Questions People Ask About "Our Church"
We’ve all been there – a neighbor, co-worker, acquaintance etc. will say:
“You go to church, right?”
“Yes, I do.”
“What denomination is your church?”
The question is quite understandable since we live in a world where there are so many religious denominations. People who wish to know more about us desire a simple label that will identify for them our religious convictions. If we should say: “I’m a Mormon,” or “I am a Jehovah’s Witness” there would be no need for further discussion.
We may be tempted to answer by simply telling them the name of the local church where we are a member, This, however, leaves a wrong impression. Since they have asked about the name of my “denomination,” they will assume that the name I give them is the name of my denomination. Fact is, I am not a member of a denomination, nor am I affiliated with a denomination. You see, “denomination” implies a division or a category with a name. Division among followers of Christ is contrary to His will. The Holy Spirit states: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians4:4-6. These words alone should be enough to tell us to avoid being a part of any division of God’s people.
Webster defines denomination as “a religious organization uniting in a single legal and administrative body a number of local congregations.” Local congregations are clearly authorized by the scriptures but not a religious organization that unites them.
But, is it possible in our day and time to avoid denominationalism? If it was possible in the early days of Christianity, it is possible now! On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when Peter first proclaimed the gospel, those who received it and “were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) were “added to the church” (vs.41, 47). They were not added to a religious organization or a denomination, they were added to the body of Christ (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3; 1Corinthians 12:13). The Lord did the adding and He still adds to His church those being saved (Ax 2:47). If I’m saved and do not join a denomination, then I am just what those early Christians were.
The idea of being undenominational Christians has become increasingly pop-ular in recent years. However, this preference does not seem to result so much from a study of the scriptures as from dissatisfaction with “organized religion.”
Often folks today claim no responsibility to any group of Christians and do not participate in any organized worship service to God. This is clearly not the picture found in the New Testament after baptism, with those early believers – (Acts 2:42). In fact, in every city thereafter where there were converts, those new disciples worshiped in local assemblies or “churches” (Acts 14:23).
Those congregations were not united in any kind of legal or administrative body and therefore were not part of a denomination.
So, if you ask me, “What is your denomination?” I must tell you that I am not a part of any denomination. I am simply a Christian. I worship with a local church, but it is not affiliated with any denomination. There are many others like it, but each is independent of the other and is subject only to Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the body, the church…….” (Colossians 1:8).
When visiting our assemblies people often develop questions about our worship. In fact, we may seem a bit odd to many, but it’s a fine thing to inquire why we do what we do. Some are struck by the absence of mechanical instruments of music that are so popular in denominations. Our a cappella singing reflects our sincere effort to restore the original pattern of New Testament worship by respecting the authority found in Christ’s word. In fact, a cappella is an Italian word derived from Latin meaning, “in the style of the church.” You see, vocal singing alone reflects New Testament historic church music.
“Why do you not use instruments in your worship?”we are asked. “Because it is God’s revealed choice” is the answer. John 4:24 teaches us that proper worship to God must be “in spirit and in truth.” Truth in this passage means in harmony with God’s revealed truth in His word (cf. John 16:13; 17:17). In our congregational singing, the Lord’s revealed truth instructs us to speak “to one another …” in this music (Ephesians 5:19). The Lord wants us to make music in our heart, so the instrument we use is our inner man. Respecting God’s choice of church music means we respect what He has said, as well as His teaching not to add or take away from the word. When we look at all New Testament passages relating to music in the church assembly, vocal singing is the only music specified.
Some may ask, “But didn’t they use instrumental music in the Psalms?” Yes, under the Law of Moses, mechanical instruments were used in Jewish Temple worship (II Chronicles 29:25). Also included were animal sacrifices, Jewish festivals, and burning of incense. These things were all a part of the old covenant given the Jews, and were temporary (cf Hebrews 9:9-10). It ended with the death of Jesus and the beginning of the new covenant (Hebrews 8:13; Galatians 3:24-25). Interestingly, there are 112 allusions from 97 different Psalms in the New Testament, but not once is instrumental music referenced.
