Although all churches are different, in reality, they’re a lot of similarities in their overall structure.
Clearly, Christians are “not to forsake the assembly of believers” as commanded in Hebrews 10:25. Equally clear, the people are the church – “ekklesia” the called-out ones.
So, it should come as no surprise that “church” is a big part of a Christian’s life.
But, what kinds of churches are there in existence and which ones should we attend.
Three common types of churches
I believe that there are three common Christian Churchs, which can easily and commonly be recognized as follows:
- Sermonettes for Christinettes,
- Gospel and an altar call, and
- Expositing the Bible.
Now what’s interesting, is that without even asking any questions, you can tell a lot about a church, simply by going to a few services and understanding these three models.
Sermonettes for Christinettes
Most big churches, the ones which are blessed with huge attendances, the ones that most of the soccer moms attend, are what I call “Sermonette for Christinette” churches.
They’re easily recognized. They’re extremely popular with typical sermons like “7 keys to a happy marriage” or “5 ways to succeed in the business world” or “How to be joyful under any circumstance” etcetera, etcetera.
Bible versions? They use all available bible versions. Why? Because there is at least one version that will prove the point they are trying to make. Usually, no bibles are required or even recommended at church, since they never know which version will be needed to prove their point. Consequently, you wouldn’t be able to follow the service if you only had one bible version.
They effectively follow the faux biblical concept of “I can prove all things with a verse out of context.”
These are the apostate churches.
They will tickle your ears and are really 2 Timothy 4:3 churches “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Stay clear of these churches. Not only will you be learning unsound biblical concepts, but you will also be exposed to the teachings of the world which is ruled by the Prince of this earth.
The Gospel and an Altar Call
Many churches, which are not apostate churches, follow the format of the “Gospel and an Altar Call.”
Each year, you will potentially hear 52 sermons about salvation, each of which will be combined with an altar call.
This is not accidental. In fact, these churches feel they are called to do this and their seminaries train them to do this – conceive of a sermon using scripture, that shares the gospel – lost, repent, believe and found, and with the proper background music, with everyone standing, and their heads bowed, “come on down and accept the free gift of salvation.”
Sounds good. Billy Graham used the same technique for years and years. It was emotionally moving and many, many came down to ask Christ into their lives.
Problem is, not many were true conversions.
How did this originate?
Why of course, the great commission – go and make disciples – Matthew 28:16-20.
So, what’s missing?
Salvation is either a sovereign work of God or we need to take the lead.
When it needs our help, and after all that’s why we’re in the ministry, then we need to have a weekly gospel and an altar call.
So, that’s what we do. Each and every week.
Problem is, no one learns any other scriptural doctrines and truths since the rest of the Bible is ignored.
A member can go for years and literally not know anything about the Bible. Sad!
Paul was successful. Surely Paul used this technique.
Well, not if you listen to Paul.
In 2 Cor 2:1, he says “I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” In other words, he just taught the Bible without all the soft background music, come on down appeals and emotional stories.
Also, in 2 Timothy 4:2 he commands “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”
Really? Yes, just preach the word?
Exposite the Bible
The minority of churches will actually teach the Bible – verse by verse.
How is anyone saved by just expositing the Bible?
Actually, Romans 10:17 is clear “…faith comes from hearing the message…” All of the Bible is empowered by the Holy Spirit and able to save and convict. Even without our help!!!
In other words, preach the whole bible.
Since salvation is the sovereign work of God, the Holy Spirit will take care of salvation and the pastor/elder, who is to be a shepherd, will be able to teach his flock the entire truth of the Bible.
Not just those parts that work into a salvation message.
Unfortunately, this type of church is the rarest.
But it’s worth encouraging at your church.
If you are in a sermonette for Christianette church – get out. If your church only preaches the gospel with an altar call, encourage the leadership to teach the whole bible or look at another church.
Christ said “all that the father has given me, I will lose none” John 6:37. That’s true, in spite of not preaching the salvation gospel and following up with an altar call.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a salvation message and altar call, in and of itself. What’s wrong is only doing this – to the exclusion of the rest of the Bible. And saying “that’s what Bible study is for” is not sufficient.
The Bible commands us to preach the whole bible. Salvation is a sovereign act of God himself and all of the words of God are able to save. Pastors are to be shepherds and evangelists but too many are more concerned with the evangelist aspect, unfortunately to the exclusion of the hard work of being a shepherd.
What’s tragic is that no one knows anything. If you don’t know the truth and the full truth, then it’s that much easier to be deceived by Satan and to be ineffective in your Christian walk.
Granted, there is no perfect church.
But at least consider what is going on in your church and prayerfully ask for guidance and direction.