Regarding the Proper Role for the Pulpit Minister

preacherFrom the comments:

Mark:

Jay is very good about allowing the comments to go wherever they go. Perhaps we need to have a discussion of just what preachers are supposed to do vs what they actually do vs what people wished they would do. Isaiah said in 40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. This must have been important because it’s said twice, according to commentary of the rabbis. Jesus told Peter written by John in 21:17 feed my sheep. Many people wish the preacher were more of pastor or spiritual leader. The elders want the preacher doing everything including their bidding. The people want/need a shepherd. Something needs to change.

Wish granted. Discuss away.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Regarding the Proper Role for the Pulpit Minister

  1. Dwight says:

    Sometime I think the role of the preacher is to fulfill the lazy bone in us. We can’t be bothered with reading the scriptures and must have it read and discerned for us. It much like someone chewing our food and then giving it to us to eat. We go to assembly and worship and get fed, when we can worship and feed ourselves on his word if we are willing to just open it up. This might sound like I am against the preacher, but I am not. The preacher is to preach the word to the world. The elders are to teach to those that are with them. We have developed an inefficient system of not getting to the lost and telling the saved how to be saved on weekly basis instead of internally building each other up in the Lord.
    We often go to I Tim.4:2 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” which was good advice for Timothy from Paul, but this wasn’t a position, but service.
    Paul didn’t say be a preacher, he said preach. He didn’t say find a assembly, fill a pulpit and give a thirty minute sermon. He said, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
    vs.5 “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” This was outside service with dangers and struggles.
    My father was a coC preacher and he converted very few, but taught many how to be saved …from the pulpit. And we were already saved. He taught many what they needed to do, but nobody did anything, as he himself did little. We need internal leaders who do and inspire the doing of.

  2. Larry Cheek says:

    It seems to me to be a chore to go to church and hear lessons preached to Christians who have been in the same church services for probably 50 years. Where those in the audience have heard the same stories, directives and same scriptures so many times and so many ways that it is impossible to be further enlightened by those lessons. What possibility is there that any Christian could be edified by the lesson? Its many times like all who are in the audience regardless of age are expected to have all timers and do not remember the message much less the principles which are taught through the narration of the story. Are many of you bored with the majority of the lessons delivered at your gatherings? So much of the time in gatherings it is very obvious that the normal consensus is we have performed our ritual and now are good for another week when we will appease God again by consenting to meet and do the same thing again.

  3. David Himes says:

    ALMOST all preachers talk too long. Very few can hold the attention of the audience for as long as they ramble on. As the old saying goes, the mind can absorb only what the butt can endure.

  4. Jim H says:

    Wow! No wonder more “church goers” are becoming “non-church goers,” or “churchless,” as Barna describes them in a recent book. He documents that most all denominations are losing members who would formerly describe themselves as regular church attenders, thus describing the post-Christian generation. More former regular attenders are increasingly listing themselves as “None” when asked their denominational preference. Yet, most of these “Nones” still describe themselves as spiritual, bible believing followers. So, more Sunday morning “TV church goers” seeking preachers who provide that “something” that they feel they are missing that they can’t personally describe?

  5. Mark says:

    Wow. Thanks. I realised how little time elapsed between when I wrote that comment and when it became a post. I wrote it because I have care for those who grew up going to church and are now atheists or won’t enter a church for any reason. Now all I saw/heard preachers do was preach on Sunday morning (on topics never Jesus) to non-Christians who weren’t there, lecture on Sunday nights without taking questions, and teach the adult Sunday school class where they went through the letters of Paul verse by verse filling in blanks in a little paperback book. Sure, there was the occasional funeral. I wished that the preacher would have gone in to the Sunday school classes even for a month a year. I wished that the sermon would have been written remembering that there were 3 generations (at that time) listening to it. The sermons were directed to the elderly without ever considering anyone else. Even in larger cofCs, friends of mine never saw the preacher teach the faith to the young, teach on Jesus, teach what Christianity was all about, discuss the tenets of the faith, read the gospel to the congregation during the service, or teach any Sunday school class but the adult auditorium class.

  6. Jim H says:

    I know this post series is about preachers. Hopefully the next series will include Elders. Are they sitting quietly in the church’s board room?

  7. Mark says:

    The other thing I wanted to add is that there seemed to be a lot of unhappy preachers. It would have been nice to see him happy, especially when conducting a wedding or baptism (or celebrating the resurrection). I think some preachers are happier and more comfortable conducting a funeral than a wedding or baptism. After all, a funeral will have older people who were friends of the deceased present who are likely “good”, church-going people. A wedding or baptism will have the church full of people who may be “nones”, atheist, agnostic, gay couples, unmarried but living together couples, etc. Some of them may even have the nerve to (go up and) take communion. The idea of these people in a church is not pleasant to many including the preacher. This is a perfect opportunity for the preacher to show that all are welcome in the church, show the love of God, and be happy that people are getting married, getting baptised, having/getting their child baptised, etc. Remember, Jesus ate with sinners, harlots, Pagans, and tax collectors for Rome, much to the dislike of the Pharisees.

