Recently a new “church” was planted (a term their ministers were using).  They currently meet at the Strand Theatre.  Their website, although fancy, offers little about them.  The “who we are” page simply reads, “Discovering, Desiring, and Displaying the Treasure of Jesus Christ.”  After talking with another minister here in town, I learned that three other churches are looking at establishing a church here in Grinnell.  (One from Des Moines, one from Ames and a joint effort from churches in Newton and Montezuma).  Some in this community are excited about it.  It gives them opportunity to choose yet another church that best fits their families needs, wants, etc.  Others are concerned that it will hurt their churches numbers (read financial contributions) and still others are excited because it means more workers for God.  But, does it really matter?  Should we be concerned with the planting of four new churches in the area or should we be thanking God for these new opportunities?  The truth is hard to hear for many, but there are several flaws with the “church of choice” movement.
Flaw #1: God is Calling Us to Come to His Mountain.  “In the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it (Isa. 2:2).”  In the last days God’s mountain would be established and he is calling all nations unto it.  Most Christians understand this to be a reference to the church.  Climbing any mountain won’t do.  I cannot climb a peak that is similar to God’s mountain and say I am on His mountain.  I cannot climb a peak that is close to God’s mountain and say that I am on His mountain.  The only way I can be on His mountain is to go the one He established.  There are a lot of “mountains” out there that are close to His and similar to His but are not His.  They have man’s designs, man’s patterns, and man’s desires for worship.
Flaw #2: It Assumes that God Just Wants to Be Worshipped.  I do not argue that point.  God does want to be worshipped.  God does want to be glorified by his people.  However, God does not and has never just accepted something from mankind in the form of worship.  Let us look at a few examples.  The first recorded example of worship in the bible takes place in Gen. 4.  Cain and Abel both bring sacrifices to God.  Abel, being a shepherd brought an animal sacrifice.  Cain being a farmer, brought from the produce he had grown.  God had regard for Abel’s offering and had no regard for Cain’s.  Much debate has gone into why one was accepted and the other rejected.  But, I want you to see that offering some form of worship is not enough for God.  He is expecting more than just something.  In Lev. 10:1-3 we read of two more brothers that worshipped God, Nadab and Abihu.  In Lev. 8 we learn of the cleansing ritual to prepare these two men for the office of priest.  Chapter 10 appears to be their first act of worship sense being appointed as priests.  The text says that they sought to offer incense to God.  Nowhere in Lev. 10 does it give the impression that they were hoping to “stick it to God.”  Nowhere in the entire bible does it ever imply that they were just a couple of rebellious young men.  It all points to the fact that their motives were pure.  They wanted to worship God and hoped to be pleasing unto him.  The problem was that they used a strange fire to burn the incense.  God had only authorized the fire at the altar to be used for worship.  Nadab and Abihu used a different fire.  As a result God consumed them with fire.  We might think of this as harsh or uncalled for, after all fire is fire right?  But God didn’t want any fire, he wanted a specific fire.  The two illustrations tell me that worshipping God is not enough.  Worshipping God the way he wants to be worshipped is the only way to be pleasing unto Him.  Many of these church of choice churches provide alternatives to worship.  If you don’t like our service, that is okay go somewhere else and try someone else’s services.
Flaw #3: It Assumes all Pastors are Leading to the Same Pasture.  Not all spiritual leaders are worthwhile following.  “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6.”  This verse is found in the middle of God’s indictment against the priests and prophets in Israel.  God’s people would be destroyed because the spiritual leaders failed to teach.  Just because a person is a reverend, priest, pastor, minister of even has a doctorate does not mean they are teachers of God’s word.  As such, those that listen to them, those that follow their instruction will end up just as lost as they.  “For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves  (Matt. 23:15).”


Grinnell church of Christ
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Flaws with the Church of Choice Ideology

The Light
Volume 7 Issue 34