After 37 years of being involved in Christian churches & some of that time in full time ministry, I have made the following conclusion. While churches come in all shapes, sizes & denominations, they generally consist of three main parts: Spirituality, Social Dynamics, and Church Politics. Understanding this will help the individual find the kind of group he/she is looking for.
Defined as government structure, denominational loyalty, who is in power; taking sides. Church politics is in the order of that stuff we all had in first grade - "My dog is better than your dog" or "my dad can beat up your dad."
Example: I AM chairman of the board, deacon, pastor, etc AND YOU’RE NOT.
Example: Who is the most prominent family around here? We really want to know.
Example: No matter what miracles those holy rollers experience, we will have no part of the Holy Spirit around here.
Example: Those "OTHER" faiths are way off - they couldn’t be saved. . We are not like them and we do not like them.
Defined as getting along well with others; sociable (a social nature). Of, for, or involving friends, companionship, or sociability. Offering material aid, counseling services, group recreational activities, etc. to those who need it.
Example: We are right and we are all family here because we love God and each other. Of course its better if you have a congenial personality or a prominent position in the church.
Example: Formal membership is expected AND adoption of our political code is mandatory. Otherwise you will not be welcome and will get the cold shoulder. Some of the above elements of politics & social "stuff" might make for good group psychology, but they do muddy up the "water" of true religion. (See "Religion Divides" link 32)
In Christianity, this means, being a follower of Jesus Christ & a possessor of His salvation & values. Such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, & self control. It also means having a desire to promote the values & salvation of Christ in the local community to nurture church growth. It strives toward a balanced concept of God - Father, Son & Holy Spirit. It honors the Bible as the living Word of God. It has to mean giving love & acceptance to others as God has demonstrated His love to the world. It is an active desire and a lifestyle of being close to God. It puts an emphasis on prayer, tapping into the provisions of God and living in the power of the Spirit rather than self sufficiency. Acts 1:8, Psalm 127:1
The LIVING Church The DEAD Church
Philadelphia – Revelation 3:7-13 Laodicea – Revelation 3:14-17
Now it is true that even in a spiritual church there will be some politics and social games. The real sad story is when the church offers little more than human games. We should support churches that haven’t defeated their own purpose with petty humanness. By all means be Christian and go to church. But to maximize one's growth & victory in Christ, the LIVING church is the place to be. See "Which Church is Right?" link #49
Many other Titles: www.gospelnotes.net - Link 1 is Index * * F. J. Stone * *