| Is There A Good Church in Your Area? by Paul Howey|
I regularly get emails from Christians asking if I know of any good churches in their area. This is probably the number # 1 question that I receive. Sadly at present I cannot say that I currently know of or can recommend any church anywhere, let alone in someones specific area, that regularly teaches and rigorously upholds the true Gospel along with the biblical anti-authoritarian message of loving watchman elders not controlling leaders.
Of course this does not mean that such churches do not exist, and that there isnt one close to someones particular area. There may be. It is just that such fellowships are so few and far between that I am not aware of their existence or where they may be located. My guess right now is the majority of any are probably located mostly in far away places such as 3rd world countries that are not tainted by the business-leader mindset of western civilization.
Because churches like these are generally small and somewhat private per se (private or exclusive to like-minded believers who truly want Christ as King and uphold the Bible as their supreme authority), they are not likely to advertise commercially. Its mostly word of mouth and so finding one in your area if one exists may not be easy. But the good news in this regard is we are not called to find a church but rather to be the local church right where we are. Of course if you become aware of a good sound non-authoritarian biblical fellowship in your area, there is nothing wrong with assembling with them. (Be careful however, because many highly controlling church leaders claim to be non-authoritarian.)
Regardless, any such church would probably be a home-based assembly. This is because once a building is involved (rental or purchase) things typically go to pot very quickly. Ownership and control becomes an issue and so heavy-handed business management and business administration quickly rises up in the place of loving shepherding. This is a huge problem. Much sound doctrine related to Christian living often goes right out the window in these situations as well.
Further, for a church to sincerely promote the biblical servant-watchman message without hypocrisy would require that the elders / pastors die to themselves and rid themselves of all personal church agendas. They would need to commit themselves to freeing the members so that they can truly grow in Christ unhindered by manmade teachings, rather than abusing them and keeping them in bondage to accomplish manmade goals. Being too close to the problem to be able to see it, very few pastors are aware of these issues and even those pastors who have been warned are almost never willing to do anything about it. They almost invariably refuse to give up the prestige, power and money.
My recommendation to the many people who have written in asking if I know of any good churches in their area has always been to consider facilitating such a free non-authoritarian church in their own home where Christ is truly recognized and upheld as the only King of the church, and to make themselves available so that the Lord can build such a church any way that He sees fit (living stone by living stone, not dead brick by dead brick).
I think a common objection to my advice is, But Im not a pastor. Well, that doesnt matter because you dont need to be. Start a Bible study, win souls and free captives and see who the Lord might raise up from among you to be loving elders not CEO abusers. You might eventually be one of the loving elders that the Lord chooses. Be patient. Time will tell.
A host and facilitator can start out simply as a loving protector to uphold and contend for sound doctrine while helping watch things biblically to be able to warn the body should a heretic or dynamic showboater arrive to try to steal the show away from Christ (or shall I say turn things into a show), both which commonly happens in institutional as well as home church circles.
Lastly, a very important thing to remember is that a true pastor or elder is a close friend who watches and gives sound advice from the Bible. He is not some kind of superior who is control of you or your spiritual life. One of the challenges of facilitating a truly biblical non-authoritarian home church is not to allow the other members to exalt you or anyone else into becoming a celebrity. This requires self control for such is obviously tempting and this is where most churches go wrong.
I hope this helps.
| 2010/11/20 18:30|
| Re: Is There A Good Church in Your Area?|
hi, your example of a good church would eliminate the one that started on the day of pentacost...and most that paul started... that said,i live in baton rouge and we have many great churches in this area that range from somewhat authoritarian to loosy goosy.all preach the cross and are without blame in the community...most fellowship with the rest...the church i have been a part of for nearly 40 years started in a house with 5 people now has many thousands that attend.we are a home church promoting church with thousands of home groupsallover the world with a missions and prayer emphesis...we have started over 20000 churches around the world in the last 10 years in countries like cuba,china,pakistan,iran etc.you can attend for years and will never be asked to join for we do not have a roll.if you volenteer for leadership you than open yourself up to authoritarian discipleship with extensive training..other churches ...one started by pastor clendennon...great church...healingplace church...another great church honored at pres. bush inaug.for being a great example of a community changing church...if you have hurricanes in your area you find out who the great ones are...jimp
| 2010/11/20 20:17||Profile|
North Central Florida
| Re: Is There A Good Church in Your Area? by Paul Howey|
Thank you for posting this piece. In our home we would call this a piece of truth.