    Jim H, not long ago Pope Francis reminded the bishops and cardinals in the Curia that they were not EU bureaucrats and if they had some free time in the afternoons, they should go sit in the old fashioned confessionals and hear confession. He reminded them that they were priests first and that it was good for them. This was after he had gone to a church near the Vatican and heard confessions one afternoon. I don’t think the curia really wanted to hear that and would have preferred the life of an EU bureaucrat.

  8. Monty says:

    According to some the preacher is supposed to be the entertainer(how long can he hold your attention), the guy who teaches the youth, the guy who is there when you’re sick in the hospital, the one who makes mountains move with his great faith and whose sermons mystify and make you go whoa! The guy who will baptize your children. The guy who speaks to everyone and shakes their hand or else he was rude. The guy who is supposed to save your marriage when the problems have gone on for so long unaddressed that now one of the two wants a divorce. The guy that will preach your funeral and tell everyone what a great person you were when you tell everyone how boring his lessons were and how you couldn’t stand his sermons for 30 minutes twice a week. The guy whose wife is supposed to work beside him in the ministry(not work outside the home) and the guy who will raise his family on a meager preacher’s salary(generally less than 45,000 a year and sometimes much less(unless he preaches for a congregation over 200 people), which is often insulting considering his education and the skill at which others expect him to perform his job and to be on call at their beckon notice. For many the preacher is to do all of their work for them in terms of Bible study and prayer time, as Dwight said, (it’s the closest they come to it all week). No wonder young preachers come into the ministry bright-eyed and bushy tailed only to leave in a few years disillusioned and dejected. When is the last time you heard someone in your church say they hoped they’re little Johnny will grow up to be a preacher? And unless your church is a growing and thriving church forget about even cost of living raises. Yeh, let’s bash on those bums.

  9. laymond says:

    Dwight said, “This might sound like I am against the preacher, but I am not. The preacher is to preach the word to the world.”

    In my opinion there is a difference in a good teacher, and a good preacher. Yes their goal is the same, to inform the audience . In my opinion a good teacher uses restraint of their emotions , especially a one on one , or a very small gathering. A medium or large crowd needs an animated emotional speaker to hold their attention. It takes more than just a good teacher to be a great preacher. I have had preachers that I just could not wait to get to church to hear what they had to say, and some who I tried to have a headache as an excuse not to go. or wait until the evening session , it usually is shorter. we are having confession here aren’t we 🙂

    When I imagine Jesus on the mount I see an animated , enthused , emotional preacher. Maybe not, but he had help from someone most preacher do not. unless of course you believe God is speaking through your preacher. Now that would be a great preacher.

  10. Preach Jesus and him crucified. The Word is living and active – and will not return to God w/o doing what he sent it to do. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw men.” When we fail to lift him up, preferring to pursue dead, sterile ‘issues’ that fail to bring a clearer, sharper picture of who Jesus is, what he has done for us, and what he expects of us so we can ‘die and go to heaven’ – or wherever God will actually meet with the faithful in eternity.Exalting Jesus and through him glorifying God in the Spirit should be every preacher’s aim.

    The comments so far suggest that few are doing this. I suspect the comments reflect reality, but I also know some preachers who seldom strike out, but frequently hit home runs with their sermons. Surely more of us would hit home runs if we would focus more on preaching Jesus and him crucified.

  11. laymond says:

    Monty says:
    “According to some the preacher is supposed to be the entertainer(how long can he hold your attention),”

    Monty, a preacher does not hire out to be an entertainer , but if you walk up behind the podium looking like you want to be somewhere else, go somewhere else , I don’t believe God accepts lukewarm preachers anymore than lukewarm worshippers . It is such a shame to have a young preacher,with all the attributes, try out before a congregation, and preach an animated sermon on how you are going to hell because of divorce. I spoke to him later about the sin of divorce , I asked if divorce was the unforgivable sin, he said no, I ask if God can forgive and forget, how come you can’t? (I believe he knew right off, that he would not preach for my congregation) God said he not only forgives, he forgets.what a waste of good talent.

    Preaching the truth is the utmost requirement of a preacher.

  12. laymond says:

    Jerry, I don’t want to start an argument, as always I just want to start an informative discussion.

    Jhn 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

    Yes I know what the bible says, this is about the cross.
    I am not sure the cross is what Jesus was talking about. what I am sure of is he was not talking about modern day Christians “lifting him up” how would we do that, with human praise, I don’t think so.

