ATHENS, Ala. (BNc) — This collage of pictures of the damage done to the Coxey congregation’s building was contributed by Brendan Chance, associate minister of the Austinville congregation. The damage was mentioned in an earlier report today. Continue reading “Alabama: Coxey church building damaged by tornado (photo gallery)”
MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (BNc) by Trent Key — From its original goal of reaching 500 people with Bible correspondence courses, the Mt. Leo congregation has exceeded all expectations.
As of April 21, 325,678 students have enrolled in the Bible correspondence course and 30,945 have completed it and graduated. Continue reading “Tennessee church wanted 500 Bible correspondence students. They’ve enrolled 325,000”
USA (BNc) — The recent storms that have generated a slew of tornados across the Midwest and South have left at least one dead and one church building seriously damaged. Continue reading “Tornados leave one saint dead in Arkansas, one building damaged in Alabama”
SMITHVILLE, Tenn. (BNc) by Eugene Adkins — A door was being opened that could not be ignored (Colossians 4:3). This was the way that the Smithville congregation in DeKalb County saw the unfolding events.
One congregation was sadly closing its door only to have the same door opened again in the form of a local evangelistic work within the Spanish-speaking community. Continue reading “Spanish-language work begun in DeKalb County, Tenn.”
SALVADOR, Brazil (BNc) — The Pernambués congregation in this state capital has been given use of a 1300-square-foot area in the local Urban Social Center, along with permission to build a baptistery, tentmaking evangelist Miroel Dias Franco said yesterday.
The congregation moved from the Iguatemi neighborhood in January to the Pernambués location. It had been begun by progressive missionaries, who asked faithful brethren to oversee it last year after they left.
The congregation considered disbanding when its rent contract expired last year, but Miroel was able to convince them to move to the Pernambués area, where the use of the Urban Social Center was free. Continue reading “Government gives church use of Urban Social Center, permission to build baptistery”
TAUBATÉ, Brazil (BNc) — A small Brazilian congregation decided that funds that had accumulated over several years needed to be shared with a number of worthy efforts, rather than kept in savings. Continue reading “‘Everyone was blown away’: Small church gives away accumulated offerings to 10 worthy efforts”
BEDFORD, Tex. (BNc) — Yesterday, speaking to the Brown Trail congregation in the morning sermon, Eddie Parrish helped the hearers to think about what it will be like “Five Minutes After Death.”
Eddie based his lesson on Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Continue reading “Preacher shares what happens ‘five minutes after death’”
CLINTON, Ill. (BNc) — Gospel preacher Stephen R. Bradd shared a picture of the congregation‘s new sign today with an explanation of why they found it significant.
“We changed one of our assembly times recently and got the sign redone to reflect that. At the same time, we made some other improvements in: (1) getting my name off the sign (an unnecessary tradition in my view), (2) putting the focus on the church as people instead of a building, and (3) giving people something to think about—”Pre-Denominational Christianity.” I saw that phrase recently for the first time via Ben Giselbach and like it a lot!” Stephen said.
When a Facebook friend asked the meaning of the phrase, Stephen gave what he called a “short answer.”
“We try to go back to the New Testament and use it alone as our standard of authority today for Christian life and worship. Believers in the first century were not Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. They were simply Christians; nothing more and nothing less. That’s the way we think it should still be (note 1 Corinthians 1:10-13),” Stephen said.
“Our aim in life and worship is to peel back centuries of man-made traditions and opinions and just follow the New Testament of Jesus Christ and it alone. This is what early Christians did BEFORE (pre) they started DIVIDING (starting denominations),” he explained.
Stephen took advantage of the moment to offer a Bible study.
The Sunday evening time change to 1 pm “really helps some families that drive 30 and 40 minutes one-way,” Stephen said.
The church shares a Sunday fellowship meal in between once a month. Stephen said they have already noticed increased fellowship among the saints thanks to the time change.
Stephen teaches the Bible on AudioEvangelism.com.
PRATTVILLE, Ala. (BNc) — The elders of the Hunter Hills congregation released a letter to the congregation Oct. 13 recognizing, on the part of some, a “desire to add an instrumental service on Sunday morning separate from our current service which has acapella [sic] congregational singing.”
The elders stated that “over time, Hunter Hills has become a church which believes in freedom in Christ and has moved away from legalism. Because of this, members have differing views about what they value and desire in corporate worship.”
“All the shepherds agree that scripture does not prohibit the use of instrumental music in our assembly,” the letter said.
Because of that, the elders proposed to the congregation the addition of a Sunday worship service including the use of mechanical instruments.
