The Purpose of the Church
By Michael A Druckenmiller Sr
as of: July 28, 2015
This is a work in progress. I am posting as I am writing to give ample time to incorporate your responses and ensure that what I have written and am writing is understandable. Please come back often and watch for highlighted changes and dated continuation marks.
This discussion may be useful for starting internal discussions in the event a church is going through change and needs to sit down and reevaluate whether they are, in fact, fulfilling God’s Call and Purposes for the Body of Christ at their “house”.
In this discussion I would like to present some truths which I feel should be self-evident to all true believers concerning the Purpose of the Church. Principally there are five functional areas which must be in existence for a church to truly be a church.
They are in order of priority: Worship, Fellowship, Works of Service, Spiritual Maturity, and Missions. I know many will disagree with me on the order. But, please do not dismiss the order I am using without first reading through this.
Now while some areas overlap the order is important in that each area provides a supporting foundation for the next. It is also important that your moderation be known to all men. Many churches emphasis one attribute over all others. But, there must be all attributes and they must have balance. You can’t keep a healthy flock from reproducing. And, the flock will not be healthy if some balance is not achieved.
Worship is commanded as priori in the Old Testament in Deut 6:5, Deut 30:6 and this same commandment was re-instated by Jesus in the New Testament. Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27 Further having as a common priority and goal, worship, provides a foundation for fellowship.
Fellowship is given a rather high priority by Jesus in John 17 (especially John 17:11 & 20). And, I would theorize that the command to go into the entire world occurred after the Disciples had fellowshipped, learned how to perform works of Service, and experienced Spiritual Growth.
Works of Service naturally occurs after fellowship. For, unless two are agreed they cannot walk together Amos 3:3 . And, most Works of service require two or more working together. You simply can’t work together, well, unless you are in fellowship. If we narrowly define this attribute we could say that Works of Service would be to Family First, then the Church.
Spiritual growth may seem out of place in fourth position in the list. But, think for a moment. Can you really learn at the heart level if you are not in Fellowship with another and working together with them? Iron sharpens iron… This is not an edge to edge confrontation this is a mutual rubbing each other the wrong way. Edge to edge we destroy the blade. Sharpening occurs only when there is challenge and friction.
Also, consider that without Spiritual Maturity one’s Works of Service will lack ‘completeness’, and without Works of Service… Well, one could be considered immature, self-centered and carnal Eph 4:11-12 . So, it can be easily seen that they go hand in hand.
Missions, said to include both humanitarian efforts and evangelism, rely on people who work together in support of a common mission. And, I dare say, if you do not have in place a system of Discipleship for Spiritual growth you have no right to evangelize. For, we are called to make disciples not merely converts Matt 28:19-20 .
We have many Religious Events we call "Worship Services". A.W. Tozer called Worship the missing jewel in the church. No other concept is so foreign to modern man than Worship. In fact, I would say that, 90 percent or more of what we call "worship" is nothing more than "fluff", Works of Service, or a very loose form of Fellowship. Even Praise cannot genuinely be called Worship using a strict Scriptural definition.
Both Glenn Kaiser of Resurrection Band (Kiss the Son Lest He Be Angry) and Darlene Zschech of Hillsongs (Devotional on Psalms 2:7-12) have written articles on Psalms 2:7-12 Which highlight the fact that one of the Hebrew words for Worship literally means, "To Kiss Towards". See end notes for additional recommended Books and Messages. (Note a search for the articles recently was unsuccessful.)
"To Kiss Towards" incorporates (among other things) the ancient concept on bowing ones face to the earth when ones king arrives and kissing their feet if close enough, a symbol of utter humility and self-abasement in the presence of one’s king.
I dare say that in ancient times unless you were specifically ordered and empowered to do otherwise, you'd better be bowed to the earth when the king passed by. To do otherwise meant certain death. And, you dare not make eye contact. For that was to challenge the king’s authority. Fortunately for us Our King is also Our Closest Friend who enjoys talking with us Face to Face and Eye to Eye.
"To Kiss Towards" also incorporates the idea of a Heart Attitude desirous of showing intimate or passionate affection when not physically able to embrace. In fact, as Paul alludes to in Eph 5:32 & 23-25, there are many similarities between Christian Marriage and our Worship relationship to Jesus. I could be very explicit in making the analogy. But, I do not want to stretch the concept beyond what is written. Suffice it to say, that when doing so, I am making a very imperfect attempt to express Spiritual Realities in Physical terms.
The idea I want to get across is that Worship is a Love Affair, we as The Bride and Christ as the Bridegroom. I would postulate that if we loved our spouses with the same attitudes and level of passion we worshiped Our Lord... We'd all be divorced!
