Ways to Raise Money

Honestly, teaching a class on other religious denominations is not only hard, it’s down right boring. So to give the kids a break (and myself), Wednesday night I went to class with absolutely nothing prepared. After announcements and a time of worship, I said lets go over to the Coffeehouse. Honestly, I was a little worried beforehand that class would end at 7:25 and I’d have to come up with 35 more minutes of stuff, because you can’t just let the kids run free.

This last weekend we went to the TAG Youth Camp in Lynchburg, TN for a spring retreat with the Snellville CoC, Broadway CoC, and Lone Oak CoC. The other three churches had buses. They varied in size from the 23 passenger mini-bus to the 48 seater standard bus. The standard bus looked more like a charter bus than a school bus. The kids got to ride these buses on the way to Perry’s parents house in Fayetteville.

So Wednesday night, after maybe like 10 minutes of talking about the retreat, they started talking about how great it would be if we had a bus. We don’t exactly have a really large group right now, so a 23 passenger bus would help out since we usually have to take two 15 passenger vans, often with neither van having more than 10 people. Plus, there are some safety issues concerning 15 passenger vans. So there are definitely some valid reasons behind spending some money to purchase a bus when the 15 passenger vans still seem to do. Anyways, so for the rest of the class, the kids were talking about what they were willing to do to raise money to purchase a bus. Some of the ideas are good and feasible to do. Others weren’t so feasible. Perhaps the funniest came from Josh S. inspired by Freda M. Freda was talking about some pruebred puppies they had. Josh suggested that the LYF group get into Pure Breeding puppies and selling them.

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The Baptist Church

I had been meaning to post this, but it has taken longer than I though to get around to combining my notes and PowerPoint slides together. Also, if you’re wondering where Part 2 of A History of the Churches of Christ went to? I never got it from Philip, so it didn’t go up.

We started the class of with a review game on things we had talked about in the last two weeks. Some questions were meant to be easy, some were meant to be tricky, and some were just meant to see who was really listening. If you really want to take a look at it and see how much you know, you can download it. I guess I needed more than one tie-breaker, because the game still ended up in a tie.

The past couple of weeks we have been studying the history of our church (the Church of Christ). Tonight we are going to look at one of the biggest churches in America. The Baptist Church. Like the Church of Christ, the Baptist church has a couple of people that are important in their heritage. These men are named Roger Williams and John Clarke. We won’t spend nearly as much time on them as we did Stone and Campbell, but I’ll give a very brief history of them both.
Roger Williams and John Clarke

Roger Williams was born to a Puritan Family in London around 1603 and died in 1684. After graduating from Cambridge University, he became a chaplain to a rich family and married his wife, Mary Barnard. Around 1630, he decided to come to America were he could gain more religious freedom. One of the things that Williams believed was that the Native Americans should be treated fairly. He purchased land from them and founded Providence, Rhode Island. In 1639, he established what is considered to be the First Baptist Church in America.

John Clarke was born in England in 1609 and died in 1676. In 1637 he immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay. In 1639 he helped found the city of Newport, Rhode Island and established a Baptist Church there. This was also around the same time that Roger Williams established the church in Providence. Records are not good for which building was completed first, so both are generally considered founders of the Baptist Church in America.

Here are some statistics about the Baptist church. Over 90 million Christians consider themselves Baptist worldwide, with 47 million of those in the United States. Baptists churches are organized by a system called the congregational governance system, which gives autonomy to each individual church. (Sounds sort of like the Church of Christ doesn’t it?) They often associate themselves in denominational groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention, USA, National Baptist Convention of America, American Baptist Churches, and Baptist Bible Fellowship International are just a few. In fact, about 92% of Baptists are found in those 5 denominational bodies.

So what do the Baptists believe?

Like the Churches of Christ, they don’t have a true central governing authority, so beliefs are not consistent from on Church to the other. However on what is considered major theological issues, the beliefs are pretty common. These are things such as there is only one God; the virgin birth of Jesus; he lived a sinless life; performed miracles; he was resurrected; the need for salvation; grace; etc.

