is not change that we reject; . . .
--- --- --- Rather, we reject unlawful departure from God’s authorized Word and way.
--- --- When we are willing to change non-essentials (NOT substance or nature), as:
--- --- --- The hour, the length or the order of services …
--- --- --- Trying new songs or new hymnals …
--- --- --- Considering different methods of observing a communion service …
--- --- --- Accepting names for the church as long as they are all biblical …
--- --- --- --- without dismissing or discrediting the name of Christ, its head
--- --- When we do not consider “apostolic” traditions such “other” traditions as:
--- --- --- A tradition of a one hour worship service—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that calls for half hour sermons—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that expects a preacher to wear a coat and tie—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that we wear shoes to church—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that our meeting houses are built accordingly—that can change
--- That they can promote their changes without making one realize that TO DO SO:
--- --- The concept of restoring the original New Testament church is abandoned.
--- --- The changes advocated were not a part of the original church.
--- --- Ties are severed with those noble saints who went before us.
--- --- --- The faith and preaching of those predecessors would be incompatible with
--- --- --- --- the advocates of change … Like oil and water they would not mix …
--- --- Changes proposed will make the congregation one of 1200 denominations.
--- --- You are alienated/out of fellowship with simple Christians—churches of Christ.
--- --- The faith once delivered to the saints is abandoned.
--- --- Participation in causing division in the body of Christ is a fearful thought.

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Change agents are committed to change the church of Christ
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The third major segment below is a detailed list of changes that will reveal more of the characteristics and activities of change agents infiltrating, subverting the truth, fostering schism and acquiring your congregation. A careful examination of the list of changes will help pinpoint or isolate the SPECIFIC CHANGES that have caused “casualties”—expected or unexpected—in a particular congregation.
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C. EVALUATION OF THE CHANGE PACKAGE IMPLEMENTED IN THE TRANSITIONING CHURCH OF CHRIST
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Below is a compiled list taken from various sources, especially from various articles written by John Waddey. The list of changes will reveal more of the characteristics and activities of change agents infiltrating, subverting the truth, fostering schism and eventually acquiring your congregation. The purpose here is to have a means by which a congregation in transition or “transformation” stage may be evaluated in terms of the extent of progress made or the lack thereof. Churches vary in the level or depth of implementation of the Community Church scheme for church growth. For example, a congregation may adopt only a small segment from the list. But that segment may pinpoint or isolate the factors that have caused a church to grow or dwindle.

May I suggest that you print the list and mark only the items that, to the best of your knowledge, are applicable to your congregation’s situation. An honest personal evaluation may assist in determining where your congregation stands on particular conflicts and issues.
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AGENTS ADVOCATING CHANGE: THEIR OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES
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[_] Agents of change are busy rewriting our church history to: . . .
[_] --- Paint a different picture of the goals and intentions of our forefathers and
[_] --- Wish to cast their efforts as a “unity movement” and
[_] --- Depict them as seeking fellowship with and not rejecting denominationalism
[_] Prominent change agents are invited by churches and schools as guest speakers:
[_] --- Rubel Shelly, Max Lucado, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Joe Beam, etc.
[_] Interlopers must be resolved not to leave; others against change must leave
[_] Interlopers are not obligated to start their own from scratch
[_] Young people are the future of the church; their needs must be met with urgency
[_] Homebuilders (parents in their 30’s & 40’s) are the key to a successful program
[_] Transition is a long-range mission accomplished after passing of older generation
[_] Their goal is conquest and dominance of the entire brotherhood
[_] Their scheme is to first transform large congregations
[_] They insure that buildings, facilities and property are not acquired until fully paid
[_] They insure that the subverted will not overthrow their schemes and plans
[_] They are never to admit being false teachers so as not to be rejected
[_] They resort to warning the non-accepting brethren to “get over it”
[_] They claim to be helping the church to disguise their fomented chaos and strife
[_] They rush forward to offer a fix to disguise problems they have created
[_] They send a team to resolve conflicts caused by their changes
[_] They advocate that leading and guidance emanate from the Holy Spirit
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as narrow, bigoted, legalistic and Pharisaical
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as “traditionalists” and them as “progressives”
[_] They accuse the unwilling to submit as claiming to be the perfect church
[_] They claim to have found the true nature of the church
[_] They abandon the concept of restoring the original New Testament church
[_] They preach that the absence of a “thou shalt not” means a practice is condoned
[_] They sever ties with our predecessors as much as possible; discredit their efforts
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as the ones inconsiderate and without love
[_] They emphasize “fellowshipping” [among the sects]; “brotherhood” is exclusive
[_] They share fellowship with denominational preachers, churches and events
[_] They do not refer to “the Lord’s church”—that is being exclusive of others
[_] They do not refer to the church as the kingdom and also to the reign of Christ
[_] They refer to the church only as “our faith tradition” just as others have theirs
[_] They define “freedom” as a way to ignore Bible teachings on worship restrictions
[_] They feel extended “brotherhood” should encompass the Christian Churches
[_] They implement a market-driven program to provide what people want or seek
[_] They divide an existing congregation so as to implement the “community” model
[_] They have less contact and fellowship with mainline churches of Christ


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CRITICISM FOR EFFORTS OF THE PAST: EXAGGERATED AND ENCOURAGED
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[_] A superior way of “doing church” has been discovered
[_] Those over 50 are stubborn, close-minded and impervious to change
[_] The church of Christ of the Restoration Movement is just another denomination
[_] Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone founded the “Church of Christ”
[_] The church of Christ is a real, bona fide, but pitiful denomination
[_] The church of Christ is the poorest of the evangelical denominations
[_] Ties with those noble saints who went before us are severed
[_] The faith and preaching of predecessors are incompatible with those of change
[_] Men of Restoration were imperfect men and often taught erroneously


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COMMUNITY CHURCH: MODEL FOR CHURCH OF CHRIST IN TRANSITION
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[_] Dismiss or discredit the biblical name “church of Christ”
[_] Despise and ridicule Christ’s church and make it irrelevant
[_] De-emphasize the glory and honor to Christ, the head and founder
[_] The name “church of Christ” is offensive to denominational groups
[_] Crave acceptance with neighbors of the evangelical churches
[_] Do not want to bear the stigma of being exclusive from the denominations
[_] Mask from the community any affiliation with other churches of Christ
[_] Choose the model of being a “non-denominational” community church
[_] Prefer to identify with other groups rather than with your own brethren
[_] One motive is to place little or no emphasis on doctrinal loyalty
[_] Open to exchange, substitute or employ ministers from other denominations
[_] Allow acceptance of denominational churches as in good standing with God
[_] Encourage fellowship with denominational bodies
[_] The trend or direction is away from New Testament Christianity
[_] Transform congregations into charismatic, denominational churches
[_] Accept the new status of the church of Christ as a denomination


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MODERNIZE THE CHURCH: THE SECULAR- OR CULTURE-DRIVEN APPROACH
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[_] Celebrate Jesus’ birthday, like it or not; observe the Christmas pagan holiday
[_] Celebrate the “special” annual resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday
[_] Make Valentine’s Day a church event—apart from but similar to a social event


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BIBLE TRANSLATION & OTHER SOURCES: NEW TESTAMENT PRINCIPLES DEVALUED
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[_] Do not be publicly identified as a church with exclusive beliefs
[_] The Saddleback manual, “The Purpose-Driven Church” is a must-have resource
[_] Bible study materials may be obtained from denominational sources
[_] Be not concerned about the NIV version—a translational dialogue to consensus
[_] Church leaders should choose the NIV translation of the Bible for public reading
[_] Teachers should choose the NIV translation of the Bible (if used) in studies
[_] The New Testament is not the ultimate and absolute authority in faith matters
[_] Question the Bible’s inerrancy, its verbal inspiration and its authority
[_] The New Testament should not be viewed as a law to be obeyed
[_] The New Testament should be viewed as a love letter from God to His children
[_] Church leaders should implement a Covenant of Membership—Saddleback model
[_] Use drama as a learning tool with made up (non-factual) stories to entertain
[_] Do less teaching directly from the scriptures as that would be too boring


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CHURCH LEADERSHIP, ORGANIZATION, GOVERNMENT: EXPERIMENTATION
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[_] “Shepherds” rather than “elders” is the preferred way to identify the leaders
[_] New concepts of leadership for the congregation may be experimented
[_] One approach to a new and improved leadership is by “hierarchical” design
[_] Use a different kind of leadership model than “authoritarian” elders
[_] Define the role of women in the larger context of the biblical witness
[_] Dispute the passages that relegate women to a silent role
[_] Allow women to assume leadership roles and positions in the life of the church
[_] Allow women to serve as deaconesses, as ministers or preachers
[_] Allow older women to teach classes with baptized young men present


