Author Topic: Choice...Do I have a right to it?  (Read 1982 times)

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Offline 1hope

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Choice...Do I have a right to it?
« on: Thu Jan 03, 2002 - 19:53:38 »
Charles
If our salvation is an individual relationship then we should be able to make choices. The problem it seems to be is when my choice differs from yours (for example). I want to clap and you feel it is wrong, we don't seem to be able to get along. It would seem to me that I could clap and you wouldn't and we both would be happy but that is not what happens. You say my clapping interfers with your worship and I suppose it does if you let it. To me the question is how do we get to the place where what I do doesn't matter to you and what you do doesn't bother me since we both are praising God? Maybe this can only happen in heaven.
    I appreciate and respect others opinions and allow them to make their choices and don't demand that they change, but they demand that I change. Do we just have to have different groups? I know we spend way too much time trying to change other Christians instead changing non-believers into believers.
My thoughts
Johnny

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« on: Thu Jan 03, 2002 - 19:53:38 »

marc

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« Reply #1 on: Sat Jan 05, 2002 - 09:04:25 »
I've been away for a while--so many posts!

Living in a rural area, I thought I'd comment on this.  What happens most often (at least in my experience) is that people with progressive outlooks tend to leave more conservative churches, whether they can find another church to attend or not.  And the reputation of the church in the community suffers.

Let me just briefly tell you where I'm coming from.  Seven or eight years ago, my stepfather, who had never preached regularly before, was asked to become the regular preacher at a small, rural church with no elders.   The previous regular preacher in this church (a man whose name some of you would most likely recognize), leaned sharply to the progressive side.  Dad was always middle-of-the-road, but when he arrived at this church and found a lack of commitment to the congregation, he blamed the church's apathy on the progressive teachings of the previous preacher, and became more conservative.

The congregation asked me to come work with the youth (something I'm no longer doing), and I did so.  Dad hadn't realized how much my thinking had changed.  When I questioned him privately about his blaming "denominationilism", to use his word, for all the churches problems, he preached sermons refuting my suggestions.  

He has never asked me to stop teaching, and has in fact encouraged me to teach and occasionally speak.  He does at times, though, go behind me and re-teach (he is now teaching the teenage-young adult class I taught for years, and has spent at least three months on the plan of salvation).  He also continues to fellowship more progressive churches and tries to convince the hard right congregations (who tend to help him out financially) to do so.  He at one time lost some monetary support because we announced a local appearance by Jeff Walling in our bulletin.  It does worry me, though, that he is being bombarded with mailed material condemning "change agents".

I said all that to say this:  most of the more progressive members of the congregation who were there when we arrived have now left.  A few travel a distance to another Church of Christ; some worship with other chruches in the community. Many who previously came occasionally haven't been seen in years.  Me, I continue to teach what I believe, sometimes too cautiously, sometimes too plainly.  Twice in the last three weeks a member of my adult bible class has taken offense at something I said.  On the other hand, I spoke last Sunday morning, and did not speak plainly enough.  My topic was our dependence on God, and I talked around so many points that in the end I couldn't even hold my own interest.

But I stay here for two reasons.  First, the congregation is so small, every member is needed. I have a place here. Second, there is still the remnant of a progressive spirit in the church, and I feel I should do all I can to keep it from dying.

Offline Bill

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Choice...Do I have a right to it?
« Reply #2 on: Sat Jan 05, 2002 - 17:23:04 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (jmfair60 @ Jan. 03 2002,5:13)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]If you choose to be numbered among a certain congregation then you are in essence placing yourself under the authority of the eldership or leadership.  On the other hand the shepherds should be sensitive to the Spiritual needs of their flock and be prepared to change if it is an area where the Bible allows.  Normally I would say that if you want to clap or raise hands, etc., but the leadership is against that, then you should probably seek out a congregation that is more closely aligned with your sensibilities.  A real problem occurs when it is a rural area and there are no other choices.  I am not sure there are any easy answers here.[/quote]
We might want to discuss the eldership sometime.  Seems to me that elders should be servants rather than the ruling junta.

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« Reply #2 on: Sat Jan 05, 2002 - 17:23:04 »

marc

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« Reply #3 on: Sun Jan 06, 2002 - 07:37:16 »
There are times it seems our building has become a funeral home without the church shutting down. We've lost so many members in the past couple of years without gaining members to replace them, I fear for the future of this church.

Honestly, it's hard to characterize this congregation.  Many of the people are extremely open, but no one seems to really care much about anything.  We do our best worshipping and fellowshipping when we become informal, meeting downstairs in the kitchen on Sunday nights or at (very) occasional get-togethers, like one we had New Year's Eve. Upstairs Sunday Mornings, though, it sometimes seems like nap-time.  No one seems interested in worshipping.