But, Worship is also a Command dating back from Old Testament Times Deut 6:5, Deut 30:6 and re-instated by Jesus in the New Testament. Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27
Note that Worship is a "Whole Man" effort: Spirit, Soul and Body. No restraints or Distractions are allowed. It must be done in Spirit and in Truth John 4:23-24 to be acceptable.
1 Cor 7:5 tells us that we defraud our spouses if we refrain from intimacy, that the only legitimate reason to refrain from intimacy is for Prayer.
No one would blame a spouse for being extremely angry for being so deprived. Do we dare expect otherwise from the Sovereign of the Universe. So, "Kiss the Song lest He be Angry".
I have also heard Worship defined as "Worth-Ship". This is a true statement as far as it goes. However, isn't one of the ways we show the worth of our spouses to us, is to take the time to "date them", to "romance them" as if they were still free of us, to "make time" with them and for them?
It is true that the Lord inhabits the Praises of Israel Psalm 22:3 and that we are the Israel of God Gal 6:16 . And, we place great "stock" in that "legal" fact.
And, we "strut our stuff" in Praise, saying we are bringing in the Presence of God the same way as David did. 2 Sam 6:14
Don't get me wrong. I am a strong and vocal proponent of Davidic Style Praise. I was a "rocker" in my Youth and continue to enjoy music that "blows the cobwebs out". And, much of the modern music does support that mode of Praise.
But, there is a deeper Presence, one which I call "The Manifest Presence of God". One spoken of in 1 Kings 8:11 and 2 Chronicles 5:14 where the Priests couldn't minister.
I have been privileged to be in attendance during a few such times of Worship and on the platform once. It is a heady experience when God Manifests His Presence and takes over a service, and people are suddenly healed without human intervention. When prophetic songs are sung by those not usually musically inclined
What made those services different enough to be counted as an open invitation from the Bride to the Bridegroom to come into 'her' chambers? What made the churches presence so desirable that the Bridegroom would invite the Bride up into His Chambers for a spell?
There were a number of common points. First, God's People came into His House with an expectation of and a common desire for His Presence. Secondly, all the services started with Davidic Style Praise. Whether scripture songs or hymns, they were sung with a relish and zeal that could not be denied. Lastly, a transition occurred, a "Selah", a moment of conscious reflection and willful Worship. It was during those times of worship that His Presence was manifest.
I firmly believe that without the "Selah", without the pause to reflect. True Worship isn't occurring. There must be a time to cease the frenetic to “be still and know that He is God. Psalms 46:10 This is the fullness of Davidic Style Worship.
Praise brings camaraderie and focuses us on Jesus. Worship is a face to face love affair with Christ. Worship invites the "Cloud".
Just like the cat scratching at the
bedroom door, or a baby waking up at a most inopportune time create a hindrance
to spousal intimacy. So, too there are common items that interrupt and dissuade
Worship. If such minor interruptions can hinder spouses do we dare think we are
immune in a Religious Event from hindrances to Worship?
Please don't take this as an indictment against, what is called, modern Praise and Worship Music. But, much of what is available today is done by professionals and is suitable for sale and "air play". Just because a piece of music is great to listen to, is scriptural, and engenders thoughts and meditations of Jesus doesn't mean it is at all suitable for a congregation to Praise and Worship to.
Music is both the number one ambience setter in support of Worship and it is also the number one detriment. Worship is a participatory effort by the majority of the Congregation not a privileged few music majors on the platform. If the majority of the Congregation isn't involved it cannot become Worship, and, may not even make it to Praise.
There is a synergy in Congregational Worship that is seldom, if ever, duplicated while alone. David reflects that it was in the Sanctuary, in the Congregation, that he understood the end of the wicked and the blessed place of the Righteous. Psalms 73:17
Again, there is a lot of really great music. But, I am especially concerned about the music that we select for the Worship part of Praise and Worship. There seems to be a predilection to select music based on its chart position and popularity rather than it's suitability for and message to the congregation. And, I have to wonder if we haven't made modern Praise and Worship Music a modern day Golden Calf.
Is the phrasing "cute" and "tricky", something requiring a lot of attention to detail to sing it? How many times did you have to practice it before the 'professionals' got it right? Then how can you relax and sing it from the depths of your heart totally focused on Jesus? And, you expect a musically unlearned and unpracticed congregation to just "get it" on the fly?
The same is true for tempo and key. Ask yourself this question. Is the music I am selecting for the Worship part simple enough so that a person can abandon themselves to it as a vehicle for worship focusing on Jesus? Or, does it require attention to it, rather than Jesus, in order to sing it?
We used to sing "Bless The Lord oh My Soul", Psalms 103:1 With all our heart and all possible lung power. Try Worshipping that to a Rock Beat. Or any other 'beat' except a cry from the heart. Sustained, simple and succinct.
