Questions for Your Consideration

Several things on my mind which I will offer you in the way of questions.

1. Why wasn’t the Spirit clearer in defining the role of women in the church? This hot topic was a part of some discussion at Gateway last week as I preached from 1st Corinthians 11 and as we studied the same text in our Sunday night Share Groups. Women praying and prophesying in one text and being told to remain silent in another (1st Corinthians 14:34). Understanding all of this is just not our (Church of Christ) struggle. Recently the Gospel Today magazine was removed from racks at LifeWay Christian bookstores for featuring a woman pastor on its cover.

2. Why do some churches stay small while others grow? One pollster discovered that 53% of attendees in mega-churches (over 1000 members) say they share their faith monthly with strangers. Only 35% of attendees in small churches (l00 or less members) say this.

3. Is the United States an Empire? There seems to be a growing trend among some leading theologians to equate the USA to empirical powers of the past and to position the kingdom of God as the antithesis of this empire. Parallels have been made to Egypt, to Rome and to the European colonial powers of history. Recently while browsing through a major book store I noted several non-religious books in the American History section evoking the “empire” term in their titles. Are we?

4. Is this what church is supposed to be about? In the latest Christianity Today they report on the continuing woes of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Several of their larger churches are leaving that denomination to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The only problem is that the PC (USA) owns their church buildings and land. Now in addition to fighting over ordaining gays in ministry they are engaged in what could be ugly lawsuits about who gets the properties. 

5. Have we done well by sanitizing the Devil’s holiday? Everywhere around here a church is hosting a Fall Family Carnival or a Hallelujah Festival (including Gateway). These Christian alternatives to combat the demonic trappings of Halloween are very popular, but I used to hear occasional protests against them. The argument went something like this: We need to stay completely away from anything connected to a celebration of the devil and his doings. (not to mention being accused of swallowing up a pagan festival and re-imagining it as a Christian celebration much like the Catholic Church did with Christmas) Any merit to this?

Feel free to share your wisdom!

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12 Responses to Questions for Your Consideration

  1. J D says:

    1. The Holy Spirit was clear – he did not creating laws. We helped him out and made some laws so it’s OK.

    2. Charles Hodge said many years ago that if we want the church to grow, when we talk to others we should brag about our church. I think that’s interesting.

    3. The war cry of the generation… the EVIL United States. Move to Iran, smart guy (not you Dan…whoever). I mean…. I agree. We’re bad news. Going down the tubes. Get out while you can. Please.

    4. No, the church is not supposed to be about joining this association or that … I’m happy to be a part of an independent bible believing church. We have a heritage, yes, but do not answer to anyone else. Still, i do understand wanting to escape the consequences of openly homosexual clergy… so it’s not hard to understand the division among the Presbyterians.

    5. Patrick Mead’s thoughts about Halloween echo mine: http://patrickmead.net/?p=410.

  2. SteveLavin says:

    JD,

    Point two I wholeheartedly agree with. When we are excited about something – anything – it is contagious. Same with Christ and the church.

    Points one and four, as they relate (or do they?) to each other, I am trying to reconcile in my mind.

    Points three and five are either over my head or I am too apathic to form an opinion.

    Glad to have you back posting Danny. I was beginning to wonder. lol

  3. Eddie Lewis says:

    Hey Guys,
    I wanted to ask you all about the minister’s conference at Liscomb. I know you met Clyde Slimp, one of my friends, he wrote about it on his blog. Was it an enriching experience? I am sorry i could not come.

  4. dannydodd says:

    Hey Eddie,

    It was a great time- and yes, enriching. Never before had I considered just how the Exodus narrative continues to play itself out- not only in Scripture but in our lives. The presenters were humble and enlightening.

    It was very nice meeting Clyde too.

