Should Preachers Be Ordained?

 

Click HERE for David Cloud’s article on Ordination.

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Why Millennials Leave The Church

teen-leaving-homeThe latest statistics show that out of every 10 millennials, 6 will leave their church and most likely remain outside organized religion. As a minister of a small Independent, Baptist church, these statistics do not shock me, but that lack of shock does not lower my heartbreak at such a reality. We as ministers, church leaders and certainly those of you who are parents, need to ask WHY? From my time in Christian school, Christian University and several years in the ministry, here are some reasons I believe they are leaving, and in many cases, will never come back.

The Failure Of Men In The Homes

While every individual is ultimately responsible for their beliefs and actions, every Christian home is to be governed by the father. He and he alone assumes full responsibility before God for his child’s spiritual upbringing and instruction. The cold hard facts in most Christian homes is that fathers are failing miserably to execute their sacred duties of insuring their children are educated in the Scriptures and receiving spiritual guidance. They are leaving this task to the mothers or to the Church. Kids spend an average of less than  one hour per week in a church receiving instruction. How can this offset the hundreds during the week spent at school and home? It cannot. As a result, the influences of the world, secular education and humanism overwhelm the minds of young people and under that vast load of pressure, they cave in. This usually happens their senior year in high school or by their sophomore year in college. The decision to physically leave the faith may not become public for a year or two after the decision to mentally leave is made, but it happens, almost like clockwork. Until the men step up and be the fathers God intended them to be, we will only see the statistics grow.

The High Number of Tares Amongst The Wheat

In connection with the previous reason, many young people go through churches from the nursery to the graduation platform never having truly been converted. They have learned to blend in and fly under the radar to get by and wait until they have the chance to make their own choices without parental consequences. It is almost too easy in most churches for people to know the lingo, do the basics and just slip through the cracks having never truly been born again. This is sometimes their intent, but many times it is to the shame of parents, leaders and churches.

The Signs of The Times

We know from the Scriptures that we are expecting a great decline in the faith before his return. Jesus made a somber statement in Luke 18 when he asked,

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”.

We know that many will fall away and many will depart from the faith and grow increasingly in love with this present world. That was even a problem in Paul’s day, as he noted by telling of one of his laborers, Demas, who abandoned the ministry because he “loved this present world”. God can send revival at any time and place, but right now in America, people are not flocking in masses to conservative, traditional, Biblical Christianity. The ones that do flock in go to more contemporary and seeker-friendly perversions of Biblical Christianity. There will certainly come a day when God again blows the winds of Revival and we must be always ready for it when it comes. But right now, the pews are not packed, the aisles are not crowded and the altar is not full. Kids today want excitement, entertainment and they are finding it in churches that use rock music, or something very close to it. The church is not a place to entertain people. If we give into that thinking, we will never match the thrill of a rock concert or party environment. We must teach our youth that God is holy, as is His house.

The Epidemic of Modern Bible Perversions

I remember sitting in a Christian University where I was told that the Bible I had been taught from–the same used of God in every revival since 1611 by the way–had mistakes in it and only the original manuscripts had the complete, inerrant Word of God in them. This caused a deep thinker like me to really struggle with questions. Thankfully I was raised by parents who taught me the truth about inspiration and preservation–something not really believed in a lot of Christian education institutions. God said His Word would never pass away and not one jot or tittle would be lost. The introduction of modern perversions of Scripture in English, by men such as Westcott and Hort–rank apostates who denied the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, miracles, Christ’s blood atonement and Biblical Creation–only adds fuel to Satan’s fire in the hearts and minds of impressionable young people forming their world view. What do we expect when we see this happen? What outcome should we expect? Nothing less than doubt, shaking of faith and departure from the faith. I went to school with several guys who were headed for the ministry or full time service and now one is an atheist, one is openly a homosexual and one is muslim. They had the authority and purity and accuracy of the Scriptures taken from them by men with doctorates. And now these young men have no foundation for their faith. This is why I am a passionate apologist for the Scriptures, the Textus Receptus and the Traditional English Bible, the Authorized Version. It is also why I fearlessly oppose those who promote the work of two rank apostates and others like them. This is the oldest and most effective tactic of Satan that he began in the Garden of Eden: attack the inerrancy of God’s Word.

