What the Church Needs
Weldon E. Warnock
In this discussion, I am using the church in the local sense. The needs that we shall consider are most vital to the numerical and spiritual growth of every congregation. First of all, the church needs to be unified. Discord and the like will destroy the interest and zeal that are essentials to sacrifice and work. Brethren who are fussing among themselves cannot do much. As the saying goes, "a kicking mule can't pull and a pulling mule can't kick." So it is with wrangling church members.
Churches everywhere are being torn asunder. Some discord is over doctrine and other over personality clashes and improper attitudes. Some want their way and they are going to have it even if it means splitting the church.
To maintain unity, brethren must live by Paul's instructions to the Corinthians. He writes, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Cor. 1:10). This verse is not the basis for brotherhood unity, but rather the basis of unity for individual congregations. Two or more churches are not required to be "perfectly joined together" in judgment and optional matters, but one church is and can and should be. If brethren manifest the proper spirit (Eph. 4.1-3), and honor the scriptural decisions of the elders (Heb. 13.17), unity of mind and judgment can prevail. Too, all can speak the same thing if they are willing to speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4.11).
Second, the church needs sound preaching. By this I mean preaching that is straight from the Book. Many preachers are starving the churches to death by little sermonettes that any sectarian preacher could preach most of the time.
Churches are producing, or rather I should say "our" colleges are producing, a crop of preachers who hardly know anything about the Bible. Oh, they know how to conduct a youth camp, promote gigantic projects, direct social events, council in marital problems, etc. They are even "experts" in these fields, but they do not know the Bible and do not spend much time in trying to learn it. They are too busy "pastoring" the flock for Bible study. Churches cannot have spiritual maturity and growth with this kind of preaching. They have an influx in numbers, yes, but spiritual growth and stability, no!
The church needs preaching with the Jerusalem ring. Preaching is needed that condemns sin and wickedness in no uncertain terms and exhorts the bearers to righteousness. Paul says, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2). Sermons should be filled with the word of God instead of so many jokes and pretty stories.
Third, the church needs capable elders. Not a few churches are at a standstill and merely "keeping house for the Lord" because the elders are incapable. A church cannot go much beyond its leadership. Elders ought to be men who understand their duties, qualified to perform them, and are willing to carry them out.
Too many elders are primarily concerned about everything else, except their basic responsibilities. They devote their time to the upkeep of the building, the handling of the money and the hiring and firing of the preacher and almost completely ignore the souls of those under them.
The Hebrew writer states, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account . . ." (Heb. 13:17). Elders have an obligation toward the spiritual welfare of every member in the congregation where they are elders. They are shepherds of the flock (I Pet. 5: 2), and they are to see to it that the flock is fed, nurtured and protected.
Elders need to recognize that their office is a work or task (I Tim. 3:1), and not merely an honorary position to occupy. They need to be aware of the gravity and responsibility of the office. Members should respect them for their work's sake and give them the support that they must have in order to Succeed.
Fourth, the church needs consecrated members. Many have never counted the cost of church membership. Consequently, churches are filled with members who are unwilling to work or to make scarcely any sacrifice whatsoever.
Meetinghouses are filled on Sunday mornings, but they are half or two-thirds empty on Sunday and Wednesday nights. What good are the Sunday morning goers doing the church? Very little! Yet, they want every blessing that faithful church membership offers, but they don't want to put forth much to get it. I don't understand how people with this kind of attitude could enjoy heaven if they got there. They apparently dislike worship and fellowship with the saints here because they choose to be somewhere else when the church meets.
Members must put the kingdom first (Matt. 6:33) and deny themselves (Matt. 16:24). Their interests, ambitions and desires must not stand between them and their duty to Christ. Wonders could be accomplished if all members would take Christianity seriously and live a godly, devoted and consecrated life to Christ.
Fifth, the church needs to be activated. The church ought to be busy developing preachers, elders, deacons, teachers, etc. It is God's edification society.
Read Eph. 4:11-16. Some churches are neglecting this responsibility and are looking toward the schools for trained preachers, teachers and so forth. The church building ought to be used nearly every day or night for training. We spend thousands of dollars to erect a building and then use it four hours a week. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.
Brethren should also take more seriously the Great Commission and do all within their power to take the gospel to the lost. Many churches spend too much money at home and not enough outside of their home congregations. Too, we don't want to overlook benevolent work. The church has a responsibility here that must not be shirked.
Sixth, the church needs to practice discipline. This is a rarity in most congregations as far as chastisement is concerned. The unfaithful are simply ignored or removed from the directory and forgotten. The Bible says, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us" (2 Thess. 3:6).
There are at least three reasons to withdraw fellowship: (1) To uphold the authority of Christ; (2) To save the soul of the guilty (I Cor. 5:5); and (3) To maintain the purity of the church (Eph. 5:25-27.) Hasten the day when all churches heed this practice.
The foregoing needs are things I believe that will make churches of Christ more like the Bible pattern and meet with the approval of Him who died for the church.
PIPING AND DANCING
"We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept" (Luke 7:32).
The same people who rejected John because of his abstinence, rejected Jesus because of his "indulgence". John was considered by them as being a nut, because he was something of an ascetic. Jesus was accused of being guilty of over indulgence because he was not as restrictive as John.
These people could not be satisfied because they did not want to be satisfied. They were like children who would not play either the wedding nor the funeral game because they did not want to play at all.
Some people will find reasons to complain about or reject every teacher of God's will because they are just not interested in God's will to start with. They will find reasons to shut their eyes, and will often be contradictory and inconsistent in turning away their ears.
Truth Magazine VII: 7, pp. 6-7