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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shall We Gather at the Park?

Shall we gather at the park? A park is a fun place, isn’t it? Well, at least one church thinks so; it gathers at a Denver park every Sunday for fun-filled worship. The pastor says his church doesn’t teach any doctrine; everyone just tries to have fun. Maybe he thinks doctrine might ruin a day of fun in the park as quickly as a sudden downpour.

I’m not opposed to fun at the right time, but shouldn’t a church teach doctrine?

The Greek word didache, translated “doctrine” in the New Testament, derives from the word didasko, meaning, “I teach.” Didache in the New Testament refers to the body of teaching—the truth—that Jesus and His apostles communicated to believers. The believers who witnessed the formation of the church on the Day of Pentecost “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (didache, Acts 2:42). Based on what they learned, the early believers developed such a strong faith that they attracted thousands to Christ, forged a bond of close fellowship, endured severe persecution, and launched a vigorous relief program. Attention to doctrine produced dynamic living.

The apostle Paul instructed Timothy: “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim. 5:17). Also, he urged Titus to set a good example in a number of areas, including “doctrine” (Titus 2:7).

Strange, isn’t it, that New Testament believers assigned such a high priority to doctrine in the life of the early church? The apostles never asked, “Are we having fun yet?” Perhaps there were no parks in the first century!