The Shallowness of The Pulpit

Sadly, it is my observation that most old-time preachers and conservative pastors spend most of their messages on salvation and not on the deep doctrines of Scripture and Christian living. When a church full of saved people hear only a salvation message, they are being done a great disservice. We are to preach the whole council of God from cover to cover. Many preachers shy away from prophecy, Revelation, hard questions and apologetics–leaving our young people to face the secular classroom unarmed and ill-equipped to deal the unrelenting attack of the secularists on God, the Faith and morality.

The Tradition of Man vs. The Commands of God

Too often, I fear, we have majored on human tradition and made concrete rules and standards out of things the Bible has not said. Allow me to give a few examples of things we have taught blind obedience to, that cannot be clearly defended by Scripture. (And I am not necessarily advocating doing these things).

“You must be in church every time the doors are open!”

Being in church is a wonderful and beneficial thing whenever that happens. But to tell someone they must be there every Sunday School, Sunday AM, Sunday PM, Wednesday Prayer Meeting and any other time something is happening or they are a sinner….where can that be substantiated in the Scriptures? The PM service was designed in recent decades for working people to be able to attend an evening service they missed in the AM. Where in the New Testament does it say that a church prayer meeting is limited to Wednesday night, or at the Church building? Please do not mistake me as one discouraging people from going to church! I am there every time the doors are open, but I am also a minister and serve full-time doing so. But to blast someone who cannot make a service and hold them to such a man-made standard as if it were God’s law…that is sin! Maybe that person had a serious obligation or needed to spend time with family or had a personal issue they were dealing with that kept them from attending every single event on the calendar month. That is between them, the Holy Spirit and God. Who am I to pass such harsh judgment?

“Any woman who divorces her husband is an adulteress!”

This to me is one of the most tragic and sickening things I have ever encountered in the church that bears Christ’s name. So many times we have seen women who were being abused, cheated on or abandoned and yet the church told them they had no way out or they would be branded an adulteress. That is not what God or Jesus taught. The Old and New Testaments teach that a woman who is abandoned, being abused or whose spouse is unfaithful is free to divorce and remarry and be innocent of any wrong doing. (Please see my doctrinal statement on this site for references). This is grievously cruel to be in positions of help and guidance and cruelly force a woman to endure such heartbreak and even physical abuse. Jesus stood up for women, Paul stood up for women and God stands up for women. No woman should ever be mistreated or harmed and expected to remain married to and with such an animal. What kind of God would expect that? Not the One I read of and pray to. When young people witness such injustice in the name of Christianity, why should they hear anything else we have to say?

“Christians do not eat where alcohol is served!”

I whole-heartedly respect anyone’s personal convictions and would never suggest they violate their conscience. But when someone takes a statement like this and forces it on others as if it were Scripture, I ask them only to be consistent and refrain from purchasing food from grocery stores or gas from gas stations.

“Christians do not use Facebook or other social media!”

I would love to have seen Paul and Peter if the internet were available. I have a very hard time believing they would not have been live streaming the Gospel to everyone possible. Again, convictions respected, but please be consistent and stay off YouTube, Gmail and the entire internet as well. This is just silly folks.

“You must be a church member to be baptized or take communion!”

That is interesting. Because the Bible I read says that all one must do is believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized and do in remembrance of Him. This sounds much like the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and bars sinners from the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Christian men should be clean-shaven!”

I have been scolded before for having a beard. Thankfully I took it in good humor and was mature enough in the LORD to not get offended or upset. I was saddened however and explained that the God of the Bible instructed his holy people Israel, that is the men, not to round off the corners of their beards, but to have full manly beards. Being clean-shaven in Israel was a disgrace and disobedience. I remarked, “Well, I was rather under the impression from my Bible reading that the LORD rather likes my beard”.

“You must tithe to be a member of this church!”

This issue is further addressed in my article posted here: https://vitw2018.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/tithing-and-tithing-disclosure/

Since when do we force people to pay for the blessed benefit of belonging to the body of Christ? If you are saved, you are part of the church. And if membership in a local church is dependent on your mandatory giving, you need to find another church. God wants your heart and your cheerful giving–of time, money, resources, priorities, etc.–not just a ten percent tax.

“Courtship is the only model for pursuing marriage!”

The Bible is full of premarital counseling and dating advice: Mainly, stay pure, flee youthful lusts and love each other as Christ loves the church. Trying to argue for dating, courtship, arranged marriage, or anything else will be impossible. Of course Samson had a prearranged courtship. He told his parents: “I want her, get her for me”. That did not end well. Or Jacob had such an arrangement, and his father in law worked him for 14 years and still tried to rip him off. Whatever suits you I suppose.