The situation, though, isn't as bad as what you've experienced.  No one is trying to wield the level of control that you have described.  If that happened, well, because of my circumstances I don't see myself here more than a year or so longer anyway:  that would definitely hasten my departure.

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« Reply #3 on: Sun Jan 06, 2002 - 07:37:16 »
Pinterest: GraceCentered.com

Offline WileyClarkson

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« Reply #4 on: Wed Jan 09, 2002 - 16:38:53 »
chb,

I can sure sympathize with your position, just the flip side of the coin in our case.  We are also very rural.  However, the CoC is quite prevelant throughout this rural area (N. Cen. TX).  My wife was the one who really didn't want to leave the now defunct local congregation and it did indeed cause some contention at times.  I was the one who forced the issue finally by just refusing to worship there, although she continued to worship there when I was at work.  Just couldn't go along with alot of the things that were happening and I had changed my views on many issues over the previous 10 years that were just not accepted by the local-mainly the 2 elders.  My wife was very traditional 60's in her views.  Thank God that has changed!  It took all the problems that the local congregation was having and causing along with the problems that occurred in the next congregation we worshipped and worked with (much the same), a daughter who was working on a Master's Degree in Christian Education to become a Children's Minister, and a really good friend we made in the grace centered minister and his wife who came to that second congregation where we spent about 1.5 years, before moving to where we are now.  He found out I had always wanted to be able to go to Stream, and it went from there.  Stream was the final event that changed my wife's way of looking at things.  BTW, that very legalistic congregation didn't realize the quality of minister they were getting when they hired him!  However, they found out really quickly where he stood on things because the minister honeymoon period lasted about two weeks and the confrontations started.  So far, there are still alot of deaf ears there.  He's still there but, Lord willing, he will have a new job in a month with a church that is anxious to get a minister like him.  And we will still spend time together at Stream!

I'm curious just how rural you are.  Where do you live?  I know there are GC type house churches starting in alot of rural areas that don't get publicized except by word of mouth, and you definitly won't hear about them in the more legalistic small rural churches (unless it is something the legalistics consider bad:>) ).  Maybe with the help of others on the more open CoC lists, something might turn up.

God bless,

Wiley

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« Reply #4 on: Wed Jan 09, 2002 - 16:38:53 »



Offline peck

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« Reply #5 on: Thu Jan 03, 2002 - 15:24:55 »
Hi everyone,
 Are we bound to the hermeneutics of the congregation we attend,or is their choices we can make on our own about certain issues like IM,raising hands,mdr,role of women,clapping,and so on?

 Can we not think as adults and make choices that we personally believe in without being judged as wrong by the congregation we attend?

 My belief is that the CoC and other religious groups operate a parent to child system.Choice would make it an adult to adult system.Choice but unity would give everyone the right we have to think for ourselves.

 Parent to child(I'm right and you are wrong).Adult to adult(It's your choice,let's take the right and wrong out of it).

Just some thoughts,Charles

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« Reply #5 on: Thu Jan 03, 2002 - 15:24:55 »

Offline jmfair60

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« Reply #6 on: Fri Jan 04, 2002 - 02:13:24 »
If you choose to be numbered among a certain congregation then you are in essence placing yourself under the authority of the eldership or leadership.  On the other hand the shepherds should be sensitive to the Spiritual needs of their flock and be prepared to change if it is an area where the Bible allows.  Normally I would say that if you want to clap or raise hands, etc., but the leadership is against that, then you should probably seek out a congregation that is more closely aligned with your sensibilities.  A real problem occurs when it is a rural area and there are no other choices.  I am not sure there are any easy answers here.

Offline peck

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« Reply #7 on: Sat Jan 05, 2002 - 13:00:50 »
Johnny,John,Marc,
 Thanks for your good replys.There seems to be no easy answers.Yet,I believe that in spite of more disagreement in the CoC than I can remember,we are making progress.

 I believe we are in the midst of an attitude change and we are suffering at the present time.Proverbs8:12 tells us that wisdom has a counterpart(prudence or common sense).

 Although we will all have different thoughts about our religion,somehow there seems to be an acceptance of one another that I've never seen in the CoC.

 Our young people are refusing to be held in captivity by the hermeneutics of the CoC.They seem to make freedom for themselves by allowing their own thinking to make choices, without letting the guilt trip stop them.

 Confusion seems to draw people back to old ways of thinking,but our open minds will continue to progress the church forward.

Just some thoughts,Charles

Offline WileyClarkson

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« Reply #8 on: Sun Jan 06, 2002 - 03:57:46 »
Marc,

Quote
But I stay here for two reasons.  First, the congregation is so small, every member is needed. I have a place here. Second, there is still the remnant of a progressive spirit in the church, and I feel I should do all I can to keep it from dying.


