COME FOR A VISIT?
A friend has recently moved to another city and is looking for a Church. He tells me that a couple of folks, from a Church he and his wife had visited, called and asked if they could drop by for a visit. They had come from their own area to visit my friend in their city. MAN, THAT IS ‘OLD SCHOOL’, but a nice touch!
Now-a-days, most churches tell their members just to invite your friends TO CHURCH. We are being told that visiting folks in their homes just doesn’t work anymore – actually very little is being said about ‘going out and visiting’. We are told we can hand out invitation cards, invite people to a church play or some entertainment event at church or any score of other ‘unique and modern methods’.
So, I did a search in the Bible to see how the early Church had such explosive growth and I could not find even ONE example of people inviting people to a church. No, not even one example.
But, here is what I found, instead:
Matthew 11:1 “When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.”
Matthew 10:11 “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, see that your blessing of peace comes upon it. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.
Matthew 9:35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.
Mark 6:56 Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the marketplaces, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.
Luke 4:43 But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”
Luke 5:12 While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Acts 8:40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
Mark 2:15 “And it happened that Jesus was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating with tax collectors and sinners?”
Now, let’s see if I got this right. The Bible and Jesus say to…
1. GO OUT to their cities and villages
2. Preach and teach the Gospel, tell them about Jesus
3. Pray for the sick; heal every manner of sickness and disease
4. Invite them to your home for dinner and discussions
*No mention of inviting people to church to get saved or to hear a sermon. None.
So, how did we get from “there” to “here”?
People began using church buildings around 300 AD because Emperor Constantine built one for convenience, organization, and control. He built it because he became a Christian, so the story goes. But, as an Emperor, he also built it as a public display and a monument and constructed it to maintain order, show grandeur and to intimidate the audience by these things. (Go into one and see).
Want to know what I think? We have been conditioned.
“Despite the bold title, the authors do not advocate the overthrow of existing church communities. They are not out to inspire rebellion. Rather, they want us to be aware of the humanly devised traditions that have come to mean church for so many contemporary believers. Once alerted to these issues, believers are encouraged to either leave quietly and find a New Testament church or live peacefully in their present faith community.
“The next time you go to church, you might wonder when people began going to church. Given the extant information, it seems church buildings did not appear until about the year 300 AD. For more than two centuries, Christians worshiped in small groups.
“In time, the church as an organized religion began the construction of sacred buildings with special physical (pulpit, pews, balconies) and cultural trappings (special priests, choirs, incense).
“Aside from the unchristian origins of these developments, the authors punctuate their criticism by noting the high cost of such religious overhead. They estimated the value of church real estate as over $230 billion (that was before the financial crisis of 2008). Mortgages and maintenance requires a substantial portion of the $50 to $60 billion churches garner from tithes and offerings. What makes their critique of the traditional Sunday morning worship sequence interesting is their review of the origins of the familiar service outline.
“Aside from the pagan origins, they note the missed opportunity for spiritual transformation that could occur in a more active and participative format.
“The next pillar to fall is the holy sermon, which has its roots in Greek oratory. They note the limited examples of speeches in the Old Testament and New Testament before suggesting how the contemporary sermon hinders growth. They also point to research on the ineffectiveness of sermons.
“Where did the pastor come from?”. Not surprisingly, the notion of a professional clergy caste does not come from scripture. The authors advocate the priesthood of all believers and demonstrate the problems inherent in a pastor-driven church. Not only do pastors and their families suffer from the stress created by the contemporary position but talented believers also suffer from inhibited spiritual growth.
“Although the authors present some meritorious arguments for reforming church leadership, they do not suggest much in the way of developing capable leaders. Perhaps this must wait for a sequel.
“For those who still hold to fundamentalist teaching about tithing, the chapter explaining the unchristian origins of the ancient Israelite income tax may prove enlightening. The authors not only expose this common misinterpretation of scripture but also go further to challenge the use of donations to support a paid clergy, which are beholden to their large donors. Instead, believers unburdened by such unnecessary personnel expenses, can freely give to those in need without fear of obligation or manipulation.”
So, what’s my point?
Well, survey’s and studies show church in America is in decline(s). Decline in membership, decline in regular attendance, decline in income (tithes and offerings), decline in morals and ethics, decline from the Bible’s clear message.
The church is following and has become like the pagan culture in America, and it’s the same for the rest of the world. America and the rest of the world are lost in a moral and spiritual nosedive. It’s urgent for Christians to get back to Christ and the Bible.
Just a reminder, that we are alien to this world. Sojourners, on mission from God to be The Church, the Body of Christ on earth, organic, on the move, lifting up Jesus, calling sinners home. The “Final Harvest” is begun.
Please, let’s all pray for America and for the Church to repent and turn to God, that our land may be healed and restored.
Your Brother and Friend,
PS: I know that not ALL churches are falling into Apostasy, but the majority have fallen. https://whitestone2020.com/2021/02/10/deception-within-the-church/