Preacher urges rejection of instruments
Charles Box, preacher with the Walnut Street congregation in Greenville, Ala., published a letter to the Hunter Hills eldership today pleading that they refuse to add an instrumental service.
Charles, whose town lies 53 miles to the south, provided biblical support for his position.
“The addition of the instrument will lead people away from God and will cause division in churches of Christ. I beg you to reconsider this very sad and serious decision that you have already made, since you have already been allowing the instrument to be used in youth activities,” Charles wrote.
He also reminded them “that obeying God is not legalism; rather it is love for the Almighty Creator.”
Charles has served with the Walnut Street congregation since 1986.
Charles began his email today saying, “Please pray that these brethren will not make such a terrible mistake. Write to them at email@example.com and plead with them not to make this spiritually destructive mistake. When you write, remember Ephesians 4:32!”
The text of both letters was included in Charles’s email and is reproduced below.
Text of Hunter Hills elders’ letter:
Letter from the Shepherds
October 13, 2013
Dear Church Family:
Hunter Hills is a wonderful place to have as a church home. It is full of people who want to honor God in every aspect of their lives. We desire to be a group of people who love unconditionally and whose desire is to serve others. Our members come from all walks of life and from varied church backgrounds. Over time, Hunter Hills has become a church which believes in freedom in Christ and has moved away from legalism. Because of this, members have differing views about what they value and desire in corporate worship.
Over the past few months, the shepherds have had several conversations with some of our members, including our staff, about their desire to add an instrumental service on Sunday morning separate from our current service which has acapella congregational singing. Before we make a decision on their request, we wanted to communicate this to all of our members and get feedback on whether or not this would be a beneficial move for our church family.
We want our members to know that all the shepherds agree that scripture does not prohibit the use of instrumental music in our assembly. Each of us has come to that conclusion independently after many years of study and prayer. In fact, instrumental music has been used as background on video clips and as a part of our youth assemblies for some time. These would not be present if we felt their inclusion was not acceptable to God.
Given our longstanding tradition of acapella singing which many, including the shepherds and staff, highly value and want to continue; we feel that this decision should not be taken lightly. We want to set a direction that is in the best interest of the whole congregation for the present and for the future. We pray that the decision made will be supported by our church family. We are convinced that most of our members are here because of relationships and opportunities to serve. We certainly hope that these values will continue to prevail regardless of what views anyone might hold on this question. Over the next few days, we ask each of you to prayerfully consider our direction and take time to complete the survey located at ttps://www.research.net/s/HHMusic. It can also be found linked from the church website or we have paper copies available. You may fill it out as a family or individually. Each question gives you the opportunity to make additional comments. The comments are valuable, so please share how you feel. While the survey does require that you submit your name, individual input will be kept confidential among the shepherds. We would like the input of the whole church before making a decision about this request.
May God continue to bless Hunter Hills in the future as He has in the past.
Text of Letter from Charles Box:
To Elders Hunter Hill,
Brethren, I spend my time working in Greenville, Alabama, trying to build up the cause of Christ here. I seldom ever try to get involved with what is going on in churches of Christ elsewhere. However, I felt so grieved over what you brethren plan to do I could not remain silent.
Instrumental music in worship is not authorized in the New Testament! I know some people say this is just a trivial matter, but that is not the case. They might even site Matthew 23:23 as they try to show that instrumental music is trivial. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23) Cain did not get his worship right. (Genesis 4) If you brethren choose to add the instrument to your worship, you will fall into the category of Cain. “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1:11) The addition of instrumental music to your worship will not be pleasing to God and you will cause division in our great brotherhood of Christians.
It is taught in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament that our worship must be authorized by the word of God. (John 4:24) Music in worship is not a complex and complicated subject. Bible believers can easily recognize the truth that singing is authorized in the New Testament. (Ephesians 5:19) We must love God supremely and do His will in our worship, and not our own will. (Matthew 22:37-40) Instead of writing a letter to the church members asking them what they would like to do, why not get your Bible and determine what God would have you to do in worship concerning the instrument!
I have no idea how you brethren would try to justify the instrument in worship. Some say that everything that we do in life is worship. (Romans 12:1-2) The man from Ethiopia had come to Jerusalem to “worship,” not to “live.” Instrumental music was authorized in the Old Covenant. (2 Chronicles 29:25) However, mechanical instruments in worship are not found in the New Covenant. The instrument with which we must praise God is our heart. (Ephesians 5:19) Worship that is devised by men, however impressive it may appear, is not acceptable to God. The purpose of Jesus Christ was to do God’s will and please Him. (John 8:28-29) That same principle of doing the will of God should be our daily goal.