A common acrostic that describes the Baptist beliefs is:

Believer’s Baptism by Immersion Only
Authority and Absolute Inerrancy of the Scriptures
Priesthood of Every Believer
Two Local Church Ordinances (Believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
Independence of the Local Church
Saved Church Membership
Two Offices of the Church (Pastor and Deacon)
Separation (Personal, Ecclesiastical, State)

Now let’s take a look at what each of those mean. During the class I had the scripture references up on PowerPoint. To make it easier, I will just link the scripture reference to BibleGateway.

Believer’s Baptism by Immersion Only (Acts 2:41-47, Acts 8:36-38)
A person can be baptized by full immersion in water after a person professes Jesus Christ to be Savior. Still sounds kinda similar to the Church of Christ baptism doesn’t it. Here is where it differs. Whereas the Church of Christ teaches that it is for the remission of sins, Baptists teach that it is an outward expression that is symbolic of the inward cleaning that already took place when they professed that Jesus is Lord. In other words, the remission of sins occur when you profess that Jesus is Lord. A common way of professing this is by saying something like The Sinner’s Prayer. They also do not practice infant baptism. Their baptism is also a representation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. They also only recognize baptism by full immersion as the only valid baptism.

Authority and Absolute Inerrancy of the Scriptures (Matthew 5:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21)
Well there’s not really a whole lot to talk about here. The Church of Christ holds the same view.

Priesthood of Every Believer (Philippians 1:8-9, John 15:13-16)
This is also something that is common among the Churches of Christ. This is the belief that we have direct access to God and the truths found in the Bible without the need for a hierarchy of priests. They are encouraged to discuss scripture and other issues with their minister and other Christians as a means of developing spiritual maturity.

Two Local Church Ordinances (Acts 2:41-47, 1 Corinthians 11:23-32)
They call them ordinances instead of sacraments, because they are obedience to a command that Christ has given us instead of activities that God uses to impart salvation or a means of grace. However, there is a group called the reformed Baptists that refer to them as sacraments because they view them as a means of grace. Since we’ve already talked about believer’s baptism, let’s move onto the Lord Supper. Depending on what the church decides, it can be done either weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or on other special occasions.
BTW: A few groups like the Primitive Baptists and Free Will Baptists that will include foot washing as a third local church ordinance.

Independence of the Local Church (Matthew 18:15-17, Acts 13:1-4)
Well we’ve kind of already discussed this as well. Although they may align themselves in groups, each congregation ultimately decides what they practice.

Saved Church Membership (1 Corinthians 1:1-2, Acts 2:41-47)
To be saved, one must be a member of the Church. That is the majority opinion anyways. Some groups will accept and teach those that have professed Jesus as Lord without following through with the Believer’s Baptism.

Two Offices of the Church (1 Timothy 3:1-13)
The two offices are that of pastor and deacon. So what exactly is a pastor? A pastor can be what we call an elder in the Church of Christ. A pastor can also be the minister, since one of the duties of the elders is to be able to teach. Oftentimes, elder and minister are considered to just be one office… that of a pastor. Their view of deacon is the same as the Church of Christ.

Separation (Personal: Romans 12:1-2; Ecclesiastical: Romans 16:17, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; State: Matthew 22:21b)
After reading those verses, a pretty simple summary of that belief is that they should be in the world but not of it, each church is autonomous from each other, separate yourself from sin, and the government and church should be separate. While today the separation of church in state is usually fought from the standpoint that the church should not be in the affairs of the state, it was originally used to keep the state out of the affairs of the church.

Finally, here are some other Baptists beliefs that may or may not be a majority belief.

  • Most Baptists believe that it is prohibited for women to serve as pastors or deacons.
  • Many also believe that divorce disqualifies a man from serving as a pastor or deacon.
  • Most emphasize that worship is not limited to the Sunday gathering, but is a lifestyle of love and service to Christ.
  • Some Baptists object to the application of the labels Protestant, denomination, Evangelical and some even Baptist to themselves or their churches. They wish to only be known as Christians. (Sound familiar?) A growing trend is to eliminate Baptist from the name of the church. Oftentimes they will use words like Community or other non-religions or non-denominational term in the name.