  13. Isaiah 40 is directed to pulpit ministers? Seriously? That’s not a good way to begin a serious Bible discussion.

    I’d see this verse as coming closer to being a charge to preachers:
    “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

  14. Dwight says:

    We have a confusing presence in the churches. A preacher will stand up and talk (three point lesson for 45 minutes) to fulfill his duty as a preacher. If a preacher got up and talked 15 minutes and got his point across many would feel jipped. And if he spoke longer they would feel jipped. If the preacher spoke about things that needed to be done, they would feel uncomfortable.
    The thing about the Jesus and the apostles is that they just preached however long it was needed about needed things. I go to assembly and hear lessons I have heard many times before about things that don’t apply. Many lessons about baptism and why it is important to a crowd of people who whole heartedly agree and have been baptized. The preacher senses they agree and feels like he has done his job. They who ought to be teachers are again taught the first principles and fed milk.
    If I stand up in front of a crowd at a clothing rally and tell them they need to wear clothing, they will be in clothing and they will know that is important. Now imagine if I did this over and over again. The people will agree with the truth, but they will not progress to other truths or be challenged in the wearing of the truth. And they might only wear clothing to the clothing meetings. And they might expect the words on clothing to somehow escape the confines of the building and affect others outside who aren’t wearing clothes. And they might beat up on other groups that wear clothing, but not the right clothing. But all in all the meeting has been a success.

  15. laymond says:

    Dwight, especially if that “clothing rally” was in winter. 🙂

  16. laymond says:

    Dwight just take this into consideration, if there is only one old nudist in the crowd, and you saved him from death from pneumonia, wouldn’t that be worth repeating ? 🙂

  17. Monty says:

    We’re a fickle bunch. I know of a minister who was preaching for a 300 member church(where I was a member), had been there about 10 years,things were going well, attendance was not increasing but we were holding steady and had been that way for a few years, fellowship was sweet but a growing number of folks decided that we needed some change, they had grown too accustomed to his preaching I suppose. So, it was understood he was to be looking for a new place. He found a new place and we hired a man who was familiar to all, someone who had preached nearby. Well he was too conservative for the progressives, he lasted about 2-3 years, so now it was the progressives turn to pick the preacher and they brought in their guy. Well that didn’t sit well, so in a couple of years he left, then they brought in a more “sound” guy. Then thats when the congregation had a split. The progressive minded ones left to start a new work. The conservative brother lasted about 5 years, until some other things went down not related to conservative – progressive issues. So, in a span of 10 years after a guy they had for 10 years was run off they had 3 different preachers and the congregation split. The ones that remained(conservatives) got older and smaller in number and the progressives grew and got younger. Turns out there was really 2 congregations meeting in the same church and the first man was the glue who held the two groups at peace with each other. Oh, and the first guy who wasn’t good enough to keep his job with the 300 member church went to work for a fellowship of 700 and remained their preacher for 16 years – go figure. Sometimes it’s not the preacher, it’s the people in the pews.

  18. Stephan says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Dwight about the preacher’s role, with Jim H about elder’s role and with Monty about preachers doing everything…

    1. Isn’t the preacher doing the teacher’s and the elder’s job?

    2. Why is he preaching to the converts instead of evangelizing the lost outside the church?

    3. Isn’t preaching always related to announcing the Gospel to the lost versus teaching related to edify the church?

    4. Why the Biblical role of evangelist is never mentioned as an office of the church?

    5. Aren’t we making up unscriptural new offices: minister, pulpit minister, youth minister…?

    6. Why so few members are aware about these serious issues, these huge inconsistencies with the New Testament church organization, and address them to the church?

  19. Dwight says:

    Yes, Laymond, that is the thought. But consider that we are starving the saved of information and direction and they need food. The one nudist in the crowd will be or should be noticed and seen to by one of the clothed as that is what those that believe in clothes should do. Leaving what we can and should do to a person who is speaking to his family about family matters doesn’t address the one who isn’t part of the family.

    Monty, if the preacher is the glue, then that is a sad state for a church to be in. What would have happened if the preacher of his own accord left or he died? The preacher can’t be the glue that holds things that would go separate ways if they weren’t present. Now having said that. The elders must have noticed these things and could have acted to teach unity despite differences.
    But sometimes the differences are too much and unity a place is not good when there is a conflict of thinking and this doesn’t mean unity can’t exist among the groups even though in different places. Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over John Mark and parted ways, but they both remained in Christ and were presumably still unified in spirit.
    Now when you have a congregations that has “conservative” elements and “liberal” elements there is already division in that either the conservative are going along or the liberals are going along or there differences just haven’t been brought to the surface.
    The modus operandi of the “conservatives” is to condemn others who they feel are transgressing the law and the modus operandi of the “liberals” is the freedom to do things that they feel aren’t condemned in the law. One group will either suppress the other group and/or condemn the other group, while the other group pushes to open up and instill things the other group condemns.
    This goes back to you cannot sew new cloth onto old cloth and it be stable. They will naturally and unfortunately tear. People will either bear and accept or they will drive away or leave.

