Church Attendance – Key to a Fruitful Life

There seems to be an emphasis these days within the Christian City Church movement on the importance of being in church every week, as some kind of duty that you owe the rest of the church body, and as part of being a ‘good’ Christian.

If you don’t make it every week, you are not committed enough. You can’t access God’s Presence as fully anywhere else. Particularly if you are a leader, you should be there each week as an example to others. Now, on Phil Pringle’s blog, using Psalm 92:13, he promises that if you do this, God will cause your whole life to flourish.

Ps 92:13 KJV

13Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

The post is Phil Pringle’s “Easter” blog message. In it, he stresses the importance of being planted in the ‘house of God’, not just attending church, and urges people to use Easter as an opportunity to recommit to coming to church every week. Ps Pringle says that a lifelong commitment to “the priority of being in the House of God will make us fruitful all our days”. Google his blog, and read it for yourself. (Mmm… I thought this was quite an original angle on the importance of Easter.)

My local CCC discourages members from going away for the weekend together, unless they can make it back in time for church on Sunday. They don’t discourage people from taking normal family holidays, but do discourage groups from the church going on weekends away together resulting in missing church completely. Leaders in particular are discouraged from making these arrangements. (I’ve been told that applied at CCCOF too). Time away that skips a church service is seen by the local CCC leadership as ‘social’, not ‘holy to God’ like time in church, even if it is a prayer retreat or fellowship for a home group, and these relationship building things are not as vital as attending church each weekend, even if its just once or twice a year that a group from church goes away.

My local church took it one step further, even preaching once that part of holiness was getting to church on time. (Not sure where that is in scripture, but anyway, there it was.) One person wanting to serve in a ministry (which ironically would prevent them from attending many services) was told to take ‘baby steps’ first – the first one being to attend on time. This was a challenge for that person, for family reasons, and had nothing to do with their ministry effectiveness.

Reading Ps Pringle’s latest blog seems to me to show that this view on weekly attendance wasn’t unique to my local church, but is taught as doctrine within the movement. (Although perhaps not the emphasis on being on time?) If you are not attending church each week, you are not thoroughly abiding in God, it seems.

Well, I’ve heard that one preached before. Obviously I don’t see church attendance as ‘abiding in God’ – I hope I abide in God every day, not just for an hour on a Sunday. What I hadn’t heard before was that attending church weekly would cause your whole life to flourish!

I don’t know if this is taught at Hillsong, but I’d be interested to know how widespread it is, or is it a CCC specialty?

*****************
RavingPente


81 thoughts on “Church Attendance – Key to a Fruitful Life

  1. Despite this Easter message, which I find strange, PP’s previous post on “God is love” is good! In that one, he talks about knowing and believing that God loves us; about deinstitutionalising the church, and even notes that “so much of Christianity has not presented this to the world” (presumably the message that God is love).

    Importantly, in this previous post, abiding in love is abiding in God, rather than attending church weekly being abiding in God.

    Its as though there are two types of Christianity being preached; one of which is great, while the other quite strange.

  2. I thought that was a bit strange talking about deinstitutionalising the church – when the Easter message is about being planted in the ‘House of God’ and being in church every week. How much more institutionalising can you get?

    Then I read the blog and saw what he meant by deinstitutionalising. “Dont let the Church and Christian organisations do for you what you could do yourself – feed the hungry, give to the poor …”

    Not bad advice from the parisioners point of view, but it kind of lets the church organisation off the hook a bit dosent it? You must attend regularly (and presumably contribute financially), but you shouldnt expect that the church will contribute to the community – you must do that yourself, its your responsibility.

  3. Haven’t read PP’s blog, but to me the idea that a person must be in their designated church Sunday in/Sunday reeks of law. Having said that I’m in mine most Sundays – but that’s my choice made by me for and in obedience to what I believe God would have me do.

    There are other ways for people to fellowship and meet with God’s people, who might be being led to those exact places.

    A good way to get in unfruitful and ultimately unwinnable argument.

  4. And again having got that point I’ve made the decision not to attend my church for the next to terms in advance so I can take my youngest son to hockey which he really cares about.

    I could tell he has to be in church (which he currently enjoys), or I could turn it into a place that he will resent.

    We’ll probably try and find a place that has an evening service and go there.

  5. Yes, that’s an interesting point wazza. Of course giving to the poor is pleasing to God, and individuals are commended for it in the NT, but the local churches are also expected to care for the needy amongst them who had no one, such as the widows on the widows’ list. Caring for the poor was one of the primary activities in the early church, both at an individual and group level.

    Maybe PP meant that expecting the church to do these things shouldn’t prevent people from incorporating that kind of individual giving in their own lives?

    Or maybe he thinks that doing those things distracts people from focussing on the single vision for the church (building the church), and means the church has programs and energy aimed in directions that aren’t central to its main drive.

    Perhaps it will become clearer as his blog continues!

    Personally, I think the Bible teaches that we give to the poor, and sometimes the best way to do that is to do it through an organisation that can direct the funds effectively. My concern is that building campaigns and tithing absorb so much of people’s financial capacity that they are drained by the time it comes to giving to the poor or needy, who really need the help. Sometimes pushing building campaigns and tithing even hurts the poor and needy in the congregation who should be receiving from the church around them rather than giving at that time.

  6. Sounds like a good decision out of love for your son, MN. I like the idea that you don’t want him to resent church and are finding a way to meet both his needs.

    I can imagine going to church weekly again if I found the right place and felt that it was what God would have me do at that time. There have been times when I’ve found it pretty good. There was even a time when I went several times a day! (Then I became ‘meetinged out’.)

