[color=#000000" size="3" face="times] BE ALERT!!!! You are seeing changes that cause an uncomfortable and unsure feeling about the direction the church is heading. If the plan matures, you will see unbelievable things happening.[color=#000000" size="5" face="times]ALERT!!! CHANGE AGENTS AT WORK[/color][color=#000000" size="3" face="times] BY Harold Sublett
This is a collection of articles from various published contributors, which were written to create an awareness of some of the many problems caused by change agents that already exist in the Church. A few want to change the church so as to make it more acceptable in the community. The purpose of the "purpose driven church" is an increase in numbers, and a progressive, liberal change to keep up with modern, secular changing trends. The changes bring about a departure from the Church of Christ that Christ established and you and I learned about as a child desiring to keep it free of changes that bring about apostasy.
CHANGE YES: APOSTASY NO!
An army of younger church members are clamoring for change in the worship, faith and practices of our churches. They have naught but criticism for the efforts of the past and are certain they have discovered a far superior way of "doing church" as they are fond of saying. They leave the impression on immature and gullible disciples that those of us over 50 are stubborn, close-minded and impervious to change, no matter how beneficial it might be. In this they are less than honest. Some ultra-conservative types might well be that intractable, but for the majority of us it is not change that we reject, it is unlawful departure from God's authorized Word and way.
We are willing to change such things as the hour, the length or the order of our services, but we are not willing to change the nature and substance of them. God has specified singing, praying, communing, offering and instruction as acceptable aspects of his worship.
We are willing to try new songs or new hymnals, but not a new kind of music. Only singing did the Spirit authorize (Eph. 5:19). Instruments, other than the voice and heart, we will not, we cannot accept.
We are willing to consider different methods of observing a communion service, but we cannot mix the sacred meal with a common meal (I Cor. 11:20-22). Nor can we observe the feast on a day not ordained by God (Acts 20:7).
We are willing to accept any or all Biblical names for the church, but we will not brook those who seek to dismiss or discredit the Biblical name "church of Christ" used by Paul (Rom. 16:16). It is never wrong to give due glory and honor to Christ the founder and head of the church.
We are willing to change our methods of evangelism but not the gospel message given by Christ. Methods flourish and grow obsolete but the message is divine, perfect and eternal (Rom. 1:16).
We can tolerate those who prefer other reputable translations than the King James Version but not those who reject the authority of the Bible.
We can adapt to modern improvements in our meeting houses but we cannot be party to those who would "modernize" the church which Christ built, which is revealed in Scripture.
We can admit our failures to measure up to the divine pattern for faith and practice, but we can never admit the church which Christ built is any less than perfect.
We can preach salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), but we will never be able to preach salvation by grace alone or faith alone (Eph 2:4-6; Jas. 2:24). Baptism cannot be omitted as a required part of the plan of salvation.
Change in non-essentials, in matters of judgment and expediency our people have been making for the last 200 years. Changes in the God-given faith and practice of Christianity apostates have been engaging in for the same period of time. Sydney Rigdon's changes took him into Mormonism. Dr. John Thomas' changes led him into the Christadelphians. The changes of instrumental music and missionary societies took their promoters into Disciples of Christ/Christian Church denomination Changes regarding the doctrine of the kingdom of Christ and His return lead Robert H. Boll into Premillennialism. Changes in the teaching of the role of miraculous gifts of the Spirit led Don Finto and the Belmont Church of Christ into Pentecostalism. Changes in the government of the church and the doctrine of Christian liberty led Chuck Lucas and Kip McKeen of the Boston church into the International Church of Christ cult. The changes proposed by the "change agents" centered in Abilene, Texas are leading toward a new denominational body with which we want no part.
IF YOUR CHURCH LEAVES YOU
We are used to hearing the sad news of a member or a family leaving the church. Today members of churches of Christ in America must face the possibility that the congregation of which they are members is in the process or has already left them! If it is your sad lot to face this painful experience, please consider the following thoughts.
If your church is leaving you and God's Word, please don't close your eyes and pretend it really isn't happening. We see this sad phenomenon all across the land. Some elders can't believe their preacher really means what he says in his classes and sermons that question the ancient truths of God's Word or promote unscriptural changes. Some members close their eyes and ears to activities in their congregations that would not have been tolerated in days past. Some watch as youth programs are clearly leading young people away from the ancient gospel. We must face the hard fact that a deadly apostasy is presently at work in our midst and unless stopped it will destroy the church we love.
If the preacher and elders of your congregation abandon the Word of God for the program of the "change agents," refuse to go with them. They are unfaithful shepherds (Jer. 50:6). You are personally responsible for your soul (II Cor. 5:10). The gospel you obeyed, you learned from God's Word. The church you were added to was the church Christ built. The worship you offered was that you found set forth in Scripture. Don't give up the solid ground of truth for the shifting sands of popularity, emotionalism and promotionalism.
