Monday, July 30, 2012

When Should You Leave Your Church?

We've been looking at trends within our church lately.  One of them seems to be this 'revolving door' phenomenon where we maintain, or slightly lose, overall membership, but regularly have high turnover.  We're also being told that we're about to enter into a time where there will be major changes to the way we do things.  Though that hopefully means the 'revolving door' will be shut, it may also mean a more rapid exodus of those who don't appreciate major changes to the way things are done.

Change can be good.  It's an opportunity.  
It can also be difficult and uncomfortable.  
How will the church view and respond to it?

So, the question of this post is it's title 'When should you leave your church?'.

Some would say that short of direct heresy being preached from the pulpit, you should never leave your church.  You're part of a body.  Don't amputate yourself.  In fact, quit being a useless limb and get to work on any of the problems that you perceive.  Others may think leaving or changing churches is no different than deciding Kroger has better prices than Walmart on groceries.  There may be many views in between.  Preaching styles, children's programs, youth programs, music programs, a sense of connectedness, etc. may all factor in to what's considered a legitimate reason for finding a new church.  

But should they?

What would you consider a legitimate reason for leaving?
What do you think God's view is on church membership?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Were you predestined to read this?

Today's topic is Calvinism.  It's a rather difficult and broad one.  But I think we can break down and discuss some of it's elements, and hopefully get a better grasp on the concept in the process.  

In order to have the most interesting and engaging conversation possible, I'm not going to google search anything about this topic for now.  In the follow-up responses by anybody, we can do some research.  But for now, I'm just writing from the heart.  

First, I'd like to break apart the idea of being predestined (or foreordained) for salvation from the idea of having all of our daily actions being predetermined.  I think this is one sticking point, or possible misunderstanding, about Calvinism.  We can discuss both of these things, but the most important (and interesting, in my opinion) is the salvation issue.

Not all Calvinists like this acrostic, but it's helpful - TULIP.
T - total depravity of man
U - unconditional election 
L - limited atonement
I - irresistable grace
P - perseverance of the saints
(OK, I googled that cause I usually get the U wrong)

Some christians say they're 3 or 4 point Calvinists.  Usually the L and I are the 2 debated points.  

Obviously, if antonement is limited (the L), Christ didn't die for all people.  But personally, I think Calvinism is proved, or disproved, by I.  Is God's call 'irresistible'?  Does man have the option to resist?  Calvinists would say that once God has regenerated a soul, that soul willingly accepts God's offer of salvation.  In other words, the question isn't CAN man resist, there simply is no desire TO resist.  Yet we often hear this idea that Christ is 'knocking'.  Won't you open the door?  Will you reject Him?  Or we may have heard people say, 'I felt God tugging at my heart, but I just didn't want to respond'.  That doesn't sound too irresistible.  Or was it merely human emotion at work?

Most baptists I know are reluctant to identify themselves with Calvinism (or sometimes the word Reformed is used).  However, we also can't ignore the many references in the bible to the elect, the chosen, the predestined, the foreordained, and so on.  

Calvinism is heavy on God's sovereignty in saving us, and I think that's a good thing.  Some complain that it would necessarily minimize evangelism due to the elect being secure - regardless of whether or not you and I witness to them.

These are just a few points to raise.  What are your thoughts?
It's obviously becoming a very big topic in the Baptist church today.
In fact, the Kentucky Baptist Convention is sponsoring an all-day conference August 4th at Crestwood Baptist Church entitled 'Calvinism:  Concerned, Confused or Curious.  Cost $45.
I'm signed up.

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