  5. Donna says:

    I wonder sometimes if the woman issue is not more of a refection of both our and the society in Corinth at the time. It has been acceptable in this society up until the last few years to treat women as an afterthought…and we (women) have allowed it to some degree, some have even gleefully hidden behind the mantra that a woman is “not supposed” to do that (whatever that is) . Sometimes I think women in the church will be guilty of having “buried their talent” and they have been encouraged (fi not coerced) to do so.

    I will just have to say that I love Halloween carnivals, etc and let the rest go…

  6. Rodney Livingston says:

    Danny,
    Glad to hear from you.
    Some deep stuff there.
    Holidays are generally not my thing but we do have treats for the kids. Many churches have treats at the building. Not sure where you are going with this one.
    The woman thing is tied some to culture and setting of Corinth is suppose. Women today are definetly taking new roles in the world some of which i am not sure that God is pleased with.
    Church should be exciting and we should represent it that way. We are having trouble with growth while some around us are exploding. What did the first century church do to multiply. The answer, follow the apostles doctrine which came from Jesus. Don’t you think they were excited, sure. But the reality is that people need to be converted to the truth and not emotions. We must be careful to balance the two.
    Thanks again for your thoughts. I love seeing your family on facebook. Tell Terri and the girls hello.

  7. Danny Holman says:

    Why aren’t most congregations growing? It seems to me the biggest reason is they don’t want to. They welcome growth and even enjoy it if it happens, but it is not really their aim. Their aim seems to be maintaining what is there. That’s why new congregations grow so much faster… they have to focus on growth. Congregations start out “consumed” by growing and everything pushes that direction. Then as they develop they begin to have “maintenance” tasks for the group. The maintenance task grow more and more, while the growth task shrink in ever smaller pieces. I think its a good gauage of a congregation to analyze the focus of its leadership. How many of them are primarily assigned responsibilities that focus on growth and how many on maintenance.

    As far as the “empire” question, I am still not sure what to do with all that. I too see a lot of the “empire is always evil” line, along with the corresponding “immoral urbanization” challenge. The problem is although history seems to suggest something sinister happens in “empires”, I don’t see that doctrine in scripture. In fact I hear God promise to make Abraham a “great nation.” Empire? Exactly when does a “nation” become an “empire?” What’s even more, I seem to be hearing this more and more as people mount criticism on the U.S. flexing its muscle in the world. And most of those who criticize us “policing” the world also criticize us for turning a deaf ear to Rwanda, Darfur, human rights in China, etc…. It seems we want the “empire” to flex its muscle, but expect it to do so only when we select the cause. Was the U.S. wrong to use empirical muscle to stop the agression of the Nazi’s and the communists? Neither attacked our land. In fact doesn’t Romans 13 call for the government to flex its muscle to protect its citizens…even if its an empire? So in the end, it seems their may be a problem with the way empires tend to conduct themselves, but I don’t think empire = evil. But I’m still considering… the track record of empires doesn’t encourage my thesis much.

  8. Scottie says:

    Hmm….I will take a proverbial crack at some of these but admit that I don’t know for sure on any of them really…

    1) I don’t think things were defined in the text as it were because they didn’t need defining. The church as it were “ekklesia” (sp?) was not the static institution it is today but I think more of an “organic” fellowship that was participatory, certainly less formal that we are, and I think highly dynamic in that the focus was on supporting each other in their growing faith than in the “rules” we have “interpreted” in Scripture.
    I mean, come on, Jesus elevated women throughout his personal ministry while on earth. The Spirit is clear that there is no male or female distinction in Christ. Any attempt to make that distinction to me personally is very suspect.

    2) I am tired of the “growth” discussion. Where in the Bible are we instructed that “growth” in terms of numbers of a congregation (which is not even something we can find in the Bible–most early Christians met in homes) is a primary goal? Why all the focus on growing numbers? I think we should put more energy into answering the question “HOW CAN WE SERVE OUR COMMUNITY and WHY AM I AFRAID TO SHARE MY FAITH?!!? Those are real issues.