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WORSHIP: THE TRENDING “MUSICAL” WORSHIP CONTENT AND CASUALNESS
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[_] It is not necessary to worship according to the New Testament pattern
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because people like it
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because young people demand it
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because it feels so wonderful
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: where does the Bible forbid it?
[_] It should be an entertaining experience
[_] It should be based on emotion and popular opinion or practice
[_] Model emotion-based worship from the electronic churches of televangelists
[_] Use the excuse of “the audience of one” when musical worship is criticized
[_] Emphasize casualness in worship as a sign of being accepting
[_] Greatly emphasize “self,” including one’s own feelings and emotions in worship
[_] The Old Testament with its old laws is no less important to us than the New
[_] Provide the “traditional” and “contemporary” worship service alternatives
[_] Shorten the sermon; include more “religious” jokes or irrelevant funny stories
[_] Sermons may now end with an invitation to accept Christ by faith to be saved
[_] Tithing in Old Testament is binding on New Testament Christians
[_] Applaud the new convert after baptism as an outward show of rejoicing
[_] --- It won’t be long when there’s applause after the Communion
[_] Musical worship must be strongly emphasized
[_] The human-designated WORSHIP LEADER is now a high-level position
[_] The worship leader should initiate the handclapping on stage after a song
[_] The worship leader should encourage rhythmic handclapping while singing
[_] Allow the use of musical instruments in worship
[_] Allow the use of choirs, solos, duets, trios, quartets
[_] The choir must dominate the musical worship with excellent performances
[_] The choir must rehearse all parts of the musical worship in order to perform well
[_] The choir—not the congregation—must learn the new songs first
[_] The choir must deliver the music; the congregation may join in the singing
[_] For the transitioning church of Christ, the choir should be called “Praise Team”
[_] Music should be sometimes so complex that only the Praise Team can perform
[_] Praise songs and choruses should be “upbeat” to induce handclapping
[_] Use rhythmic, programmed handclapping to convey message of joy
[_] Use lifting of hand in prayer and singing to signify reaching up in praise
[_] Applaud after an exciting and cheering song has been sung
[_] Discourage the use of a hymn book and focus attention to the worship leader
[_] Discourage the use of a hymn book by not giving enough time to open it
[_] Avoid hymns unless there’s a “praise” song for the communion
[_] Avoid hymns unless there’s a “praise” song for the invitation
[_] Avoid hymns unless they’re new and hymn books may be opened then
[_] Avoid hymns unless they’re new and the Praise Team can perform them then


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THE LORD’S SUPPER AND SOCIAL FELLOWSHIP—MORE THAN JUST A MEMORIAL
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[_] The sacred meal can be mixed with a common or fellowship or pot luck meal
[_] The feast may be observed on another day not ordained by God
[_] Frequency of observance may be monthly, quarterly as the denominations do
[_] It is not only a sacred memorial of the death of Christ
[_] It is also to be observed as a “joyful celebration”
[_] It is also the occasion or a means of “fellowshipping” one with another
[_] There should be some story telling and human testimonies to be meaningful
[_] Praise Team members must be skilled during the partaking of the Communion:
[_] --- while singing or humming, clapping, holding the microphone and sheet music
[_] --- and remembering Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death


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DOCTRINES DERIVED FROM DENOMINATIONS: BIBLICAL TRUTH BEING PERVERTED
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[_] Salvation is by grace through faith or by faith alone
[_] Deemphasize and deride the steps necessary for salvation
[_] De-emphasize the importance of baptism
[_] Baptism is no longer for the purpose of remitting sins
[_] Accept the Baptist doctrine of baptism as an after-the-fact ritual
[_] Baptism is the first act of obedience after being saved by faith
[_] Only accept the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and be saved
[_] Follow the confession by praying the “sinner’s prayer” and be saved


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HOLY SPIRIT and SPIRITUAL GIFTS: TEACHINGS IMITATED BY THE AGENTS
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[_] Worship “in spirit” should mean being “charismatic” in today’s language
[_] The holy Spirit of God or of Christ “directly” influences the individual Christian
[_] The holy Spirit of God or of Christ “directly” influences “the congregation”
[_] We must listen to the Holy Spirit for a call or whisper
[_] The indwelling of God’s Spirit makes a Christian “charismatic”
[_] Being “spirit-filled” means being “charismatic” in today’s language
[_] Music, although not listed in the Corinthian letter, is considered a spiritual gift
[_] Miracles, similar to those performed during the apostolic era, still exist today
[_] Speaking in tongues, contrary to I Corinthians 13, has not “ceased” yet
[_] Hold the Pentecostal view of another baptism—that of the Holy Spirit
[_] Perform “speaking in tongues” in public prayer as a testimony

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Donnie Cruz
<font size=4>DESTRUCTIVE EPIDEMICS</font>

Our generation is keenly aware of the meaning of “epidemic.” The destructive power of epidemics has been demonstrated by the AIDS virus that has brought death to hundreds of thousands. As this epidemic has swept around the world, all have become familiar with the causes, progress and end results of such plagues.

First there is the infection and incubation. Then the Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection appears, followed by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. There is the fitful struggle of the body to escape the clutches of the disease. Then comes death. Hundreds of thousands of graves proclaim the importance of understanding this plague and the need to avoid situations where it might be contracted.

This sad story is remarkably similar to an epidemic now sweeping through the church of Christ. It has been given the label of “Change Movement.” Certain identifiable factors leave people vulnerable to this virus of change. Most prominent among them are man’s ancient and universal tendency toward pride, arrogance and rebellion against the authority of God and the standards set by Him.

Another is the acceptance of a new world-view as a basis for life’s decisions and a new way of interpreting the Word of God. This world-view is called Postmodernism. While only recently has it come to dominate our society, many of its integral parts have been around a century or more. Among its fatal factors in its teaching are that all truth is relative, that there is no absolute moral or spiritual truths, and that decisions are best made subjectively rather than by some objective standard. Thus per this doctrine man, not God, is the final determiner of truth. This false system now is dominant in secular schools of higher learning and in some of the seminaries where preachers seek higher education. Like some vile disease, this system has spread into some of our schools and congregations; brought back by preachers who were infected in their pursuit of advanced education.

When the deadly virus of change sets in, it breaks down and destroys respect for the standards set forth by the founder of the church. The boundaries he set for his people are trampled down as the people rush toward forbidden pastures.

<font color=indigo>Symptoms of those infected with the change virus are loss of humility and worldly pride. Victims find it difficult to process and understand simple instructions. They have trouble obeying rules. Victims eventually come to despise Christ’s church. They no longer want to wear his name or be identified with his people. They seek aid, comfort and pleasure with other religious bodies. They depart from the faith (I Tim. 4:1-4). They have turned away from the holy commandments delivered unto them (II Pet. 2:21). With spirits wasted by their destructive disease, they wander off and eventually die spiritually.</font>

Some of the victims of this infection, (primarily preachers and professors), have knowingly embraced it and have only themselves to blame for their condition. However many others, namely students in Christian schools and members of congregations where such carriers preach, are unaware of the danger they are exposed to. They suffer because of the deceitful work of their spiritual teachers (Rom. 16:17-18). It is for them that we pursue this Christianity: Then and Now project. Hopefully we can immunize many before they are exposed to this disease and save them from the deadly infection.

___________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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John Waddey
John Waddey

October 19th, 2004, 6:43 am #33

A NEW BIG PICTURE: “THE CHANGE AGENTS ARE COMING! THE CHANGE AGENTS ARE COMING!”


Some congregations of the church of Christ are getting caught up in the excitement experienced by many previously conservative denominational churches which have “successfully” transitioned to the culture-driven, community-based church growth schemes. Generally, churches of Christ with strong biblical and spiritual leadership and with effective Bible study programs are most resistant to these schemes. However, such resistance is being overridden and overpowered by misdirected, power-driven prominent change agents in operation within the church.

This article is intended to give both church leaders and members a quick overview of the Change Movement, a spiritual disease that’s infecting our brotherhood, even as we speak. Incorporating changes in denominational churches is usually more easily accomplished than in churches of Christ. This is due to these main factors: our heritage, the uniqueness of the church, and the power of the Restoration principles embedded in the minds of faithful members. But complacency and unquestioning acceptance of the change schemes will only hasten another division in the church, if not its extinction, in the 21st century.

I will attempt to present both: (A.1) a simplified method and (A.2) a more detailed list of procedures aimed at TRANSITIONING AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED CHURCH. I will attempt to briefly but clearly define (B) the role of PROMINENT CHANGE AGENTS IN THE CHURCH. Finally, I will provide (C) a CHECKLIST TO EVALUATE THE TRANSITION IN PROGRESS.

It is an impossibility to include all the aspects of the various change movements at this time, even the evil attempts of the change advocates who are selfishly motivated to seize power within. So, this thread will be dedicated and restricted only to this specific topic and will be updated or expanded in time.


