Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In The News: The Lord’s Church is Distinctive

inthenewsI was recently given a bulletin from a west Texas congregation. The front page of the bulletin had the order of service, including the preacher’s sermon topic for both Sunday services. The morning sermon was titled, “The Lord’s Church is Distinctive.”

The title is certainly true. The Lord’s church is distinctive, different, unique. It is seen in the worship we offer to God, the work that local congregations do in God’s service, and in the emphasis placed on the spiritual above the physical and social.

However, the rest of the bulletin showed an alarming trend among many churches. For example, on the inside of the bulletin was a section called “Today’s Notices”. The section included a meeting called for the planners of a baby shower, an announcement for the celebration of a couple’s 50th Wedding Anniversary in the church’s fellowship hall at 2:00 pm that afternoon, and a VBS kickoff cookout that evening after the PM service.

On the next page was an announcement for the fifth Sunday potluck. On fifth Sundays the evening service is rescheduled for 1:00 pm to accommodate the potluck. Another announcement was made for the blood drive to take place on July 13th, and a request for the ladies to volunteer to coordinate the food ministry for the congregation. The bulletin mentioned a collection basket in the foyer for the Lubbock Christian Children’s home, they need girls socks. And, finally, a reminder that the cookies for the VBS needed to be brought by the building by 5:00 pm Monday.

The back page consisted only of lines for sermon notes. So, you had a full bulletin, with no teaching, consisting mainly of social notices and reminders of meals at the building. How is this distinctive? It seems to be exactly the same thing you see in most of the denominations as the social gospel continues to influence most religious people of our day.

In Romans 14:16-17, the apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The context describes a conflict between brethren regarding the eating of meat, but it teaches us an important lesson. Those who put emphasis on the physical are missing the point when it comes to our lives as Christians. Our emphasis should be on righteousness, and peace and joy.

The church at Corinth had turned to the common, profaning the Lord’s supper and turning it into a common meal. In Paul’s admonition, he wrote, “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you” (1 Corinthians 11:22).

The Lord’s church is distinctive, but as long as some local churches continue to emphasize meals and baby showers, they will be no different from the myriad denominations that have replaced the Lord’s call to “preach the gospel” for the shallow and sensual call of the dinner bell.