Past Time to Build Churches and Ministries with Biblical Policies That Require Adherence to Them
2 Corinthians 6:14,15
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
I believe there is going to be an increasing move by real Christians to build churches and ministries with more of a community orientation, in the near and long term.
If I’m correct in my assessment, that means there will be a growing need to develop bible-based rules and guidelines that must be obeyed in order to remain in the community, and to protect against outside encroachment that could legally challenge those rules, or attempt to infiltrate the community in order to subvert it, as has happened for a long time among many churches.
Colleges, schools, retirement villages, and other like communities, must support and live out their lives within biblical-based parameters in order to participate and be part of institution, church, or church ministry. If they don’t adhere to them, they need to be excommunicated or kicked out until they repent and are willing to obey the rules and laws of God derived from the Holy Scriptures.
Also, no one from the outside should be allowed into the community that don’t or won’t align with those policies. A recent example of lesbians suing a Christian retirement community for not allowing them to take up residence among them is a good example of the need for defined and legally defendable and enforceable rules.
If anyone not willing to abide by the rules is allowed to be part of any Christian community, church, or church ministry, they’ll either destroy it from within, turning it into the opposite of what it was meant to be, or pressure leaders or others in the community to add more people like them, where when they get a large enough base and associated power, will have the leadership removed and replaced with the type they prefer. Whatever it turns into, it will no longer be Christian or wholesome.
Christians are called to discriminate based upon behavior
In the case of the two lesbians that sued Friendship Village in St. Louis for discrimination based upon sex or gender, but the judge ruled against them, saying it should be classified as “sexual orientation” discrimination rather “sex” discrimination.
Since “sexual orientation” isn’t a protected class under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to precedent from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, nor the Fair Housing Act, the lawsuit could not stand,” concluded the judge.
We as Christians shouldn’t be intimidated by the word discrimination, as it simply means exclusion, disassociation, setting apart, and other similar definitions. We as Christians are in fact called to engage in this aspect of ruling and reigning within our churches or ministries, as Paul clearly states this in 1 Cor. 5:11:
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
What triggered Paul’s teaching on the subject was a man that had been engaging in fornication in Corinth, with the church allowing him to remain in the congregation or community of believers. Corinth apparently was an early version of the “no law but love” crowd.
Anyway, in 1 Cor. 5:2, Paul told them this:
“And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
This is the tool God has given His people in order to deal with leaven that can spread throughout the congregation if it’s allowed to continue unabated.
As for Friendship Village, the company had very clear and available policies in place addressing those allowed to live in the community.
It said that Friendship Village “will permit the cohabitation of residents within a single unit only if those residents, while residing in said unit, are related as spouses by marriage, as parent and child or as siblings,” and specifically notes that “[t]he term ‘marriage’ as used in this policy means the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible.”
This is wholesome, healthy, obedience-based, biblical discrimation. We are to prevent this from permeating any church or Christian ministry, as Paul tells us.
1 Cor. 5:6
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
When God’s people, within the manipulated idea of being tolerant, receive or allow unrepentant people practicing sin into their midst, it does result in the rest of the community being infected with it. We are not to allow that to happen.
The key is to be very clear, open and visible with the policies and requirements of membership or acceptance into any Christian community. In other words, the separation or discriminate policies should happen on the front end of the process. If people are allowed in and are embedded in the community, the chances of removing them without potentially ominous consequences increases.
That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done if there is failure to put clear bible-based policies in place, but it means it could be much harder to do so. If you read the article I linked to above, it’s obvious there must have been some breakdown in communication in some part of the process, or someone was attempting to undermine the community by quietly bringing the lesbians into it.
One final element to consider is the community leadership had a “longstanding practice of operating its facilities in accordance with biblical principles and sincerely-held religious standards.” If that hadn’t been their practice, it would have opened it up to a negative ruling.
Of course if they hadn’t adhered to the policy, it would have long ago succomed to sinful cultural trends.
What’s important about this to me is the world and false believers need to know they are separated from God and believers if they refuse to turn away from their sins. This is a form of evangelism that declares they must be born from above or regenerated to participate in the Christian community in any form.
Church and ministry discipline
As already shown above with Paul’s words, the church has the responsibility and obligation to deal with sin in its midst. To not do so is to allow the spread of sin throughout the congregation, which starts to lose their respect and fear of God in the name of tolerance and a false understanding of what love really is.