Scripture commands, “not to exceed what is written” (I Corinthians 4:6). Thus, we are content to submit to New Testament authority in faith, practice and in spirit. Jesus warns that worship is rendered “vain” by adding the teachings of men (Mark 7:7ff). Therefore, we do not want to substitute our own will over God’s revealed will by our own personal preferences. Thus, we seek only to do what God has revealed, which we know is unquestionably right. (I Peter 4:11).
Another question we are asked frequently:
Why Do You Partake of Communion Every Sunday?
Shortly before His death, Jesus, while eating the Passover with His disciples, gave a portion of this meal a new and enduring meaning. He told them the unleavened bread would represent His body, and the fruit of the vine would represent His blood. (Luke 22:14-20).
The disciples clearly understood that this act would be a fundamental part of worship. We know this because they preached it in the churches they established. Paul’s instruction in I Corinthians 11:23-26 illustrates this for us.
Now, the frequency and day of observance are not clearly stated in the form of a command, however, it is clear from the practice of the Apostle Paul that the Lord’s Supper was an observance that took place on Sunday (aka: 1st day of the week). In Acts 20:6-7 Paul delayed his trip to Jerusalem so that he might eat the Lord’s Supper with the church on the 1st day of the week. Here it speaks of
Christians assembling on Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread,” a term synonymous with the Lord’s Supper (cf. Acts 2:42)
A significant portion of I Corinthians is devoted to problems concerning their assemblies. One of these problems pertained to the Suppers observance. First Corinthians 11:20 shows this should have been their purpose in assembling, however, their divisive spirit made a meaningful observance of the Supper impossible. While Paul does not specifically state how frequently they were to eat this Supper, there are some relevant details in the context that provides helpful information. I Corinthians 16:1-2 shows they were to assemble every Sunday. If their purpose in assembling was to eat the Lord’s Supper (as was the practice of the Christians at Troas (Acts 20:7), it would seem clear they were to do this each week when they assembled. Combining these passages leads us to conclude it is the will of the Lord and is to be a fundamental part of each Sunday worship. Thus we observe the Lord’s Supper weekly because we believe it’s the pattern that the Lord has revealed in His word.
Still another question we are often asked:
What Does Your Church Have To Offer Our Family?
Every person, according to his interests or needs, could present projects for the local church to support. E.g. some could focus upon music, while others are drawn to athletics. Working mothers would find it beneficial to have a day care; or the elderly a retirement village. The list could go on and on asit does for the denominational world. The majority of churches have some form of appeal to the domestic pressures of life or the recreational desires of the public.
I would be the first to admit that in my earlier years as a teenager, if someone would have invited me to play on a church-sponsored baseball team, my gut instinct would have jumped at the opportunity. Not because I was interested in “church”, but because of my passion to play ball. My point is this: Personal interests have nothing to do with the real mission of the Lord’s church.
Any convenience facility or social benefit that could be supplied out of the Lord’s treasury falls short of the overwhelming need to spread the Gospel and bring lost souls out of sin and darkness (Acts 26:17-18). You see, what really changes lives is the Word of God, not a ballgame!
If the Lord’s goal for His people is to save souls, do we need an “angle” or a “drawing card” to appeal to the lost?Human reasoning tells us that we need something to “lure” people in, but that’s how the world looks at religion. Make going to worship like a party and more will come.But do people become truly convicted using this approach? Countless attempts have been made in the past and are continuing to be made today by so many religious groups to appeal to the physical desires of the public. As long as the free meals and activities keep coming, so do the people. But when the programs stop, the people stop coming.
I read a preacher’s comments about his aunt who worshiped in Texas, and how the elders in the church were interested in building a gym to appeal to the youth of the area. They took an extensive poll of other congregations and denominations that had a gym to see if having one worked as an outreach tool. They were unanimously advised against it.
Jesus refused to make disciples by satisfying their carnal desires. He did not try to compete with the things the world has to offer (John 6:26; 66-67). Money spent on entertainment may last a few hours. Money spent on feeding someone may last five hours. Money spent in the service of God and preaching of His Gospel lasts for eternity.
We do not apologize when asked what we have to offer and are unable to list entertainment or other secular interests. Our worship is simple, devout, and governed by the Bible alone. Not all will come, but what we have to offer is the teaching of God’s word about the mercy and grace of God that is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus says for the good and honest heart, that’s all that is needed (Luke 8:15)!