The purpose of this church is to be obedient to the commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when He said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you... Matthew 28:19-20

We will endeavor to fulfill this commission through

We will seek to foster within our members a Biblical attitude and respect for the family and child raising, for missions at home and around the world, and for worship, including the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

We will seek to foster the Biblical concept of true spiritual worship and fellowship in contrast to ritual, dress, status and tradition.

The commission of Christ to the church involves spiritual activity to the whole world, to every nation. Because of the geography and the range of activities incorporated in that commission, no one local church can be active in all phases of the commission at all times. In reality, even if all local churches all around the world were actively engaged in the work of that commission, that combined effort would not bring completion to the commission. The commission is not directed towards a completed task, but towards an on going process. To fulfill that commission requires the combined efforts of all the Body of Christ from the day of Pentecost until the rapture. That fact does not lessen our responsibility to be dedicated to the work at hand. Knowing that fact can be of help to a local church as they plan how to best use their resources, and how best to be involved.

There are two major concepts used by local churches when planning their participation within the scope of that commission:

The shotgun approach basically says that the local church will endeavor to be a part of as many church type and community type activities as they possibly can. This approach certainly means that the church will have a broad involvement in the total scope of the religious movement. However, very few churches have the resources (or if you will allow, the buckshot) to make any clear cut impact on the totality of that commission. There is nothing inherently wrong with the shotgun concept of involvement within the Great Commission. However, this concept has a tendency to be inefficient in its use of resources. As with anything in life, so also in the religious realm there is a certain amount of lag time, and start-up cost when you move into a new or different field of endeavor. Therefore, many churches, and especially small churches find that most of their personnel and finances are tied up in just getting involved. Many churches seem to be starting something about every Sunday. Sadly, they will see very few results in any one of their endeavors.

Luke 14:28-33 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it-- 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish." 31 "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

The shotgun method is often very exciting, because new and different experiences are often filled with exciting moments. However, when a church runs from one project to another and then another, there is very little time left to "sit down first and count the cost" to see if they are "able to finish it."

At MBF we have chosen to use the target concept. Through this method, we concentrate on a smaller segment of the total commission. We have chosen the aspect of making disciples as our main focus and goal. Even concentrating on this limited area of the commission, we still have to sit down and count the cost. What method are we going to use to make disciples? Are we capable of fulfilling that goal through that method? It seems that almost every religious organization has a plan, a video and a packet for making disciples. Most of the plans, packets, etc. have some merit. So which one, or ones do we use to accomplish the purpose of MBF in making disciples? We have chosen to use systematic Bible study as our main method. That does not mean we have rejected the idea of using other methods to supplement the main method of systematic Bible study. Not only do we have the recourses to accomplish this, we are able to actively participate in another phase of the commission while doing so. That other phase being: “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” Matthew 28:20 We will look in more detail at this aspect in a future lesson.

Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

When not referring to a particular object, the phrase “gates of” something, such as a city, indicate the strength of that city. The term might be speaking of the strength of their protection. If the gates were strong, the city was usually safe and secure. It was through the gates, the armies rode to war, and it was also at the gates that the city fathers sat and devised strategies for protection and conquest. So when used in this manner, the phrase the “gates of” would refer to the destructive force of the army, and also to the tactical strategy of the planners of the armed campaign. The term the “gates of Hades or Hell” would have reference to all the forces of Satan and evil.

It is a comforting thought to know that we are part of an organism that all the forces of evil cannot stop. However, there are many things that can stop or destroy a segment of that organism. When the forces of evil come against a local church, in an open and overt manner, most local churches stiffen, rally their strength, turn to the Lord and stand against the evil, and for righteousness in a far better manner than before the attack. More often than not, that local church is no worse for the wear from such attacks. Instead, that church is usually much stronger after an open attack by an outside evil force. In spite of those truths, the local church can be destroyed, or damaged to the point it is non effective in their participation in the Great Commission. As a matter of fact, any local church that is standing for the faith is constantly in a state of being attacked in such a manner that could destroy it. Unless the leadership and the people of the church are on constant alert, the local church will be reduced to non-effectiveness, or will cease to exist all together.

1 Corinthians 16:9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

This was always the situation in Paul’s ministry, and he warned church after church to be alert to these many adversaries, and to be equipped to withstand and defeat them. The adversaries of the church have not changed since the time of Paul. However, so as to appeal to the modern church, these same ‘ol adversaries come wrapped in new and different packaging. Some of these adversaries are so very, very deadly, and yet they come packaged in the wrap of religious activity. If we are to protect ourselves against these church destroying adversaries, we must know how to recognize them, and know how to defeat them.

To equip ourselves against these adversaries, we are going to spend the best part of two lessons looking as some of the better methods of destroying a local church. Most of these adversaries are active right here, right now at MBF. Some of you may be key players in the sport of church demolition, and not even know you are part of the game. If you are a player in the sport of church demolition, and know it, you need to move on to greener pastures. If you are a player in this sport of church demolition, and don’t know it, you need to be informed, and cease and desist immediately. When I speak of church destruction, I’m not referring to just the physical size, or the financial status. Those things are a vital and an integral part of the whole picture, but those things are the smaller part of the total health of a church.