If your congregation departs, don't grow discouraged and quit the Lord and his church. When this long struggle is over there will be three losing parties. 1). Those who follow the pied pipers of change will be lost in apostasy. 2). The faithful survivors who held fast to God's standard will be greatly reduced in size and strength. 3). Those who grew discouraged and left the church for some denominational body or to live without fellowship with God's people will stand condemned as well. They were not faithful unto death, they will not receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
Should your church start down the broad road of departure, pray that God will give you the wisdom to understand the problem and the information you need to fortify yourself and help others; that he will give you the courage to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might (Eph. 6:10); that he will use you to help his people.
If your church is leaving you, take your stand for the Lord Jesus and His holy Truth. Don't be timid or ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). Like Paul be "set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil 1:16). If you love the church don't stand idly by while unfaithful disciples ravage and ruin her.
If such is your fate, then rally other like-minded souls together. Confront your leaders, if they are unresponsive and determined to abandon the old paths, then;
Find a faithful congregation where you can indeed worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24); where you can serve God with a good conscience (Acts 23:1). Seek out a church where you can invest your energy and finances in work that truly glorifies Christ and honors the church for which he died ... rather than promoting unfaithfulness and apostasy.
If no faithful church is close at hand, invite those who love God and wish to be simple New Testament Christians to join hands with you in starting a new congregation dedicated to faithful service to our Master.
Would to God that every Christian was privileged to live and die in a strong, faithful congregation where godly shepherds keep the wolves driven from the door and loyal preachers boldly proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. Unfortunately, for many of us this lovely wish will not be realized. That being the case, we must gird up our loins and be mentally and spiritually prepared should the evil day come.
For the past several years there has been implemented a deliberate plan to take over the Church of Christ by change agents, most of whom have books to sell or high paid lecture to be paid for. These change agents have little or no regard for the wishes of the present membership as well as those who have now gone but who labored to keep the church as much in tune with the scriptures as possible and whose contributions are responsible for the nice church buildings that we can enjoy today. To denominationalize this or any other congregation of the Lords church is an act of "stealing"a church.
Change agents have used and continue to use secrecy, covert planning and outside sources to change the format and direction of the Church.
What does a Change Agent Believe and Practice?
Change agents want to change the existing church to a progressive church, incorporating denominational practices and teachings even at the cost of disunity, confusion and an exodus of many faithful families.
ASSESSMENT TIME: HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT WHAT THE CHANGE AGENTS TEACH?
WHAT ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
What is a "closet change agent"? When asked this question, one writer 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."
WHO ARE CHANGE AGENTS?
The same writer responds, "The most prominent of our self-appointed 'agents of change' is 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.
Cited examples of who they are in article titled "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.
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. Ties are severed with those noble saints who went before us. Were they baptized for the wrong reason and was their worship in vain. Participation in causing division in the body of Christ is a fearful thought.
Change agents are committed to change the church of Christ
Below is a compiled list taken from various sources articles. 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. However, that segment may pinpoint or isolate the factors that have caused a church to grow or dwindle.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT
This is the tactic subscribed to by the purpose driven church model. Take it slow. Try a desired change and if too much criticism is received from the leaders or congregation then back off or retreat and advance or try it again a little later when the guard is down. Ten to twenty years for the model to mature is anticipated.
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
Those in favor of change must be encouraged to stay; others against change should be "allowed to leave". Those wanting change are not obligated to start their own church from scratch. 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 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 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 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 share fellowship with denominational preachers, churches and events. They do not refer to "the Lord's church"--that is being exclusive of others. They define "freedom" as a way to ignore Bible teachings on worship restrictions. 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. They say Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone founded the "Church of Christ". The faith and preaching of predecessors are incompatible with those of change. They claim that Men of the Restoration were imperfect men and often taught erroneously.
COMMUNITY CHURCH: MODEL FOR CHURCH OF CHRIST IN TRANSITION
They 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. 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.
MODERNIZE THE CHURCH: THE SECULAR- OR CULTURE-DRIVEN APPROACH
Celebrate Jesus' birthday, like it or not; observe the Christmas pagan holiday as a religious event. Celebrate the "special" annual resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday with a special religious Easter program.
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. Helps sell books, financial gain brought about by an increase in numbers being the main purpose of the purpose driven church. Bible study materials may be obtained from denominational sources
Be not concerned about the NIV version even though it is corrupted by hundreds of omissions and changes..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. The New Testament should not be viewed as a law to be obeyed.