I used to do the same thing at the small rural congregation about 3 miles from my house.  My wife and I raised our children there and were members for more than 20 years.  While there, I served as a deacon, elder, youth leader, bookkeeper, and song leader(the last several years).  My job forced my resignation as elder and after that, the control tightened up with a much more narrow mind set.  The elders didn't like my comments in classes (they did like my song leading :>) ), didn't like the fact that our youth group included some of the Baptist kids, that we attended gatherings such as the South Texas Youth Conference in San Antonio, that my wife and I refused to actively try to convert those kids to our way of thinking (we preferred teaching a Christian lifestyle and Christian decission making rather than "the plan"), and they didn't like the fact that my oldest daughter chose that awful school 125 miles to the west of us (ACU).  They even put out articles on the table in the foyer that were highlighted in yellow on how bad ACU was.  Unfortunately, my oldest daughter saw them and refused to go back there for a long time (and we kept on going there for several years!).  The eldership & their wives pretty much turned the community against the COC over those years.  The Baptist church grew by leaps and bounds while we continued to shrink.  When there was only about 12 active members, the then minister caused a personality split in the church because he wanted to quit and couldn't just come out and say it(5 members of one family walked out, and the minister went his own direction with his family).  WE stuck around for 1.5 years after that trying to pull that congregation back together and all the while, those same elders/wives making things worse.  We finally had to leave.  It was the best thing we ever did for our spiritual lives.  You have one advantage in your situation---"there is still the remnant of a progressive spirit in the church."  THat congregation folded one month after my wife and I left and the building became a funeral home.

I've said all this because everytime I hear someone say they are staying because of the reasons you gave, it gives me cold chills and I think about everything we went through.

GOt to go.  I'm at work  and have been called.

God bless,

Wiley

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« Reply #8 on: Sun Jan 06, 2002 - 03:57:46 »

Offline Arkstfan

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« Reply #9 on: Tue Jan 08, 2002 - 18:16:46 »
The posts that have been made are so interesting.

I've probably posted this before but I'm too lazy to go back and check the other threads.

After drifting around a bit, unsatisfied with the local congregation that had been my home (never felt like home despite some great people there) I visited a congregation know for pushing it.

Their pushing it consisted of people dressing in slacks and knit shirts rather than dress shirts and ties. They actually helped the local AIDS support organization after the multitude of congregations in the area rejected requests for help. People who had prior divorces were accepted in and people baptized by other denominations were not required to be re-baptized. They projected song lyrics, verses from the Bible and occasionally images that reinforced the sermon. They also had a praise team, which seemed to be nothing more than a group of good singers occupying a couple rows of pews with part of them using microphones.

When we attended it was the first day with a new worship minister (song leader with many more responsibilities). People clapped along to some songs. They sang during communion and had non-staff, non-deacon members doing some scripture readings.

We joined within a few weeks after the great reception we received. We went through the new member class and the elder teaching it boasted of the church's reputation for stepping boldly in to fill the spiritual needs that were not being met by sister congregations. They saw their role as being a church of last resort for those who felt the cofC's in the area had remained too static and said they would continue to push toward a contemporary worship.

Over the next year small changes appeared. Some newer members were given teaching responsibilities in adult classes. On most Sundays the Lord's Supper was preceded by a seperate devotional lead either by a regular member or a deacon and on rare occasion an elder. The devotional might be tied to the sermon or it might be independent. Some members started raising their hands during prayer or songs.

The worship leader was dynamic during services and had a reputation for being passionate and empathtic away from church. After his arrival the church began a phase of rapid growth.

The first problem soon arose. The pre-growth phase church had a decent number of teenagers but they were almost all between 9th and 12th grade. There were virtually no kids from 6th to 8th grade, but several younger. The new members were bringing in their kids who were in the 7th grade or younger (with some exceptions of course) but there was this blip of 11, 12, and 13 year olds with no real program geared to them. The worship minister was given the assignment of working with the youth but the duties were never clear as to whether he working for the committee over the youth programs, supposed to lead the committee or merely be the "go-between" for the committee and the elders.

He and the newer members wanted to gear the youth program more toward developing a one-on-one relationship with God, training leadership, and serving as an outreach. The established members who made up the committee wanted to focus on activities like trips that would help retention, doing internal projects (ie. improving the church facilities) rather than neighborhood projects, and strengthening friendships within the group.

The established group wanted to keep things the way they were and rejected the proposals. The newcomers hardened and rejected the established system in return. The whole mess came to a head as the result of a trip to an amusement park 6 hours away. There was a devotional at a church in the area and a number of our older girls wore very short shorts and belly shirts to the other church. The worship minister and the newcomers (who somehow ended up being the chaperones instead of the people who planned the trip) asked the committee to set a dress code. Shorts no higher than 2 inches above the knee, sleeves on shirts, no plunging necklines, guidelines on the messages on shirts. The established group rejected that and began demanding the worship minister be removed from youth responsibility because the dress code was an insult to the teenagers.

