Are You ‘Playing The Church Game’?
I played the church game for many years before it was clear that God wanted me to move on. After a miraculous rescue from a near fatal motorcycle crash, I was better able to trust God, and better able to hear his voice, and his call on my life. My pastors never preached much about seeking and following the Holy Spirit, but my Bible studies made that clear to me. God provided me with a new (better fitting) ministry, and he warned me that an end would come to my serving at church.
God then placed some difficult questions before me, questions that our church leadership was unwilling to answer. Questions like:
1. Why do we continue to ask for tithes when we are aware the origins of the tithe doctrine was not of God. History placed the first teaching on paying 10% to our churches at 300-500 AD.
2. More importantly, why do we ignore the command to participatory worship gatherings in 1 Cor 14?
3. Why do we ignore servant leadership teachings, the leader as the slave?
Overall though, I think the biggest sin of today’s church is selfishness. Instead of equipping believers to live the life Jesus calls them to, and being transformed, churches are mostly concerned with their own survival and growth. They replace the instructions on sharing our testimony with telling people to invite others to church. Rather than insisting that each believer seek out his spiritual gift and his ministry, everyone is just encourage to help out at church. If you are just Playing the Church Game you will probably find many of these negative indicators pertain to you and your church:
1. No recent signs of God’s Discipline in your life – ‘I chasten all I love’
2. No recent changes in the way we think. God promises to transform us by renewing our mind – by changing the way we think.
3. Not recently taking opportunities to witness, not sharing our testimony, not giving out tracts or sharing materials
4. Not spending time seeking God by studying his Word, and seeking the Holy Spirit through meditation and prayer
5. Not taking the opportunities we are given to help the weak, the poor, the foreigner & prisoner
6. Not recognizing, growing & using our spiritual gift to help other believers
7. Not seeking and accepting our assignment, and carrying our cross – fulfilling our assignment.
If this describes you, if it turns out you are just ‘playing the Church game’, don’t be too hard on yourself. Our church practices have violated the Biblical call for centuries. We’ve rejected key Biblical teachings [Servant Leadership, Priesthood of Believers, Participatory Gatherings, and added a bunch of un-biblical practices [most notably Talking Head Preaching]. Today’s western churches have fallen far below the mark that God set.
On the other hand we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
KJV Phi 2;12 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. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.
NIV Eph 5;8-17 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.“15 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. [17NLT Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.]
-The wise were ‘making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.’
This is not a new problem. Take a look at this excerpt from a 1920 pamphlet by Frank B Holes titled “Assembly Principles” updated by Roger P Daniel in 1977
“When we see the truth of the Church as presented in Scripture and we think about putting it into practice, we become aware that the present general condition of Christendom (professing-christianity) is a total denial of these church truths.”
…Can the truth of the Church be practiced under present conditions? How is it possible today?
It would be impossible to walk into any building where religious services were being performed according to a liturgy (a formal order of service) or by an ordained minister and try to gather according to the principles laid down by the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 12 and 14. Any who attempted it would be considered disorderly. The only way to practice the truth as to the Church is by ceasing to practice what is not the truth. This can only be done by withdrawing from all that has no approval from Scripture. Being free from disobedience, we then can be obedient. Thus, we must first cease to do evil and then learn to do good. Any attempt to go on with both would be a great disservice to the cause of truth. It would say, in effect, that there is no basic, real difference between what is purely human and what is divine and, consequently, we can go on with either or both.”
… “First of all, the intrusion of any human system or organization into the divine order, to where the divine order is eventually obliterated, is a very grievous sin! It is not a sin to be attached to any one individual since it has crept in slowly: still it is a serious evil. It is a striking fact that at the close of a long passage on the divine order for the actual assembling of the church in 1 Cor. 14, Paul warns, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (14: 37). In this way, the Holy Spirit anticipated the careless tendencies that invariably come out whenever carnality (natural human, worldly ways) prevails, which tendencies are prominent today.
When spiritual power is low and worldly principles come into the Church, the tendency is to find divine order irksome because it makes certain demands on a good spiritual condition ― a condition not present. It also exposes the worldly-weakness which is present. So, the strong temptation is to be careless as to the instructions of Scripture: useful on many occasions, interesting, instructive but optional ― something that may be obeyed, not something that must be obeyed. All this, however, is entirely swept away by the fact that these instructions are “the commandments of the Lord.” We thus are not at liberty to alter them according to our tastes and feelings:”
May we all become wise, and stop playing the church game. May we become fruitful, ‘making the most of every opportunity’ seeking God and embracing our call.