We are commanded to sing Old Testament Psalms. Some, who defend the instrument, tell us that the Psalms authorize instruments. They want us to believe that the definition of psalmos includes the instrument. If it is the case that the instrument is inherent in the Psalms, then that makes the instrument essential, not just an optional matter. It is not just an aid, and if the instrument is in psalmos you could not obey Ephesians 5:19 without the instrument. Psalms 81:1-2 proves beyond doubt that a Psalm did not automatically involve an instrument. Both the Psalm and the instrument are mentioned separately. “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.” Instrumental music in New Testament worship simply cannot be found. “If God intends for us to use instrument of music in the church there is no standard English New Testament, no generally accepted translation in the world from which we could learn God’s will on this point.” The standard translations of the New Testament simply say sing.
God has authorized vocal music. He has said nothing concerning the use of instrumental music. “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:14) You can find neither a command for instruments in New Testament worship; neither can you find a text or context where the instruments were in use. The appeal to speak with the Bible speaks and be silent with the Bible is silent should still rings loud and clear in our hearts. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
While there is no New Testament authority for instrumental music in our worship, vocal music is clearly authorized. Singing involves teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Colossians 3:16) Singing is the fruit of our lips that we are to offer to God. (Hebrews 13:15) God is worthy of our worship and adoration. Only worship according to His will is acceptable. In true worship, God chooses for us how we should worship and what we should do. In false worship, we make our own choices and worship like we wish. In false worship, we poll the church to find out how we should worship. In true worship, we read our Bible to find out how we should worship. Sadly brethren, the course that you are choosing to follow is that of men and their desire. I beg of you brethren, make a better choice and worship as God directs. God commanded singing; we may not, we must not use other forms of music! The principle of Scripture is that we must abide in what God has authorized. (Revelation 22:18-19)
Instrumental music was never found in churches established by the apostles. This was not a cultural thing in the early church; rather it was out of respect for the commandments of God. Brethren, I appeal to you to have that same respect. The addition of the instrument that you are promoting will be in the same category of washing of feet, washing of cups, and pots and brazen vessels and of tables. Sadly, the result will also be the same. “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:3-7) Your soul is at stake and the souls of those that you lead. The addition of the instrument will lead people away from God and will cause division in churches of Christ. I beg you to reconsider this very sad and serious decision that you have already made, since you have already been allowing the instrument to be used in youth activities.
I will be praying for you and for the church there. I would also kindly remind you brethren, that obeying God is not legalism; rather it is love for the Almighty Creator.
Love in Christ,
Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037.
RISING FAWN, Ga. (BNc) — Fire destroyed a small congregation’s building early Sunday morning in this small community in the greater Chattanooga, Tenn., area.
The fire started presumably around 1 am Sunday morning. It is believed to have begun from a heater explosion.
Gaston Green said they were going to meet with the church at Trenton until they decide what they are going to do. About 30 members of the body of Christ meet there.
Rising Fawn is an unincorporated community in the southern part of Dade County, Ga. It is part of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Gaston’s father Gabby helped form the Rising Fawn congregation, which met in the Greens’ living room before building the meeting house in 1968.
For a video report and more information, see the WTVC page.
Thanks to James Suiter for the link and information.
HAARLEM, Netherlands (BNc) by Roy Davison — Christians from six congregations in Holland and Flanders gathered in Haarlem, Holland, to praise God in song on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15.
Jim and Ruth Krumrei have been missionaries in Haarlem since 1963.
The church in Haarlem was begun by Jacob C. Vandervis and Bill Phillips in the fall of 1946. This was the first congregation established by missionaries of churches of Christ on the Continent after WWII.
Brother Vandervis, a Dutchman, was converted by Otis Gatewood in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1942 and began making plans to return to Holland to preach the gospel once the war was over.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (BNc) — After following the biblical command of discipline, the Ridgedale congregation has been accused of demonstrating an “extreme case” of “homophobic” attitudes.
After a high-profile case in which a Christian mother showed support to a lesbian daughter, the congregation confronted the mother in private with the choice of repenting from her open support of sin or leaving the church.
Family members portrayed the mother as being “distraught” over the church’s action.
The Times-Free Press quoted Matt Nevels, a former Baptist minister who now leads a homosexual support group, as saying, “I’ve never heard it extended to other family members like that. That is definitely an extreme case.”
Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale congregation, was interviewed for the story. He noted that the church acted consistently in dealing with other sins.
On his Facebook page, Ken identifies himself as the former pulpit minister of the congregation.