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A History of the Churches of Christ Part 1

Note: Its with Philip’s permission that this is posted here for all. I’ve changed from his original document, several uses of church of Christ to Church of Christ. It’s a pet peeve of mine about our movement.

[Brief note about this blog posting: When I was preparing to teach class on Wednesday night, I was having problems figuring out where to start. Do I start at the Bible? Do I start out with common beliefs in the Church of Christ? To put it simply, I had teacher’s block. It was Wednesday, and I was teaching in less than 8 hours. Not that I wasn’t prepared, but this can be such a delicate subject and it needed to be approached in an appropriate manner. So, I opened up Microsoft Word, and began to type. Realizing that I had more than I needed, I split the history into two 30-min class sessions. This first part contains introductory material and some of the history of Barton Stone and Thomas and Alexander Campbell. It’s actually very close to what was said Wednesday night. I’ve attempted to leave much of my original text intact. So, there are grammatical errors. Hopefully, I don’t have any errors about our history.]

When trying to figure out what we believe and why, it’s important to look back at where we have been. What has made the Church of Christ the “Church of Christ?” Are we really the “New Testament” church? Do we have roots in other denominations?

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been reading a book that Mike Buckley lent me called “Renewing God’s People – A Concise History of Churches of Christ.” This was published by Abilene Christian University Press. I say that to help you understand that this material was presented from one perspective when there are very well other interpretations of the Church of Christ history. While I was growing up in the Church of Christ, I was surrounded by teachers, ministers, and parents who focused on core aspects of Church of Christ “doctrine.” What is doctrine? Doctrine, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is “a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief.” By learning about these principles, we were equipped for “spiritual battle” to defend why we did things the way we did. Maybe our history was implied that we are the image of the New Testament church, and that we did everything right. Maybe it is just a misconception I had while growing up. I’m sure that some might say that those things aren’t what they were trying to teach. Taking a look back at the history of the Church of Christ, I have found a new conviction in why I believe what I believe. It has strengthened my positions on beliefs in the church. Just like any person or group, there are skeletons in the closet that we’d rather not talk about, but are necessary to understand why there are there.

For the purpose of this class, I will be going through this information pretty quickly and providing some high points and low points along the way. If you want to know more about the history of the Church of Christ, you can use our church library, the internet, or even wikipedia (which does have several good items concerning the Church of Christ and the restoration movement.). There are four areas that I want to talk about. A Brief History, Pre – Stone-Campbell Movement, Stone-Campbell Movement, post-civil war.

A Brief History

Throughout the history of Christianity, leaders have risen to challenge the principles by which they worship, believe, and live their Christian lives. Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church with ideas such as grace through faith instead of merit salvation and attempts to bring authority back to sola scripture (“Scripture Alone”). Luther and people who believed what he believed were excommunicated from the Catholic Church and formed a separate body. John Calvin was another individual that wanted reformation of the church. Calvin’s emphasis on God’s sovereignty led him to emphasize the doctrine of predestination. What is predestination? Webster’s dictionary defines predestination as “the doctrine that God in consequence of his foreknowledge of all events infallibly guides those who are destined for salvation.” Another group of reformers were those called the Radical Reformation or “Anabaptists.” They were called Anabaptists because they believed in believer’s baptism. Anabaptists simply means “rebaptizers.” They also wanted to return to the teachings on the New Testament.

When people began coming to America, they brought with them several types of Christianity. Many early pilgrims wanted to be free from religious persecution. This helped to establish a religious melting pot. Because so many different styles of Christianity were represented, not a single group was labeled as the “main” religious group in America. This opened up the way to religious freedom allowing for the people to decide and interpret the Bible for themselves. Through this, many ideas and beliefs came to surface. One of the earliest influences of the Churches of Christ was a man by the name of James O’Kelly. He was a Methodist preacher who began to oppose a church hierarchy. In other words, no central person, group, or headquarters would appoint a minister for a local congregation. O’Kelly and others believed that congregations should be able to do what they want on their own. From this, the group decided to call themselves “Christian.” They also adopted the six “Cardinal principles of the Christian Church.” The first one being “The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church.”

Pre-Stone-Campbell Movement

Three men helped shaped the Church of Christ from the protestant denominations. They were Barton Stone, and Thomas and Alexander Campbell (father and son). I want to take a look at these three individuals and their contributions.

