Question:

I am currently attending a church of Christ where I was baptized and continue to worship. I have been studying the Bible through your very informative web site and have realized that a lot of things taught on your site is not practiced in our congregation and has made me a bit worried as I would like to please God in every way possible. Some things that are different from your understanding of the Bible are head coverings for women, we have a kitchen that is used to serve light meals and drinks for visiting guests and we even used the church building to host an internal Christmas dinner last year; just to name a few difference. A few of us brought up these things in a men's meeting but were told that we are babes in Christ and should study more in depth to understand that these points are not salvation issues and should not be brought up in general Bible classes as it could bring division to the assembly. I would like to worship God in spirit and truth and take Galatians 1:6-9 very seriously.

My question is this: Should I look for another assembly to worship or if we decide to worship together (those who are in agreement with lessons learned from your website) are we authorized to call our gathering the church of Christ using the only the Bible as our only guide through your web site's illustrations and explanations, or should we continue being a part of a congregation that has removed some things from the apostle's doctrine.


Answer:

The question you should ask yourself is: Can you worship with this congregation in the way that God commands?

For instance, even if your understanding about the issue of women's head covering is different from others in the congregation, does this interfere with your worship of God? If your wife decides to wear a covering is the church there going to object or refuse to allow her to worship with them? Typically this issue doesn't need to come between brethren.

The kitchen becomes a more difficult issue because it is likely that the congregation is using the church's funds for these meals and this isn't authorized by God. See: Kitchens and Fellowship Halls: What Was the Issue? That the church is also celebrating a religious holiday that is not found in the Bible is also disturbing because it indicates that authority is not sought for decisions.

The response you received is also poor. If someone has a question, the Bible should be opened and the authority for the practice should be shown. To say that someone is too new only means there needs to be teaching done. It is wrong to merely brush the questions aside. It is also wrong to claims that these sorts of questions are not "salvation issues." Just exactly what is a salvation issue? Who is deciding what is a salvation issue or not? Because God certainly didn't say that His commands can be treated as suggestions. See: A Salvation Issue.

There have been times when I was unable to find a sound congregation in the area I lived. In those cases, I was able to find a group that at least allowed me to worship acceptably. But when it came to supporting the work there, I chose to send my contributions to a congregation that I knew was using its funds correctly. I also taught on the issues as opportunities arose, especially the core issue of establishing proper authority for all that we say and do. I was polite but firm in my teachings, while trying not to be a pest about these things. I figured that if the group asked me to leave, then that would be the time to establish a congregation that followed the Lord. Otherwise, there was teaching to be done and brethren to be strengthened.

Keep in mind that the church in Sardis, as a whole was unfaithful; yet, there were some who still were counted faithful to God. "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy" (Revelation 3:4). Thus, we conclude that a Christian's salvation is not dependent on the church he attends. It is dependent on his personal faithfulness to God's commands. There are some churches where a Christian just cannot worship because the practices are wrong and attending makes the Christian a part of the wrongful deeds. For example, the Lord commands vocal music in His worship and gives no authority for instrumental music. I cannot worship with a group using instrumental music because that would be violating the Lord's teachings. But there are congregations where things are not as they should be, but at least the worship is correct.