Any church or church ministry that doesn’t have policies in place, and the willingness to enforce those policies, are at least at the community and operational level, no longer a church. They are simply the world, in most cases, meeting inside a building. I say in most cases because a number of Christians prefer to meet in homes or other different locations, rather than what we identify as a church building.
Either way, we are called to engage in church discipline when the circumstances require it. The purpose is not only to remove it from the congregation, but to trigger a response of repentance from the person that is sinning.
The Southern Baptist fiasco that didn’t have to be
Whether a church denomination or independent church, it’s almost certain that there has been some sexual abuse that has ocurred in them. The most recent receiving headlines is related to Southern Baptists.
There’s a couple of things to think about there that could have prevented that from happening. Since the breakdown and rejection of church discipline, it has opened the door for almost anyone to be considered a church member (any denomination), which in turn means an infiltration into a trusting and gullible group of people that assume if a person is participating in church activities, it means they are living a righteous life.
Another very wrong practice that needs to be rapidly addressed is the idea anyone is welcome into the congregation – specifically during meetings. This may sound wrong initially to the reader, but there is nothing in the scriptures that suggests we are to allow a bunch of strangers to walk among us.
What the majority of Christians believe is going to church by unbelievers is a way to introduce them to God and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. How could one argue with that on the surface? You can’t. But dig a little deeper, and it’s very easy to see why this needs to change.
This is even more important among church leadership and volunteers. This is especially where people hiding their motives and sinful lifestyles look for opportunities to be placed into a position of trust. In some denominations or independent churches there isn’t even an modicum of desire to stop this, as they’ve embraced the liberal worldview and are all-in on almost any sin being allowed within the “church,” except the liberal idea of the “sins” of intolerance to their distorted view of God and the bible.
Assuming it’s a group of real believers, there is still the problem of embracing a more rigorous process of appointing leaders, and in many cases, allowing blatant practicers of sin to interact with the community. Remember, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. We need to quit accepting the unrepentant in among us. The bible clearly states the one time it mentions an unbeliever being at a meeting of the church, that that person fell down before the Lord because of what they saw God was in His people (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
It’s one thing for an individual or family to come to a meeting once or twice to check things out. It’s something totally different to allow them to continue on in hopes of them getting saved, even if they are disruptive, sinful, and expect to be accepted within the church on their own terms. That isn’t how it should work.
If the Southern Baptists and others with sexual abuse being a problem had dealt with it on the front end of the process, they wouldn’t have the problems and the victims that happened under their watch.
This isn’t rocket science. Have a rigorous process for any person of influence in your church or ministry. Never succomb to the temptation of loosening your policies or standards in order to get someone with the required skills to handle specific needs you have. Better to wait or abandon various projects than to allow what could be a sexual predator into leadership or a volunteer position.
We don’t live in the world many of us were born into any longer. People actually do target churches or Christian ministries as places they’ll be received, and where their behavior will be accepted because so many Christian leaders have become spineless and are afraid of being perceived as mean, and then being called some bad name in a public forum or in the media. That has become more important than protecting the people under their spiritual care.
Churches need to stop looking at numbers and start looking at the quality of a person that is being considered as a member, a volunteer, or a leader. No one should simply be accepted at their word for anything. Any person seeking to be part of a community of believers needs to be talked to and watched as they interact with the people in the church.
They shouldn’t ever be allowed in a position of authority and leadership without spending a period of time in the church, and directly asked about what they believe concerning various aspects of the culture that they could easily assume to be okay, when in fact it’s the direct opposite of what the bible teaches.
I see this as an opportunity for the church. It’s past time we embrace holiness, obedience and take on our responsibility of ruling and reigning on the earth, as God required of Adam, and has been reinforced throughout the Scriptures.
It’s far better to contract than expand at the cost of abuse because we have been maniputed into thinking we should accept people as they are in the name of tolerance, without any thought on their part that they need to turn from their sins.
If we take up our responsilities, there will be a period of contraction, but afterwards, I believe God will be willing and of course able to once again send seekers to a church or ministry that maintains the required standards of God in Jesus Christ. He brought it down to the twelve, and those men changed the world. He can do it again for a people that walk in obedience to God’s revealed Word.
For those that biblically discrimate based upon beliefs and behavior, they will probably find themselves in some battles going forward, but when it’s open and visible for all to see and understand, there will be far more victories than defeats, and even if there are defeats, it’ll be turned to victory because we refuse to acknowledge judicial or government interference in matters of God we are required to obey.