BNc has contacted Ken and will update the story with his comments.
Numerous Facebook comments by Christians reflect the opinion that the church will see more pressure from the world and opposition from Christians for taking up positions as the Ridgedale congregation did.
J.J. Hendrix’s Internet radio program, “The Swish,” devoted its Aug. 21 edition to the story. He emphasized that the action taken by the Ridgedale congregation was dealt with in private. The program is part of the Brown Trail congregation’s outreach in Bedford, Tex.
“This is another example of anti-Christian bigotry persecuting the Lord’s church. We must stand strong with each other and with congregations like Ridgedale that are standing for the truth. The liberal media wants to shut us up, we cannot be ashamed of the gospel. Let’s rally around Ridgedale and stand for God’s Word and God’s plan,” J.J. said in comments to BNc.
Preacher Wes McAdams shared the results of that moment of prayer together in the church bulletin, published today on the Internet.
The men’s group “sat around in lawn chairs, near a very low lake, last Saturday morning,” Wes wrote. “People driving by on the highway may have wondered, ‘What are those guys doing down there?’ We weren’t fishing or boating, and although we had some delicious food, eating wasn’t the real reason we were there. We drove to Breckenridge early that Saturday morning to pray for some much needed rain.”
“It was extremely encouraging to sit with brethren and discuss prayer, providence, and the power of God. But the most encouraging part of our trip to Hubbard Creek Reservoir was the fact that it was sprinkling rain the entire time!” he said.
“Since then, the Lord has sent several more inches of rain to our dry and thirsty land. To God be the glory!” he wrote.
Wes ended his article with a spiritual application.
“Sometimes our lives, like our land, can experience periods of drought. There is a devotional song that expresses this idea well, with the words, ‘My eyes are dry. My faith is old. My heart is hard. My prayers are cold.’ Have you ever felt this way? Are you currently in the midst of a spiritual drought?”
FT. WORTH, Tex. (BNc) — The Heritage church elders announced on Sunday that they had made a decision “that the addition of an instrumental worship service would be beneficial to our quest to reach the lost.”
They will begin the Sunday night service in the Fall. The two Sunday morning services will remain a cappella.
The announcement said that all the elders were in agreement that “scripture does not prohibit the use of instruments in our worship.”
They did not explain how they thought the addition of instruments of music to the worship would contribute to reaching the lost.
They stated that “we have spent a great deal of time studying the issue and praying for God to reveal his will as to what we should do.” Gone was the appeal to the New Testament as the single source of knowledge of God’s will.
They said the a cappella worship was a “long-standing tradition” that many of their members would still prefer.
Some elders stepped down from their posts at the decision. In spite of “many” members’ preference and the decision of some of their “leadership” to step down from their “positions,” the change will be made.
They claimed the change “allows people to focus on worshipping God in their own way.” Following that rationale, more future changes might be expected, with the addition of candles, dance, priestly robes, or other denominational practices.
The image on the front page which links to the special announcement was appropriately titled, “Whatever It Takes” (see above).
The special announcement is posted on the Heritage site.
PAINTSVILLE, Ky (BNc) by Rick Kelley — Ben Wright hopes to achieve “something a bit more out of the box while remaining Biblically sound” with his new publishing company, Enwrightened Publications (EP). Ben ministers to the congregation in Paintsville, Ky., where he grew up, and where his father David serves as an elder.
EP’s third book, Bible 101, written by Mike Johnson, came out May 14. Directed toward new Christians, it covers “everything from the authority of the Bible to the important role women have in the Church,” and “clearly lays out the foundation of the church,” Ben said.
Ben took the time to answer some questions about his new venture.
BNc: What provoked your interest in this work? Tell us how Enwrightened Publications (EP) got started?
Ben: Our interest in the work has really developed over the last few years. It all began as a simple blog and grew from there. My wife and I love to read and write, so we decided to embark on a journey of producing books that we really liked. The name Enwrightened is more of an accident than anything; we were trying to come up with names for our blog and misspelled “enlightened,” then discovered we could use our last name and make it “Enwrightened”.
BNc: Your first two books, While You Are Away From Home (Mike Johnson) and Branded (Ben Wright) are already in print. How are they being received?
Ben: So far, they have been received exceptionally well. Mike is an extremely talented guy and his books are marvelous. While You Are Way From Home is a really neat concept for a book and one that, I think, was very needed.
Branded has achieved more than we had anticipated in terms of copies sold and the reaction it has received. Considering that, for the most part, social media has been our only source of advertising, both books are doing really well.
