Volume 1, Issue 10
April 20, 2009

“OK, Mark, why don’t you call this meeting to order. You’re the chairman now”

Mark fidgeted a little, cleared his throat and began: “This men’s business meeting will now come to order. John, would please lead us in prayer?”

“Dear Lord, thank you for the ability for all of us to come together today to discuss the work of your church. I pray that each thing we discuss and decide would be the things that are in accordance with your will. Help us to only do what you would have us do and that which you have given us the authority to do, so that your Name might be honored. I pray in Jesus Name. Amen.”

“Please note those in attendance today, Ralph,” Mark stated, “so the record is accurate. Wayne, would you please give us the treasurer’s report.”

Wayne passed out the printed statement of the church’s treasury and made a few comments about specific items. There was no discussion about any treasury item.

Mark asked if there was any outstanding old business to take care of. There was none so Mark asked for new business items.

“We need to replace several light bulbs in the church auditorium,” Wayne remarked. “That should costs less than $25, I think.”

“I second that motion. Lacking any discussion on that need, all in favor of Wayne buying the necessary light bulbs this week, raise your right hands.”

All raised their hands.


No hands raised.

“Motion passed unanimously,” Mark noted. “Now, who will replace those bulbs after Wayne buys them? You know he can’t because of the need to use the ladder.”

Bill offered to take care of the bulbs Thursday evening.

Ted spoke up: “I believe that we need to replace a couple of chains on the kids’ swing set. The existing ones are getting rusty and pretty worn. They are pretty old. I’ve done some pricing and we can buy all the necessary chain for $45.00 at Benson’s Hardware. They give us a discount, you know?”

“Well, I have a problem with this whole thing,” Ralph stated. “You know, we don’t have any scriptural authority to spend money on playground equipment. We don’t even have scriptural authority to have the playground equipment, so maybe we should discuss that.”

“Oh, Ralph! What kind of statement is that? You know the equipment came with the place when we bought it,” Wayne demanded.

“Well,” Ralph responded, “I just want to be sure we are doing only what we have scriptural authority for. You know we have the basis of our faith as that of restoring the New Testament church. With that in mind, we can only do what we have authority from scripture to do. It’s not what I like or what you like, but what God wants us to do.”

Ted spoke up again, saying, “If we are going to have the playground equipment, which we do have, then we need to keep it safe and useful so the kids don’t get hurt. You know our liability insurance will go up if we have unsafe equipment. In fact, the insurance company might cancel our policy if we don’t keep things safe! So, we need to repair the swings right away.”.

Marty had been silent until now. “Ralph, do you really believe we don’t have authority for the playground equipment?”

“Do you see anything in scripture that authorizes playground equipment?” Ralph asked rather abruptly.

“Well, I don’t see anything in scripture authorizing the playground equipment or the yard it is in. I don’t see anything in scripture authorizing the church building. I don’t see anything in scripture authorizing a lot of things we do! Like having a church treasury or a treasurer, a church secretary, a chairman or men’s business meetings, for that matter! Where do we stop?”

With reddening face, Ralph responded, “Now, Marty! You know we have to have those things. The church has to have a place to meet. Things are to be done ‘decently and in order,’ like Paul said. We have to have money to carry out the Lord’s work here in our community! So, what is unscriptural about those things? Are you getting legalistic?!”

“But, the arguments for one are the same arguments for the others, aren’t they?” Marty asked quietly.

“NO,” Ralph shouted. “Some of these are just things we want for our own comfort or entertainment. The other things are things we NEED; they are expediencies! We have to be wise enough to know the difference! Look here, nowhere in scripture is there any mention of playground equipment. But, we know the church in the New Testament met for worship, so we have authority to meet. Well, that implies a meeting place, so we have authority to have a meeting place. Decisions have to be made for the church, and the apostles, all men by the way, made decisions for the church in the book of Acts, so that implies that a men’s business meeting is authorized. The church practiced giving and distributing, so that implies the authority for a treasury, and SOMEONE needs to oversee the treasury, so we appoint a treasurer. Use your head, Marty!”

Now Ted joined the discussion: “Were there kids in the church in the New Testament?”

Ralph retorted, “Of course there were.”

“Then, wouldn’t that imply the need for things to keep them happy and involved while the adults were busy with other things? Sounds like the same kind of argument.”

Ralph, obviously agitated, began to sputter, “Ahhh, well, ahh…”

The hoary head of Arthur raised a few inches as he began to speak, an infrequent but always worthy action. “The church in the first century met daily. It met in the temple and from house to house. It was led by the Spirit of God. Those people shared everything they had as people had need. They also ate their meals together with gladness and singleness of heart, and gained the favor of all the people. Decisions were made by the whole church with special situations being handled by special regional gatherings of the whole church. Men were leaders but not dictators. Women were quiet but not silent. All were participants. And the church grew by leaps and bounds!

“Ralph, you have brought us to an interesting discussion and well worth our attention, but it is obvious that you are addressing it from a point of legality with grace allowed for our traditions. But, is that the Spirit of our God leading you? Do we need to justify our traditions and make scripture provide ‘expediencies’ to do so, or should we examine ALL that we do in light of scriptural practice? We claim to be the New Testament church, but we have maintained our numbers at about 35 for over a decade now. We don’t do a very good job of impressing the community with our ‘faithfulness.’ We aren’t known for the way we love one another but for our exclusiveness and lack of instrumental music. We don’t even do men’s business meetings well. Remember the last two meetings, how we decided things at the first one, only to come back to change those decisions after we talked with our wives? Isn’t that a mockery of the ‘leadership of the men’?

“How did we get from daily get-togethers in many locations to only three times a week at the church building? How did we get from meeting around real meals daily to once-a-week nibbles with an extra occasion for stragglers on Sunday night? How did we get from the church being our life, the life of God’s family with all of its ‘business,’ to it being a corporation activity? How did we get from worship being lives laid on the altar before God to arbitrarily predefined orders of worship at a predefined time and place?

“Here’s the real question: Do we TRULY want to be those who use only the scriptures for our authority and are we willing to REALLY go back to those patterns and life-styles, or are we just going to accept the baggage that we have inherited from generations of our fore-fathers? Think deeply and long with much prayer before you answer the question. Are we really ready to cut off the shackles that hamstring our influence and Spirit-led life to live the liberty that God offered us in the Son? I would suggest that we go our separate ways right this minute, then come back together with our families, widows, and everyone on Sunday morning for a soup and sandwich brunch and have a full discussion of this. Don’t even ‘adjourn’ the meeting, we don’t have scriptural authority to do so. Go home!”

Hamstrung – To disable by cutting the great tendon at the back of the hock; cripple; to render powerless or useless; thwart.


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