At the same time some families started complaining about the changes in the worship service and the pulpit minister who had been there for almost the entire life of the church became upset that he was no longer the one people talked about. Enthusiastic members kept telling him how the new worship minister had energized the church.

He and four couples who had been there since the early days approached the elders asking that the changes that had been in place for over a year be dialed back.

In the end the elders adopted guidelines for worship that were very similar to what Madison reportedly adopted and were more traditional than the practice before the worship minister was hired.

As the worship changed again many of the newer members felt betrayed that what they had been told was the future was much different. Several members began meeting with the elders and were told that the elders were committed to the pulpit minister, his suggestions had been adopted and the worship minister would have to adapt.

The members semi-organized and went to the elders and asked that a second service that would be contemporary so that they could retain the type of service that had attracted them. That request was rejected.

After that was rejected they approached again later asking if the fellowship hall could be made available for a contemporary service and were told that the elders had already set the style of worship.

They then asked if the elders would consider planting a contemporary style church under their leadership at a location a few miles away and that was rejected.

Finally taking a page from the congregation's own history, they went to the elders and asked for their blessing to form a new congregation, just as they had done several years earlier on departure from their downtown church to move into the rapidly growing suburb that did not have a neighborhood church.  Unlike that time a decade ago, these elders did not give a blessing or encouragement, rather they stated that they did not have the power to stop them from doing what they wanted to do.

So last Sunday we met in a home with just over 30 people. We have not made a decision as to what course to take other than knowing that we no longer felt we were at home in the old congregation at a leadership level. On the plus side the small group leaders have individually committed to welcome the dissenters and permit them to remain in their groups.

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« Reply #10 on: Wed Jan 09, 2002 - 08:17:11 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]. . . I stay here for two reasons.  First, the congregation is so small, every member is needed. I have a place here. Second, there is still the remnant of a progressive spirit in the church, and I feel I should do all I can to keep it from dying.[/quote]
       ??? Am currently in this dilemma myself. Have no attraction for continuing membership in the church we've worshipped in for the last 6 years -- too many here are stuck in deep ruts and don't even seem to realize it, or worse, are perversely proud of it. Have experienced much guilt and worry agonizing over this decision. All I know for sure is, I'm not getting any spiritual growth in this congregation and I know that my husband and children aren't either. (This has, in fact, been a source of contention in our marriage.)
       Another CofC is not an option... we live in a rural community and the closest one is an hour's drive away. However, am having a very difficult time reconciling some of the doctrines I've been taught as a B&R Church of Christer against the things I've witnessed in other churches here in my area. Don't feel that a house church is an option for us at present either, though I've toyed with the idea of "hosting" a worship event in our home every now and then just to get an idea of whether it could eventually work. Am too spiritually fragile right now to commit to anything long term or too experimental.
       One conclusion I've reluctantly come to, however, is that I don't believe I could accomplish anything good for the church members here by staying in their fellowship -- so many don't even seem to realize there's anything wrong, and I've no patience anymore for tests of fellowship based on conformity to the status quo. Where does that leave me and my family, though? Feel like we're wandering in the wilderness.

Offline spurly

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« Reply #11 on: Fri Jan 03, 2003 - 21:13:55 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (peck @ Jan. 03 2002,3:24)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]Hi everyone,
 Are we bound to the hermeneutics of the congregation we attend,or is their choices we can make on our own about certain issues like IM,raising hands,mdr,role of women,clapping,and so on?

 Can we not think as adults and make choices that we personally believe in without being judged as wrong by the congregation we attend?

 My belief is that the CoC and other religious groups operate a parent to child system.Choice would make it an adult to adult system.Choice but unity would give everyone the right we have to think for ourselves.

 Parent to child(I'm right and you are wrong).Adult to adult(It's your choice,let's take the right and wrong out of it).

Just some thoughts,Charles[/quote]
Charles, none of us are bound to believe a certain interpretation [span style=\'color:green\']just because[/bi][/span] someone else tells us that's what we are to believe.  That's called parking your mind at the door and it is what cults thrive on.

Since becoming a rational thinking person at about 13, I have always had differences of opinion from those in leadership at the church.  I guess I am just a rebel at heart.

But I can still worship with them, and they can still worship with me.  Our opinions may be different, but we serve the same God.

If a congregation is wanting you to walk hand in hand with them on lots of \"opinions\" I would get out and get out quick.  It sounds too much like Jim Jones and David Koresh to me.

Kevin