It sounds as if your town is in a mythical Country and not the USA of present day.
Red flags jump out at me when there are congregations in the 1,000's. In the current economy how can a shelter large enough to house that many (and meet health & safety codes of any given city) be built without a mortgage being involved? Or, how can a parcel of land be made available that meets the accessibility needs of that many people be acquired without great price? Seeing how land prices have soared?
Having been in the same group for 40 years it is possible you are too close to the forest to see the trees. Please, be careful where your affections are centered.
| 2010/11/21 12:38||Profile|
| Re: Is There A Good Church in Your Area? by Paul Howey|
I am checking out many of the fellowships within reasonable reach for my family and could not find one yet.
They are either
formal and dead
strict and legalistic
Music substituting true worship type
or doctrianally weak
None of them embraces the whole truth and demonstrate the power of the gospel.
We just meet as a family.
Lord help us!
| 2010/11/21 16:00||Profile|
| Re: |
Man. I think Narrowpath about hit it on the head.
I live in Alabama but the only churches I would want to go to that I know of are in Missouri and Virginia. I know those people and they're very straight.
| 2010/11/21 16:06||Profile|
| Re: |
hi, since i started going to the un named church i have been to bible college,on the mission field and in minisrty to the homeless in new orleans for many years on the staff of another church,started a few churches.did i mention we meet in metal buildings and give millions to missions and have no collections in the church that go to the church..all to missions...we have a home for unwed mothers and a ministry to those who want an abortion..we have led many drug pushers and addicts in the ghetto to a life changing relationship with Jesus.we are a light that shines in a dark place and we pray for revival in our city always.i ask you,my negative brethren,what are you doing in cooperation with Jesus for those around you...how are you filling the great commision?Jesus is the head of the church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it jimp
| 2010/11/21 17:43||Profile|
| Re: |
Hi Jimp, what you shared is that is very encouraging. You are right, we should not be too negative and have faith, but for many of us true fellowship is rare and precious.
I do meet up with other Christians, but they are scattered all over the place. God's people are often "scattered" as James and Peter start their epistles. May be that is God's method to make them form fellowships.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
James 1:1-3 (in Context) James 1
1 Peter 1:1
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To Gods elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,
My experience does not stop me from sharing the gospel in a nearby uni and we are having precious times of fellowship. My prayer is that God will show me where his people are.
| 2010/11/21 18:07||Profile|
| Re: |
"I live in Alabama but the only churches I would want to go to that I know of are in Missouri and Virginia. "
Have you heard of the Brook Hills Church in Birmingam Alabama led by pastor David Platt? Was blessed to hear him preach recently. From what I have seen its looks like this may be a very good,contrite, biblical church.
| 2010/11/21 19:08||Profile|
| Re: I hear you there!|
I believe in the "local church", but I too don't see it in my area. Perhaps you should open your home to neighbors and begin your own worship/teaching fellowship. This is where I am too. In fact, I hope to begin a youth fellowship with a couple of friends that is not connected with a "church".
There is one church in Northwest Arkansas that seems to be following through of the gospel and that is Fellowship Bible Church in Rogers. It is a little far for me to drive, but I understand the concept of training disciples to go out and minister to others in various ways.
| 2010/11/21 19:35||Profile|
| Re: |
hi, as we are the church and not buildings and property and pastors or teachers,we are responsible for our contribution within the body...the church then is made up with other jerks like myself who screw up all the time and sometimes dont show the love of Jesus to those around us or hospitality to those we have never met or even mercy to a pastor who says something totally off of the wall...why do you think churches are messed up...jimp
| 2010/11/21 20:43||Profile|