  20. Jim H says:

    Monty’s post is a reminder to us all that many of us who post our thoughts may just possibly be among the camp that the preacher is suppose to do for me what I choose not to do as a disciple (one devoted to learning) and practicing what we learn. The preacher is responsible to teach my kids and be the example I’m suppose to be to my family. It’s his fault or “the church’s” (whatever that’s suppose to mean) if my marriage and family is falling apart and the people at work had no idea I was a Christian!

  21. David Himes says:

    Frankly, we have to admit, there is no New Testament guidelines for the job of “Preacher”. And “Minister” is pretty all encompassing. So, given our typical modern organization chart for a local congregation, the Preacher’s job is what those who hired him say it is.

    And the “Proper Role” will vary as widely as the culture and personality of our congregations vary.

    If only we are smart enough to recognize those nuances and respond appropriately

  22. Stephen says:

    To David: Well, if we agree that preaching in the Bible is about announcing the Good News to the lost, then the preacher is not doing it by preaching to Christians. It belongs to the teacher and the elders according to the Scriptures. Don’t you think?

  23. Dwight says:

    I kind of go back to the thought that preaching was an action, not a position, as opposed to a elder or deacon and even those were positions of service. The apostles weren’t “preachers” they were apostles that preached. Those that preached were able to receive support, but then again so were those who did not preach and were needy. Those that preach are not apostles however and do not have “apostolic authority”, any more or any less than any one else does. They do not have a special claim to the truth or knowing the truth anymore or any less than any one else either. They do not have a special ability to confront sin in others on a group or personal level any more or any less than any one else. They were to be messengers of the truth to those who did have it. The apostles preached in towns and cities and to people and were supported by many people in many areas, but were not under the thumb or ownership of a local congregation. The mission to preach of God to others in other places who are lost is a job that all can probably do, but not all will do. In their willingness they are indeed special and needed.

  24. Dwight says:

    Sorry, it should have read “messengers of truth(that is to say gospel) to those who did not have it”

  25. Stephen says:

    Dwight:

    2 Timothy 4:5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    The “work of an evangelist” looks like a role,, an office of the church, don’t you think?
    If though not reserved to a minister only but set as an example for members.

  26. Lammond, after Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me,” John added an editorial commend, “This he said about the kind of death he would have” (or words to that effect). So, he was speaking of the cross (or at least John, guided by the Holy Spirit of God thought so).

    We today lift him up by preaching him crucified, as Paul said he determined to do (1 Corinthians 2:2).

  27. laymond says:

    lifted up

    Jerry, I believe that here Jesus referrs to the cross.

    Jhn 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

    Jhn 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

    I have doubts that Jhn 12:32 is about the cross. I sort of believe he was speaking of the resurrection , or ascension.

  28. Dwight says:

    Stephen, looks like, but not really. Minister is used as a verb or a noun which acts has verbage attached.
    Rom.15:16 “that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

    So you really don’t fine a position of minister, which really means serve/ serves or of service.
    And you don’t find a “minster of ______________ church”, but of Christ.

    Even in 2 Tim.4:5 “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your service” places the concept with the context of servitude or spreading the gospel and not a position or office.

  29. Ephesians 4 says that Christ gave gifts to the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. These were for the purpose of building up the church until we all come to the unity of the faith and the fullness of the stature of Christ. Sounds to me like the evangelist/preacher is to work in tandem with the pastors and teachers to develop maturity in the church. They do this by lifting up the crucified and risen savior before the church.

    Titus 3:8 tells us to “stress these things,” which the context identifies as God’s grace in Christ Jesus and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, so that ‘our people may be eager to do good works.” It seems to me that this focus in preaching would get more people involved in true ministry, and the preacher would have time for gospeling the lost.

  30. Mark says:

    Grace and the Holy Sprit? I think those female deacons will come along first.

  31. Stephen says:

    Could anybody tell me:
    Why elders and teachers almost never appear at pulpit or Bible class?
    Why preachers/evangelists keep doing their job instead of evangelizing?
    Does anybody care?
    Thank you.

  32. Lum says:

    Many have left all the arguing and bickering and splitting of the church of Christ with everyone quoting their points favorite scriptures to count all but themselves wrong and going to hell. They either started worshiping at another denomination, mostly independents, ( the sermons on the wrongs of the Baptist, Methodist, and many others well known are hard to escape) or most that I know don’t attend anywhere anymore.

