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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Secret Church Societies

As expressed about the DaVinci Code, Secret Societies create a spirit of intrigue and distrust. We naturally wonder what causes the need for closed doors and hidden meetings.

It's so easy for us in the church, who have become accustomed to the way things operate to not consider if our actions may look a little secretive to others. Here are a few of the ways I think the church has to guard from being too secretive:

1. Communion.--While it is obvious that the practice is intended only for the believer, we should make sure it is something that the public are capable of witnessing. This does not mean we go out of our way to make sure non-believers are present. It just means that we should have an atmosphere that allows the non-believer to witness the proceedings if they should so choose.
2. Baptism.--This one was intended for the public to witness! One reason I am glad that our church does not have a permanent baptismal (though we practice immersion) is because I would love to see us move our baptisms to a more public arena than our church building. I'd love to see us figure out ways that this could become a more public expression of our faith.
3. Elder meetings.--The word elder is scary enough for some. In fact, we often hear the word more from those groups that distort the gospel message (but praise God, elder leadership seems to be making a comeback in evangelical churches!). I understand the need for elders to have privacy and confidentiality. However, it would be great if others from the church knew they were welcome to attend some portions. We could also dispell any fears about what happens in a meeting by supplying "minutes" that were slightly modified so that readers wouldn't need to know the specifics of the conversation.
4. Sign gifts meetings.--I have to think that this would be the most mysterious for the non-believer. I know many churches that practice the sign gifts, but not in their public gathering. To me, this seems to send a mixed message about the gifts. We believe God has given these to the church, however, we don't believe He can reach the lost through them? I wonder if an unbeliever hears about "special meetings" and is a little weirded out by what may be going down.
5. Some seeker-sensitive constructs.--If a church moves their entire Sunday morning focus to be about reaching the non-believer and establishes everything to be on a level they understand and are spoken to, and then forms another meeting for "the believers in the church," could an unbeliever get a wrong idea from that. I think the motive of the seeker church is genuine (though I think they may be confusing the purposes of the church), yet I wonder if the non-believer sometimes feels like there's a special meeting, or special message the church is trying to keep from them. Do they then think we are doing the same thing the Jehovah's Witness and Mormons do (only revealing part of their true doctrine until they know you are committed?)

Of course, there is no way the church can go without having some accusations. The world did not understand Him, they aren't going to understand us. However, I wonder if there are ways we can make sure that that which we do is before people. No secrets. No hidden agendas. No "special knowledge." Just the grace of God working in our lives. That's mysterious enough.

1 Comments:

  • At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Danny Haszard said…

    Up close and personal Jehovah's Witnesses can be wolves in sheep's clothing.

    Think about this-When the devil comes knocking on your door he may not have the 'dark goth look'.They could be smartly dressed and wielding the Christian Bible.

    I have Jehovah's Witnesses family in the usa who practice the Watchtower JW enforced ritual shunning that i have not seen or heard from in 15 years.

    The central CORE dogma of the Watchtower is Jesus second coming (invisibly) in 1914 and is a lie.Jehovah's Witnesses are a spin-off of the man made Millerite movement of 1840.

    A destructive cult of false teachings, that frequently result in spiritual and psychological abuse, as well as needless deaths (bogus blood transfusion ban).

    Yes,you can 'check out anytime you want but you can never leave',because they can and will hold your family hostage.

    The world has the Internet now,and there are tens of thousands of pages up from disgruntled ex-Jehovah's Witnesses like myself who have been abused by the Watchtower cult.

    Jehovah's Witnesses are often a mouth that prays a hand that kills.The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world.
    ----
    Danny Haszard former Jehovah's Witness X 33 years and 3rd generation www.dannyhaszard.com

     

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