Summary: Once upon a time there was a new Christian. He was in his early twenties, had just recently gotten saved.
Once upon a time there was a new Christian. He was in his early twenties, had just recently gotten saved. And he was part of a small church that met in a high school auditorium every Sunday. As the months went by he became more and more involved in the church, serving in various ministries, helping pick up trash on the highway, helping develop sermon series, and so on and so forth. But increasingly this young man found himself at odds with the pastor there. He questioned the pastors methods. He would post passive aggressive remarks on his Facebook account for all the church to see. He would write blog posts. He would argue with the pastor about methods and evangelism and goals. He never felt like they were doing enough. And eventually he angrily left the church after a final dispute with the pastor. This guy was me. And I sinned in all this. The truth was God, was leading me to the Salvation Army. So I’m sure I was meant to leave that church and go to another. But the way I did it was evil. At the time I was just so sure I was the hero of the situation, bravely fighting for the truth. But I wasn’t. I was the rebel. And I made it hard for that pastor, his name was Aaron, to do his job. And I regret that. And I’m so sorry for what I did.
Our topic today relates to this, today we are talking about church life! How does it work? Well, we are the body of Christ – meaning we actually do the things that Jesus did while he was on the Earth. We share the gospel, gather together, disciple one another, grow together, make use of our spiritual gifts, and uphold society in goodness.
But today we’re discussing the real nuts and bolts of how the church functions. We are all Christians, gathered together. Some have made commitments to be soldiers, they are our members, you might say. Then you have the elders, the corps council that discuss church issues and make decisions. Then you have your pastors, they lead the flock, with the guidance and support of the elders. Over the pastors are what are called “bishops.” They tend to be in charge of groups of many churches. In The Salvation Army it functions this way. We have attenders, that’s everyone here. Then we have soldiers, who are official church members and serve in various ministries. Then we have soldiers who serve on the corps council, which makes them “elders.” Officers, like myself, we wear red, are the pastors of The Salvation Army. And our bishops are called divisional commanders. Then you have territorial leaders over them, and international leaders over them. It’s a sort of hierarchical structure in the church.
But the government of a church really depends on which denomination you’re a part of. Other churches may have priests as their leaders, or ministers, or they may have a church council or a church board, some denominations vote on their decisions, others have a sort of constitution they follow or amend as needed. It’s all just minor adjustments, and honestly I can’t really say there is one right way.
I think The Salvation Army is a biblical church movement. But I also tend to think most other churches in the area are also legitimate expressions of biblical Christianity. We all serve in different ways to bring people to Jesus and meet needs.
Since being here in Owosso, we’ve impacted thousands of people in our area toward Jesus, and we’ve met needs all over. Now most of those people did not join our salvation army church, but many of them did return to churches they once attended, or joined other churches near them, or at least began to explore the possibility of a relationship with Christ. That’s victory to me. I don’t really care if they join the Salvation Army, or a different biblical church. As long as they come to know Jesus and follow Jesus, then I’m happy.
I hope that’s your attitude as well.
But if you are here, at The Salvation Army, I’m sure God is calling you to be here and to serve here. At least for the present time. God will lead us to the church where he wants us to serve. I’m sure of that.
So how do we functions as a group of believers? First of all, we follow the leading of our leaders. We don’t complain against our leaders. We don’t make unfounded accusations against our leaders. We don’t argue with our leaders. The only exception is if we notice a serious concern in the theology of the church, something is not biblical and it disrupts our witness of the gospel. Other than that, there really is no ground for grumbling, complaining, arguing, or fighting against your leaders. In the same way, I may not agree with everything my headquarters tells me to do, but I follow their lead in everything. And honestly, I’m happy to do so. Because if I don’t agree with some idea or initiative, I remind myself, I’m often wrong. So I trust their leadership. And I love them. I show them respect and affection. I appreciate them. And I hope you appreciate me as your leader. And I hope you appreciate the soldiers who serve here at this church. Bless them, don’t curse them.