    Interesting that almost to a person they feel closer to God and Jesus that ever before and to a person don’t think on judgment day it will be like a court trial on law to decide your fate. Rather receiving grace and mercy after a look at what you have done good and a real deep look at your heart.

    After all, that is all God could look at for thousands of years worldwide and in many places today.

  33. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight,

    If this helps —

    “Evangelist” could be translated “gospelist”or “good news-er.”

    “Your service” likely means “your ambassadorship” or “your work as emissary [of Christ]” — which puts a different spin on Timothy’s work. It’s not just service. It’s not just preaching. It’s bringing the gospel on behalf of Jesus — with “gospel” defined in terms of the work of Jesus, the coming Kingdom, that sort of thing, not the Five Acts of Worship.

  34. Dwight says:

    I think you are right Jay. There was a reason the church was growing…people were walking and talking. The Good News was getting out. I sometimes think the reason we are so bad at talking to others about
    God is we stink at talking amongst ourselves about God without contention, There is a fear of being corrected and we are expected to correct those around us.

  35. David Himes says:

    to Stephen — no disagreement on that point. But broadly speaking, the preacher has become the focus of our worship assemblies. And that is a reflection of congregation leadership.

  36. Stephen says:

    To David Himes:
    I agree. Very sad. Elders are the leaders of a church, not preachers, according to the Scriptures.
    Also, nobody is discussing or debating in the churches anymore. And when I challenge a brother about why we do things this way, these are their answers: “I always have been taught that way by the preacher or by my parents”. Nobody desires to think and question why they do things. Almost nobody talks in Bible classes. No ministers addresses challenging topics.
    How can we claim pursuing the “restoration movement” and get so far from restoring it?
    Did the CoC membership end up being composed of nominal Christians?
    I am extremely concerned about our churches.

  37. Dwight says:

    Three words are prevalent in the church today…Don’t Make Waves.
    Waves disrupt, waves move around, waves are unsure, waves change things.
    But waves are caused by winds, which help move things along. There is a place along the equator called the doldrums where there is very little wind and waves, the sea is glassy, but during the says when they used the winds it was slow and the ships barely moved in the waters. It is hard to progress through that area.
    We are trapped and enamored by our own mediocrity.
    What was it John wrote to the one of the churches in Asia…be hot or cold, but not lukewarm.
    Preachers and the elders to some extent don’t want waves, they want conformity and silence and stillness.
    It is interesting but there was a point in our church history where we had a preacher who had Parkinsons disease and it was hard to depend on him to be there every Sunday or to be functioning well or to deliver a 30 min lesson. During that time it was challenging, but all in all the people stepped up and filled in the gaps and worked harder than they ever had and grew to accept changes and adapt. Those days are gone and we now live on an “orderly” glassy sea.

  38. Dwight, your analysis is sad – but is true in too many cases.

  39. We have taken Paul’s desire for “one mind and one judgment” to mean total conformity. That, plus some elderships and some preachers taking the attitude of “my way or the highway” have made churches, including elders and preachers, hesitant to challenge the status quo, even while we bemoan it.

    I recently posted a short discussion of 1 Cor. 1:10 called “United In the Same Mind”. You can read it at committedtotruth.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/united-in-the-same-mind/.

  40. Monty says:

    Thanks, Jerry.

  41. Dwight says:

    Will do.

  42. Stephen says:

    I am looking for people and/or places (blog, forum, chat room…) where to address and discuss current issues in general among the churches of Christ and to look for solutions. Could anybody advise me? Thank you.

  43. Dwight says:

    Stephen, http://www.wineskins.org has a list of forum sites, which includes this one.
    You can also email me: criticalchristianthinker@gmail.com
    I will listen and entertain and discuss almost anything.
    I think Bobby Valentine has a blog site, at least a web site.
    Jerry Starling has a web site.

  44. Stephen says:

    Thanks Dwight.
    Did anybody ever addressed…
    – The absence of teaching on father’s role
    – High rate rebaptism
    – Marriage between a believer and an unbeliever
    – Church of Christ declining membership
    …in any forum or page or article?
    Thanks.

  45. Stephen, Jay has written extensively on this site about the Church of Christ declining membership. I’m not sure when, but you can search the site on key words. If I remember correctly, he has done this at least the last couple of times a new edition of the 21st Century Christian’s Directory of Churches of Christ has come out (2009, 2012).

    He also sometime back did several posts positively reviewing Leroy Garret’s book, What Must the Church of Christ Do To Be saved.

    Dwight mentioned that I have a website. Nothing at all like One In Jesus, and I’ve not been actively posting over the last 2-3 years, though I’m trying to get back into it on at least a semi-regular basis. I have several hundred posts at http//www.committedtotruth.wordpress.com. <a href = "http//committedtotruth.wordpress.com"here
    Jerry

  46. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Stephen,

    The current series here Meandering Thoughts … deals with change in a Church of Christ. It’s only got one more post to go and then I’ll move to another topic.