Church leaders should implement a Covenant of Membership--Saddleback model which is the Purpose Driven Cult. (You must be guided into deeper levels and sign a COVENANT before you can enter the next level of "church membership)
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. "Shepherds" guide the SENIOR PREACHER who is THE LEADER by virtue of his charisma and education in a stolen, once Christian college.
New concepts of leadership for the congregation may be experimented. Dispute the passages that relegate women to a silent role. 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. 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 or no mention of the necessity of baptism or an outline of the plan of salvation. 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, preaching and prayers.
Musical worship must be strongly emphasized. The human-designated WORSHIP LEADER is now a high-level position. The worship leader should initiate the handclapping. The worship leader should encourage rhythmic handclapping while singing. Farfetched? Just you wait. It is happening in many stolen churches of Christ.
Allow the use of musical instruments in worship. Is it in the long-range plans for your congregation? Ask your leaders and preachers. The answer should be "NO" rather than "not yet."
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 hymnbook and focus attention (worship) to the worship leader or projection screen. Discourage the use of a hymnbook 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 hymnbooks may be opened then. Avoid hymns unless they're new and the Praise Team can perform them.
THE LORD'S SUPPER AND SOCIAL FELLOWSHIP--MORE THAN JUST A MEMORIAL?
They say that 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. (Really?) One reason has been given is that it reminds us that we are all part of Gods family. As a Christian for over 50 years that was a first for me. There should be some story telling, singing and human testimonies to be meaningful.
DOCTRINES DERIVED FROM DENOMINATIONS: BIBLICAL TRUTH BEING PERVERTED
Change agents believe and teach that salvation is by grace through faith or by faith alone. They deemphasize and deride the steps necessary for salvation. De-emphasize the importance of baptism. They say that baptism is no longer for the purpose of remitting sins. They say baptism is the first act of obedience after being saved by faith (Wrong). 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
The indwelling of God's Spirit makes a Christian "charismatic". Being "spirit-filled" means being "charismatic" in today's language. Miracles, similar to those performed during the apostolic era, still exist today. Speaking in tongues, contrary to I Corinthians 13, has not "ceased" yet so they say.
PURPOSE DRIVEN CHANGE AGENTS BELIEVE THAT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE CHANGES TO GOD'S PLAN, KNOWING THAT THEY WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEPARTURE OF MANY FAMILIES AND THAT SOME MAY EVEN QUIT ATTENDING CHURCH ANYWHERE.
This article, written by a local church leader, appeared in a "progressive" church magazine.[/color]
<blockquote>[color=#000000" size="3" face="times]
Center for Church Growth
An article of interest:
ADCOX, RUSS. "The Purpose Driven Model: Tips for Making It Work" Church Growth 16(April - June, 2001): 6 -7.
16(April - June, 2001): 6 -7. Notice the parts about "Do not rush your church is only four years into the model and only 50% has been implemented" and "don' be afraid to fail".
Question: If it is a good model, spiritually, for Christians to follow then why not do it immediately? If it is a Godly plan, how could it fail?[/color]
Here are a few questions you may want to ask your official leaders and preachers. Don't settle for any form of evasive answer.
Since you have been hired or appointed to serve as minister or elder of this Church of Christ and since you were expected to uphold the long held views of the Church of Christ.. please honestly answer the following questions:
Do you or have you planned implementing musical instruments into the worship services or classes?
Do you believe and are you willing to teach that Baptism is necessary for salvation or do you believe one is saved before baptism?
Do you believe in changing the role of women to include public prayer in assembly, teaching classes where men and/or older baptized boys are present and generally changing what the scriptures have to say regarding the role of women in the church?
Do you believe "holy entertainment" should be implemented, that is shorter sermons, more singing, plays, short funny stories, slide presentations, etc.?
Do you approve of the use of a Bible version that is corrupted by omission of hundreds of verses and completely changing others? A version that completely changes hundreds and leaves out hundreds of very important verses (all are important aren't they?
What about "a worship leader" or Praise teams? Is the song leader enough or do we need small group trained singers to assist either with mikes or without, sitting up front or mingled with the rest of the congregation?
Is the name "Church of Christ" sufficient or do we need to change it to a more "appealing to the masses" name such as community church or family of god?
Should members be "expendable" in order to accomplish change? How many are you willing to sacrifice in order to make the desired changes?
Should we fellowship denominational bodies at the painful cost of being disfellowshipped or shunned by other main line Churches of Christ near and far?
Remember, ask specific questions and expect specific answers. example: Do you believe that baptism is essential for salvation? The answer should be yes or no. The answer should not be "Yes I believe in baptism". The religious world believes "in" baptism but not everyone believes that baptism is essential for salvation even though the bible is very clear on the subject.
Read my letter to the elders pleading not to do it.
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