13: Keeping the Church Faithful – Thought Starters
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[Thought Questions for Keeping the Church Faithful September 26, 2012]

1. Change and growth. Can a church grow without changing? Of course not. By definition, growth requires change. Can a church change without growing?  Where does change without growth lead? If you’ve been attending the same church for five years, has the church changed during that time? What about you? Have the past months or years changed your perspective on life in any way? If your church or Sabbath school is not growing, it is because of the pastor? Can you, as a Sabbath school teacher or member of a class or just a member of the Sabbath school, help your church grow?

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

2. God’s choice. Think about a family member or friend who is a long ways away. Would you rather receive an email or a telephone call from this person? Why? Our friends in Thessalonica didn’t have that choice. How did Paul write his letters to the churches such as Thessolonica? If they had a choice, which would the church members have preferred–to hear Paul speak in person or to receive a letter written by Paul to them? What are some advantages of the spoken word? of the written word? Throughout eternity, how do you think we will learn from God–through His presence or by books He will prepare for us? In what sense were the Thessalonian believers the “first fruits to be saved?” When it comes to communication, what is God’s first choice for you and me? Is it possible for us to have a constant and deep communication with God? How?

3. Scripture and Tradition. When Jesus walked on this earth, how important were the messages from the Old Testament? Do we as Christians regard the New Testament as more inspiring than the Old Testament? Should we? Have you ever wondered why the church follows certain practices? Have you ever been told it was because of tradition? Does the word “tradition” have negative meaning to you? Should it? How did Paul’s messages become transformed into a tradition that Christian churches should follow? Is it ever possible to follow tradition without devotion? Is the Bible a collection of traditions? If not, what is the grander purpose God has in mind for giving us the Holy Bible?

4. Work. Do you enjoy working? Or would you rather live from a stream of income that has no relationship to how much you work? Why did Paul work so hard in ministering  to the people of Thessalonica? Have you ever heard of a church inviting a minister to join the pastoral staff with the requirement that he and his family live without any income? Do young people in our church choose the ministry as a career because of the pay and benefits they will receive? Why shouldn’t we all pool the money we earn and put it in a savings account that we would draw from when a minister or church member needs financial help? Is it possible to be lazy and be a Christian at the same time? What work does God have for you to do?

5. Tough Love. Those Thessalonians. Now they’re getting in trouble again. Some of them are lazy. Others keep busy spreading gossip about other members. What has happened to all of their virtues  Paul praised them for earlier? Is criticism and fault-finding ever justified within the church? Short of disfellowshipping, do we ever delete certain people from consideration for a church office the person has held before? In such cases, is the person concerned ever informed of what is going on and given an opportunity to correct his or her path? What do you think about the policy that the General Conference does not disfellowship anyone?  Does your local church ever participate in disciplining any members? If so, has it gone well?

6. Supporting idleness. Are you looking forward to a time in your life when there is no more work to do? What are you planning to do then? Does our church today ever get involved in supporting an individual or a family that doesn’t work? Does Paul say that is always a bad idea? Does Ellen White? What are the principles at play so that the  right decision can be made when we become aware of a person who could work but doesn’t? Now let’s go to church. Are there idle members lurking in the pews? Do some members hardly ever show up for church services, much less support any of the church’s projects? What should we do about such members? Or, more to the point, what should we do with ourselves when we are tempted to be “pew sitters” only?

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13: Keeping the Church Faithful – Thought Starters — 2 Comments

  1. It is the serious progressive study of the present truth message that keeps the church faithful (including the complete submission to the Holy Spirit's guidance).
    A saying: "when the family prays together, it stays together". When we accept the same message then we can closely prayerfully study together...in the LORD.
    The LORD JESUS is coming soon, and we are to be ready.
    1 Peter 4:17 " Judgment must begin in the house of God,......"
    The call is to the Church, us, and we are to respond to His call seriously and endeavoringly.-----Olive.

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  2. I love to work. Not only at my 40-60 hour/week job, but for my church and more recently for the community at large. Most recently, our church, without any desire for recognition or recompense in any way, conducted a health screening at a community fest among many other organizations. One of the community residents pointed us out as the organization that seemed most interested in the residents and now wants to work with us to impact the larger community. As Christian Seventh-day Adventists, we must consider the motive for our work because it does show through. Are we truly interested, as Paul seemed to be, about the personal lives as well as their salvation, or about reward, recognition, recompense, etc.? It seems to me, that the 'why' we work is just as or more important than the what we do for the Lord. It spills over even into our employment. If we work there to save for retirement vs. unselfishly provide for God's work, our attitude and bank statement will reflect our motives accordingly. Our primary purpose will determine our attitude and action. Jesus' primary purpose is and has always been our salvation because of His love. Look at the impact of the cross on the entire world, only made possible by a clear, unwavering vision of a saved world and the willingness to execute the mission via the role only He could perform. Let's be clear about the vision of a saved world and just perform the role God has placed us to do now and forget about the money. . .or the time. . .or the effort. Let's just get the job done - always lovingly placing the soul for Christ above ourselves. Then we won't sit around too often 'philosophizing' the gospel like some of the Thessalonians idly did, but living it so others will be drawn to Christ through our example of sacrifice, quality of work and genuine Christ-like love and concern for them personally. . .spiritually. May God bless us all with the courage to be in His will to help save mankind -- always -- even if we must 'work' for their sake while we 'preach'.

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