Sermons by Raymond Elliott

HIGHWAY 9 CHURCH OF CHRIST

Presents
Articles by Raymond Elliott

"Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way" (Proverbs 23:19)


THE COMMUNITY CHURCH

It is unfortunate that certain words and phrases have changed meaning over the years, most of them for the worse. You take the words, gap, crack, grass and gay, to name a few. Many can recall when you spoke of a gap in the mountains or a gap in the fence where the cows could pass through to another location. A crack was often found in the floor of some of the old buildings. Grass was something that a cow would eat. And, the word gay suggested someone was happy and delightful. Parents would often name a daughter Gay. And, then there is the phrase, "Community Church". For the past forty-two years, I have preached for and attended a ‘community church’. I have also preached in Gospel Meetings in various congregations that were begun by brethren who believed in a ‘community church’. This was often the case where you found a Christian School in any given locale. The administrators and faculty members, along with evangelists would go into a community and preach the gospel for the first time, often resulting in the establishing of congregation in that location. Because of the lack of modern day transportation, brethren felt that each community needed a congregation. It has been my privilege to serve community congregations for so many years. The brethren were known as Christians and for the most part had a good reputation in the community where they lived, worked and worshipped. These brothers and sisters would visit the sick, comfort the bereaved, teach the lost and encourage the wayward members to return to Christ. They were active in the civic and educational affairs. They were good citizens in their community. They were known for being honest men and women and were well respected in their community. Often, their buildings were modest in appearance with a nice sign in the front, which identified them as "The Church of Christ". In fact, I am still preaching for a ‘community church’ in the town where I now reside. The brethren have a fine reputation for doing good and being the kind of people you would expect Christians to be. Their goal is to serve the Lord by serving the people who live in this community, namely helping those individuals who are in need, physically and spiritually. While we now have larger congregations where brethren drive several miles to attend the various assemblies, it is still good to have congregations in different communities where the local citizens personally know members.

It is sad that many brethren are desirous to have a different version of "The Community Church" today. There is a reluctance to have the expression "Church of Christ" to be used in advertising who they are and where they are located. Furthermore, some brethren are advocating certain changes in their worship assemblies and even in their teachings that are moving them away from the original intent of the Restoration Movement in this country. And, that was/is to have authority in the Word of God for all we do in the church of the Lord in matters of practice and doctrine. This movement among us is causing much unrest and is leading to a greater division in our brotherhood. We must understand that it is not necessarily the term denoting ownership, ‘The church of Christ’ that is causing the prejudice in the minds of our neighbors and others. Prejudice toward the church is often caused by the wrong attitudes possessed by some of the members. Also, the way that a few members live immorally will cause people to have a negative attitude toward the church. And, we must realize that when we teach the truth on certain subjects like baptism as being essential for salvation, the need to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week, and, that we are not to use instrumental music in our worship to God can cause our neighbors to be prejudiced against the church. Even in the first century, the church, which was referred to by many as a "sect" which was "everywhere spoken against" (Acts 28:22) experienced a tremendous numerical growth. The writer James stated that the enemies of the body of Christ blasphemed "that worthy name by which ye are called" (James 2:7). The precious name of Jesus Christ should be worn with humility and a deep sense of gratitude by all of the children of God. And, in the community where we live, we can "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things"(Titus 2:10) by our expressions of love and care for our neighbors and friends. Yes, I believe in a community church but not to the extent that I am willing to compromise the Word of God in order to get people to attend the worship assemblies.





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