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A.1 — SIMPLIFIED PROCESS OF TRANSITIONING AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH
——— SOURCE: http://www.churchtransitions.com/about_cti.htm
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The process of transition that we teach is a simple one:
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STEP 1—Prepare for change
STEP 2—Define your changes
STEP 3—Plant your vision with your key leaders
STEP 4—Share your vision with the whole church
STEP 5—Implement your changes
STEP 6—Deal with the opposition
STEP 7—Make adjustments
STEP 8—Evaluate the result

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dan Southerland is the founder and director of Church Transitions Inc. Dan developed
this process for change while serving as the pastor/teacher of the Flamingo Road Church
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During the thirteen years of his ministry at Flamingo Road, the church
made some major changes:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
APPROACH ——— from being program driven to being purpose driven.
TARGET ————— from reaching believers to reaching the unchurched.
WORSHIP ———— from traditional to contemporary.
PASTORS ———— from a senior pastor model to a shared pastor model.
LEADERSHIP——— from a committee led church to being staff led.
MINISTRY ———— from pastors doing all the ministry to pastors equipping people.
SMALL GROUPS — from a traditional Sunday School to a relational cell group model.
SERVICES --——— from one weekend worship service to five weekend services.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
He has been teaching at the Purpose Driven Church conference held by Saddleback Church
for the past 5 years as well. About half of the events we do each year are co-sponsored
by Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven Ministries.

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A.2 — ANOTHER METHOD: HOW TO TRANSITION AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH
——— SOURCE: http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID (Chuck McAlister)

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The following steps can be applied, I believe, to any church that desires to make this transition.
Our transition involved an eleven year process that continues to this day and will continue….

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PLAN YOUR TRANSITION: A PRESCRIBED PROCEDURE IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER
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— Focus on preaching for change to set the stage for determining your church purpose.
— Determine your church purpose: must embrace the five NT purposes for a church.
— Emphasize the church’s responsibility to reach the unchurched.
— Launch a New Member’s class.
— Encourage your members to embrace the church purpose as their personal purpose.
— Adopt new church by-laws: organizational concept and structure of the church biblical.
— Implement a covenant process for personal, spiritual growth of church members.
— Enlist the support of your senior adults.
— Transition the church ministry to the people; the maint. of the church to the staff (paid or volunteer).
— Transition the education ministry to make it life-empowering.
— Lead the church to decide to relocate.
— Locate new property for the relocation.
— Pay for property.
— Plan for a new facility.
— Raise funds for the new facility.
— Lead the church to change its name in preparation for the relocation.
— Launch in-home community groups

———————————————————————————————————————————
MULTIPLE STEPS INVOLVED IN EACH OF THE STAGES LISTED ABOVE: STEPS THAT
NECESSARILY INCLUDED OWNERSHIP OF THE CHANGE BY THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH

———————————————————————————————————————————
— Work your plan—stay committed … in spite of the challenges … the people who leave your church.
— Communicate your vision regularly—the validity of each stage of the process.
— — We utilize our New Member’s Class to share the process with those coming into our church.
— — We then ask our newcomers to take ownership of our vision by making four commitments:
— — (1) Learn their spiritual gifts; determine where they would like to minister through our church;
— — (2) Tithe;
— — (3) Join a small group (Fellowship Bible Study class);
— — (4) Write out their story (testimony) of how they came to Jesus personally,
— — — - which they are encouraged to share with non-believers.
— Take your time—give people an opportunity to buy into each step of the plan.
— Maintain flexibility—the key word is adaptability . . . the uniqueness of your church.
— Stay put—the transition process takes years . . . cannot be accomplished in a few months.
— Refuse to abandon your process—the distractions will be numerous; problems will arise.
— Become an expert on the process of change—you need His supernatural involvement.
— Stay connected with and enlist the support of your senior adults.
— Continually emphasize your church’s responsibility to reach the unchurched.
— Graciously release those members who choose to leave—it will not please everyone.
— Celebrate the completion of each advance—celebration builds momentum.
— Always honor Jesus—never take the credit when things go well.
— Don’t be afraid to take risks:
— — For that reason, you must wait to construct the new facility only after you have sufficiently
— — transitioned the church, so that it is a new church occupying a new facility. … As you prepare
— — to transition to your new facility, remember that while the new building is important,
— — you must guard against it becoming the defining element of your church’s ministry.
— Keep your sense of humor—enjoy the journey rather than viewing it as a drudgery.
— Constantly pray for God’s wisdom—in each decision you face in transitioning a church.
— Maintain your personal integrity and your walk with God.

———————————————————————————————————————————
SIMULTANEOUSLY TRANSITION YOUR WORSHIP STYLE AS YOU MOVE THROUGH THE PROCESS OF CHANGE.
———————————————————————————————————————————
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———————————————————————————————————————————
B. PROMINENT CHANGE AGENTS IN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST—THEIR UNIQUE BEHAVIOR PATTERN
———————————————————————————————————————————
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WHAT ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What is a “closet change agent”? When asked this question, John Waddey responded as follows: “A change agent is a false teacher within the brotherhood of Churches of Christ who is not content to follow the faith and practice of Christianity as set forth in the pages of the New Testament. He or she therefore works to convince our brethren that they should adopt changes in their faith, worship and practice that will be more acceptable to the world of the 21st century. The adjective ‘closet’ means they operate undercover, or covertly to accomplish their evil purposes.”

Kenneth Sublett has stated in a recent post, “End Time Serpents with Horns”: “We have NOTED SEVERAL times that the band of CHANGE AGENTS all WRITE (Scribes) and they all endorse and sell one another’s books. Even events such as the recent “Look to the Hills” are the prophetic TRAFFICKING. This fulfills the first century and the present Satan sending out a FLOOD of waters trying to wash the Word and Church off the earth. [Many] churches are involved in the same thing on a lesser scale: sending out sermonic renderings and new style a cappella praise music to SEDATE. These are Apollo’s LOCUSTS whichever wing they fly on.”

Sublett states further: “There is now a FLOOD of new books. It suggests that the Accusers of the Church are in a TRAFFICKING pattern to make money and ACCUSE the brethren who pay their UNLAWFUL wages. It works, as Paul might say, ‘because fools love to be fooled.’ . . . Purpose-driven CHANGE AGENTS believe that they have the right to lie, cheat, steal, threaten and use the law to steal the church property.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WHO ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
John Waddey states: “The most prominent of our self-appointed ‘agents of change’ is Bro. RUBEL SHELLY of Nashville, TN.” MAX LUCADO of the Oak Hills Church (formerly Oak Hills Church of Christ) is one of the prominent CHANGE AGENTS in the church today. His website describes him in “UpWords” (his teaching ministry) as a prolific writer “with more than 28 million books in print.” Other influential leaders of the change movement are Joe Beam, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Mike Cope, Terry Rush, and Marvin Phillips. There are others.

Waddey cites examples of who they are in his article “Little Men”:

--- Men who do harm to the body of Christ while being supported to build it up.
--- Men who claim to be helping the church while fomenting chaos and strife within.
--- Men who rush forward to offer a fix for the problems they themselves have created.
--- --- They offer staff services to help churches resolve the conflicts caused by their changes.
--- Men who seek to build their status and influence by bashing and attempting to discredit the godly …
--- --- preachers who blazed the trail before them and built the congregations where they now serve.
--- Men whose teaching and practice lowers respect for the authority of God’s Word.
--- Men who refuse to recognize and honor the church of Christ as the body of Christ.
--- Men who think they know more about how to worship God than did Christ . . .
--- Men who undertake to change the unchangeable kingdom of Christ.
--- Men who presume that the new is better than the old in the realm of faith.
--- --- They care nothing for the old paths (Jer. 6:16).
--- --- They are like the pagan Athenians, always searching for something new or different.
--- Men who’d rather not speak boldly of Christ as the “founder” of the church of Christ.
--- Men who prefer to speak of Campbell and Stone as founders of their denomination.
--- Men whose favorite word is “grace” to mean salvation without obeying its conditions.
--- Men who love to speak of “freedom” to ignore Bible teachings on worship restrictions.
--- Men who love freedom to fellowship and be accepted by denominational bodies.
--- Men who speak of “patternism” as a sarcastic put down of the brethren true to God’s pattern.
--- Men who thirst for an emotion-based worship in the electronic churches of the televangelists.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF “CHANGE AGENTS” (AS THEY ATTEMPT TO PRESENT
THEMSELVES AS THEOLOGIANS WHO HAVE DISCOVERED NEW TRUTHS)?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
———————————————————————————————————————————
Change agents operate on faulty assumptions, John Waddey avers:
———————————————————————————————————————————
--- That they have discovered a more spiritual kind of religion now than before.
--- That only they know, understand and appreciate the grace of God.
--- That only they understand the blessings/benefits of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.
--- That our concept is “restoration” of a specific congregation from 1st century.
--- That they have discovered a new and superior approach to Bible interpretation.
--- --- With that they claim to have found the true nature of the church.
--- --- In reality, it is the old, emotion-based, subjective approach of Protestantism.
--- --- Their Bible is a story book, serving only as a source for quotes for sermons,
--- --- --- but not for regulating/guiding the faith, worship & practice of the church.
--- That we are only interested in the doctrines and practices of the church.
--- That we are not truly dedicated to Christ and trying to be like him—they are.
--- That we are narrow, bigoted, and legalistic—they’re not.
--- That we claim that we are a perfect church. (Do you claim that?)
--- That we claim that we have attained complete compliance with every aspect
--- --- of Christ’s will for us. (Do you claim that?)
--- That we have misunderstood the way men are to be saved.
--- That we should be labeled “traditionalists” for our unwillingness to change.
--- --- When the truth is this: it is not change that we reject; . . .
--- --- --- Rather, we reject unlawful departure from God’s authorized Word and way.
--- --- When we are willing to change non-essentials (NOT substance or nature), as:
--- --- --- The hour, the length or the order of services …
--- --- --- Trying new songs or new hymnals …
--- --- --- Considering different methods of observing a communion service …
--- --- --- Accepting names for the church as long as they are all biblical …
--- --- --- --- without dismissing or discrediting the name of Christ, its head
--- --- When we do not consider “apostolic” traditions such “other” traditions as:
--- --- --- A tradition of a one hour worship service—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that calls for half hour sermons—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that expects a preacher to wear a coat and tie—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that we wear shoes to church—that can change
--- --- --- A tradition that our meeting houses are built accordingly—that can change
--- That they can promote their changes without making one realize that TO DO SO:
--- --- The concept of restoring the original New Testament church is abandoned.
--- --- The changes advocated were not a part of the original church.
--- --- Ties are severed with those noble saints who went before us.
--- --- --- The faith and preaching of those predecessors would be incompatible with
--- --- --- --- the advocates of change … Like oil and water they would not mix …
--- --- Changes proposed will make the congregation one of 1200 denominations.
--- --- You are alienated/out of fellowship with simple Christians—churches of Christ.
--- --- The faith once delivered to the saints is abandoned.
--- --- Participation in causing division in the body of Christ is a fearful thought.