    I don’t really care if we have 200 or 400 or 1500 people attending services. I care about what those people are doing. Maybe that should be the focus and let God worry about the growth. These growth seminars and questions are backwards. If we are honest, some congregations today are focusing on service with an underlying motive to grow (i.e. iif we do this, then people will come!)…that is borderline sinful in my mind.

    We should focus on service and personally sharing faith BECAUSE IT IS WHAT WE WERE TOLD TO DO. (i.e. we should serve the community with the few people we have that care because God loved us) take the secretive motives out of it. God will give increase if He sees fit. It is not my responsibility. Let’s stop all the “growth” talk and begin talking about “serving and loving the lost”.

    3) i don’t know about this one…I agree with some of the things that have been said already. I will simply say that we have been blessed–and with those blessings comes responsibility. We need to make sure that keep an eye on that.

    4) No, this is not the church. This is what happens when organizations split, not the family of believers. I think this is a prime example of the difference between congregations and what ekklesia (sp?) should be

    5) I have no problem with celebrating Christmas, Easter, Halloween or any other holiday. I realize that all of these have pagan roots, but you know, it can be argued there are a lot of things we do that have those roots, including some of the traditions of the congregational worship. I think you need to stay away from evil practices when you celebrate…just my two cents.

    later Danny…good stuff

  9. Royce Ogle says:

    Churches that invite people to “church” might grow. Churches that invite folks to Jesus will grow. There is a big difference. There is no substitue for the gospel and no Bible president for getting sinners to the assembly of believers to hear it.

    There is no doubt women in the first century preached the good news and taught others. In my view, the situation of the “silence” of women in the assembly can not be understood against the backdrop of our churches and style of meetings. However, when viewed in the context of middle east/first century it is easily understood.

    The use and abuse of the gift of languages was one of the main concerns in Corinth. There was competition for the floor, rudeness, the absense of order, etc. Paul laid out some rules because of the confusion. People should speak one at a time, if someone spoke in a foreign language there must be someone to interpret, and finally, woman should not speak in this setting. Why? Women in that culture were seldom heard from in public meetings.

    Leadership in the church is clearly for males, only because God’s truth on the matter is clear. Women can be deacons, (no leadership over others there), teach (no authority over men there) be evangelists, sharing the good news about Jesus, and many other important roles of ministry for God’s glory. Today we have no problem, at least in most congregations, with disorderly conduct, people standing up and spouting off in a foreign language, or talking too long and being rude.

    Women clearly worked along side Paul in the gospel work, had house churches, and taught others including men. I have personally known women who lived holy lives, were saturated in the Word, and had great spiritual insight, yet they had to sit and listen to some man teach a class who was less than devout and often mishandled the word of truth.

    Gender roles in the Bible are never about worth or value, but about order. A husband is often not as smart in many areas as his wife but men should lead. It’s God’s way of doing things. I am the head of my house but Carol is the neck. Get my point?

    His peace,
    Royce

  10. Mouth says:

    Hey Danny,

    I didn’t know how to get your email from this site, so I just posted a comment. I don’t know why, but you’ve been coming to my mind here lately. I guess because in trying to get together a new softball team and trying to decide what to name it the Hairy-Nosed Fleas kept coming up. 🙂

    Shoot me an email when you get a chance at willcummins@hotmail.com. And tell Petunia I said hey, too.

    Will

  11. jim miller says:

    Women’s role in church…………..hmm
    What about men’s role in church. Seems we have fewer men and most of them are content to sit. I know it’s scriptural to sit at the city gate but……………..

  12. larry says:

    1) The majority of the women I have talked to concerning the role of women in the church seem content with their lot; this I just don’t understand, perhaps they don’t want to stir up controversy.

    Women are allowed to pass the communion emblems from side-to-side while seated (even to men,) but not allowed to walk down the aisle and pass the emblems while standing. They can pass the emblems horizontally, but not vertically…makes one wonder!

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