Revelation 3:14-18 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. 17 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- 18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

This church had it all! They had works. The offerings were more than good. This was a great Church! This was the church that was used (I’m sure, I think) as an example in all of the Church Growth Seminars in the first century. They had all they needed, so they thought, but this church had been rendered less than worthless! From God’s perspective (which is the only perspective that counts), they were “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”. I bet that was never mentioned at the Church Growth Seminars. This church had not been destroyed physically (as a matter of fact they were prospering physically), but spiritually (which is what a church is supposed to be) they were totally demolished. No, they had not ceased to exist in the community. Why, they even paid their bills. They were a good credit risk, and their works were pleasant and helpful to the community. However, the whole situation made God sick to His stomach, and it was just about to cause God to vomit.

Revelation 2:1-7 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4 "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent. 6 "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." '

Here is a church on which God was just about to pull the plug, and they would be left without lights or power. Remember, this is the church to which Paul gave more of his public ministry than any other. This church had some of the deepest and richest teaching, a very good resume, and their accomplishments had not escaped favorable notice of God. God knew about their works, their labor, and their patience. This church did not tolerate any fooling around. They stood for that which was right, period! You showed up to the church services in a three piece suit, with tie. There was no gum chewing, and no tennis shoes allowed through the door. I mean, they did not tolerate any of those evil practices.

They were even careful about their guest speakers, and checked them out to make sure they were really apostles. This church was so good at this screening process that they caught some of those guest speakers claiming to be apostles, but had dropped out of apostle seminary in the last semester, and never made the grade. This church hung in there when the going got tough, and they had persevered. This church had patience, and had labored for the sake of Christ’s name. Even when this service took a great deal of time, they continued, and did not become wearisome.

What a church. However, Christ basically said, “In spite of all of that, you need to shape up, or I’m going to put your lights out!” By the way, just in case you missed it, these were local churches being addressed in this passage by Christ. We must keep in mind that the way we evaluate a church, or church problems is not always the way God sees the picture. As a matter of fact, the way we see things is usually not the way God sees them. So, we must be very careful that we are using God’s perspective, not man’s perspective in our study of the local church.

Genesis 2:24-25 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined (cleave) to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

If couples really followed this first statement of the Holy Spirit concerning a proper marriage, we would have good marriages all over the place. If people really properly followed those two words, leave and cleave, a poor marriage would be the exception, instead of 1 out of every 2 marriages ending in divorce.

If only we would properly comply with those two words, there would truly be marital bliss all around and abounding everywhere. When the Holy Spirit first told us about marriage in the Bible, He included some of the most important information concerning proper marital development and the prevention of marital failure in that first statement. Then throughout the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit expanded this kernel of information concerning marriage, but never does any of that expanded information go contrary to the that first seminar on marriage relationships conducted in the Garden Room of motel Eden.

This is also true of the first information given about the church.

Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

If all the forces of evil cannot prevail against the church, then when it comes to church growth, and the protection of the church from destruction, it would stand to reason that our main attention and our greatest effort should be spent in some other area than trying to clean up or defeat all the evil forces in the world. I don’t mean that we should ignore the evil around us. By curtailing the evil a bit, it would make the world a nicer place to live. However, the main task of the church is not to defeat and eradicate the darkness of evil, but to overcome the darkness of evil by letting the light of Christ and His glorious gospel shine unhindered through the church, and thereby through each born again Believer. Therefore, simple logic, based on the truth of Scripture, would suggest that the main destructive force against the church is not from without (the gates of Hell), but the greatest potential for church destruction must then be within the church itself. Yes, every church has within itself the seeds of its own destruction. If you will carefully read the first 3 chapters of The Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, you will see that this fact was true of each of these 7 churches mentioned there.

Matthew 12:25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
divided = (Greek) Not in the sense of one part in favor of and another part against; To cause factions; To be in variance with one’s self; Distribute among.

Christ, commenting on an entirely different subject than the church, makes a statement that helps us understand how so many churches are destroyed spiritually, and some are even destroyed physically. This statement also helps us understand some very harsh passages concerning our conduct toward some within the church, such as:

Romans 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

We will look at this passage in a little more detail later. It seems harsh and unchristian to avoid someone. You would think that the Christian thing to do, would be to buddy-up to someone like this, and try to win them back to the straight and narrow. Well, if you do buddy-up to someone of this nature, you are going contrary to the clear teaching of the Word, and you are encouraging division within the church. When we know that a house, kingdom or church that is divided against its self cannot stand, then we can understand why the Holy Spirit, through Paul, said to avoid those who cause divisions within the church. Those people are destroying the church just as surely as though they were placing a bomb at the front door. Actually, the person causing division within the church is doing more damage than the one with the bomb. The bomb will cause physical damage, all right. However, after the bombing, the church would probably rally, become stronger and more unified. When someone is successful in causing division within the church, that division continues to spread like cancer, and unless strong measures are taken, that division will tear a church from its foundation and render it useless for the commission of Christ.