    I’ve posted countless series regarding the future of the Churches of Christ. Go through the Categories drop down on the right and see what topics interest you. (Or do a work search in the Search box.) You are free to open (or re-open) a discussion at any post out there — and it’s not uncommon for a post three or four years old to attract someone’s interest and prompt a few days of conversation — so don’t feel limited to today’s post.

    Here is a link to a table of CoC discussion groups and blogs: http://oneinjesus.info/progressive-church-of-christ-blogs-and-groups/

    I believe this site has the most active commenting among all Church of Christ blogs, but some of the discussion groups can have high volumes of discussion at times.

    The forums at Wineskins.org and GraceCentered.com can sporadically be very active, and you can generally start your own topic at will.

    Now, if you have the stomach for it, PreacherFiles is very popular among the very conservative Churches of Christ. I’m not a fan, but when I was last there, many long years ago, it was very active. But I found it depressing and frustrating. http://gewatkins.net/forum/

    And if there’s a topic of particular interest, ask me to open a spot to discuss or post a series. No promises, but many of my posts and series are triggered by reader questions or comments.

  47. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    PS — There are several Facebook CoC discussion groups, some quite active. I don’t have an index to them but they wouldn’t be hard to find.

  48. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Stephen,

    Bobby Valentine has just cranked his blog back up at Stoned-Campbell Disciple. Truly excellent. He also posts prolifically on CoC issues on Facebook.

  49. Stephen says:

    Thank you Jay and everybody for providing me with helpful information.
    Jay, if you could post regarding one of these topics, that would be awesome:
    – Father’s role vs Youth Minister’s role
    – Unborn Christians
    – Marriage between a believer and an unbeliever
    – Churches of Christ declining membership
    Thanks.

  50. Dwight says:

    Yes, marriage between a believer and unbeliever would be good. In the past I have done what others have done and applied fornication, our understanding of it (sexual sin), to uncleanliness, but it might be more correct to apply uncleanliness to fornication. The concept unclean was broader than what I originally gave it credit for coinciding with idolatry and paganism as well as other things that made one unclean before the Lord. Moving forward is the question, does this apply to fornication the same way in the NT and what does that do to Matt.5 and I Cor. where Paul says, “I not the Lord…” makes a plea, but not law.

  51. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Stephen,

    Unborn Christians? Not sure I follow you.

    On the others, let me point you to some materials already on the site.

    Father/Youth minister: http://oneinjesus.info/category/index/leadership/multi-generationalorange-ministry/ This is an old series that I happen to feel very strongly about — being the father of four sons. The older I get, the more certain I am that this is a good plan.

    Marriage between a believer and an unbeliever: recently mentioned this in http://oneinjesus.info/2015/12/church-2-0-part-10-6-1-ekklesia-in-the-nt-part-4/. I’ve not said much on the subject, but I believe Christians should not marry unbelievers. I’m not that worried about cross-denominational marriages, but to marry an unbeliever — someone who does not believe in Jesus — is a mistake. Not saying it sends someone to hell, but it’s a really bad idea — especially if you plan on having children. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my children raised by a woman who doesn’t know Jesus.

    Some commentary material on 2 Cor 6:14 (regarding being unequally yoked) —

    He bases 6:14 (“unequal yoking”—cf. KJV) on Deuteronomy 22:10 (cf. Lev 19:19), which may have been meant to reinforce the law’s prohibition of interreligious marriage with pagans (cf. Deut 7:3; Ezra 9:12; Neh 13:25).

    Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 503.

    The prohibition in the form of a negative present imperative, “Do not get into,” suggests that the readers were on the brink of doing what Paul here forbids. Such a view of the grammatical intention is consistent with the view that Paul is addressing once more the issues and circumstances that necessitated his unscheduled visit to the Corinthians followed by his “Severe Letter.”

    The prohibition is in the form of a metaphor based on two OT texts, one that banned cross-breeding of animals (LXX Lev 19:19), and the other that forbade the yoking together of an ox and an ass for plowing (Deut 22:10). The force of the metaphor lies in the recognition that the “unbelievers” are of a different “breed” and that care must be taken as to the nature of the relationships one might enter with them. Some scholars have suggested that the notion of incongruity catches the idea of the image; believers must not be incongruously joined to unbelievers; they must selectively disengage from them.9

    Paul Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 344.