———————————————————————————————————————————
Change agents are committed to change the church of Christ
———————————————————————————————————————————
The third major segment below is a detailed list of changes that will reveal more of the characteristics and activities of change agents infiltrating, subverting the truth, fostering schism and acquiring your congregation. A careful examination of the list of changes will help pinpoint or isolate the SPECIFIC CHANGES that have caused “casualties”—expected or unexpected—in a particular congregation.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



———————————————————————————————————————————
C. EVALUATION OF THE CHANGE PACKAGE IMPLEMENTED IN THE TRANSITIONING CHURCH OF CHRIST
———————————————————————————————————————————
———————————————————————————————————————————
Below is a compiled list taken from various sources, especially from various articles written by John Waddey. The list of changes will reveal more of the characteristics and activities of change agents infiltrating, subverting the truth, fostering schism and eventually acquiring your congregation. The purpose here is to have a means by which a congregation in transition or “transformation” stage may be evaluated in terms of the extent of progress made or the lack thereof. Churches vary in the level or depth of implementation of the Community Church scheme for church growth. For example, a congregation may adopt only a small segment from the list. But that segment may pinpoint or isolate the factors that have caused a church to grow or dwindle.

May I suggest that you print the list and mark only the items that, to the best of your knowledge, are applicable to your congregation’s situation. An honest personal evaluation may assist in determining where your congregation stands on particular conflicts and issues.
———————————————————————————————————————————

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
AGENTS ADVOCATING CHANGE: THEIR OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] Agents of change are busy rewriting our church history to: . . .
[_] --- Paint a different picture of the goals and intentions of our forefathers and
[_] --- Wish to cast their efforts as a “unity movement” and
[_] --- Depict them as seeking fellowship with and not rejecting denominationalism
[_] Prominent change agents are invited by churches and schools as guest speakers:
[_] --- Rubel Shelly, Max Lucado, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Joe Beam, etc.
[_] Interlopers must be resolved not to leave; others against change must leave
[_] Interlopers are not obligated to start their own from scratch
[_] Young people are the future of the church; their needs must be met with urgency
[_] Homebuilders (parents in their 30’s & 40’s) are the key to a successful program
[_] Transition is a long-range mission accomplished after passing of older generation
[_] Their goal is conquest and dominance of the entire brotherhood
[_] Their scheme is to first transform large congregations
[_] They insure that buildings, facilities and property are not acquired until fully paid
[_] They insure that the subverted will not overthrow their schemes and plans
[_] They are never to admit being false teachers so as not to be rejected
[_] They resort to warning the non-accepting brethren to “get over it”
[_] They claim to be helping the church to disguise their fomented chaos and strife
[_] They rush forward to offer a fix to disguise problems they have created
[_] They send a team to resolve conflicts caused by their changes
[_] They advocate that leading and guidance emanate from the Holy Spirit
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as narrow, bigoted, legalistic and Pharisaical
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as “traditionalists” and them as “progressives”
[_] They accuse the unwilling to submit as claiming to be the perfect church
[_] They claim to have found the true nature of the church
[_] They abandon the concept of restoring the original New Testament church
[_] They preach that the absence of a “thou shalt not” means a practice is condoned
[_] They sever ties with our predecessors as much as possible; discredit their efforts
[_] They label the unwilling to submit as the ones inconsiderate and without love
[_] They emphasize “fellowshipping” [among the sects]; “brotherhood” is exclusive
[_] They share fellowship with denominational preachers, churches and events
[_] They do not refer to “the Lord’s church”—that is being exclusive of others
[_] They do not refer to the church as the kingdom and also to the reign of Christ
[_] They refer to the church only as “our faith tradition” just as others have theirs
[_] They define “freedom” as a way to ignore Bible teachings on worship restrictions
[_] They feel extended “brotherhood” should encompass the Christian Churches
[_] They implement a market-driven program to provide what people want or seek
[_] They divide an existing congregation so as to implement the “community” model
[_] They have less contact and fellowship with mainline churches of Christ


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CRITICISM FOR EFFORTS OF THE PAST: EXAGGERATED AND ENCOURAGED
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] A superior way of “doing church” has been discovered
[_] Those over 50 are stubborn, close-minded and impervious to change
[_] The church of Christ of the Restoration Movement is just another denomination
[_] Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone founded the “Church of Christ”
[_] The church of Christ is a real, bona fide, but pitiful denomination
[_] The church of Christ is the poorest of the evangelical denominations
[_] Ties with those noble saints who went before us are severed
[_] The faith and preaching of predecessors are incompatible with those of change
[_] Men of Restoration were imperfect men and often taught erroneously


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
COMMUNITY CHURCH: MODEL FOR CHURCH OF CHRIST IN TRANSITION
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] Dismiss or discredit the biblical name “church of Christ”
[_] Despise and ridicule Christ’s church and make it irrelevant
[_] De-emphasize the glory and honor to Christ, the head and founder
[_] The name “church of Christ” is offensive to denominational groups
[_] Crave acceptance with neighbors of the evangelical churches
[_] Do not want to bear the stigma of being exclusive from the denominations
[_] Mask from the community any affiliation with other churches of Christ
[_] Choose the model of being a “non-denominational” community church
[_] Prefer to identify with other groups rather than with your own brethren
[_] One motive is to place little or no emphasis on doctrinal loyalty
[_] Open to exchange, substitute or employ ministers from other denominations
[_] Allow acceptance of denominational churches as in good standing with God
[_] Encourage fellowship with denominational bodies
[_] The trend or direction is away from New Testament Christianity
[_] Transform congregations into charismatic, denominational churches
[_] Accept the new status of the church of Christ as a denomination


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MODERNIZE THE CHURCH: THE SECULAR- OR CULTURE-DRIVEN APPROACH
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] Celebrate Jesus’ birthday, like it or not; observe the Christmas pagan holiday
[_] Celebrate the “special” annual resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday
[_] Make Valentine’s Day a church event—apart from but similar to a social event


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BIBLE TRANSLATION & OTHER SOURCES: NEW TESTAMENT PRINCIPLES DEVALUED
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] Do not be publicly identified as a church with exclusive beliefs
[_] The Saddleback manual, “The Purpose-Driven Church” is a must-have resource
[_] Bible study materials may be obtained from denominational sources
[_] Be not concerned about the NIV version—a translational dialogue to consensus
[_] Church leaders should choose the NIV translation of the Bible for public reading
[_] Teachers should choose the NIV translation of the Bible (if used) in studies
[_] The New Testament is not the ultimate and absolute authority in faith matters
[_] Question the Bible’s inerrancy, its verbal inspiration and its authority
[_] The New Testament should not be viewed as a law to be obeyed
[_] The New Testament should be viewed as a love letter from God to His children
[_] Church leaders should implement a Covenant of Membership—Saddleback model
[_] Use drama as a learning tool with made up (non-factual) stories to entertain
[_] Do less teaching directly from the scriptures as that would be too boring


