Sunday, October 30, 2016

Looking for Worship in All the Wrong Places. (What is worship/service?)

Lucas Necessary had a series of blog posts on this topic, which he then collated into one longer article. That article is reproduced here by permission.

Lucas Necessary·Sunday, October 18, 2015

Friday, October 28, 2016

Questions about Possible Roles for Women

  1. Is it okay for a woman to use the copier to make copies of the bulletin for handing out on Sunday morning?
  2. Is it okay for a woman to be the collector of items for the bulletin (contact point for announcements/events, articles to be printed, who's preaching when, etc)?
  3. Is it okay for a woman to be the producer/editor/printer of the bulletin?
  4. Is it okay for a woman to run the sound system?
  5. Is it okay for a woman to run the A/V recording system?
  6. Is it okay for a woman to make the sermon recordings available on the church web site?
  7. Is it okay for a woman to run the church web site? to handle the mechanics of domain registration / web site building/maintenance / publishing of material on the web site / creation of original material for web publication?
  8. Is it okay for a woman to prepare the bread and cup for Sunday's Lord's Supper? to clean up / clean the utensils / pick up the empty cups afterwards?
  9. Is it okay for a woman to get up from her seat to cross the aisle to pass the plate if the assigned server overlooks it?
  10. It is okay for a woman to count the collection and deposit it in the bank and keep the financial records?
  11. Is it okay for a woman to do the weekly head-count, and maintain the attendance records?
  12. Is it okay for a woman to participate in the serving of a regular meal during a fellowship meal, perhaps by going table-to-table with tea/Kool-aid refills, or by dispensing yummy hot-buttered rolls?
  13. Is it okay for a woman to participate in the serving of the Lord's Supper, perhaps by going pew-to-pew with the fruit of the vine cups, or serving the bread?
Some of these things may violate our comfort zones, but we are not called to pamper our comfort zones; we're called to encourage and equip one another to do good works, and to use one's God-given strengths to the benefit of the body.

There is room to discuss if these sorts of things result in a woman usurping authority (if an elder asks a woman to do Task X, is she usurping authority if she complies? if she refuses?) or in teaching a man (is she teaching a man if she writes a web article? if she writes a song that gets included in our hymnals 50 years later?), but we shouldn't just knee-jerk react against, without prayerful consideration, a woman filling these roles.

Originally published at:

Family or formality: Why do saints assemble? by Lucas Necessary

Family or formality: Why do saints assemble? 

by Lucas Necessary

Lucas Necessary published this article on Facebook, Friday, October 21, 2016. I have reproduced it here, as Facebook requires a login account, which means not everyone can browse to the original article.

I used to think that we assembled "for worship," but interestingly Paul says, "let all things be done for edification." (1 Cor 14:26) In fact, never does God describe our Christian assembly as being something done "to worship Him." But back when I thought that He did, I saw the assembling of the saints as formality, not family, and I have to be honest—that view was destructive and hampered my ability to serve Christ with my life.

Anyway, God never says “worship service,” or “Bible class,” but He does use some very interesting terminology that I think apply to the assembling of the saints: equipping, being mended, being fully trained, and being made complete.

Sorry, zero Bible results.

One reason that we assemble with our brothers and sisters in Christ is for, "the EQUIPPING of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Eph 4:12-15) The word "equipping" here is from a Greek word, "katartizo."

This basic word is also used when Jesus was walking in Matthew 4:21, He said, "Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, MENDING their nets; and He called them.” (This time katartizo is mending.)

That makes sense. Edification is "building up," and certainly assembling with my brothers and sisters does that for me! But it also mends the spiritual and emotional wounds that I get throughout the week, like net (as a fisher of men) that has been beaten and battered.

That's still not the end of the story, though. Assemblies always featured "instruction," and often we are "able to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14). In that sense, Luke 6:40 used "equipping," and "mending" a little differently, saying,

"A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been FULLY TRAINED, will be like his teacher." Being equipped as saints is the same thing that Jesus describes as BECOMING FULLY TRAINED." (This time katartizo is about training.)