One item I left out in the initial post is the sound system. Please ensure your sound tech can actually hear enough of the spectrum and knows about where what frequencies are before letting them adjust the channel EQ's. Special training and attention should be given in the high mid (or 4 Khz) area as this is the area that is usually hardest to get right and can cause the most "ill at ease" sense in a listener.
Ideally the sound EQ should be "warm". "Flat" is technically correct, but really not all that aesthetically pleasing. This is more important than volume levels, (Though pain is a definite detriment to Worship, too.)
You don't want the bass spectrum so loud it bowls people over. Nor do you want the high mids (or 4 Khz range) to be too loud as then the sound will cut like a knife. The goal is a sound spectrum that envelopes the listener and makes them "comfortable".
Praise gets attention. Worship lifts up. John 12:32 Are we lifting up the music, our platform talents, or Jesus.
As an illustration I am reminded of two songs that say basically the same thing: One, "Yet Will I Praise Thee" from Kent Henry's My Refuge CD can be sung as a Worship Prayer of Commitment by an individual or a congregation as a unit. On the other hand Matt Redman's "Blessed Be Your Name" is more appropriate, in my view, as a Praise Chorus as it is more declarative than prayerful.
So, in closing Worship is a face to face love affair with Jesus that comes from the heart, unabated and unbridled, without distractions of form...
People will complain that it is wrong to place Fellowship in the number 2 spot. That it would be unscriptural and selfish to do so. But, with Jesus placing Worship as the Greatest Commandment. And, then stating in prayer that the reason people will know that we are His disciples is because we are one as He and the Father are one... John 17:21 Then it stands to reason that Fellowship is a bit important if Jesus prayed for it, for us.
He did not pray that we would be known as His disciples by our great Works of Service. Though, I am sure when He taught that we should serve one another He expected that as a natural outcome of the Unity of Fellowship.
He did not pray that we would be known as His disciples because of our great Spiritual Maturity and deep understanding of Scripture. Though, I am sure that, He did envision that we would grow and mature spiritually.
And, He did not pray that we would be known as His disciples because of our great humanitarian efforts or our great evangelistic crusades. Though I am sure He had it in His heart that a healthy church would reproduce and serve not just itself but it's neighbors as well.
No, the premier method Jesus envisioned for the church to be known as His and that He had come in the flesh was by Our Unity.
In Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. Acts 11:26 What was it that Barnabas saw that excited him about the Grace of God in Antioch? Why was he so eager to expend the time and effort to bring an expert teacher to them? Could it not have been that he saw a United and eager people ready to be trained in Works of Service and willing to Grow into Spiritual Maturity?
Unity does not come cheaply. It takes time and effort. It takes a transparency many modern day teachings subvert. Unity is born of a detailed Knowledge of one another brought about by shared experiences and bonded by Love. For love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 It requires that we speak the truth in Love Eph 4:15 seeking the others highest good. 1 Corinthians 10:24 & 33 Knowing that the wounds of a friend are faithful. Proverbs 27:6
Perhaps, before getting too far along we need to describe some of what Fellowship is not? Though the preceding should have given some hints.
Fellowship is not attending the same church or even occupying the same pew. Many times our church services are nothing more than rushed religious events where nothing takes place but a one way discourse from the platform without time for any interaction among the congregants.
Unless you are sharing on a face to face personal level, the good and the bad, with another member of your congregation you are not in fellowship. And, if you are free to only share the good details of your life with other members of the congregation you aren't truly in fellowship with that congregation. You are only in attendance.
I love to quote Hebrews 13:16 because like Fellowship, communication is a lost art that is foreign to many if not most Christians. Little did I know that treasure trove that would be opened when I researched the Greek root. Guess what it is?
Koinonia! Classically known as the Believers Love Feast.
Strong's defines koinonia as: partnership, that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: - (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-), distribution, fellowship.
Thayer's definition is:
1) fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse
1a) the share which one has in anything, participation
1b) intercourse, fellowship, intimacy
1b1) the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office)
1c) a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship
Each of these defined attributes of
Fellowship are worthy f their own complete sermons.
There are 20 occurrences of this Greek word in the KJV translated as: Fellowship 12x; Communion 4x; Communicate 1x; Contribution 1x; Distribution 1x
If we trace the Greek all the way back through all the roots we find that Fellowship entails a level of interaction in one another's lives unheard of since the early church.
I remember the story, some time ago, where a Pastor was so concerned about his parishioners fiscal health that he starting having a debt deliverance revival. Trying admitting you've gotten yourself in over your head in the average "I, Me, My" church today.
It is interesting that a similar event occurred in Acts 4:37 when Barnabas, seeing a need, went and sold land that he owned and laid the entire proceeds at the Disciples feet. And, according to the account in Acts this wasn't an infrequent event. Acts 4:34
Of course, for any of this to have a beginning there must be a willingness to communicate. 1 Tim 6:18 This Greek word, Koinonikos, is used only once and Thayer provides some light on it.