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CHURCH LEADERSHIP, ORGANIZATION, GOVERNMENT: EXPERIMENTATION
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] “Shepherds” rather than “elders” is the preferred way to identify the leaders
[_] New concepts of leadership for the congregation may be experimented
[_] One approach to a new and improved leadership is by “hierarchical” design
[_] Use a different kind of leadership model than “authoritarian” elders
[_] Define the role of women in the larger context of the biblical witness
[_] Dispute the passages that relegate women to a silent role
[_] Allow women to assume leadership roles and positions in the life of the church
[_] Allow women to serve as deaconesses, as ministers or preachers
[_] Allow older women to teach classes with baptized young men present


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WORSHIP: THE TRENDING “MUSICAL” WORSHIP CONTENT AND CASUALNESS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] It is not necessary to worship according to the New Testament pattern
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because people like it
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because young people demand it
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: because it feels so wonderful
[_] Change in worship content is excusable: where does the Bible forbid it?
[_] It should be an entertaining experience
[_] It should be based on emotion and popular opinion or practice
[_] Model emotion-based worship from the electronic churches of televangelists
[_] Use the excuse of “the audience of one” when musical worship is criticized
[_] Emphasize casualness in worship as a sign of being accepting
[_] Greatly emphasize “self,” including one’s own feelings and emotions in worship
[_] The Old Testament with its old laws is no less important to us than the New
[_] Provide the “traditional” and “contemporary” worship service alternatives
[_] Shorten the sermon; include more “religious” jokes or irrelevant funny stories
[_] Sermons may now end with an invitation to accept Christ by faith to be saved
[_] Tithing in Old Testament is binding on New Testament Christians
[_] Applaud the new convert after baptism as an outward show of rejoicing
[_] --- It won’t be long when there’s applause after the Communion
[_] Musical worship must be strongly emphasized
[_] The human-designated WORSHIP LEADER is now a high-level position
[_] The worship leader should initiate the handclapping on stage after a song
[_] The worship leader should encourage rhythmic handclapping while singing
[_] Allow the use of musical instruments in worship
[_] Allow the use of choirs, solos, duets, trios, quartets
[_] The choir must dominate the musical worship with excellent performances
[_] The choir must rehearse all parts of the musical worship in order to perform well
[_] The choir—not the congregation—must learn the new songs first
[_] The choir must deliver the music; the congregation may join in the singing
[_] For the transitioning church of Christ, the choir should be called “Praise Team”
[_] Music should be sometimes so complex that only the Praise Team can perform
[_] Praise songs and choruses should be “upbeat” to induce handclapping
[_] Use rhythmic, programmed handclapping to convey message of joy
[_] Use lifting of hand in prayer and singing to signify reaching up in praise
[_] Applaud after an exciting and cheering song has been sung
[_] Discourage the use of a hymn book and focus attention to the worship leader
[_] Discourage the use of a hymn book by not giving enough time to open it
[_] Avoid hymns unless there’s a “praise” song for the communion
[_] Avoid hymns unless there’s a “praise” song for the invitation
[_] Avoid hymns unless they’re new and hymn books may be opened then
[_] Avoid hymns unless they’re new and the Praise Team can perform them then


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
THE LORD’S SUPPER AND SOCIAL FELLOWSHIP—MORE THAN JUST A MEMORIAL
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] The sacred meal can be mixed with a common or fellowship or pot luck meal
[_] The feast may be observed on another day not ordained by God
[_] Frequency of observance may be monthly, quarterly as the denominations do
[_] It is not only a sacred memorial of the death of Christ
[_] It is also to be observed as a “joyful celebration”
[_] It is also the occasion or a means of “fellowshipping” one with another
[_] There should be some story telling and human testimonies to be meaningful
[_] Praise Team members must be skilled during the partaking of the Communion:
[_] --- while singing or humming, clapping, holding the microphone and sheet music
[_] --- and remembering Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
DOCTRINES DERIVED FROM DENOMINATIONS: BIBLICAL TRUTH BEING PERVERTED
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] Salvation is by grace through faith or by faith alone
[_] Deemphasize and deride the steps necessary for salvation
[_] De-emphasize the importance of baptism
[_] Baptism is no longer for the purpose of remitting sins
[_] Accept the Baptist doctrine of baptism as an after-the-fact ritual
[_] Baptism is the first act of obedience after being saved by faith
[_] Only accept the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and be saved
[_] Follow the confession by praying the “sinner’s prayer” and be saved


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HOLY SPIRIT and SPIRITUAL GIFTS: TEACHINGS IMITATED BY THE AGENTS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[_] Worship “in spirit” should mean being “charismatic” in today’s language
[_] The holy Spirit of God or of Christ “directly” influences the individual Christian
[_] The holy Spirit of God or of Christ “directly” influences “the congregation”
[_] We must listen to the Holy Spirit for a call or whisper
[_] The indwelling of God’s Spirit makes a Christian “charismatic”
[_] Being “spirit-filled” means being “charismatic” in today’s language
[_] Music, although not listed in the Corinthian letter, is considered a spiritual gift
[_] Miracles, similar to those performed during the apostolic era, still exist today
[_] Speaking in tongues, contrary to I Corinthians 13, has not “ceased” yet
[_] Hold the Pentecostal view of another baptism—that of the Holy Spirit
[_] Perform “speaking in tongues” in public prayer as a testimony

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
———————————————————————————————————————————

Donnie Cruz
<font size=5>COMMUNICATING IN A SEEKER-FRIENDLY CHURCH</font>

Many modern sinners are turned off by traditional ways of presenting the Christian message. Those who build their congregations on cutting-edge church growth recommendations have learned to tailor their lessons so as to make them acceptable to those “seekers” of the world. Polls, focus groups, demographic studies and marketing studies have identified the vocabulary that is most effective in getting postmodern folks into church. The following annotated glossary is borrowed and highly modified from an article by Bob DeWaay entitled “A User’s Guide to Seeker Sensitive Religious Terminology” (Critical Issues Commentary, Jan/Feb. 2000). While it is obviously a tongue in cheek parody, those familiar with the materials of our change agents will recognize there is a large amount of factual truth in it.
<ol>[*]Atonement. Best not mentioned. Too technical and threatening to some. Implies God might be unhappy with them.

[*]Bible. Fundamentalists tend to use the Bible in a threatening way that seekers do not appreciate. They do not wish to be preached to. If you must use the Bible, severely limit the amount of it you cite. Seekers prefer stories from the Bible. Doctrinal and controversial teaching should be avoided.

[*]Blood. The idea of blood being required for forgiveness is offensive to postmodern seekers. It sounds primitive and barbaric. They get their feel of violence from movies and TV. Better just dwell on God’s love.

[*]Christ/Jesus. Feel free to use these terms freely. Dwell on his love, mercy and forgiveness, but avoid talking about his commandments, condemnation and judgment. The latter are not pleasing to today’s seekers.

[*]Church. Since many non-Christian have had bad experiences with church, better to use “God’s family,” “worship center” or other terms.

[*]Commandments. Postmoderns do not like to be commanded. They prefer to be invited to try something.

[*]Cross. Do not dwell on the necessity or the barbarity of Jesus’ death. Rather dwell on the love aspect. It makes seekers uncomfortable to think of such violence.

[*]Damnation. This should not be discussed. It is upsetting to seekers of our age.

[*]Doctrine. Don’t dwell on doctrine. It will drive folks away from church. Tell them stories. Talk about practical matters such as marriage, parenting and self-esteem.

[*]Evangelical. This is recommended over “Lord’s Church,” “Church of Christ,” or “Bible-believing Church.” It includes most church folks and excludes few. Because it identifies us with larger Protestant church it gives us prestige. It is safe and popular.

[*]Evidence. Postmoderns are not interested in evidence. They do not wish to choose between right and wrong, truth and error. They prefer lessons that make them feel good.

[*]Father. Better to use “God.” Many postmodern women are offended when God is presented as male. A neutral term allows all to envision God as they wish.

[*]Fear of God. This should not be used in teaching. Our generation does not like the concept. It seems very negative to them. It implies God might do something harsh or unpleasant to those who do not fear him.

[*]Fundamentalist. A useful pejorative term to blacken conservatives who do not embrace the new approach to Christianity. It lumps them with Muslim Fundamentalist terrorists.

[*]Gospel. May be used so long as the goodness aspect is stressed. Show how it fits with discovering ones potential and brings wealth and success to people.

[*]Hell. This should not be used in teaching. It is frightening to sinners and modern church-goers.

[*]Holiness. This turns off postmodern people. It interferes with their freedom of choice and produces guilt. It implies that those who have this trait are somehow better than those who do not.

[*]Judgment. It is a mistake to dwell on eternal judgment. No postmodern wants to hear about such. Also today’s seekers dislike having to make judgments about moral and spiritual matters. They hate those who make such judgments about other folks’ conduct.