And I think there’s a reason for the above paragraph, too. Although our assemblies these days don't feature much more than a bunch of people listening to one "smart lecturer," early Christians "each had a psalm, a teaching, a revelation." (1 Cor 14:26) I imagine that this really did help them become fully trained, and that training (in a non-hostile environment with spiritual family) probably helped them much more effectively spread the gospel.

I guess I'll end with one other thing that I noticed. Equipping, mending, and being fully trained lead to one other use of the very same word:

"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you BE MADE COMPLETE in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor 1:10) (And this time katartizo is about being made complete.)

When we assemble and do all things for the building up, we are being made complete. And all these things, then, are a lot more enticing than a mere checklist of things that we have to do to "keep God happy." As we are all members of the body of Christ, we all have different functions. In your own body, an eye is important, and so is a leg, though they serve very different purposes. Christ's church is the same way! As we assemble together, we have more people with various talents, and we truly start to be made complete!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Where Is Our Emphasis

When John the Baptist came preaching (Luke 3), he told the people to change their mindsets ("repent"), and to bring forth fruit consistent with that change of mindset.

Three groups of people then asked him what they should do. He did not tell them to pray more, or to read their Bibles, or to go to church more consistently, or to give more to the Temple, or to preach/teach others.

He gave each group an answer based on personal economics:

To the multitudes he said, "If you have extra, share it with those who have nothing."

To the tax-office employees he said, "Don't charge more than has been appraised; you've no right to that extra."

To the soldiers he said, "Don't use your muscle to get into the 'Protection' racket, and don't be making false charges against anyone."

John's preaching was a "social" gospel, not a "religious" gospel.

And what did Jesus preach?

His sermon in his home town (Luke 4:16ff) was not about the importance of baptism, or instruction in how to pray, or an exposition of the minor prophets. It, too, was a "social" gospel - about bringing good news to poor people, healing the heart-sick, proclaiming freedom to the imprisoned, healing disease like blindness, providing relief to those who are at the end of their rope, and to proclaim a new regime, the rulership of God.

The Pharisees were all about getting right the legal aspects of religion. John and Jesus were all about meeting the needs of needy people. Jesus was about the internals ("wash the inside of the cup"), not the externals, and about the weightier matters of the law - justice, mercy, and loyalty (without neglecting the legalities, however).

Where is our emphasis?

Are we told to assemble to worship God, or to prod one another into doing good works? Are we told to assemble to faithfully execute specific rituals, or for each of us to build one another up using whatever gifting God has provided to each one of us?

Where is our emphasis?

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Putting the Math to the Universe

According to the web site the universe is "approximately 13.8 billion years old" (we'll round it to 14 billion, which is 14 * (10^9) in scientific notation) and contains 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, or a '1' with 24 zeros after it" (1 * (10^24) in scientific notation). It's of note that the article says this number is "likely a gross underestimation".

Let's calculate how many stars would have to form, on average, per year, to form 1 * 10^24 stars over the course of 14 * (10 ^ 9) years. Just plug the numbers into any Google search bar and Google will do the math for you:

(1 * (10 ^ 24))  /  (14 * (10^9))

The answer is that on average, 71,428,571,428,571.4 stars must've formed every year since the Big Bang. We can divide that by 365.25 days in a year to find out how many stars must be forming every day:

71,428,571,428,571.4 / 365.25

The answer is: 195,560,770,509.436

Huh. I don't see nearly 200 billion new stars appearing in every night sky. Maybe something's wrong with my math. Or my observing of the night sky. Or the idea that all these stars have formed naturalistically over the course of 14 billion years.

Well, math is math; it just works.

And whereas I might not see 2 billion stars appear in every night sky, surely I'd see a few new stars appear over the course of my life.

So maybe the evolutionary theory is wrong; maybe all, or at least most, of the stars were created in one brief burst of creative activity at the universe's beginning. The math and observations certainly work better with that idea.