    Although precisely what might have constituted a “diverse yoke” or “double harness” for the Corinthians remains unstated, it clearly involved compromise with heathendom, such as contracting mixed marriages (cf. Deut 7:1–3) or initiating litigation before unbelievers in cases involving believers (1 Cor 6:14). Paul is content to state a general principle that needs specific application under the Spirit’s guidance. In expanded form the principle might be expressed thus: “Do not form any relationship, whether temporary or permanent, with unbelievers that would lead to a compromise of Christian standards or jeopardize consistency of Christian witness. And why such separation? Because the unbeliever does not share the Christian’s standards, sympathies, or goals.”

    Murray J. Harris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans through Galatians, 1976, 10, 359.

    The basic command, in 6:14, could refer to any sort of partnership, such as in business. But its most obvious reference is to marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7:12–16 Paul addresses the question of people who become Christians when their spouse does not, and tells them not to separate unless the unbelieving spouse wants to. But in verse 39 of that same chapter he makes it clear that when contracting a fresh marriage it is important that this be only ‘in the Lord’, in other words, to a fellow-Christian. That is the thrust of this passage as well.

    Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 74.

    When I was growing up, this passage meant “Don’t date Baptists because you might wind up marrying one of them!” As a result, many of us have over-reacted in ignoring it altogether for today’s church. But I think the commentators have it right: Don’t marry an unbeliever, but if one spouse is converted and another is not, stay in that marriage.

    The Greek scholars also point out that Paul’s language is very strong: “Don’t even imagine marrying an unbeliever!” But those who’ve violated this command aren’t thereby excluded from the church or required to get divorced.

    Regarding the declining membership in the Churches of Christ, I’ve written extensively on the subject —

    http://oneinjesus.info/category/index/churches-of-christ/churches-of-christ-in-decline/

  52. Stephen says:

    Thank you very much Jay for all your material.

    What I mean by Unborn Christians is people being baptized without entering in the newest of life: no transformation, no regeneration, no new creation, no spiritual rebirth. Many youth baptism does not start with a heart change. They live the same way after then they did before. And their parents have to deal with the same issues then they had before their children got baptized. Many people get re-baptized and it has become an untold rule: be baptized when you are child and think eventually to be re-baptized later. I am looking for a topic addressing baptism in the early youth and spiritual consequences.

    Also, I am trying to build a collection of the most notorious Bible commentators. I listed the
    one I found in these two web sites: http://www.studylight.org and http://biblehub.com. Do you know where else I should look at?

    Thank you.

    Stephen

  53. Dwight says:

    My daughters were baptized, one at age 12 and the other at age 10, because they understood Christ to be the Son of God and that they would be lost without him. This I think is mature thinking. Did they make a radical change from one state to the other, no, but then again they haven’t had to face real life either in all its glory, but they are facing issues that they seem to be showing a Christian character in most of the time, but they still pick at each other and argue, but over all I am pleased as if it really came down to it they would stand up for each other. But then again I know grown ups who have been baptized for years that don’t seem to act Christian like.

  54. Stephen says:

    Dwight, thank you for sharing some of your personal life, I really appreciate it.
    And by the way this is exactly what I am talking about and that I would like to have further and in depth discussions.
    Is there any topic related to this?

  55. Dwight says:

    From what I have seen, as in most things, there is no clear consensus on what age is too young. There are plenty of suggestion ranging from Cornelius and his household being baptized to mean the children as well to only those who can declare a confession of faith with a clear understanding of why to having a list of what qualifies you to be saved.
    I kind of go with the Jewish, “What could it hurt.” (You have to say that with a Jewish accent.)
    The fact is that an early baptism might not be as impacting as we would like to see on a level, but may be more of an impact on the one was baptized on another. So what if they realize they didn’t do it for the right reason earlier and they wanted to be re-baptized. Was it wasn’t a sin to do it initially? I don’t know anywhere in the scriptures where baptism is denied of anybody or we are told to deny one based on certain things. I have seen people turned away from baptism for not having a clear understanding of all of the things associated with salvation (that is from the preachers understanding), but all they need to know is that they are lost and Jesus is the savior. Nobody is perfect even after salvation, not even adults. Would we require more of children? And we all grow at different rates from different starting points. The point is to continue in and not turn back.

  56. Alabama John says:

    We were taught to get baptized as soon as you are allowed by your church. Doing so would allow you in a life or death situation like a truck coming at you in the wrong lane to quickly pray for forgiveness of your sins and you would be forgiven and go to heaven.
    If you didn’t get baptized, you would have to be baptized before the truck hit you or go to hell unforgiven.
    Man that sermon caused a rush of young folks to the front after the closing song!!!

  57. Dwight says:

    AJ, that is extreme pressure and it very common in the conservative circle. But hearing a sermon and then a push to be baptized weekly, sends the same message, but most people kind of phase it out, until they are ready. The invitation is almost like “the end” at the end of a movie or book, no sermon feels complete without it, but it doesn’t really add to the sermon, but is just a closer. I haven’t seen someone come forward to be baptized due to an invitation in many, many years. Most kids today understand that when you are ready, you are ready.