    I do think its helpful to meet intentionally in some form. I think all forms can be healthy or unhealthy. Its when it becomes a bit legalistic, as you point out, that it becomes a problem.

    I know of one Pentecostal church where rather than preaching to people that they need to come each week to be ‘holy’ or to ‘flourish’, instead the pastor thanks them for coming; assures them that he only wants them to be there if they really want to be there, and find it of benefit. The congregation reacts pretty well to that. That church has quite an encouraging approach to a number of things.

  7. Well. He’s done it again.
    check out his blog now with ‘Who Does God Meet With?’.

    http://philpringle.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/who-does-god-meet-with/

    First there’s the subliminal mind-manipulation of the ‘Presence’ conference.

    Then Phil cherry picks a scripture and then stupidly makes his own fancy beliefs from it. The scripture this time being:
    Isa 64:5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways.

    Read all of Isaiah 64 and you will discover that this prophetic utterance comes across like a plea, mourn & a lament. So obviously God didn’t meet this woeful prophet. For as the infallible Phil points out ‘God likes happy people’.

    Allot of the old testament scriptures are not recorded on joyous occasions. The prophetic books are doom and gloom with a glimpses of hope while Jeremiah keeps wailing in Lamentations. You have Macaiah, a thorn in the side of kings as God uses this pessimist too.

    The bible is actually full of woe until you hit the book of Acts onwards, NOT full of joy as Phil suggests. Allot of the bible is very factual and records very bloody and sinful accounts.

    The word ‘joy’ does not mean ‘happiness’ as what Phil implies. ‘Joy’ in scripture means to be deeply satisfied/assured/secure with what you have. It’s from this ‘joy’ we can feel anchored in Him. Happiness is actually an unhealthy thing to chase and is unbiblical.

    It means ‘fortunate chance’. So that moment of joy when you win the lottery is ‘happiness’. To live in such a continual state is unhealthy. To chase and live off these fortunate moments that result in these feelings is dangerous.

    Joy is not happiness. Joy is greater then happiness.

    Because Phil is emphasizing happiness on this topic of who God only seems to meet, one can now see the works behind this petty attempt to be plastic towards God and others in the church environment.

    God came to a fallen humanity. Not a happy humanity. Not a righteous humanity. And definitely not a humanity that remembers Him. He met us in our fallen state.

    Now in Him, we can be satisfied (joyous) in Him, in spite of our circumstances that we’re facing. That’s the gospel: He meets us. And we are thankful that He is with us and in us, working things for the greater good. He assures us that He is control. That’s faith and that’s living the gospel message.

  8. S&P … totally agree with you. Joy in the lord does not mean happiness in the narrow understanding we might have of that word. It really is being content, regardless of the circumstances we are in, because we aren’t allowed to be under those circumstances, we are to be above them, to be on top of them.

    haven’t read PP’s blog but without doing so, I can’t stick my neck out and slam him. (well, I can’t yet … I am also trying to be ‘open-minded’ and give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s my narrow-minded approach to becoming mature in the Lord. However, since S&P has read it in full, he is, of course, fully entitled to slam PP. 😉 )

    Anyway, I did ask, why bother going to church at all? What is the point?

    Discuss …

    Shalom!

  9. Well, I’m not going to slam PP, as only God knows his heart. But – I can say I disagree with that latest blog post that you pointed out, S&P.

    I think that a focus on being ‘joyful’ in the sense of being happy all the time (or most of it), is both shallow, and another way of dismissing potential voices of dissent. Those voices aren’t joyful. It’s hard to be joyful when you think you see dysfunction, or practices that contradict Jesus teachings.

    There is an implication that if God only likes to hang around happy people, those who are unhappy don’t have God, and we all know that’s untrue.

    Still – I can see his point that in the past some have portrayed Christianity as sombre and serious all the time and agree that God’s plan is not for us to live in perpetual misery. I am not sure that this teaching is still prevalent though – the pendulum seems to have swung pretty far in the ‘happy’ direction since then.

  10. PP’s blog is a fertile source for discussion – I listened to his teaching for 9 years, and have absorbed some of it into my psyche – I’m reading his blog at times to get a handle on that, and to reread what scripture actually says on these topics – consciously replacing the teaching.

  11. maybe the credit crunch is God’s will for the church to get over ‘prosperity’ in the purely financial sense.

    PP’s danger (Brian Houston’s as well) is that all the prosperity gospel thinking becomes entrenched and fixed so that they can’t actually discover the real truth.

    To be content with what you have. Whether with riches or poverty.

    Shalom.

  12. Committed attendance at church meetings = God’s blessings. That has been the view of every CCC church and AOG church that I have been a part of in the last 15 years or so (including Gold Coast, Sydney, regional NSW, Hobart).
    Attendance was expected at both Sunday am and pm meetings or your commitment to Jesus questioned. And that seems to be only the very basic expectation at CCC and AOG churches. Most expect a far greater amount of time to be given in mid-week events and planning meetings, etc.
    I have always regarded it as an extreme view, legalistic, and a sign that the leadership were not confident in their people to stick around. As if a weekend away would lure us away for good. And they wonder why I left. My ex-church in Hobart is verging on a cult in its leadership’s tight but willingly received hold over its people. Very odd. Glad I escaped, no exaggeration.
    We were taught these things at Bible College. Missing Sunday meetings and going away in groups would mean empty seats, less ‘atmosphere and buzz’ on Sunday morning, and a high possibility of fewer tithes coming in.
    Why are we surprised??

  13. Yeah, I got out because it was going culty. The wierdness made us start questioning the whole thing and theologically the whole thing came crashing down. Sad really.

  14. It’s math, people – if you don’t turn up, how can we be sure we can guilt you into putting money in the plate or stopping by the coffee shop/book store on the way out?! Of course non-attendance can be covered by our auto-debit feature we got you to sign up for when we got you through our “membership” classes.

    How are you people every gonna grow the church if you never turn up?! Come on, guys…

  15. May Queen – its interesting you were taught that in Bible College. (Bible college is obviously not just to do with learning about what the Bible says.) Sounds from what you say that this approach is common in CCC – I know it was present at CCCOF and my ex-church, but wasn’t sure if it was movement wide (or in Hillsong as well – thanks Fake Brian).

    Our pastor definitely subscribed to those views about going away for weekends etc – some members who’d been around prior to his taking over found it all quite surprising and thought it was ridiculous, since we hadn’t had that kind of view put to us before. I am guessing that our pastor picked it up from the CCC leaders conferences, but that is just a guess. Maybe he did Bible College and picked it up there.

    I thought that discouraging people from these kinds of activities showed that the pastor lacked faith in God to build His church in that local congregation. But maybe it really showed that he was applying a methodology to building his congregation which this was part of.

    The idea that the offering would be reduced also crossed my mind as a possible motivation, though not the tithe – I thought that surely if people really did tithe, it wouldn’t matter if they skipped a week, as they’d make it up the next week? Probably then it showed that many people didn’t really tithe if the offering dropped and wasn’t made up again later. I wonder if there were a lot of guilty feeling ‘not-quite-tithers’ around the place. But its hard to talk about struggling to tithe if you might feel shame about it.

    Ah well.

    Congrats on getting out. Hope things are much better now!

  16. Its funny one, in a sense, isn’t aware of what’s happening in a megachurch/prosperity teaching based at the time they are sought of “in” it. Well meaning people drop hints, little things niggle, and then……its not like all the preaching is on money but, as one of my friends at the church used to always say “why do they go on so much at offering time” actually a few others used to say that too.

  17. I am now taking RPs (i think) advice and moving over to SP2. The comments made by some of those zeolots are bordering on abuse.

    MT and Alias to be exact, one can read the blog. Mt was sounding ok until his last comment, something about playing with fire.

    I can’t understand why they don’t just let people have their thoughts and opinions then get defensive if any mentions the C word.

    Alias was so angry, why such anger, on a discussion blog?

    It felt like they were in bondage but if you said that they would deny it so……anyway this site seems more civil

    Many thanks

  18. MJ – you are very welcome here any time.

    Discussions both here and at groupsects can get very heated, but the two blogs have a different emphasis and we tend to be a bit milder here. So some would find our blog less entertaining, but we enjoy our discussions on various controversial doctrines, ways of being church, and church current events, I think. We have several participants here who can post up topics when they feel like it, so the blog reflects a variety of people. We often reflect on issues over the course of a dialogue, so if you are a reflective person or just want to discuss your feelings or walk re church, you will hopefully find something you like here.

    Just some things you should be aware of – after some heated discussions where things went a bit too far, FL was banned from this site. We decided that because he was banned, and because of his previous role here as a frequent participant and contributor, we would not comment about him at all, as he cannot reply. we felt that would be unfair. As FL is also Major Tom, this would apply to MT too.

    Also, because we have an historic relationship with Lance, and some of these heated conversations involved groupsects, we decided that we wouldn’t comment about groupsects discussions on this blog, though we might publish a topic mentioned over there and continue some interesting aspect of it with Lance’s blessing. In the past, FL responded here to comments made about him (FL) on groupsects, and this really didn’t work well. Hence the need for a guideline.

    I still have to post our guidelines up where people can see them – sorry to all for not having done so. But I still intend to do it.

  19. Fair enough, I understand. I thank you for your reply and i just want to talk Christian topics at hand and whatever takes anyone’s fancy in an ordered way.

    I realise, after coming “out” 7 months or so, of the charismatic scene, and never blogged about it, it can be quite, well personal, touching, difficult, moving and confusing too.

    Cheers

  20. mj – are there any topics you’d like to see a post about?

    Blogging can be all those things you mention! I’ve found it pretty helpful. It’s amazing how many issues you can cover, and learn from, and you don’t have to agree with everyone about everything to have a good relationship with them. Our different views are stimulating, I think, and raise good questions which are worth reading up on. Actually, I think I learn much more and faster from participating in groups like this, than before I was blogging.

  21. UM, well i am new to this, being just out 7 months:

    Lets see, tithing, WOF, spiritual gifts, love offerings, prosperity preaching……/./um just about covers it

  22. well, im glad you found it helpful, but in the pst 2 days found it a battle, with some (pseudo christians, or i think they’re christians)

  23. Well mj, we spent 22 years at C3 and left 12 months ago. It’s an interesting, sometimes painful, but each day more delightful, journey! A roller coaster ride of emotions.

  24. yeah, its interesting. Yeah, ive have always thought we have our own unique journey with Christ. sometimes one gets, sidetracked, but He stays with you always, thick and thin

  25. family has been associated with many at hillsong and hillsong directly for over 25 yrs. i’ve been somewhat disconnected with them, but still know many from hillsong, so I get a lot of goss which I find hard to believe to be fact or considered blog-worthy.

    CCC I find is more of a concern then Hillsong, so most of my energy is spent on local ministries and quashing or exposing their heretical doctrines and manipulative tactics in sheep stealing from other churches.

    i go to ccc because many of my christian friends and family go there. if they left, so would i.

    i can give you as much information on CCC in how they run and how they operate.

  26. ok, start again. Brought up strict Catholic, then had a few years off, then medium pente church, then small pente, then my partner was going to big pente, so I went (10 years) then a few months off and now non denom church.

    Thanks for your input, i feel close to God…… more than ever and more content

  27. What I think would be good would be to draw a pro and con list of our churches.

    Hillsong … CCC … the church we go to now … the churches we’ve been in in the past etc.

    What worked … both pragmatically and spiritually
    What was wrong … pragmatically and spiritually

    It might be useful, if we are to avoid pitfalls in the future.

    Shalom

  28. Thanks for your replies. I do apologise about reacting the way I did to, what I believe, were rude and condescending comments made on previous site.

    I have been on a few sites around the world discussing Christian Teaching and never had that happen.

    I just don’t understand why some people get so heated when its just a blog about experiences. Would some people prefer we didn’t discuss these matters? I guess so. TTT mentioned once he didn’t want to reveal his name because of some zeolots out there. Well I didn’t understand what he meant before.

    I was reacting to harsh comments and I guess I lost my patience.

    Im concerned for other people who may discuss their feelings openly.

    One would like to feel safe to do this, and these sites are for that purpose. Having being Christian my entire life, and discussing issues between friends and family is the norm. I guess the publicity surrounding TTT and the article in the paper has brought it to the front.

    When I left the previous church I told, privately, my personal concerns. It wasnt anything to do with tithing, WOF. I still see people from the church and they know why I left. I am not perfect but Im honest and open. I don’t mind where people go to church, its just teaching, in some areas, could be questionable.

    We are all different, I like rock music so I like the worship at church, I know other pentes that don’t. We talk about it in a good natured way. I know someone that likes Benny Hinn and go to his meetings, we discussed it and I said I wasn’t sure about him yet. I don’t spend all my time thinking about things like that.

    I focus on God and Jesus’s teachings. THe greatest commandment, Love. AS one atheist said to me once when i mentioned this, “It’s hardly rocket science”. I wasn’t sure how to reply. I just said “Yeah but it’s sure hard to put into practise sometimes” He’s a work collegue and we discuss, religion, politics, in a friendly way…

    Anway,

  29. THe greatest commandment, Love. AS one atheist said to me once when i mentioned this, “It’s hardly rocket science”. I wasn’t sure how to reply. I just said “Yeah but it’s sure hard to put into practise sometimes”

    – MJ

    Yes, it is hard sometimes. I battle many days with the idea of how to parent my children in love, and how my frustration/anger/impatience levels at times don’t quite correlate with that. Actually, I find it much easier to write calmly (mostly) on a blog than to deal with some of the every day challenges.

    Yet blogs are personal, and sometimes some of us have taken a break when its become a bit much, or there are some people that after a while, you just choose not to engage with, knowing that it won’t be very helpful.

    Since leaving my church though, I’ve occasionally been asked questions about my thoughts on various doctrines or issues, such as tithing, and my intentions about attending a church in the future, or just Christian current affairs. Having discussed issues here has left me able to respond to those things pretty easily – its rare that I’m asked something we haven’t already covered on the blog, and I’ve also probably increased my understanding of some views I don’t share – this helps when you are discussing matters outside the blog; helps not to tread on people’s toes too much at times. (While I think I still need to hold myself back at times, having such familiarity with issues is great.)

    One of my hearts desires is that all of us in the body of Christ would recognise those who practice their faith in a different setting as their brothers and sisters, and not compete for which way is best, or write some people off as not seriously believing. Unfortunately some churches have taught that those outside their walls are missing the boat in some way – but God is a God of infinite variety. And we all have our own personal relationship with Him – who are we to judge the work He is doing in someone else’s life, and how and where it is being done?

  30. BTW – I’m not suggesting we should all swallow or tolerate doctrines that are false (though if we combat them it needs to be done in love); just that we recognise eachother’s faith, and that there are believers everywhere, not just in perfectly correct places – if there is such a thing.

  31. On a personal level, for example, I would now be considered backslidden, rebellious, and not ‘under authority’ or ‘under cover’, by particular people (including the leadership) from my old denominaton. I find this quite amusing, actually, and it has no actual effect on me since I don’t cross paths with them.

    Hard to explain to those people that you had to leave because you take your faith seriously, but they wouldn’t believe that anyway. In fact I know they wouldn’t believe it because upon explaining our reasons for leaving, my husband and I were told we were just making excuses, and given no credence. Later we found out that we were viewed as ‘prodigal sons’ by those people anyway, due to having spent some years not attending a church before – this apparently was a bit of a black mark and put us lower in the eyes of the leaders. Glad we only found out later, but it made us even more relieved to have left.

    The great thing is that this has no effect on us now. But it was definitely educational – I was a bit shocked at the time!

    I know others who are moving on from various places at the moment. For them to move on, they need to revisit some doctrines, including tithing and covering, to free themselves completely, and this can take a while when you’ve been taught to listen to cerain voices as if they are divinely inspired.

  32. yeah i guess naively i didn’t realise what a touchy subject we’re dealing with. Coming from Catholic background, it went with the territory to be mocked at times. Went both ways, we mocked the some priests at times and the nuns,

    Anyway I have read some more on both sites and can see now, these topics are controversial beyond what I thought, I apologise, I certainly didn’tmean take it lightly, I don’t. I do like to try and laugh at ourselves/myself at times but I take your point/s. I am totally committed to God… but I just try and follow THe Bible, I just reread the first books of NT months ago and went wow Jesus had some interesting things to say. Of course Ive read NT before but not for sort of thoroughly.

    Yeah im sure some people might think im rebellious or backslidden or whatever. but I had the chance to talk to someone from church at the shops and I told them I was attending a smaller church and quite happy. Everyone has their own journey, I don’t try and convert family/friends so much anymore, i think they’re relieved. But we do discuss topics on religion/politics/God/life.

    i do see now why things get heated here and I dare say in many circles. wow processing it all.

    Can I ask something, do you think “leaders/pastors” would visit this site? I suppose so, there’s been stuff in the papers too so…..

    Gosh I do sound naive, touche A 🙂

  33. Oh, I had been studying the teachings “out there” on the net, the tithing principals, WOF, just hadn’t done that before, that was a while ago and then went on blogs around the world, to see opinions. Then found this blog, and here we are.

    This is a great blog, there are quite a few out there on “religion”, the internet is an amazing place

  34. Mj – occasionally if we have a relevant article mentioning their church or their name, some leaders/pastors do visit this site, and definitely the group sects site. But I don’t think they typically seek it out.

    BTW – I’m not trying to ‘correct’ you – I’m more musing on the subjects that come up. I think laughing at ourselves is good too – I’m just not very good at being funny online. Others are a bit better at that than me, fortunately.

    Re things being touchy – its pretty touchy if someone looks in several directions and lowers their voice to discuss a topic in a public place – this is what I’ve seen a few people do when mentioning tithing doubts.

  35. Yeah I saw, something in the paper that mentioned the site/s in an article.

    And others about Hillsong in particular. By accident I found the article in the paper mentioning HS, then I found the other stuff on the net, I didn’t even hear about Michael G and Mercy Ministries. I used to give to Mercy Ministries as I heard they are a Christan service. I also give to A Christian Fund for Africa’s poor, someone mentioned lately to look into any charities around. I heard Tim Costello runs Worldvision and from what Ive read he seems to have alot of integrity.

    But God knows our heart and we will all be accountable to Him. I think this everyday. I just try and see the funny side to life when possible but will keep it in check. Many thanks

  36. Sorry, one more thing, I apologise to MT, for my lastcomment, I was mucking around, if I have hurt anyone with that quip, then I apologise.

  37. Well, went to Bible study last night and essentially, I asked a tough question and instead answering the question, some decided to “play the man not the ball”.

    “We need to be careful with non-christians and new believers in certain settings” … which maybe true but actually, the believers present were neither.

    Unfortunately, since I don’t know how to keep things light and lovely and only focus on the ‘nice bits’ … I am wondering what the point of it all is.

    It’s gone round and round in my head all night and now I just wonder why bother doing anything at all?

    I just want to give up. I’ve had enough of it anyway.

    Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

  38. The kind of rubbish coming from the NAR and no one with the guts to stand up and condemn these crazy people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder simply means that the western church is going to hell in a hand basket.

    ]So why worry about it? Let them go off blind. No one wants to know if you call into question anything.

    Let’s just have a quiet life without any tough questions. Let’s just stop right now and get very very drunk.

    I am sorry but I have reached the end of my rope.

    😦

  39. Well, good on you for asking the tough questions, Bull. Someone has to do it, sometimes. Or deliver the bad news of some type. Some of those OT prophets were pretty miserable with the messages they had to deliver.

    But I’m finding more and more people are questioning stuff, and its not easy, but circumstances have caused them to take a second look at doctrines that collapse.

    It’s a bit like share market bubbles (which I just saw a TV show on). All the irrational exhuberance causes a great rise in the desirability and popularity of a share – everyone dismisses the critics that say there’s no substance there. Then one day the inevitable happens, it comes crashing down, and a lot of people get hurt. Enron was one example in the show. (Of course they cooked the books there, so it was more than their systems not working on their own – a cover up to hide the fact it wasn’t working.)

    We’ve seen the odd crash lately, in the church as well as in the stock market. It’s nothing new, in either place, I guess.

    Are you going to add a shot of something to your coffee today? 🙂

  40. Do you think there might be something in common between the ‘irrational exhuberance’ in the share market and that in some hyped up congregations? (Hadn’t thought about before.)

  41. I intend playing extremely violent and gory video games.

    The sniper rifle is a great favourite of mine. I’ll probably play Call of Duty 4 too. Terrorists are always good value after a headshot.

    Unreal Tournament is also good with multiple headshot opportunities. It probably won’t make me feel better though.

    Maybe I should just take powerful sedatives and wake up in a few weeks.

    😦

  42. Bull, I think you need to talk – what was the question you asked? (Your confidentiality is assured 🙂 ).

    Dr Heretic.

  43. LOL! Love your list of games, Bull. I did play Doom to the end (you can tell that was a long time ago), on one of the easier settings. It was pretty gory, but I just had this compulsion to finish the darned thing.

    I played Neverwinter Nights when I was pregnant with my first child, and that was it – no more games after baby was born!

  44. I think we should all be playing simulations of Churches loving each other more, reaching out to the poor and filling the world with Christ’s glory and joining hands around the globe.

    And if we play using the NAR option we still get the blood and gore!

  45. Why does god harden peoples hearts?

    Anyway, the NAR is playing … for real … and they will introduce a new reign of terror and will be burning people at the stake publically. They have promised a real life civil war, not a metaphorical one.

    I expect to at least be put into a concentration camp for not kow-towing to super apostle C. Peter Wagner.

    No one wants to deal with the notion that the church will suffer the most severe persecution in the west.

    The NAR will be responsible for it.

    God have mercy on us all.

  46. “Why does god harden peoples hearts?”

    The obvious but unhelpful answer is that he is sovereign and does what he thinks is best … what right have we to question … potter’s wheel … his ways are higher … … …

    It is a valid and really vital question. It is about what kind of Father we really have. I asked myself the same question once. (Actually I asked other people first and got the kind of answers above but more nicely put).

    I recall my conclusion way back then was based on Pharaoh at the red sea. From memory (too late to look it up now) it said Pharaoh hardened his heart and elsewhere it said God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

    My conclusion at the time was that God saw the truth of the hardness in Pharaoh’s heart and magnified it so all could see it, and all could see the sin in it.

    Many years later it seems to me that this hardening is an aspect of another truth, as are:
    * you reap what you sow
    * to him that has, more shall be given
    * as you do so it shall be rendered to you
    * there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed

    In all these cases there is an amplification of a subtle truth to an obvious one. It is an aspect of Father’s love that He does not leave us without a witness but shows us the “end of our faith” by making it more obvious over time. This gives us confirmation that what we have is Him or that what we are doing is not Him.

    So hardening my heart is an aspect of Father’s grace and love to me and a witness (good or bad) to me others. It shows me what is really in me in a way I cannot ignore and so gives me a chance to repent while I still can.

  47. Very good Heretic.

    Of course … we didn’t get the real opportunity to come to such an answer as the debate was quashed …

    “the whole concept is quite scary so let’s not even talk about it.”

    The context was of course, what we were studying … Exodus.

    The whole milk and meat question again. Well, we don’t get any meat on a Sunday morning so why can’t we have meat in Bible Study?

    Itching ears only want the ‘nice’ stuff. We can nly cope with a God that only wants to pat us on the head and give us sweets.

    And then … depression set in.

    No coffee for me … I am drinking tea today.

  48. RP there’s nothgin wrong with being real or human, that’s our state, part human, part spirit.

    Yes when i left megachurch I spoke up about what was not working but they actually looked a bit taken aback, they werent awful just sort of surprised someone wasn’t happy with something.

    On a USA ex-charismatic site i was on i said i wanted to go and tell them more but they said, don’t go by yourself, take a few people, and of course i was going to do it in privacy.

    Anyway, it would fall on deaf/hard ears so. Im over it. I have a life to live, our families/good friends are the most important to us.

    I see how GSects is or has beccome a kind of public forum but the good cop bad cop routine will probably stay.

    I can’t believe there are Christians with such little patience or compassion, shouldn’t be surprised, we used to call them “Sunday” Christians, wonderful at church and then privately jerks.

    Yes they were giving me the shits (sorry to swear) but when one of them cut down someone, called what they said rubbish, and this person certainly doesn’t talk rubbish, I just got angry, generally im slow to get pissed off but………if they are gonna do their routine everytime someone wants to speak freely and openly its not fare. I think it could be moderated a bit but realise that’s the style. So I guess when i realised this……anywho, whatever. I think there was alot of fear in behind their exchanges.

    People usually run on love, guilt or fear, we are but human……ramble on

  49. I think you were wise not to go back to your ex-church with ‘a few people’ to let them know what was wrong – that could go really badly. Often its best just to leave it alone and move on, like you’ve done. I’ve come across instances of the group thing going pretty badly. Not worth it, unless there’s some real travesty to be addressed (like some kind of criminal behaviour uncovered, or maybe bullying in some cases).

    As you say, people are human, and often react defensively rather than listening to the other person’s point of view, regardless of who is right or wrong. Generally that gets everybody nowhere. It can be a difficult thing to relinquish.

    Bull – I think I would share your frustration with participating in that kind of group. I had some material rejected from a study group because they assumed it would be too controversial – in fact it would have supported their views, but no-one wanted to check it out properly to find out. But it might have been because I was suspect as a ‘prodigal daughter’ as well. I stopped going because firstly I was too busy, and secondly, the alternative topics were of little interest to me. (Although the people were lovely.)

    Previously, I left CCCOF as for me it had ‘no meat’. I thought there would be ‘meat’ at the part time Bible College, and excused the lack of it in the services as having to cater to a large crowd, but at College at the time I tried going, it was no different. (BTW – that was a long time ago, and doesn’t have anything to do with the content there now, as I wouldn’t know about it.) I actually changed churches, to find something more substantial. And found it, which was great. At that time for me, it didn’t matter how good the worship was any more – that couldn’t be the sole reason for continuing somewhere. So I found less polished worship, but more satisfying teaching.

    Which is all a long-winded way of saying I think I’d share your frustration.

    It’s great when you find a group of people who enjoy engaging with controversial or difficult issues. I’ve always been lucky enough to have a few Christian friends who enjoy that kind of thing, regardless of any groups we’ve attended.

  50. thanks RP. Yes i have christian friends, some ex-catholic, some ex pentes, whatever but yeah its hard cause i do have pente relatives, one is a missionary from another state.

    We support her and her family and are proud of her, she goes to dangerous places. Actually she just got a posting back in a western country, so that’s a relief.

    Yeah sorry still a bit new to this, and i apologise again for outbursts, in a verbal way, on GS I would not normally do. But I guess its sort of a grief process, shock, anger, disbelief and other feelings but, i am concerned about doctrine and focus on that. Authority dynamics, i mean i just never thought about it much before, coming from strict catholic family. Anyway im also very protective of people who, like me, have been sort of ex-communicated, sorry catholic term, not that i was shunned as i did tell a pastor i knew what was bothering me, im am, or try to be straight-forward and honest.

    cheers, God bless all your people who are trying to just do what you require.

  51. Ex-Hillsong-ers are dead to us. If you leave, you were never part of the washed, and God may love you but not as much as when you came to Hillsong.

    Man, do those Exclusive Bretheren people know how to run a church. Need to apply some of their smarts.

  52. Thanks RP.

    feel better today BTW. good nights sleep and strong drugs … well, ok, many cups of tea.

    I find tea soothing … hmm … tea.

    🙂

    GS … I love Lance but can’t go there. I pray for him regularly, that God would be with him and touch his heart.

    More tea vicar?

    Shalom.

  53. I might have to go back to the usa sites they seem much more tolerant. (cant belive i said that) GS people are constantly bullied because they don’t want us talking about anything “real”, well, not sure what theyre so worried about.

    I think people are blinded to the truth because of their personality and teaching they’ve received.

    I tried to chat to them but you can’t get through. Now I see how people (in other countries) feel when they want to practise a faith.

    Anyway, whatever, honestly i just can’t believe their reactions to us leaving a church, i mean really who gives a toss. Please explain ;o)

  54. Sorry I thought Lance was an ex-charismo too, he just runs the site i guess. Well I think we need forums but you just can’t go there, GS is like the a front line. The best form of defense is attack, said some army guy once

  55. Thats one of their tactics over there, anyways, im a bit over it, i wont be posting anytime soon, but will keep in touch. God Bless, thankfully He is in charge

  56. Theres a very good book on suffering, “Why do bad things happen to good people”

    Its about a minister (jewish) i think, he lost his son, aged 12, to a disease. He says in his book, he did everything right in his life and wondered how this could happen.

    Its an old book, but it mentions Job passages alot and paraphrases very well.

  57. And its called “When bad things happen to good people” it should be re-titled to “when life is hard”

  58. Bull

    if you really want to put the cat amongst the pidgeons ask the following:

    What is the significance of the story about the Levite and the concubine cut up into pieces, and the war that followed in Judges 19-21.

    There’s more but one step at at a time.

    Re NAR think end times, harlots and anti-Christs.

    Hey it’s gonna happen.
    \
    We can stand against it – and are called to do so, but there is no way we will stop it.

  59. Didn’t get the reference immediately, MN, … but it’s starting to come back.

    If memory serves, the Levite was a chap who was a priest, but turned his back on God and picked up easy living with one of the tribes of Israel … “Dan” was it?

    Anyway, the priest basically uses idol worship in the house. He has a concubine who then is killed and one part of the concubine each goes to the tribes.

    There is a civil war in the promised land and the evil tribe is virtually wiped out and is replaced in God’s plan with Part of Joseph’s line.

    Joseph had two sons and instead of one tribe of Joseph there were two tribes of the two sons of Joseph.

    I’m in work (on a saturday!) without a bible so I can’t look it up. So, any details that are wrong please excuse that, and correct it!

    ok, I can remember the incident vaguely. I don’t know, off hand, the significance that you are thinking of.

    So tell us the significance MN! 🙂

    Lot’s of tea, BTW. Mmmm.

    Shalom

  60. MJ,

    are you saying that you can’t talk about your own experiences on the other site?

    Well, do share here. The act of sharing will help, even if no-one does or says anything that helps. I would go on there myself, but I simply don’t have the emotional energy to do so at the moment.

    Anyway, good to have another person on this site. It’s internet church in action people!

    Shalom

  61. well i want to share, but cant, due to restrictions beyond my control. Maybe i should do a tania levin…..lo.l joking no really i was, my partner too., were in ministry to some degree so………i know how it works

  62. Hey Bull

    you got the story.

    It starts off:

    In those days Israel had no king….

    and finishes

    In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

    The point is nothings changed. often even in Christ’s own church.

    Of course we all do what’s ‘right in our own eyes’, but the issue is here do we actually fight and struggle to “know” what is right first.

    It surfaces in different ways.

    So for example when someone asks hard questions often the response is to ignore it or shoot the questioner / messenger.

    Nothing new under the sun.

    I’ve been in a church where conversations about the Rom 9 passage you referred to and and what the sovereignty of God means have been totally shut down, and the church shattered like an ice cube.

    We humans don’t like the idea that God is sovereign, and very often are unable to deal with it.

    Enjoy the tea Bull. If you’re gonna go all the way with the caffeine reforms though it should be green tea.

  63. Very thought provoking observation, MN. I think I’m going to have to go back and read those passages. It sure does sound sadly like today in many ways. People start supporting their church, and forget their King, at times.

    Re the hard questions – its a bit shocking I think that a church would shut down conversations like you described. I can understand a group deciding its a bit too hard for them, but wouldn’t expect that to become a feature of an entire church. It wouldn’t surprise me if a church shattered as a result.

    How do you learn and grow if you never grapple with hard questions? And who says you have to have perfect answers – the grappling with it is part of the benefit, and it can take a long time. Over time, the answers you have may change, too, as you gain greater perspective.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been in a church environment where no-one has ever brought up hard questions. How can people possibly stop this from happening? Bull mentioned people being concerned for new believers – new believers usually have lots of difficult questions, I find. Why would they not?

    We should be able to at least attempt an answer, and be honest if we just don’t know. There’s a lot to say for authenticity in that way, too.

  64. “Of course we all do what’s ‘right in our own eyes’, but the issue is here do we actually fight and struggle to “know” what is right first.”

    – yes, I guess this is part of the ‘grappling’ process.

    Now that I think on it, I remember a friend of mine complaining recently that their bible study leaders no longer wanted to tackle interesting issues in the group, because there were a number of new believers there. So maybe this is normal. I also know people who’ve been Christians for years who are hungering for answers to some difficult questions; maybe the groups they were involved with also didn’t try to engage with those issues before.

  65. The situation I spoke of was many years ago now, but people don’t change in the way they respond to things, hence the tithing debate, the anointing debate, the dominionism debate etc etc All are ways of controlling our world, or being controlled by someone else, that is of man and not God

    But in any case you’re spot on RP.

    The problem wasn’t the problem – it was the failure to attempt – on both sides I might add – ‘grapple’ with the issues, the words on the page, and the broader issues that came out of that because it rocked the theological status quo.

    One side saw an issue and wanted to push it, and the other didn’t want to know.

    Bedtime.

    nightynight

  66. Grappling with issues doesn’t provide the necessary focus to achieve commonly set goals. Since a lot of churches are still in the 80’s with their management philosophies only debates that end in the desired conclusions are tolerated.

    However, society has moved on and people relate differently. With the spread of information through the internet and on-line societies like face book, people can take control of and responsibility for many different spheres of life (church is one of them).

    We can access teaching from around the world, sermons, advice, worship and it can all be tailored to our own personal circumstances.

    Organised churches are faced with this growing trend and for their continued existence need to promote their specific brand (or product) of expressing church.

    This has a significant impact. The ministries themselves are all fantastic, but the outworking of the mutual dependence between pastor/leader and congregation has negative outworkings.

    The leaders need the congregations in order to exist and so maintain an environment where the congregations need the leaders. This is fine when you are a new Christian, but after a few years it places a ceiling on the individual’s ability to mature in the “all things” of life.

    We all have unique insights that need to be explored and shared with one another. This is why sometimes there just aren’t any answers to our questions, we just need to continue to walk forward and through the circumstance. God after all, is more interested in who we are becoming rather than what we are doing (He’s done it all anyway).

    But in a large church, achieving the common goals has to take high priority otherwise it ceases to exist in its present form. This is OK to a point, we can still relate to one another in such a setting but I personally think it’s outworking inhibits are ability to search some of the more hidden things about God and His creation that He has set out for us to live in.

    That’s my rant for the week!

  67. “But in a large church, achieving the common goals has to take high priority otherwise it ceases to exist in its present form. This is OK to a point, we can still relate to one another in such a setting but I personally think it’s outworking inhibits are ability to search some of the more hidden things about God and His creation that He has set out for us to live in.”

    Interesting point.

    I know in my church the public position is that God speaks to the people as a whole and can speak to anyone in the Church. Terrific – as it should be.

    But as it gets bigger, I wonder about the reality of that. I think it becomes harder.

    I’m wondering what that says about me, about my perceptions of church and how it should work, and about church itself.

    How do we allow God to speak to who He wills both individually and collectively. What’s the MO here?

  68. We’ve managed to come up with many different MOs – all fraught with their own particular problems. But I suppose the main point about allowing God to speak is to be listening. The rest gets very complicated!

  69. To reduce the question down to its essence then becomes:

    How do we allow the space to hear God when He speaks to us, and not overcomplicate things with our own agendas and junk?

    Living in a space/time continuum means allowing time too.

    At that point perhaps it is sufficient just to dwell on the question for a while.

  70. just reading the posts, i think that we should just keep examing the scriptures ourselves and make our own minds up.

    Im glad to be not attending a church too regularly now as time and energy restrictions cause one to get rest and enjoy their lives. God is the one in control and He is our Father and authority.

    Have a great day everyone, blessings as we walk ahead.

  71. Also sharing experiences with other Christians gives us fresh perspective. We are supposed to be God’s arms and legs and live our lives accordingly (as much as possible) We are but human, St Paul’s words come to mind alot lately

  72. Not wanting to sound cheesy but this is a fantastic debate.

    Pom and MN have made excellent points. (the others just Good points … 😛 )

    Anyway, as a complete aside, I find tea very soothing but I am not abandoning caffeine as I am walking around with a caffeine IV.

    Well, maybe not.

    I did feel very low last Thursday but over the weekend started to get really enthusiastic about when I am leading the study in a couple of weeks …

    Only one snag … I will be giving them some real tough meat to chew on. Manna in the Wilderness is the topic. You know where I am going to go with that right?

    Manna – Grumbling – Snakes – death of Israelites – Bronze Snake in the Desert – Link to John 3 – Calvary – Jesus is our way out …

    It’s fantastic – but it’ll spoil the idea that God loves the world soooooooooooooooooooooooooo much that He gave his Son.

    The Crucifixion was a one off loving act of mercy in the same way that the Bronze Snake was a one off loving act of mercy on the people after their sin of ingratitude.

    I will be ending with the paraphrase that brings out the full meaning of the Greek.

    In Just the same way, God performed a loving act for the human race as He gave His only Natural Son, that whoever goes on believing in Him will never perish but go on having everlasting and abundant life.

    Instead we tend to read it as “God going on loving forever and whoever believed once will have eternal life.”
    But the Greek doesn’t say that at all. We’ve made it say that.

    Shalom.

  73. Be gentle Bull.

    And I would tend to disagree with the paraphrase anyway because for me the ultimate end is Salvation is now more dependent on what we believe, and less on what Jesus did for us.

    To be fair I’ll check my greek translator when I get some time

    My knowledge of Greek is zip.

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