[*]Legalism. This is a good word for bashing those who still insist on going by the Bible in all things. It connotes some defective or evil perversion of Christianity.

[*]Love. This is the term you can never over use or wear out. Just don’t try to command seekers to love anyone or anything. Never preface the word with “don’t.” That postmoderns resent.

[*]Pharisee/Pharisaism. Useful terms to smear traditionalists and those who refuse to conform to the demands of 21st century culture and the change movement.

[*]Reason. Postmoderns don’t like to reason about things. They prefer to “feel” or follow their intuitions. Short stories and anecdotes are much more useful in appealing to them.

[*]Repentance. This turns off most seekers, implying wrong-doing and guilt. It causes embarrassment and should be omitted.

[*]Reverence. This is not well-received by postmoderns. Relevance is better. You could do well by speaking of joyful, fun, entertaining or exciting when describing worship.

[*]Sin. This is a moral negative and that seekers view as judgmental. They view users of such words as “selfrighteous.” Better to speak of mistakes, poor choices or slip-ups.

[*]Sinner. This should be avoided as it interferes with a seeker’s view of his/her own self-worth and value.

[*]Truth. Stress that each of us must decide if a thing is true; that God gives each of us an understanding of truth. Never try to limit truth to one book, such as the Bible. Remind folks that truth is not set in concrete. Stress new truths rather than old ones.

[*]Worship. This is old fashioned and churchy. Better to speak of celebrating life, experiencing God’s presence or some similar warm feelings terms.
[/list]While such vocabulary may suit those engaged in building mega-churches based on a new gospel, for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah and speak the pure words of God (Zeph. 3:9) to all who are willing to hear them.

___________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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wondering
wondering

October 19th, 2004, 4:10 pm #34

People who are already members of the church, who worship regularly and participate in the activities of the church; the 'saints' as it were; don't need to be preached a frightening judgmental sermon every week. Most of us are doing the best we can. A judgmental, searing sermon, designed to make the entire congregation doubt if they really are saved, to instill fear in those who are already living as best they can...is abuse in my book-sorry if that offends you.

Those who aren't conscientious wouldn't even be touched by one of these hell fire sermons anyway. Its those of tender conscience who respond to most alter calls anyway.

Why NOT start talking about Love - the love of Jesus? That is what has been lacking in the church of Christ for years.
I grew up afraid of God-afraid of God at 4 or 5 years old? Something is wrong here.

Love CAN be preached - SHOULD be preached..Jesus preached it.Jesus didn't heap guilt trips on His sheep. It was for the corrupt Pharasees.

Preaching about love every now and then doesn't mean we are on the brink of jumping into a community church!

Sorry, but I think the words of Jesus are a little more important than than a constant litany of eveything Paul ever said.
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PM Wilson
PM Wilson

October 19th, 2004, 5:26 pm #35

<font size=5>COMMUNICATING IN A SEEKER-FRIENDLY CHURCH</font>

Many modern sinners are turned off by traditional ways of presenting the Christian message. Those who build their congregations on cutting-edge church growth recommendations have learned to tailor their lessons so as to make them acceptable to those “seekers” of the world. Polls, focus groups, demographic studies and marketing studies have identified the vocabulary that is most effective in getting postmodern folks into church. The following annotated glossary is borrowed and highly modified from an article by Bob DeWaay entitled “A User’s Guide to Seeker Sensitive Religious Terminology” (Critical Issues Commentary, Jan/Feb. 2000). While it is obviously a tongue in cheek parody, those familiar with the materials of our change agents will recognize there is a large amount of factual truth in it.
<ol>[*]Atonement. Best not mentioned. Too technical and threatening to some. Implies God might be unhappy with them.

[*]Bible. Fundamentalists tend to use the Bible in a threatening way that seekers do not appreciate. They do not wish to be preached to. If you must use the Bible, severely limit the amount of it you cite. Seekers prefer stories from the Bible. Doctrinal and controversial teaching should be avoided.

[*]Blood. The idea of blood being required for forgiveness is offensive to postmodern seekers. It sounds primitive and barbaric. They get their feel of violence from movies and TV. Better just dwell on God’s love.

[*]Christ/Jesus. Feel free to use these terms freely. Dwell on his love, mercy and forgiveness, but avoid talking about his commandments, condemnation and judgment. The latter are not pleasing to today’s seekers.

[*]Church. Since many non-Christian have had bad experiences with church, better to use “God’s family,” “worship center” or other terms.

[*]Commandments. Postmoderns do not like to be commanded. They prefer to be invited to try something.

[*]Cross. Do not dwell on the necessity or the barbarity of Jesus’ death. Rather dwell on the love aspect. It makes seekers uncomfortable to think of such violence.

[*]Damnation. This should not be discussed. It is upsetting to seekers of our age.

[*]Doctrine. Don’t dwell on doctrine. It will drive folks away from church. Tell them stories. Talk about practical matters such as marriage, parenting and self-esteem.

[*]Evangelical. This is recommended over “Lord’s Church,” “Church of Christ,” or “Bible-believing Church.” It includes most church folks and excludes few. Because it identifies us with larger Protestant church it gives us prestige. It is safe and popular.

[*]Evidence. Postmoderns are not interested in evidence. They do not wish to choose between right and wrong, truth and error. They prefer lessons that make them feel good.

[*]Father. Better to use “God.” Many postmodern women are offended when God is presented as male. A neutral term allows all to envision God as they wish.

[*]Fear of God. This should not be used in teaching. Our generation does not like the concept. It seems very negative to them. It implies God might do something harsh or unpleasant to those who do not fear him.

[*]Fundamentalist. A useful pejorative term to blacken conservatives who do not embrace the new approach to Christianity. It lumps them with Muslim Fundamentalist terrorists.

[*]Gospel. May be used so long as the goodness aspect is stressed. Show how it fits with discovering ones potential and brings wealth and success to people.

[*]Hell. This should not be used in teaching. It is frightening to sinners and modern church-goers.

[*]Holiness. This turns off postmodern people. It interferes with their freedom of choice and produces guilt. It implies that those who have this trait are somehow better than those who do not.

[*]Judgment. It is a mistake to dwell on eternal judgment. No postmodern wants to hear about such. Also today’s seekers dislike having to make judgments about moral and spiritual matters. They hate those who make such judgments about other folks’ conduct.

[*]Legalism. This is a good word for bashing those who still insist on going by the Bible in all things. It connotes some defective or evil perversion of Christianity.

[*]Love. This is the term you can never over use or wear out. Just don’t try to command seekers to love anyone or anything. Never preface the word with “don’t.” That postmoderns resent.

[*]Pharisee/Pharisaism. Useful terms to smear traditionalists and those who refuse to conform to the demands of 21st century culture and the change movement.

[*]Reason. Postmoderns don’t like to reason about things. They prefer to “feel” or follow their intuitions. Short stories and anecdotes are much more useful in appealing to them.

[*]Repentance. This turns off most seekers, implying wrong-doing and guilt. It causes embarrassment and should be omitted.

[*]Reverence. This is not well-received by postmoderns. Relevance is better. You could do well by speaking of joyful, fun, entertaining or exciting when describing worship.

[*]Sin. This is a moral negative and that seekers view as judgmental. They view users of such words as “selfrighteous.” Better to speak of mistakes, poor choices or slip-ups.

[*]Sinner. This should be avoided as it interferes with a seeker’s view of his/her own self-worth and value.

[*]Truth. Stress that each of us must decide if a thing is true; that God gives each of us an understanding of truth. Never try to limit truth to one book, such as the Bible. Remind folks that truth is not set in concrete. Stress new truths rather than old ones.

[*]Worship. This is old fashioned and churchy. Better to speak of celebrating life, experiencing God’s presence or some similar warm feelings terms.
[/list]While such vocabulary may suit those engaged in building mega-churches based on a new gospel, for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah and speak the pure words of God (Zeph. 3:9) to all who are willing to hear them.

___________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
I thought all churches are to be "Seeker Friendly"
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Kenneth Sublett
Kenneth Sublett

October 19th, 2004, 10:48 pm #36

People who are already members of the church, who worship regularly and participate in the activities of the church; the 'saints' as it were; don't need to be preached a frightening judgmental sermon every week. Most of us are doing the best we can. A judgmental, searing sermon, designed to make the entire congregation doubt if they really are saved, to instill fear in those who are already living as best they can...is abuse in my book-sorry if that offends you.

Those who aren't conscientious wouldn't even be touched by one of these hell fire sermons anyway. Its those of tender conscience who respond to most alter calls anyway.

Why NOT start talking about Love - the love of Jesus? That is what has been lacking in the church of Christ for years.
I grew up afraid of God-afraid of God at 4 or 5 years old? Something is wrong here.

Love CAN be preached - SHOULD be preached..Jesus preached it.Jesus didn't heap guilt trips on His sheep. It was for the corrupt Pharasees.