“Christians do not go to movies!”

Now, please know that in all honesty, I do not attend movies for several reasons. Mainly, I don’t like crowds, gun free zones or sitting in the dark with random strangers. But this issue is one where we can easily become very hypocritical. We can blast someone for going to a public showing of a movie, yet sit in our homes and watch in total secrecy anything we so desire from Amazon or Netflix. If we were honest, which one has the greatest potential for sinful behavior? The Scriptures say we must guard our hearts and minds and view that which is moral, righteous and edifying. That is a much higher and stricter standard than “you cannot go to a movie”.

Conclusion

Some of these examples were funny and silly, some were not. The point I make is this: When young people observe a system of man-made rules being elevated to Scripture, only one day to realize they are not on the same level, what reaction do we honestly expect them to take? Why would they not question many things about church and Christianity? We must endeavor to teach the Scriptures faithfully in a way that develops convictions based on personal witness with the Holy Spirit. If we hold human teachings and traditions and give them more weight than the Scriptures, we are no better than the Pharisees who “shut up the Kingdom of Heaven”.  I am not proposing we lower our Biblical standards or convictions. Just make sure they are Biblical, and not man-made.

Tithing And Tithing Disclosure

Alright brothers and sisters. This is the promised post from yesterday. This subject has been weighing on my heart for some time, and I feel compelled to open up my heart and share my position on the issue of tithing and giving in the church. Please hear my words knowing they come in brokenness and sincerity. I know some will disagree, but my heart is confident in the peace of the Spirit and a proving conscience that both agree that this has been the moving of the LORD on my heart.

My personal position on tithing and the disclosure of personal tithing records in the church for the members and the leadership:

I am well aware that many believers are in the practice of using tithing envelopes with the amounts being recorded by the church treasurer or finance committee for the purpose of tax deductions and or accountability to the church and or leadership. I am also aware that some feel each member’s tithing records should be accessible by the finance committee, and or the treasurer, and or the pastor. This is apparently a big issue and one that many have opinions and positions on. I write this publically, not to attack, defend or change anyone’s mind, but to explain why I take the position I do and why I live it out in the manner I do.

I will address this issue in two parts.
Is The Tithe Mandated For New Testament Believers?
Should tithing records be disclosed to anyone in the church?

Is Tithing Mandatory For The New Testament Believer?

The strongest argument for tithing comes from the examples of Abraham and Jacob when they tithed a tenth. Abraham tithed a tenth to Melchizedek (or a pre-incarnate Christophany), and Jacob gave to God. The problem with this argument is that neither example shows a continual pattern of monetary tithing and neither establishes a mandate for anyone else to do so. They were tithing food, possessions, etc. No matter how hard anyone tries to make that doctrine fit in these examples, both are one time incidents and do not establish a required practice. Tithing seen in these examples was good and reflected a grateful heart toward God, but nowhere can I establish these incidents as mandates for anyone to repeat them systematically.

The second strongest argument is that of tithing being a requirement under the Mosaic Law. Yet the requirement of tithing in the Torah (Law of Moses, Pentateuch, Law, etc.) is specifically for national Israel. Believers are not under the Mosaic covenant, but are under the blood of Christ and operating under the New Covenant (Rom. 6:14–15; 7:5–6; Gal. 3:15–4:7; 2 Cor. 3:4–18). Tithes under the Mosaic covenant were given to the Levites and priests, because they had no land or inheritance. Yet in the New Covenant, there are no Levites or levitical priests. We are all priests in God’s eyes now, under our Great High Priest, Yeshua (Jesus) (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; Heb. 7).

The third argument is that Jesus taught the tithe. Yes He did, but He did so under the Mosaic covenant and He taught obedience to the Mosaic covenant. But after His death and the beginning of the New Covenant, we never again will hear Him or any Scripture commanding it. Jesus also commanded offering sacrifices in the temple (Matthew 5:23-25), yet we clearly know He did not intend for us to continue that after the New Covenant was in place. He was using these good things as illustrations for godly living, and was only commanding them to be done under the current covenant–which was the Mosaic covenant. Never under the New Covenant will anyone find Jesus, Paul or anyone commanding to offer sacrifices or tithe. What you will find is constant mention of Christians being commanded and encouraged to give generously to the poor, the needy and to the work of God in the Church and Missions (Acts 2:43–47; 4:32–37; 11:27–30; Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1–4; 2 Cor. 8:1–9:15; Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Cor. 9:6–14; 1 Tim. 5:17–18; 1 Tim. 6:17–19; 2 Cor. 8–9).