Barton Stone lived from 1772 to 1844. Before being ordained (which means to officially invest with ministerial or priestly authority) as a Presbyterian minister, Stone grew up in the Episcopalian, Baptist, and Methodist Churches. He had problems with many of the doctrines that were apart of the Presbyterian Churches. For example, he struggles with the concepts of predestination and the Trinity. One of the events that shaped teaching of Stone was the Cane Ridge revival. At this revival, several thousand people came to hear Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian ministers preach. From this, Stone recognized the need for Christian unity. Also, it help chip away at his thoughts on predestination, through the presence of the Holy Spirit and people coming to know Him. Stone and other ministers took new ideas with them back home. The church there was not very happy. So, before they could be disciplined, they broke off a created a new church, the Presbytery of Springfield. This ended up being ironic. Stone and the others had wanted to create unity. So, what did they do? Start a new church. They released this a year later and came up with “The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.” This document contains many beliefs and statements that would echo down through the years to the Churches of Christ as they stand today.

The people who followed Stone’s movement began calling themselves Christian Churches or Churches of Christ. Stone churches practiced believer’s immersion, but did not exclude those who had been baptized as infants.
Thomas Campbell was another person who believed in the unity of churches. To help give some idea of where we’re at in church history, Thomas Campbell is still in Ireland while Stone churches are forming. Thomas was another one who was persecuted from the Presbyterian Churches. In 1809, Thomas was asked to write out his plan for unity among Christians. It was called the “Declaration and Address.” This made a clear call back to the freedoms found in the New Testament and the basis for Christian unity.

Alexander Campbell, the son of Thomas Campbell, went to the university in Glasgow, Scotland. Over his time there, he made many friends that had broken from the Church of Scotland and formed other churches. They all wanted to return to the practices of the New Testament church. Even though they didn’t agree on everything, some things they did agree on was local church leadership by elders, weekly Lord’s Supper, believer’s baptism by immersion, and opposition to ministerial titles like “Reverend.” The Campbell family finally made it to America in October of 1809.

In 1811, the Brush Run Church was formed where both Thomas and Alexander Campbell shared preaching duties. Alexander got married, and had a child soon after. This comes to another part which helped shaped what we believe. Members of the Brush Run Church questioned the whole infant baptism thing, and wanted to have believer’s baptism. This posed a dilemma for Alexander and his new daughter. Should she be baptized? Should he be baptized? After months of studying, he concluded that biblical baptism was the immersion of believers, not for the sprinkling of infants. Soon after, Thomas and Alexander Campbell and their wives were baptized, followed by the majority of the members of the Brush Run Church. Interestingly, this causes more of a rift between the Campbells and their Presbyterian beliefs, and the Brush Run Church becomes associated with the Redstone Baptist Association.

The heart of baptism became an issue between those in the Campbell movement and the Baptists. This caused the Campbell movement to break off and form their own independent churches. These churches began using the communities name as the name for the church like “Brush Run Church.” Eventually they began calling themselves disciples of Christ.

References:

Merriam-Webster OnLine: http://www.webster.com/
Holloway, Gary and Foster, Douglas A. Renewing God’s People: A Concise History of Churches of Christ. Abilene Christian University Press. 2001

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Luther, Calvin, Stone, and Campbell

Well tonight was the first lesson in denominations for the teens. Philip taught part one of a two part series on the history of the Church of Christ. Starting with Martin Luther, a little bit of Calvinism, and then onto Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell. I think he’s gonna email me his notes, which I’ll make available here.

Tonight’s class was a little heavy on the history and even Philip admitted, might be a little boring, but its definitely good to know this stuff for next weeks class, which gets more into the Restoration movement, the split of 1906, and the current Unity Movement congregations like Laurel are a part of.

We’ve also determined the next few lessons after we finish up with the Restoration movement. In two weeks I’ll be starting a lesson (or two) on Baptists and then after that Matt will do a few lessons on Catholicism. By then, we’ll have a better feel of what the time frame for getting a new youth minister will be. We are interviewing one this weekend, so that’s one thing you blog readers can pray about.

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