  58. Mark says:

    I’m thinking for every baptism conducted by cofC ministers, three or four were conducted by others including his/her father. The last ones I saw had been scheduled in advance (baptistery filled with warm water or heater in operation) and the parents were congratulated much like at a bar mitzvah or liturgical church baptism service. I think this baptism occurred even before the sermon.

    To me, the invitation at the end of the sermon does not add anything to it, but takes from it.

  59. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Stephen,

    Regarding commentators, Google “Matt Dabbs commentaries.” He’s posted several articles recommending both commentaries and lists made by others.

  60. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Stephen wrote,

    What I mean by Unborn Christians is people being baptized without entering in the newest of life: no transformation, no regeneration, no new creation, no spiritual rebirth. Many youth baptism does not start with a heart change. They live the same way after then they did before. And their parents have to deal with the same issues then they had before their children got baptized. Many people get re-baptized and it has become an untold rule: be baptized when you are child and think eventually to be re-baptized later. I am looking for a topic addressing baptism in the early youth and spiritual consequences.

    I’ve not seen a lot written on the topic, and it’s always going to be a judgment call. The more “conservative” one is, the easier it is to see the need for re-baptism, as the tendency is to find salvation in the perfection of the baptism rather than the perfection of the Savior.

    Now, if a baptism is conducted utterly without faith, then I suppose it’s a sham. It’s not only not an expression of faith but it’s not an expression of obedience or discipleship. It’s just getting wet. And I’ve known people who just got wet because they utterly lacked faith — seeing baptism either as a magic spell or an escape from overbearing parents. But these are extreme cases.

    In the 1970s, there was a push for rebaptisms, on the theory that the convert did not understanding the “lordship” of Christ fully — adding one more checklist item to what is required for a baptism to take. But we were quite clear back then that baptism required repentance, and I fail to see a meaningful difference between repentance and understanding the Lordship of Christ. So I think many a young person was duped into a rebaptism by being taught what they already knew — just in different words that were italicized and boldfaced. I mean, they made Jesus Lord, but did they make him Lord? How intensely did they intend it? Well, I’m not sure that’s the test.

    Your comments go in what I think is the right direction. Ultimately, the test of one of fruit of the Spirit and a faith lived. If the baptized person bears fruit of the Spirit and lives as someone with faith, I see no reason to question his baptism.

  61. Dwight says:

    Jay, the restoration era directly following, but not really associated with the Stone-Campbell, was based on the supposition that those saved were not really saved by the standards they knew and should have gone by more strenuous and correct standards. In fact the invitation system wasn’t for the alien sinners, but for the lost who believed they were saved. It wasn’t enough to know the simple path of Christ, one had to know the many perceived bends in the road as well. And it was the preacher who administered the litmus test for salvation.
    Now in the coC there is more of a don’t ask, don’t tell and lets assume everything is kosher, which is good to see.
    And yet if you are baptized in the wrong church (other denominations) you are baptized wrong.
    The more things change the more they stay the same.
    The litmus ought to be as simple as do you know Jesus as your savior. Simple and true.

  62. Mark says:

    “And it was the preacher who administered the litmus test for salvation.” This is very conflicting because the cofC made sure they preached on the priesthood of all believers, that there was no special group called the clergy, and that the preacher was an ordinary person. Some preachers went so far as to rail against the Catholic church because priests grant absolution and there was a clergy lay divide. Yet, the ordinary man who was the preacher could administer the litmus test for salvation and even determined and pronounced divine judgement.

  63. Stephen says:

    Jay, Should we continue on the topic of early youth baptism here or you rather create a new post for this?

  64. Dwight says:

    Mark, this shouldn’t be so surprising and maybe it isn’t after al when you hire a person to be the voice of the gospels for all those in attendance you have created a natural divide of who is “qualified” and who isn’t. We think the preachers should know better, but they aren’t any more inspired than any other person who decides to get up at the podium, even though they might have a nice speaking manner and presentation. Every Sunday the preacher decides and pronounces judgments, it is their goal to tell others what they may and may not do and what constitutes sin and what doesn’t. In some ways I think the Jews had it right in the synagogues and Temple in that often times they just read the scriptures and allowed the people to apply.

  65. Dwight says:

    Now I would be remiss if I didn’t say that there is a place for preachers, but preachers and evangelist should be preaching and teaching to those who don’t have Christ. They are messengers of the Good News to those who don’t have it. They shouldn’t be burdened with the job of tell the saved how to be saved on a weekly basis.

  66. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    New post added. Enjoy.

  67. Stephen says:

    Jay, Very kind from you. God bless.

Leave a Reply