I believe that the Christian who believes they are obligated to give God ten percent of their income is severely limiting their Christian life by viewing themselves bound to give God His 10% “cut” and living by a traditional teaching that has no Scriptural basis under the New Covenant. They should view giving as an opportunity to worship the LORD from a cheerful and grateful heart that is not grudgingly relinquishing a mandatory ten percent tax. I realize the potential backlash I may receive for posting this position, but I humbly and heavy-heartedly beseech my brethren to realize that we have made this tradition of men a stumbling block that prevents a cheerful giver–which the LORD loves, and we have tread the path of the Scribes and Pharisees–who transgressed the perfect law of love by their tradition. There should be no limit set on how much a loving and grateful giver gives. It is a matter of the heart and not one of duty to fulfil a requirement under the Mosaic Law. Give hilariously unto the LORD out of love for Him with a grateful and worshipful heart! If you are worrying about “do I have to tithe?”, you have entirely missed the point. And why would God even want such an offering? He doesn’t need your money. He wants your heart.

Should Tithing or Giving Records Be Disclosed To Anyone In The Church?

I understand many desire to write off their donations to the church from their taxes. I see no issue in this, if someone wants to do so. And on this point, there will have to be a written, kept record. And that is entirely up to the giver.

But should people in the Church, or even the pastor know how much individuals give for “tithes” and offerings? Nowhere in Scripture will you find this man made teaching of modern Christianity. We are to not let our right hand let our left hand know what we give, let alone others, or even more concerning, a committee or the pastor? I deliberately stay away from the money at church. I know what we have in the bank and how we spend it, but I refuse to know who gives what. That is none of my business and is purely between God and the heart of a worshipful giver who is honoring God in secret, and who will be blessed and rewarded by God in the open. Jesus railed against men who gave for others to see what amount they contributed. It leads to preferential treatment, respecting of persons, gossip and pride. There is nowhere in Scripture where you will find anything teaching where your pastor or your fellow believers should know what you are sacrificially giving to God. That is a very sacred and precious issue of the heart between you and your Creator. Pastors should be accountable for how they handle the church’s money, yes. But no one should know what they are tithing or giving unto the LORD.

My giving record is kept in Heaven and it is not for the admiration of men. It is my personal, sacred privilege to give freely from my heart in love and worship to my God. And so it is with you. While some mean well when they preach on tithing, all too many times, men who harp on tithing and faith promise giving, are seeking bigger salaries, vacations, bigger churches, more entertainments and seeking to control their congregations. God help us if that is what we believe a church is for. We need to repent of our sin of worshipping the building funds and remember why we should give after all.

First, we give to worship and give thanks to our God. After all, does He not deserve 100 percent of everything we have? Why stop at 10? The Old Testament tithe was closer to 20.

Second, to support the work of real missionaries who are dedicated to reaching the lost and spending their lives on the field, reaching the unsaved and waging war for Jesus Christ—not touring the world under the guise of evangelism on the church peoples’ dollars.

Third, to help those who are unable to provide for themselves, such as widows, orphans, the infirmed and the handicapped.

Fourth, to support their pastor. He is giving up more than they know and cannot be an effective undershepherd if every moment he has is dedicated to earning a living to feed his family and keep his home.

Fifth, spread the Gospel in their community, to print Bibles, tracts, and spread literature to the lost to bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I realize this may sound radical and shock even the closest of friends I have. I am not angry or attacking anyone because I know good people can disagree and I know I am not infallible and may be wrong, yet I am convinced by my understanding of the Scriptures and the peace in my heart of the Holy Spirit that we must carefully examine ourselves and see whether we are making our own tradition a stumbling block to others, and one that keeps them from experiencing the freedom in the New Covenant where we are not bound to a mandatory tax, but are free in Christian liberty to give freely and infinitely from a worshipful and grateful heart.

May God open our hearts to His Word and keep us from repeating the same mistake of the self-righteous Pharisees. Amen and God bless,

Very sincerely,

Kenneth Willis