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