Bible Study: Sept. 24, 2017
NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week's Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.
Bible Passages: Acts 11:19-30, 13:1-3, 15:1-3, 15:22-41
-- How could the temptation to soften doctrinal positions challenge Christians, missionaries and churches as they try to maintain integrity in cultures devoid of the Gospel?
-- How can your church work both to maintain doctrinal integrity and to preserve fellowship within the church?
-- What doctrines would you say matter most? What doctrines would you identify as important but not as important as the first?
Food for thought:
Churches sometimes struggle with their doctrine. They might not struggle with knowing what they believe or even why they believe it (though some surely do struggle at these points). No, some struggle with reconciling what they believe with an unsaved/unchurched community who doesn't value what the church believes. In such situations, some churches consider compromising or backpedaling on their beliefs in the hopes they will make themselves more attractive to the unsaved.
Jeff Iorg, author of "The Case for Antioch," the basis for the current MasterWork study, makes this observation:
Churches with strong doctrinal convictions grow faster and attract the unchurched in greater numbers than compromising churches. Unbelievers, including those with little or no church background, intuitively know a church is supposed to stand for something. When starting a church in Oregon, we considered dropping the denominational label from our name. We postulated it might be a barrier for some who were prejudiced against our particular brand of Christianity.
"What we discovered was the opposite. As we met unbelievers and told them we were starting a church, their inevitable question was, "What kind of church?" Initially, we gave a general answer like, "A church for the community," or, "A church that follows Jesus." The unchurched then usually asked, "But what kind of church -- Methodist, Lutheran, Mormon?" When we told them, "Baptist," their response was usually positive, sometimes followed by the question, "Why didn't you just say that in the first place?" It often seemed we were more put off by the label than the people we were trying to reach. And worse, it seemed to them we were duplicitous in our answer, raising questions about our credibility.
The church at Antioch, a biblical model of a transformational church, recognized the difference between its nonnegotiable doctrines and doctrinal preferences. While willing to bend on doctrinal preferences, it refused to compromise its nonnegotiable doctrinal convictions.
MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.