If you have a large rock in your back yard, and you want to divide it into several smaller rocks, there are several methods you could use. You could use a large sledge hammer and beat the tar out of that rock until it was reduced to small bits of stone and dust. On the other hand, you could use a small hammer, and carefully tap that big rock in the right place over and over again, until a hairline crack started and continued to grow and move through the rock. No, that little crack is not a big division. There is no gigantic split. You don’t need a big split. Just a hairline crack will do, if its in the right place. If you can get the rock to have a hairline crack all the way through, it will eventually come apart of its own weight. Don’t lose me now, stay right with me. For us to see the problem and the solution will require a systematic and complete presentation. Some church divisions are caused because of lack of information, but most church divisions are caused because of selfishness and bitterness on the part of the one dividing, combined with complacency on the part of the rest of the church body.

Hebrews 12:14-16 Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.

Bitterness is usually caused because of unresolved sin in the life, and as a result, the person with bitterness never accepts God’s forgiveness. Remember bitterness is a root, and a bitter person does not always look like or act like a bitter person.

As we move through some actions that often cause division within a church, some will say at the conclusion of this presentation, “Why, I never dreamed anything like this was going on.” and that is good. However, by identifying the problem and the ultimate damage that can be caused by it, all will be informed, and when anyone sees one of these problems in action, they can:

In this day and age of such philosophies as: Me, My rights, Get all you can while the getting is good, Do it if it feels good, Rules are to be broken, Challenge all authority, etc., we have lost the purpose of many God given things that bring stability and growth to the world in general, and to the Believer in particular. By and large, we have lost the purpose of marriage, the family, government, the church and the list goes on. It is absolutely necessary that actions and activities are directed towards accomplishing the purpose. If we have lost our purpose, then even good activities lead to division. If an organization, of any nature, has activities just for sake of having activities, it will not be long before the real purpose of the organization is lost or forgotten, and the activity itself will become the purpose for existing.

This is especially true of a local church. It is so easy to have good activities, and even have those activities based on the best of motives, but if someone is not constantly checking to make sure that the activity is working to accomplish the purpose, and for the benefit of the whole body, it will not be very long until the purpose will be forgotten, and our activities will only be to satisfy some person’s whims. That activity may not be bad or immoral. As a matter of fact, it may be a very good activity, but if that activity is taking us away from our purpose instead of towards it, that activity needs to be changed or canceled.

For that reason, all activities and programs of MBF must be approved by the Board, or a committee appointed by the Board. We don’t do that so some elite group can have the power and control of the church. The Board is charged, by the members of MBF, with the responsibility of evaluating each of these things in light of:

The Board does this with each decision that comes before it, with the overriding concern for unity of programming and unity of the Body.

This type of evaluation takes a lot of time and a great deal of effort. The staff and board endeavors to carefully do this with each issue. Occasionally we fail in this practice. That happens because the rest of them are not perfect like me or you, of course. Unless this is done with each issue and activity, it is not long until every phase of the church is moving in a different direction. Then instead of moving in unity and harmony, and using our material and people resources to further accomplish the purpose, the church becomes divided. Then each of these divisions compete for the resources of the church, so each faction can continue to move along to an unknown purpose. It is in this area that we have greatest possibility for division, and the ultimate destruction of the effectiveness of the church. Let me show you the sinister way in which it happens, sometimes without the person even knowing they are sowing discord and division. Sad to say, other times it is done with deliberateness and purpose. Let’s say, someone in the church had either a question about the programming, or a suggestion for some program or a change in programming, etc. Too often that person with the suggestion takes it to others in the church, trying to get enough people on their side so they can force their suggestion to be accepted.

The proper way would be to bring the question or suggestion to the person responsible for that particular aspect. With that question or suggestion in hand, the Board or committee can evaluate it according to a 5 point check list:

Then that suggestion can be:

We will look at this process later in our study. However that suggestion is used or not used, its use or non-use is accomplished through the function of the body, not some faction or individual. This is as it should be.

Far too often, the suggestion is not put through this process of careful scrutiny. Instead, the person with the suggestion often goes to those who are not charged with the responsible and says something like: “I don’t know why we aren’t doing such-‘n-such?” Obviously, this type of question is not asked in an honest effort to get an answer. If that person really wanted an answer to a question, they would go to one who has the answer, or can get the answer. In this case, that person, who has or can get the answer, would be the one in charge of that aspect of the program, or one of the Board members.

When a person takes a question, of that nature, to anyone who is not responsible for that phase of the program, they are sowing discord and starting divisions. This type of activity, whether deliberate or inadvertent, is designed to find those who will be on the questioner’s side. This type of activity ultimately brings divisions and destruction to the church. The object of the church is not to have sides and personal power, but unity and purpose.

1 Corinthians 3:1-10 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998