Things happen when this prophet goes to church that invariably lead to the exit of this prophet from said church. Right now, I am out of "church" without any idea when I might be back "in". Others in the family feel it is quite alright to go to various churches where I am not presently inclined to attend. And so, I come under the microscope frequently when I run into friends in the neighborhood. Now, I do not want to appear arrogant by the answers that I might give to these inquiring minds. People do not like it when you criticize their church and their "pastor". It has left me, many times, squirming in my shoes and looking for an escape route. Well, it happened again today, and when I returned home to my empty house, I went to prayer about the matter, and the Lord surprised me with an immediate reply:
"Tell them that it is not my kind of church"
Now, that was all the Lord said and it left me with more questions to ask of Him, but He was not providing more answers. Initially, I was wondering whether I was to say that it was not the kind of church Jesus would attend, or "not His kind of church, or not my (referring to me, not the Lord) kind of church. Then I realized that the one must be the same as the other if I am to please the Lord. I only want to attend HIS kind of church, but I then had the realization that He was opening up a way for me to enter into discussion of this subject with anyone who makes inquiry of me. I can simply answer: ____________________ is not my kind of church!
Then, of course, some people will simply let the matter drop. Others may inquire why? Well then, I can go into a series of non threatening answers about my (His) preferences.
My kind of church is a church where:
Four to eight elders preach the word of God.
You almost never know which elder is going to preach when you go to a meeting.
Sometimes as many as four or five elders may preach in a SINGLE meeting.
No single elder lords it over any other elder, but each meeting will have a designated "in charge" elder who will have final say on the flow of the meeting for that day. This will be the elder who has the main word to be preached on that day, as the elders have previously agreed in their separate meetings.
Anyone in attendance may speak, prophesy, share a testimony or scripture, suggest a song or hymn, pray or give praise at any time so long as their speaking is not done in a way that is rude to the one who is speaking.
Elders who sin are all dealt with equally and in public. Discipline is meted out impartially.
Elders who preach are not paid for preaching but are supported by free will gifts and their own work efforts.
Elders meet to discuss the word of the Lord, to fast and pray and to determine who has the word of the Lord and will therefore preach at upcoming meetings.
Elders frequently meet with apostles, prophets and other visiting ministers and sometimes, those ministers address the church.
Worship is flexible in terms of number of songs sung and time to be expended.
The prophetic "new song" is part of ordinary worship.
The sick are publicly prayed for.
Demons are publicly cast out.
Prophesying by members is common.
Prophesying that is "off" is judged, in a kindly and respectful way, so that no one is led astray.
Testimonies by members indicate that God has been frequently present to heal and that miracles occur.
Testimonies by new members indicate that lives are being changed and transformed.
There is no compulsion placed upon members to give.
Pressing needs of the congregation and needs of individual members are brought before the body for prayer.
Missionaries are financially supported and sent out by this body.
Local evangelism is organized, regular and targeted and the elders are involved.
Teaching is error free and biblically based.
Disagreement on certain disputable matters is permitted. Members who disagree on these disputable matters are nonetheless accepted in the congregation.
The church is vigilant, contends earnestly for the gospel once delivered to the saints and will not put up with teaching that presents another Jesus, another gospel or another spirit.
Those who believe errors have been taught can be heard out by an elder.
Prayer groups are regular and fervent. Fasting is commonly reported on AFTER it has occurred and is kept quiet while it is happening.
Periodically, the whole church is put on a fast.
The nine gifts of the Holy Spirit have been known to function frequently over the life of the assembly. Many members function in the various gifts.
Jewish and Mosaic law, including tithing law, is taught as a "principle" and not a means for justification before God. Proper balance is taught with respect to the support of Messianic teachings and the rabid support of some for the present nation of Israel is tempered by a present knowledge of the abominable sins of that nation. At the same time, the church must stand in agreement with Godly Israel as she may appear and with God's plan to redeem a remnant of the Jews in this generation and must become expert and knowledgeable concerning the things of the Jew without falling into the trap of Jewish legalism.
The giving of money is not taught as a means to get rich. Riches are not taught as proof of God's anointing and blessing. Prosperity without the requisite prosperity of the soul is taught as a thing not to be sought or desired.
Assembly problems are dealt with directly by the elders, such as "Casanova males" and "seductive females". Ungodly behavior and provocative clothing are not long permitted.
God is chased by this assembly, not money. As a result, money chases this assembly and overtakes it and its' members.
Likewise, sin is treated as a catastrophe, and the serious consequences of continual and non-repentent sin are clearly taught.
God's presence is clearly evident in this congregation. God's people are taught about His presence and no
meeting will continue if God's presence is absent for any reason. Should God depart, the meetings will cease and prayer will immediately commence to inquire as to just how the Holy Spirit has been grieved or offended by this congregation.
Elders do not Lord over members. Service given by members to elders is voluntary. No "armor bearers" are titled or otherwise installed to carry an elders bible, briefcase or open doors for him.
All important financial and governmental decisions are made by the elders. The church has a financial manager who is on salary, and who answers and reports to the elders.
Deacons are involved in service to the congregation and to members. They are not involved in financial and government decisions except as it may arise in an advisory capacity.
There are a few other things that I would like to find in my kind of church. I would like to find in there anything that the Holy Spirit shows to the elders that needs to be in the church even if it has not been in the church in the past. In short, I want the church to move when the cloud of God moves. I do not want to be part of a church that has turned into any kind of mausoleum. The church must remain a living body that is responsive to the living changes that our head Jesus may want to bring to us at any time. I also do not want the church to change simply because the times and the world are changing. I do not want a church that is politically correct, but one that is God correct.
Why is it so difficult to find a church assembly that does most if not all of these things? Are not these the things that a New Testament church should aspire to? Why then do we find so few in operation?
Stephen L. Bening
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