Multiplying Religious Error

Text: Ezekiel 16:23-26

Our text uses some rather crude language to describe the sin of the people of Jerusalem. They had been unfaithful to God and committed spiritual adultery. In an effort to please all the nations around them, they multiplied their sin. This is analogous to what is happening more and more in the religious world, particularly in larger churches. They are multiplying – trends of using multiple services, multiple sites, and multiple venues.

Multiple Services

  • What this is not about – morning and evening worship services common among brethren
  • What are multiple services like in churches of men – same service repeated for different audiences
  • It is an effort to expand their reach numerically – their facility cannot accommodate more people, so they add services
  • Why the prevailing practice of multiple services is unscriptural – it purposefully discourages the church from assembling together; we should instead be encouraging everyone to assemble together (1 Corinthians 11:33; 14:23; Hebrews 10:25)

Multiple Sites

  • What this is not about – a congregation meeting together in different locations
  • What are multiple sites like in churches of men – there is a main church with branch/satellite locations
  • It is an effort to expand their reach geographically – to go into new areas
  • Why the trending practice of multiple sites is unscriptural – it creates a “mini-denomination” (multiple churches under a common oversight); there may be several local churches in a city/county (cf. Romans 1:7; 16:3-15); but they are to be autonomous (1 Peter 5:2)

Multiple Venues

  • What this is not about – breaking up into Bible classes for various age groups
  • What are multiple venues like in churches of men – having separate “mini-assemblies” in the same facility
  • It is an effort to expand their reach demographically – based upon age, ethnicity, language, culture, etc.
  • Why the practice of multiple venues is unscriptural – like the multiple services, it purposefully discourages the church from assembling together; more than that, it divides the church based upon demographics (age, ethnicity, etc.); these types of barriers have been broken down in Christ (Ephesians 2:14-16); we should not rebuild the barriers

What Is Behind These Trends

  • Motivated by a desire to reach more people – could be sincere (they truly think they’re reaching as many people as possible for the Lord); could be corrupt (building up and/or enriching themselves)
  • In either case, the authority of Christ is not respected (Matthew 28:18) – God expects the members of a local church to assemble together (1 Corinthians 11:33); elders are to oversee the flock among them (1 Peter 5:2), not among other churches/assemblies; in everything we do, we must act according to what has been authorized (Colossians 3:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Instead of multiple services, expand facilities or encourage the planting of new churches (not new “sites”)
  • Instead of multiple sites, encourage the planting of churches or have members offer transportation to those they invite
  • Instead of multiple venues, be all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19-22) and come together rather than being segregated (Acts 11:20-21, 26)

Conclusion

  • It is tempting to look to the world for ideas about how to reach people – but we must be careful
  • We must be content to do things God’s way – do what we can and allow Him to give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6)

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