BNc: Someone once said that those associated with churches of Christ do more publishing than any other group. Why another publishing company? Does EP have a niche is seeks to serve, or a deficiency it seeks to address?
Ben: We knew so many talented people that had amazing things to say, but didn’t know how to get their ideas out. I (Ben) have a background in Graphic Design so we were able to do most of the legwork ourselves and really get people heard who may not have had the means otherwise. We really believed it to be a great way that we could serve others and spread the Gospel.
We try to work on projects that are maybe a little different from the traditional type of books that are published in the church today. Many books in the church now are written specifically for classes and have a very standardized format and, while we have (and will have) many of those kinds of book, we also want to produce books that are written with more of a practical aspect in mind.
Branded, for example, is a small book; it’s not a classroom book, features no questions at the end of the chapters, but rather focuses on making the Christian life better in a challenging and more practical way than a traditional classroom book might. That is certainly not to say that the traditional approach isn’t great, but just that we are interested in doing something a bit more out of the box while remaining Biblically sound.
BNc: We’re in a digital age; printing isn’t cheap. Why books?
Ben: I am a huge technology lover. If I can do it digitally, generally, I do; but I also love the feel of a book in my hands. There’s just something about it I can’t describe. I’ve tried e-books and own many. They are fantastic in their own way, but the experience just isn’t the same.
The digital age has also produced things like on-demand printing that makes the costs of creating printed books extremely affordable, which is why you see so many people self-publishing today. We try to make all of our books in as many formats as possible, including digital ones. We are also currently in the process of making our books available in audio book format.
BNc: What’s in the works for EP?
Ben: We have a lot of projects going on right now. Our big work is a project called, “Radiate”, that we hope to have out early next year. It will be a four-year teen class curriculum, written with teachers in mind. We want teen class teachers to be able to take our materials and easily be able to teach from them, and have a pre-set teaching schedule. “Radiate” takes students through the entire New Testament and various other topical subjects in a period of four years. We have some really fantastic guys lined up to write for us.
We also have several more books in the works that we’re excited to put out, including a book called, “Spiritually Fit”, a book that challenges Christians to take a look at their spiritual health. Another one is called, “Not Just the Future”, and it is about empowering the younger generation to take hold of leadership now. Of course, we also try to keep our blog updated regularly with good stuff there, as well.
Find out more about Ben, Enwrightened Publications, and ordering information on their website.
DENTON, Tex. (BNc) — Weylan Deaver, editor of Biblical Notes and preacher with the Sherman Drive congregation, exposes the problems behind the “Bar Church”, a satellite of Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene TX, slated to begin offering worship services in a local bar, complete with alcohol, Mar. 24.
In an article on his popular online magazine, Weylan explained the wrong-headed approach of using a church’s Sunday meeting as a platform for evangelism and the compromises that flow from such an approach. Continue reading “Texas preacher exposes problems of ‘Bar Church’ that bars none, except alcohol for minors”
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BNc) — Get out of the building and do something for Christ! That’s the sentiment of the Somers Avenue congregation’s “Light’s Out” program announced for Dec. 30.
In the church’s bulletin, “The Observer,” for Dec. 2, came this announcement:
The building will be dark at 5 o’clock, Sunday evening, December 30th. Pews will be empty and the lights will be out. The electric lights will be off, but our lights will be “out” shining in the community. We anticipate another faith-building, enriching afternoon which will involve more than 150 members singing at nursing homes, baking cookies, writing cards, delivering cookies and cards to fire and police stations and hospitals, visiting other members, and prayer warriors intensely praying for this good work. Mark you calendars and make your plans for “Lights Out!” on the 30th.
Sean Ashberry, who works in preaching and member involvement with the congregation, kindly replied to BNc to explain further the Lights-Out approach. He tells in his words. Continue reading “Church turns out the building lights to shine in community”
ENOLA, Ark. (BNc) by Robert Swain — I was asked to be the speaker for an annual creek-side service for a small congregation where my friend Dickie Harris preaches. Continue reading “Six baptized at Arkansas creek-side service”
FREEPORT, Fla. (BNc) — The Freeport church responded to a letter by denominational pastors appealing for unity with an article in the Defuniak Herald Oct. 25.
The paid article was written by Eric Farrior, preacher with the Freeport congregation, located in the Florida panhandle.
Eric explained that “several local denominational church leaders in our area apologized for division (which they are still causing) and wanted all ‘denominations’ to work together for Christ. The problem is, you cannot possibly be working for Christ when you teach false doctrine!”
From that premise, the church published the following article in the newspaper. Continue reading “Church answers clergy letter: ‘how can we walk together if all teach different doctrines?’”