1 Tim 1:3 (NIV) ...command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.We feel the Spirit is moving the Church back to a more intimate and participatory church experience with the full concert of gifts as described in the New Testament. But we are not keen on the idea of a church deliberately devoid of certain "higher gifts" nor one that is "open" to the point of being indiscriminate. For all of the gifts should be functioning in a healthy body so that there will be "none needy"... in any sense (Acts 4:34).
Titus 1:11 (NIV) They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach.
Specifically, we have to address the fact the Satan may (will?) try to commandeer our meetings. This often comes up through a bogus or duplicitous question or comment that is meant to derail the Spirit's leading (How often did Jesus answer questions or take them as genuine? Might we not aim at His ratio as a sort of guideline?). Are we going to subscribe to the "open church" idea to the point that we will welcome Satan to our meetings as well? For he will show up if he can, through immature, carnal, or duplicitous attendees.
Until we are ready for a Biblical severity of discernment, we are not ready for openness. Until we are ready to say to one of our best friends who is off in this moment "Get out of here, Satan" (Mat 4:10), or to look a spiritual pretender in the eye and say "You are full of bitterness and captive to sin" (Acts 8:23), then any such trends are merely shallow fads and an open invitation for Satan to attend and/or control our meetings.
Are we so unaware of Satan's schemes that we will allow ourselves to be derailed so easily from the direction the Spirit would lead us? Are we inviting the enemy of our souls to poison our minds and faith in our meetings, colluding in advance to let him have his say so as to "please men" (Gal 1:10); or are we soberminded and armed for spiritual battle--ready to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ"? (2 Cor 10:5)
We have seen so much grief from this desire to "run ahead" (2 John 1:9); so much bewilderment and waste of time in meetings due to chasing rabbits, pointless discussions, giving the floor to error unchecked or argued much to late, etc. Is this what the New Testament teaches or suggests should be the tone and style of our meetings? If the wineskin of church practice is not proper, then we will lose BOTH the wine of life AND the wineskin of assembly. This kind of mess happens routinely, and no one seems to reflect or care. It is truly amazing that we are so slow to learn and see the cause of our errors.
We must recognize spiritual maturity and certain gifts God has graciously given to His Body while at the same time allowing ourselves to be "confounded" by the wisdom of a babe. But let us take care not to welcome wolves in among us as babes. Let us count the cost to social convention and politeness (trying to please men again? (1Th 2:4)) if we indeed open up our meetings. For if we do, we just might have someone among us be led by the Spirit to rise up and say something like "You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?" (Acts 13:10) It is either this, or let Satan have a voice in our meetings. Are we ready?
If we are going to get back to New Testament practice--and we will--it has to be the WHOLE THING, not just the "openness" of it. Let it be said of our meetings that God is really among us, not that we are just copping a trendy style or chasing the latest fad. For if God is really present, then the fear of Him will be palpable. He will then bring those with the desire for holiness into our midst, and no one else will dare come.
Acts 5:13-14 (NIV) No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
Another Posting on Church Group Dynamics: