A Short Treatise on Church

Stephen Bennett, who used to be a song writer, composer and worship leader at CCC many years ago, has put this little video up on youtube.

It’s a simple video about what church really is.  Stephen Bennett points out that church is the people, and not a denomination, a building or any kind of organisation.  At the same time, he recognises the organisation that took place in the early church, and the importance that local church has in people’s lives.  Basically its an encouraging video which seems to aim to break down preconceptions which some people (and churches) may have about what church is and what form it takes.

Because I know that he has a megachurch background, though I know very little about what he has done since moving on from C3, it was good to see that he is actually teaching that church is far broader than that.  Also, I would expect that he is supportive of megachurches and the places he’s been and contributed to (I am assuming this is the case), but it was good to hear that he can see the risks are present in organisations which can lead to people being harmed in various ways.   Where people acknowledge this – and actually point it out – we can hope that maybe an awareness might develop which reduces the problem.

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RavingPente


16 thoughts on “A Short Treatise on Church

  1. Part 1 of Stephen Bennett’s video is here:

    I liked this even more than the one above.

    This is interesting viewing for anyone who has been in a megachurch while the intensity of a building campaign is taking place – or who has heard pastors preaching about there only being one truly acceptable way of church – attending the building on Sundays.

    A couple of quotes from the video:

    ‘Church is not something you go to – its something you become.’

    ‘Buildings are not the House of the Lord – they are just buildings’.

    He acknowledges that many church buildings are beautiful, and bring glory to God, but they are not churches – just buildings. The church is made of people, living stones.

    A breath of fresh air.

  2. This was a good start but wasnt balanced properly, it then strayed into Christian anarchy, unnacountability, failure to submit Heb 13:17 to God ordained authorties and more.

  3. Unaccountability, failure to submit to God ordained authority… Doz, presumably you are accountable and submitted to someone… can you reveal which denomination or group? Not if you aren’t comfortable to do so, of course, but I thought I’d ask.

  4. Thats fine Rave I was Assemblies of God, but always loyal to the scriptures first no compromise! i have done Baptist conferences and minister to a broad range of denominations youd actually be surprised at just where God has some fantastic hungry and honest people, pretty much minister to the broad spectrum, i am part of a non denominational ministry at the moment, i also answered the accountability issue on another post what about yourself my friend?

  5. Thanks for sharing where you are coming from. In return – I was saved as a kid in the High Anglican church, was confirmed in the Anglican church; had a couple of years with no church, then many years at Phil Pringle’s CCC. Later attended a different CCC, with much better teaching.

    At the time I was at CCC under Phil Pringle, I was also at university. Attended a student group there run by a couple of AOG pastors – which was great, and had more of an impact on me than my home church did. Lots of friends there went to Frank Houston’s CLC, and some are still at Hillsong today. That group was a blend of Pente Christians from various Pente churches, and the different backgrounds added to the group in my view.

    Now however, I do not attend any church and feel very strongly that God has actually led me out of my recent church, about a year ago. The pastor had changed and so had the teaching, very gradually. It began to teach things that I had heard before at CCC with PP, and was like going back into the past that I’d left. Some of the teaching I could not stomach, and each week I’d just be angry and upset at some of the things I’d heard that day. In the end, the fruit of it wasn’t good in my life – it was better to go. We took a long time to decide though – about a year. Waiting was also good.

    Now I gather with other Christian friends who like me regard ourselves as being the church both when we are together and when we are apart. God is showing me different things in this time, one of them is being freed from the legacy of some of the false teachings that I absorbed in the past; losing some of the guilt; re-examining everything. I’ve found certain authors/teachers to be very helpful, including Wayne Jacobsen at Lifestream.org – fantastic stuff for those of us transitioning from a religious environment into a life just walking daily with Jesus as he leads. Also Dallas Willard is providing refreshing reading. The Anabaptists present some great teaching which is a contrast to the limited evangelical set I’ve had until this time. Plus everyone here, from all the different backgrounds, are encouraging and understanding, as we all learn from discussing issues with one another and sharing.

    I realise that not everyone agrees with what I am doing, however, I’m not alone. I regard myself as submitted to Jesus and accountable to Him – He is my Master and my teacher – he also provides all I need, including other teachers and a Christian community in the physical realm.

    We may have come to different conclusions regarding what scripture says on some things, however, to me you seem sincere and the real deal – we share a loyalty to Jesus, there is no doubt of that.

    Regarding the issues of submission and accountability, I believe that these terms have been abused by some to manipulate others. Without going into a huge rant about it, John Bevere’s teaching on submission for example is particularly dangerous in my view.

    I like that in your church you encourage debate. That is one thing I would like to see more churches comfortable with.

  6. Read a lot of Frank Viola too, but his writing on house churches, while very interesting, educational and worthwhile, also to me seemed too religious to me about the form our faith should take. He certainly is convincing in the sense that its unnecessary to gather in the form of a larger organisation than a home group – though there’s nothing wrong with that either if its what you are led to be doing of course – but anyone who emphasises a particular form of church as being the ‘right’ form is probably missing the point, at some level.

    Elders are important – there are moves in some churches to replace them with boards – but I think there are elders in all forms of church. I don’t go to an organised church at the moment, but there are those in my life that I would consider elders and would listen to if they felt a need to raise any issues. God provides his gifts among us – its amazing how He can lead us to one another. I even had a conversation with a stranger today whom I was able to encourage, poor thing, and I think God led us to one another to provide her with some comfort going forward. He loves us more than we can possibly imagine, and is not limited by walls!

  7. Rave i understand because this is what i and the ministers of our churches deal with all the time. One of the things that we have majored on is opening ourselves up for challenges, scriptural ones only, not the ‘i think’ or the ‘i feel’ but the ‘it is written’. We have on the back of our bulletins that if anyone sees anything that we are not doing that we should be doing as a church or that we are doing wrong that they should feel free to speak to the minister directly and if they are not satisfied then they are to send myself and the elders an email, we will respond scripturally and or repent and begin to do or change what we have or havent been doing. About 12 years ago things changed dramatically in Pentecostal Christianity, it was a subtle demise and today takes a vicious face, the worst part being that it will not hear the Bible at all no matter what. I was also a part of a church in which the minister was seriously backslidden, it was terrible but i prayed and the Lord dealt with it, in other instances what we must understand is that upon leaving the scriptures a person looses their rights of authority over a person because we must be loyal to Jesus Christ alone, ie: Eph 5:22 wives submit to your husbands in all things’, however, Jesus is the wifes Lord, her husband is second, if the Husband were to try to get the wife to do something that to her as a Christian is wrong, she can stand her ground, he has lost his submissive rights over her in this instance and for this thing, it is the same with the church, if the minister that one is accountable to begins to break the scriptures the flock must remain loyal to their Lord and His Word, thus they should speak with him and the elders about such bringing scripture to them and if the matter cannot be resolved they must then leave and find another place which follows the Word. we have christians coming to our churches all the time, we tell them that they should check us out over a period of time and then seek and hear from God to come into the body, unless a Christian can do this they are regarded as a visitor, although being a part of the global body of Christ they are not seen as a member of our local body as 1 Corinthians teaches us. Ive gotta say Rave your post almost brought tears to my eyes and i am very saddened as well as angry with the current state of the church, to some extent i am looking constantly for people who are like this i feel like the Lord has called me to gather an end time army of the outcasts because lttle do they know n their confusion and tearing the Lord has simply not allowed them to conform to the spirit of religion.

  8. Its good to hear that you encourage feedback at your church, and also good to hear you refer to elders as well, since they seem to be regarded as irritating impediments to business in some places!

    Unfortunately some of the doctrines I couldn’t stomach are widely accepted in Pentecostal circles these days. They may even be a part of your church, too, to some extent. However, allowing debate and so forth could to help. Do you have membership covenants or any of that kind of thing? In what sense are people expected to submit to their leaders – is it the John Bevere model? I appreciated that you mentioned Grecian and Hebraic worldviews – this is another important element when understanding scripture – some of us are hoping ot learn to ditch our Platonic mindsets, but its hard when you’ve been brought up that way without even thinking about it.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am interested in your comment that about 12 years ago things changed in Pente Christianity. I think there has been a change, though the seeds of some of the problems were there right from my first exposure to it, 20 years ago. At that time, they hadn’t developed into what they became later though. We are talking generalities here – I’d be interested in any specific changes that you feel you have observed.

    “…we tell them that they should check us out over a period of time and then seek and hear from God to come into the body…” – Doz

    I can relate to that sense of leading and confirmation to become part of a certain body; its good to have that.

    I am currently very happy and at peace with where I currently am, because I am confident I am where the Lord would have me right now. I’ve felt the same when I’ve been in churches that I’ve felt led to be a part of. I don’t know about others, but over time I’ve always had a sense of whether I’m in the right place for a season or not.

    I also feel that He would not have me go back into an organised church environment until He’s finished the work going on in this season – working through some of the past teachings, some of the habits, and various things that you pick up without realising. (Including that spirit of religion you refer to.) It takes time to recognise and work through things. Even in the last year, I’ve noticed a lot of change. It’s been great. I’m even seeing positive changes in the ways I deal with difficult personal things, such as handling stress or anger (a work in progress, mind you).

    So for me, its important to be where He would have me in a season. It may be that one day I participate in another organised church again, but I think He will have moved me into a different place internally first.

    Hope that makes sense. This comment is all over the place.

  9. Doz

    Eph 5:22 wives submit to your husbands in all things’, however, Jesus is the wifes Lord, her husband is second, if the Husband were to try to get the wife to do something that to her as a Christian is wrong, she can stand her ground, he has lost his submissive rights over her in this instance and for this thing

    MUPPET MUPPET MUPPET are you out there?

    Here is an example of scripture being turned into a principle that controls behaviour.

    (Doz this is an example of something being discussed on an older thread about biblical principles.)

    Doz I assume you take this verse about wifes submitting to husbands as a command, a principle, a New Testament law if you like – no excuses you just do it?

    Of course in this case we had to come up with an excuse not to do it because it does not make sense without it – we add the “the Husband were to try to get the wife to do something that to her as a Christian is wrong”.

    So in effect the principle becomes that the wife does not have to submit to her husband in all things at all – she has to submit to Jesus in all things and to her husband when he does not contradict Jesus. So our principle is kind of the opposite of what we started with.

    This is the problem with laws, they don’t work in all circumstances.

    So personally I don’t think this is a biblical principle at all. I think it is an example of the point that Paul was making. He was talking about mutual submission. An example of mutual submission in the ancient world where women were almost universally uneducated, illiterate and ignorant and all but owned by their husbands, or nearest male relative is that they should be submissive. This example makes sense in that world.

    But we see “wives be submissive to your husbands in all things” and immediately say “ah ha, a biblical principle, a universal law of creation, a rule I can follow and instruct other people to follow”.

    We see principles and rules to follow that are only there in our minds. The scripture was really talking about relationship and we turned it into law. Perfect example of what I am saying Muppet.

  10. Hectic,(spelling of the name intentional, though humorous) no im not adding to scripture, it is written God manifests His Word through preaching, He reveals the intended meaning of such expouding on it etc, the additions are other scriptures which must be brought into the subject material in order to properly understand what the Lord is saying. With scripture we must gather all of scripture before we recieve it as an unchallenged absolute. when we look at the order of marriage it is a mutual thing absolutely, but because of sin God has set an order in place, this is not to be abused, …………..oh boy, you guys will have me typing for days on subject after subject i dont know if its possible for me to do so.

  11. and before anyone else missunderstands my post no i dont beleive that preaching is the only way to understanding the scripture it is one way the Lord reveals such. but the best way is for us to read and study it as well as learn from others and then make decisions Acts 17:11.

  12. oh boy, you guys will have me typing for days on subject after subject i dont know if its possible for me to do so.

    – Doz

    Ha! Actually, so many subjects are coming up in conversation that I’m having be selective about what to respond to – based on what’s easiest and quickest! The subject of submission for example is too big, and would be better off in a new thread. However, at the moment, I’m working on a post re accountability – if I ever get it up online!

    I have wondered Doz, if rather than winning the doctrinal debate, at times your energy just exceeds that of your opponent! I think I’m perhaps beginning to see that your energy is well suited to the intense work of planting new churches.

  13. Hi Doz,

    “it is written God manifests His Word through preaching” are you sure?.

    “no im not adding to scripture” well you kind of are in the sense that your point is an amalgam of scriptures rather than a single direction taken verbatim. This is the appropriate and correct approach to take and the point of the discussion about principles. (My conclusions about submission do differ from yours, I think seeing different conclusions is also appropriate, others feel there is only one correct answer for each scripture).

    The statement has been made on this blog that scripture contains a bunch of principles for us to follow. I suggest this is not the case. My belief is that there is a person to follow. The scriptures reveal our Father to us. The principles are constructed by us in response – as yours was.

    “we recieve it [scripture] as an unchallenged absolute.” Hmm, very Greek. I can see you regard submission of wives in all things (caveats not withstanding) as an absolute (although logically your conclusion was the opposite – you concluded that wives are not to be submissive in all things). But I suggest there is no new testament law to this effect. Paul’s statement is an example – not a universal principle.

    It is a different world view. But if you feel you have the absolute truth then you cannot see it because you must already be correct. If this is your position I don’t think it is logical. It may not be your position.

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