Preaching about love every now and then doesn't mean we are on the brink of jumping into a community church!

Sorry, but I think the words of Jesus are a little more important than than a constant litany of eveything Paul ever said.
I told my doctor: "Doctor, I think that drinking too much coffee is making me dizzy." He filled out his bill and said, "Mr. Sublett, why don't you just quit drinking coffee?" That was one of the lessons I learned in 74 years.

Now, if you will just quit FEEDING that guy who NEVER speaks about Jesus or the gospels and ALWAYS preaches from Paul, he will get hungry and just go away. He may be trying to MAKE UP for the many who have decided that the EPISTLES OF THE APOSTLES are divided and divisive and WE just gonna preach Christ and Him crucified. Well, Paul didn't PREACH THAT. If they had ever read Paul they would grasp (with some 6th grade remedial reading) that Paul intended to KNOW only Christ and Him crucified. That would mean to GO out and become a vocational suffering servant.

I can barely remember a black midwife bringing younger brother in a "dispan" at age 4 but I cannot remember HELL. I can remember examining the corpse of a dead uncle at aged five but cannot remember fear. There was more trembling about Inner Sanctum than hell. I may have heard from the Baptist preacher driver of the open, curtained school buss that hell was 7 times as hot as that at the sorghum cooking pan we just passed but I can't remember too much HELL. I learned love from my mother and didn't get shorted because the preacher didn't do it to me.

Now, I know that churches of Christ INVENTED hell and even bad breath but I wish you would tell us what you remember about that sermon at age 4. As an Engineer/Scientist I have discovered that memories don't go away. But, they are like a scramble of recording tape. When we have ANOTHER experience our brain takes snippets here and there and builds a NEW memory. So, what we remember I often found out from mom and siblings that I WASN'T THERE. So, we tend to build memories out of the PREACHER'S memories who enjoy telling fibs about the church what feeds them.

I am finding almost total agreement with the Bible that "church" was a school of the Bible. "Preaching" was reading the Word. I am digesting some really good history which proves that when people PERFORM they begin to LOVE in a "knowing God" way:
  • <font color=red>"In fact, behind the criticisms of the epic recital often lie issues about the performance of GENDER and social status.

    In that regard, epic's position is parallel to that of rhetoric. Beginning with Aristotle's Rhetorica (1404a), critics of rhetorical performance have ascribed to lively delivery the same effect as that of ACTING. There is a persistent association between theatrics, bad rhetoric and EFFEMINANCY."</font>
I think that "JUST LOVE" is a code word because Christ THE Holy Spirit promised the APOSTLES that He would (as Spirit) guide them into ALL TRUTH. So, I can figure out a reading guide so that you can get the FREE WATER OF THE WORD for FREE (Isaiah 55)

Ken
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Donnie Cruz
Donnie Cruz

October 20th, 2004, 6:33 am #37

People who are already members of the church, who worship regularly and participate in the activities of the church; the 'saints' as it were; don't need to be preached a frightening judgmental sermon every week. Most of us are doing the best we can. A judgmental, searing sermon, designed to make the entire congregation doubt if they really are saved, to instill fear in those who are already living as best they can...is abuse in my book-sorry if that offends you.

Those who aren't conscientious wouldn't even be touched by one of these hell fire sermons anyway. Its those of tender conscience who respond to most alter calls anyway.

Why NOT start talking about Love - the love of Jesus? That is what has been lacking in the church of Christ for years.
I grew up afraid of God-afraid of God at 4 or 5 years old? Something is wrong here.

Love CAN be preached - SHOULD be preached..Jesus preached it.Jesus didn't heap guilt trips on His sheep. It was for the corrupt Pharasees.

Preaching about love every now and then doesn't mean we are on the brink of jumping into a community church!

Sorry, but I think the words of Jesus are a little more important than than a constant litany of eveything Paul ever said.
I think you are confused about or prefer to simply ignore certain “disliked” terms and expressions used in the Bible. We are not dealing with “judgmental sermons” or “hellfire sermons” here. Rather, the Holy Scripture speaks often of the judgment day and how all people will be judged in the end. Here are a few passages for your consideration:
  • <font color=blue>We shall give account … in the day of judgment… (Matt. 12:36)

    And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matt. 25:46)

    He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48; John 16:8)

    And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27)

    Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:9-10)

    And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: (I Peter 1:17)

    For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: (II Peter 2:4,9)

    But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (II Peter 3:7)
    </font>
I’m sorry, too, that you would consider such admonitions as if they did not come from God’s word. If I were to identify misuse or abuse, it is in the area of God’s grace. Just because we are under grace, it doesn’t mean that we have to abuse it. God’s grace allows sinners to be fully forgiven of their past sins by the blood of the Lamb in baptism and to be added to His church. And God’s grace continues to abound in the lives of Christians, but it is not to be abused, either. Christians are expected to live lives of service for the Master (Rom. 12:1) and to remain “faithful unto death” in order to receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). Wait … here’s the fear factor you might be referring to:
  • <font color=blue>“Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:28, KJV)

    “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12, KJV)
    </font>
Reality is that Christian living is not all “celebration.” It is not only about joy and love; it is also about life of service and sacrifice, perseverance and endurance. Do you know what it’s like to be in the race?
  • <font color=blue>“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. (I Cor. 9:24)

    “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…. (Heb. 12:1,2)
    </font>
Donnie
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Wondering
Wondering

October 20th, 2004, 10:07 pm #38

I was hoping not to be misunderstood;

I never said I wished we would ONLY hear about the Love of God in our Church of Christ sermons. No, LOVE is NOT all that is to found in the Bible, Old or New Testament either one.But neither is judgment.

I do wish that there would be more preaching on it:LOVE, the love of God the Father and His son, Jesus.

I was afraid when I said the word 'LOVE' that someone would jump on it and assume I am using a 'code word' of the change agents. Apparently 'Love' is one of the code words the change agents use. That and
"Jesus Only"...I am not a change agent.However,now that you mention it, I wonder if Jesus thought the words He said were not enough.

I grew up in the church. In one of the most memorable sermons I heard as a child was the one where the preacher said if we doubt how hot hell is, then we need to go home, turn on the stove and when the eye gets cherry red, then place our hand on it...that is how hot hell is.

Then I remember the sermon where the preacher told the congregation that not even everyone in the church would go to Heaven....probably not even a third of all of us in the auditorium that night.This man is still a highly respected preacher in the church-dom...

No, the love of my mother didn't balance the message I heard at church three times a week, that if I didn't belong to the 'right' church, and live my life 'right', I would go to hell.School of the bible my foot. I wish it had been- then the whole message of the bible might have been a little more balanced.When I told my mother that I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep going to this 'school of the bible', many years later, she told me that 'we all have to do things we don't want to do, sometimes...'I repeat: I was afraid of God at age 4, and 5.

I remember brother 'so and so' who repeatedly went forward
to confess sins. He was basically shunned at church. There was slight eye-rolling where he was concerned. I guess brother 'so and so' took things at face value.He went forward to confess his sins. He seemed very sincere.
I think Jesus would have been very proud of him.


Was I an uncooperative child or person? No, I would love to do it all just right.....but as a human being I know I can't. That IS the message of the bible...we have Jesus to intervene for us....He is and WAS the whole message of the bible.Picking apart every sentence in the bible to make sure we are doing it "right' in the church of Christ ' has just about driven me crazy.

Ok, I believe in baptism for remission of sins, but not baptism alone.The work Jesus did on the cross IS the works- the ONLY works that gives us salvation.

I believe with all my heart.Now I find in the church I attend its mostly a social club, complete with those who shun single mothers, and those with a 'history', even though they have repented....nothing has changed from when I was a child. And no, this is not exclusive to the church of Christ.

What exactly changes people when they are saved or added to the church? If they yield to the Holy Spirit and are humble...a whole whole lot. If they don't, and remain arrogant and power hungry, and judgmental, not much....I have seen interference in families, major manipulation of minor children who have family members who are not members..I have seen alot that is arrogant and self serving done by some of the saints...the end never justifies the means, but try telling them that. You can't frighten or force someone to accept the Love of God or salvation.

That is all I was saying. I wish there were more talk of the Love on the church...and no, that doesn't mean accepting and justifying bad behavior or rampant sin. Can't anyone see the distinction?

I would love to hear about the transforming power of LOVE that God had for us. NOt just 'doing it right', and scaring people who are trying to do it right to begin with.


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wandering/wondering... whatever
wandering/wondering... whatever

October 20th, 2004, 11:55 pm #39

How is it I am now in the 'wrong' for simply asking questions about several things. Only he who sticks his head out gets it chopped off. I guess there is good historical precedance for that.

Admonishments to the church are far far different than drumming up fear in the hearts of people who already are trying to obey with all their heart.And NO- Love is NOT a feminine trait.Or a trick of the antichrist. Please. Its a spiritual trait.