1) social, sociable, ready and apt to form and maintain communion and fellowship
2) inclined to make others sharers in one’s possessions, inclined to impart, free in giving, liberal
the biggest complaints outsiders to Jesus have is that church people are
hypocrites, that we are phonies. It's obvious that those outside of Christ recognize
the need for Unity in the safety of the Bond of the Love of Christ. It is so
unfortunate that even long term Believers are dying for lack of the same thing.
Unfortunately, what they see far too often isn't what the Psalmist wrote in Psalms 133:1, (That it is good and pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity), but, rather what was warned against by the writer of Proverbs (Pro 6:19b) when he stated that causing division was one of six things God Hates. Now, that's pretty strong language! Paul wrote to the Romans (Rom 16:17) that they were to mark and avoid persons who caused divisions, in effect excommunicating them from the church.
One method that absolutely causes division is repeating a matter Proverbs 17:9b. The preferred choice is to forgive and hide a transgression from public view (Proverbs 17:9a), unless the matter presents a clear and present danger to the Body of Christ.
Without Real Fellowship there can be no health in the Flock or witness to the community by the Body of Christ. And, as stated before you can't really do Works of Service effectively if you are not working together.
Further, if you are not in fellowship there is always that hidden uncertainty that whoever is teaching you has a hidden agenda. You can't really become Spiritually Mature in such a climate.
Lastly, shepherds don't bear lambs. Sheep do! I am a firm believer that a healthy flock will bear lambs. In fact I do not believe you can keep a healthy church from bearing lambs, because like sheep the church bears lambs through the healthy interaction of the flock. And, it's usually out in the open field for all to see... Not hidden away in some cloistered barn somewhere.
Which further highlights why I am strongly inclined to believe 'church' is primarily for believers. We are Strengthened through Our Worship, encouraged and gain confidence by Our Fellowship, and thus enabled to make a living representation of Christ into our community.
Worship and Fellowship must be developed inside the Body before it can be attractive outside the Body.
I hope that I have shared in a way that supports the positioning of Fellowship in the number 2 slot acceptable to you. We have to know each other before we can walk together. And, we have to walk together before we can work and grow together.
I have decided to go ahead and post before I have finished this section or added the scripture references because a work week is starting and I am not sure when time will allow a return to it.
The next two topics, Works of Service and Spiritual Maturity, are pretty much in a symbiotic relationship. And, as such, it is very difficult to delineate where one begins and the other picks up. It's quite like the debate Paul and James had over which comes first Faith or Works. You can't really be Spiritually Mature in Christ without Works of Service and you really can't do Works of Service without some Spiritual Maturity.
But, before I go on I need to make a few statements of extreme importance.
There is usually very little conflict between a person, their families and Worship and Fellowship. However, when it comes to Works of Service there is a tendency to drop everything, including spouse and family, for the cause of Christ.
And, though I know there is at least one scripture about forsaking all, picking up ones cross, and following Christ, Paul made it very clear that if one fails to meet the needs of those of his own household he is worse than an infidel. And, I dare say that you can't continue for very long attempting to do Spiritual Works when you are an infidel.
You may say that you have given them shelter, food and clothing. That Paul says that with food and raiment to be content. But, our spouses and our families aren't just physical. We are tripartite: Spirit, Soul and Body. And, our souls have Mental (mind), Self-Directive (will) and Emotional components. Are you *really* meeting those needs?
You may say Paul didn't care for his wife and went solo on his missionary ventures. But, Paul also said that he and the other Ministers had the right to take a wife with them. And, don't forget that many believe, and tradition has it, that Paul was married, but that he lost his wife either before his conversion or shortly after.
Paul established the primacy of marriage. And, it is a prerequisite for senior offices in the church. So, instead of counting your spouses and families as hindrances to your ministry treat them with the priority of God's Written Word and God will bless your ministry.
Having said all that, no matter what anyone else will say, the whole purpose of the ministerial offices are specifically for the preparing of God's People for Works of Service. No more, no less.
If God has invested so much talent and energy in perfecting the saints so that they can perform Works of Service, it would seem that there should be some list somewhere of just what such Works of Service are. Wish I could find it. :)
your thoughts on our Yahoo group?
House of Myrrh 1974
Why 1974? Because that was the year on Guam this Ministry Concept was conceived.
The Power of His Presence
A Book by Graham Truscott of Truscott Missions. This book is foundational on the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David. Predates all other books I personally know of on Praise and Worship. If you are serious about Worship this book will give you a good foundation.
Instructed in the Song of the Lord
This extraordinary teaching shares some very "neat" thoughts and perspectives on the results of True Worship.
a book by Worship Leader Ron Kenoly and Pastor Dick Bernal. This is a good book and even includes some practical advice for Worship Leaders and Pastor. Each wrote a list of ten things that "bug" each 'office' about the other.