08: The Church: In Service to Humanity – Thought Starters
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[Thought questions for The Church: In Service to Humanity November 21, 2012]

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

1. The essence of church. When did you go to church last? Were you blessed by being there? Were you able to share Christian love with someone who was there? What is church? Do you think Satan goes to church every week? According to the first paragraph of the lesson, is it possible to be a Christian without church? What is contradictory in the phrase, “a churchless Christianity”? Ellen White said that God bestows His supreme regard on the church. Should we also place a high value on our church we attend?

2. The nature of church. Does a church need to have a floor, ceiling, walls, and pews to be a church? Why or why not? Which is more important in defining a church, its physical structure or its members? Have you ever belonged to an Adventist church that was beautifully built? Did the architecture or landscaping of the most beautiful church you’ve ever attended contribute to an attitude of worship? What is a congregation? Can you have a congregation without a church? A church without a congregation? Have you ever attended church in a home, maybe yours? What about the world church? Are you pleased to belong to a church with more than 17 million members around the world?

3. God’s people.  Because God created human beings, aren’t we all God’s people? What is special about belonging to the group known as the “people of God”? How did God deal with “His people” in the wilderness of the Old Testament and the years that followed? How can we be “one body” in Christ when we are so diverse in our characters and temperament? Does God long for us to be more alike so that we could be fully unified? Using the analogy of the human body, what would our church be like if we were all ears? or hands? Is there a unity we can seek without requiring ourselves to merge our personalities into one type?

4. The church’s mission. Does the company you work for have a “mission statement”? What about the church you attend? What is its “mission” to fill? How can we follow the example of Jesus by “sending out” witnesses of His love for humanity? Can you think of half a dozen or more community organizations that work for the benefit of others where you live? Are there extremes in mission work such as spending all of our witnessing time preaching or all of our mission time helping to meet the needs of people for food and clothing? What are some ways we can keep our outreach in balance?

5. Unity of the church. Does church unity mean always agreeing with our church leaders? Can we disagree and still maintain a spirit of unity and respect? Or should our leadership never be questioned or guided by the members in their decisions? What is your responsibility in building a peaceful unity among us? Is the quiet of a cemetery a goal for church unity? If not, how does a Christian seeking unity approach fellow believers who seem to be headed away from Bible doctrine? How can we learn what is good for other church members and the church as a whole? Will we sing in unison or in harmony in God’s choir of the redeemed after the Second Coming?

6. Church governance. What is the difference between governance and authority? In a truly representative government system for the church, who delegates the authority and responsibilities needed to keep the church running? Is the church a true democracy? If not, why not? Would you like to see us adopt the use of a rod or a crown and special garments to show clearly that a person has been ordained as a church leader? If we had more ceremony and more artwork in our church, wouldn’t it be easier to govern God’s people? Why not? What does it take to keep us all moving toward Jesus and His pattern of unselfish love to others?

7. Problems in our church? The lesson’s last page states emphatically that our church has problems. Do you agree? If you and half a dozen others from your church were to list the major problems your church faces, do you think you would agree with the other members’ choices? What does the Reformation doctrine of the “priesthood of all believers” mean to you? Has this doctrine kept us from following the belief that only special leaders chosen by God have the power and authority to rule the church? Who is the head of our church? The real head?

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08: The Church: In Service to Humanity – Thought Starters — 6 Comments

  1. Governance is the act of governing. It relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists of either a separate process or part of management or leadership processes. These processes and systems are typically administered by a government. When discussing governance in particular institutions, the quality of governance within the institutions is often compared to a standard of good governance.
    In the case of a business or of a non-profit organisation, governance relates to consistent management, cohesive policies, guidance, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility. For example, managing at a corporate level might involve evolving policies on privacy, on internal investment, and on the use of data.
    To distinguish the term governance from government: "governance" is what a "government" does. It might be a geo-political government (nation-state), a corporate government (business entity), a socio-political government (tribe, family etc.), or any number of different kinds of government, but governance is the physical exercise of management power and policy, while government is the instrument (usually collective) that does it.
    What is authority? Is it the inevitable power of the natural laws which manifest themselves in the necessary linking and succession of phenomena in the physical and social worlds? Indeed, against these laws revolt is not only forbidden - it is even impossible. We may misunderstand them or not know them at all, but we cannot disobey them; because they constitute the basis and the fundamental conditions of our existence; they envelop us, penetrate us, regulate all our movements. thoughts and acts; even when we believe that we disobey them, we only show their omnipotence.

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  2. I am greatly benefiting from your well thought out layout and summary. This rally makes my contribution in my Sabbath school class beneficial to others. May the Good Lord bless you abundantly.

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  3. There are many problems in the church BECAUSE satan is in attendance every week. His goal is to turn members and guests away from the church. And he is very successful much of the time. True, the congregation, not the physical temple, makes up the church. But If we look to those members, who may or may not be filled with the Holy Spirit, instead of looking to Christ, we may easily be swayed to the tempters side. I've seen in my 58 yrs in the Adventist church, many people who have left the church because of looking to sinful members rather than to Christ.

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    • True, Satan is present. And even if he weren't, we sinners could still mess things up.
      On the other hand, the good angels and the Holy Spirit are also present, and are much more powerful. Thank God for His messengers who are working to draw each one of us. I'm praying that He will help us to experience His grace more deeply this Sabbath than ever before. I know He will answer because He loves us more deeply than we can understand.

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    • Why is it that the people who left looked to sinful members (Rom 3:23) when they should have been looking to Christ (John 12:32)? Is our "governance" promoting "sinful members" rather than Christ?

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  4. Isn't it ironic that while God's people find excuses for not bothering to attend church, Satan makes church-going a study of special interest? Apparently he loves to work within the church not just to discourage members, but also to turn members into soldiers in his army. As you point out, our only salvation is in Christ.

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