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Donnie Cruz
Donnie Cruz

October 21st, 2004, 7:31 am #40

I was hoping not to be misunderstood;

I never said I wished we would ONLY hear about the Love of God in our Church of Christ sermons. No, LOVE is NOT all that is to found in the Bible, Old or New Testament either one.But neither is judgment.

I do wish that there would be more preaching on it:LOVE, the love of God the Father and His son, Jesus.

I was afraid when I said the word 'LOVE' that someone would jump on it and assume I am using a 'code word' of the change agents. Apparently 'Love' is one of the code words the change agents use. That and
"Jesus Only"...I am not a change agent.However,now that you mention it, I wonder if Jesus thought the words He said were not enough.

I grew up in the church. In one of the most memorable sermons I heard as a child was the one where the preacher said if we doubt how hot hell is, then we need to go home, turn on the stove and when the eye gets cherry red, then place our hand on it...that is how hot hell is.

Then I remember the sermon where the preacher told the congregation that not even everyone in the church would go to Heaven....probably not even a third of all of us in the auditorium that night.This man is still a highly respected preacher in the church-dom...

No, the love of my mother didn't balance the message I heard at church three times a week, that if I didn't belong to the 'right' church, and live my life 'right', I would go to hell.School of the bible my foot. I wish it had been- then the whole message of the bible might have been a little more balanced.When I told my mother that I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep going to this 'school of the bible', many years later, she told me that 'we all have to do things we don't want to do, sometimes...'I repeat: I was afraid of God at age 4, and 5.

I remember brother 'so and so' who repeatedly went forward
to confess sins. He was basically shunned at church. There was slight eye-rolling where he was concerned. I guess brother 'so and so' took things at face value.He went forward to confess his sins. He seemed very sincere.
I think Jesus would have been very proud of him.


Was I an uncooperative child or person? No, I would love to do it all just right.....but as a human being I know I can't. That IS the message of the bible...we have Jesus to intervene for us....He is and WAS the whole message of the bible.Picking apart every sentence in the bible to make sure we are doing it "right' in the church of Christ ' has just about driven me crazy.

Ok, I believe in baptism for remission of sins, but not baptism alone.The work Jesus did on the cross IS the works- the ONLY works that gives us salvation.

I believe with all my heart.Now I find in the church I attend its mostly a social club, complete with those who shun single mothers, and those with a 'history', even though they have repented....nothing has changed from when I was a child. And no, this is not exclusive to the church of Christ.

What exactly changes people when they are saved or added to the church? If they yield to the Holy Spirit and are humble...a whole whole lot. If they don't, and remain arrogant and power hungry, and judgmental, not much....I have seen interference in families, major manipulation of minor children who have family members who are not members..I have seen alot that is arrogant and self serving done by some of the saints...the end never justifies the means, but try telling them that. You can't frighten or force someone to accept the Love of God or salvation.

That is all I was saying. I wish there were more talk of the Love on the church...and no, that doesn't mean accepting and justifying bad behavior or rampant sin. Can't anyone see the distinction?

I would love to hear about the transforming power of LOVE that God had for us. NOt just 'doing it right', and scaring people who are trying to do it right to begin with.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you were not misunderstood. Except for more incidents and experiences you described in the preceding post, you repeated the same issues you brought up in your original post—“hell” [again] … vividly illustrated this time, “scaring people” [again], and “love” [again].

I could quote more passages related to the realities of heaven and hell, as well as godly fear expected of those who follow and serve our Lord and Master. Your reaction to these undeniable truths was nothing. So, there’s no sense in discussing these issues further.

OK, let’s deal with the subject of LOVE. But there is a BIG problem in discussing this particular subject because I’m convinced that love is not the issue. The command to love God and to love one’s neighbor is a universal principle in Christian living and personal in the life of the individual Christian. Each follower of Christ is responsible for his own way of loving his God and his neighbor, just as he is responsible for his own soul. While we are to love each other, collectively speaking, it’s not a situation in which God judges or decides in the end either to save the entire body of believers without exception or to condemn the entire body of believers without exception. Both believers and unbelievers will face the judgment.

From the standpoint of evangelization, of course, emphasizing God’s love to save mankind is foremost. God’s abounding grace, the suffering and death of Christ on the cross, the redeeming power in the blood of the Lamb must be preached to the unbeliever.

Do we agree so far? If we do, then, love is not the issue—even if you seem to think that it is.

Now, I’m the one wondering or confused. But for a different reason. I’m not sure about your church affiliation—which makes it somewhat difficult for me to discuss the love factor with you. You mentioned the following: the sermon about hell [conservative?]; the narrow way to heaven [conservative?]; “school of the Bible (my foot)” [conservative?]; “afraid of God at age 4 and 5” [conservative?]; the “confessing” brother [conservative?]. Now, I don’t know about the church where you attend as being “mostly a social club”—that’s your call.

But I noticed some of your other comments to which I shall respond:

“I was afraid … that someone would … assume I am using a ‘code word’ of the change agents. Apparently ‘love’ is one of the code words the change agents use. That and ‘Jesus only.’”
  • <font color=blue>[You guessed that one quickly and correctly, brother/sister. Those who are loyal to the church and are adamant to the unnecessary changes in doctrine, beliefs and practices of the church … are accused of being “WITHOUT LOVE.” Guess what? “Without love for errors, untruths, and lies on the part of those loyal to the church” is the accurate statement.]</font>
“Picking apart every sentence in the bible to make sure we are doing it ‘right' in the church of Christ has just about driven me crazy.”
  • <font color=blue> [Yes, one way that the change agents and their followers can easily point out that those who continue to abide by the doctrine of Christ and the apostles are legalists, fundamentalists, traditionalists, and Pharisaical.] </font>
“Ok, I believe in baptism for remission of sins, but not baptism alone. The work Jesus did on the cross IS the works—the ONLY works that gives us salvation.
  • <font color=blue> [This is almost the new-and-improved doctrine of salvation among the change agents … almost … almost … but not quite. The change agents go so far as to teach that by faith ONLY does the unbeliever have his sins remitted—even prior to repentance and baptism. That the unbeliever by faith becomes a Christian prior to baptism. That means that AFTER one has become a Christian, then, baptism is administered as a test of his obedience. Then, that leads to the conclusion that repentance ALSO comes after one has already become a Christian. That amounts to saying, “Now that you are a Christian, you need to repent and be baptized.” Wow! Wow! Wow! (Please really study Acts 2:37,38.)

    In regard to “the work Jesus did on the cross … the ONLY Works that gives us salvation” … well, I’ll buy into that only from the standpoint of “past” salvation—the salvation that transitions the status from “unbeliever or ‘alien’ sinner” into “Christian.” Proof? Yes, Romans 3:25 (KJV) states: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Yes, one is to be baptized in order that his past sins [not future sins] are remitted by the blood of the Lamb and then he is added to or becomes a member of the church. All that is made possible because of God’s grace through FAITH WITHOUT WORKS (Eph. 2:8,9). That is “PAST” salvation.

    After that, the Christian begins his “newness of life” and begins his journey through the narrow path to heaven. Look at the contrast expressed in the following verse (Eph. 2:10)—“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. This is confirmed in James 2—“[14] What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? [17] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [19] … the devils also believe, and tremble. [20] But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [24] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. [26] For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." </font>
“What exactly changes people when they are saved or added to the church? If they yield to the Holy Spirit and are humble...a whole whole lot. If they don't, and remain arrogant and power hungry, and judgmental, not much....I have seen interference in families, major manipulation of minor children who have family members who are not members..I have seen alot that is arrogant and self serving done by some of the saints...the end never justifies the means, but try telling them that. You can't frighten or force someone to accept the Love of God or salvation.”
  • <font color=blue>I can’t discuss all the other occurrences in the above paragraph because I have no control over them. Due to time constraints, I can’t discuss the subject of the “Holy Spirit” as you described. I need to know more of your understanding of “the Spirit of the Lord” and your implication that “yielding” to the “Holy Spirit” (as you understand this entity in the Godhead) is what really changes the unbeliever to becoming a Christian. I need scriptural references to support this notion. </font>
“That is all I was saying. I wish there were more talk of the Love on the church...and no, that doesn't mean accepting and justifying bad behavior or rampant sin. Can't anyone see the distinction?”
  • <font color=blue>I think that if your congregation is really having a problem with “love” not being “talked about” more … that you take the initiative to teach or preach about “love” given the permission from your leadership? </font>
I would love to hear about the transforming power of LOVE that God had for us. NOt just 'doing it right', and scaring people who are trying to do it right to begin with.
  • <font color=blue>I think the owner(s) of this website will be more than willing to allow you to proclaim the message of God’s love. You’ve already done, in fact, don’t you think so? We’ve already discussed “scaring people,” but I still don’t see why you even think this is happening unless you agree with the change agents who accuse those who are loyal to God’s truth as using the “scare” tactic because they still preach the reality of heaven and hell. </font>
Donnie
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