It never fails. Quick trips to the mountains will always recharge my batteries. This trip ended with very good discussions about the state of the Church today. Topics included musical instruments, clapping, praise teams, organizations such as Promise Keepers, contemporary trends amid traditional congregations.
Since folks tend to label your stance on particular issues from conservative to liberal, I tend to follow more on the slightly "liberal" side of things. I do not believe in change for change-sake. This serves to alienate people and cause bad feelings (not good for the Lords body).
Instead of the traditional 2 songs, opening prayer, song, lords supper, communion, offering ("separate and apart from the Lords Supper"!?), song, 15-20 minute sermon, song, closing song, closing prayer service, I do believe there are other ways to touch other people, and even help in a spiritual awakening in your journey.
I am uncomfortable with musical instruments in the worship service, but is it a heaven or hell issue? I don't condemn other churches (ie: Christian Church, our long-lost cousin).
I believe that Baptism is a necceessary part of salvation. Just saying a prayer doesn't cut it, but for those that don't follow this to a "T", should they be considered Christians? Some think not.
I think Praise Teams and having a Worship Leader can be a great contributor to services to God. Not if it divides a congregation. But can you not feel the closeness and depth of God while listening to a fellow Christian lift praises to God? I sure can!
Does "Making music in your heart" necessarily mean no instruments? I find this to be an intresting conclusion, but don't wholeheartedly agree with this. I tend to fall on the conservative side, but I will not condemn another congregation (that is independent from others-subject to different elders- anyway).
Can music (written and performed by someone outside the "Church") be uplifting, and a form of worship to Our Creator? Even with instruments? Does God even want this?
I have dwelt with God and His Son while listening to K-LOVE and many performers such as Michael W, Amy G, DC Talk, etc. I have wept and had changes of my hard heart while being immersed in this music. I think that in the spectrum of music, it is either For God or Not For God (thanks to Rick O'dell for putting that into words).
Are Clapping and Raising Hands representative of a faulty worship? This is a silly debate, but I can look at this in 2 ways. If it divides the congregation, it is not a wise thing at the moment. period. On the other hand, what's wrong with lifting "holy hands", and when did my hands become "instruments".
Is it wrong to have a Christmas service? Come on..you and I know that December 25 is probably not the birth day of Jesus. This is not the issue. My thoughts are this. If on one day in the year, someone is thinking about Jesus, we have a great opportunity to share the Gospel. I say have a Christmas service. Didn't Paul strive to be all things to all people in order to get the Message across.
What about Women's roles in the service? I go to the conservative side on this one. I am uncomfortable when women say prayers, etc...I guess it violates my conscience. I know that Women minister in a great way, but in a different way. My thoughts are that if there are problems, are the men of the congregation not stepping up to offer themselves in the worship services?
Do you have to put "Church of Christ" on the sign out front? If this isn't on the sign out front, can we still fellowship with them as Christians?
There are many more thoughts and questions perhaps for another post.