The Great Wall of China
The Wailing Wall
The walls of Jericho
Walls. Sometimes they go up, and sometimes they come a tumblin’ down. When I was a kid it was, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Now it’s, “Elect me and I’ll build a wall between the United States and Mexico.”
There was a time in history when it was common practice for a city to have a wall built around its perimeter. Walls have historically been built for protection, to keep inhabitants safe from attacking marauders. When Israel returned to Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity, their first priority was to rebuild the altar – their focal point of worship. Next came the temple – to consecrate, or set apart, their worship. And, finally, the city wall – which protected everything, including their worship.
Today, when Christians plant a church, we start off with our focal point of worship, the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. He is the foundation of the church, the center of our worship, our rallying point.
As the church grows, we consecrate it, setting it apart from other organizations and gatherings by buying or constructing its own special building. It’s not a store or an office or a restaurant. It’s a church. It’s where believers gather to worship, fellowship, and be trained in God’s word.
But somehow we never get around to protecting our churches from enemy attack. Indeed, it hardly ever occurs to most pastors and church members that there’s a need for a wall.
But there is. A huge need. And for some churches, it’s already too late.
Pastor, I plead with you- it’s time to build a wall around your church. A “walls of Jericho”-high wall. A chariot races on top- thick wall. And an armed guard posted at the gate. Not to keep out visitors or people who might look or act differently from your congregation- God forbid! It’s to keep out the false doctrine that’s infiltrating and attacking the Body in so many ways. And some areas of your wall are going to need extra fortification because they’re protecting these six vulnerable areas.
1. The Preaching of the Word
Pastor, the buck starts and stops with you. Are you preaching the Word? In season and out of season? Are you rightly handling God’s word? Preaching sound doctrine and rebuking those who contradict it? Declaring the whole counsel of God? Or is your focus on preaching to entertain, to keep people happy, to encourage giving, or to keep from rocking the boat? Only you can answer these questions. Strong preaching is the first step in building a strong wall to protect your church.
2. The Teaching of the Word
How much do you know about how, and what, your Sunday School, Bible study, or other small group leaders teach? Have you ever observed, evaluated, or interviewed any of your teachers? Does your church have any formal qualifications for teachers? Are they required to go through any sort of training? Who are their spiritual influencers? Which celebrity pastors and authors are they recommending to their classes?
A teacher who is listening to or reading materials by false teachers during the week is going to have her theology shaped by those false teachers, and she’s going to bring that warped theology into the classroom where it will infect the students. A teacher whose main discussion questions are, “How do you feel about this verse?” or “What does this verse mean to you?” is not handling God’s word properly and, thus, not properly training her students. Find out what’s going on in your Sunday School classrooms, and strengthen your wall by strengthening your teachers.
3. Sunday School/Small Group Curricula
Because so few teachers are properly trained, churches tend to rely heavily on the Sunday School curricula to do the actual teaching. Have you examined your curricula lately? Are the lessons anchored in copious amounts of rightly exposited Scripture or are they mainly comprised of inspirational stories and illustrations? Are the discussion questions watered down pablum or do they challenge people to think and search the Scriptures for understanding? Does the curriculum recommend supplementary materials or music from doctrinally sound, or questionable, sources? Does the curriculum recommend “homework assignments” that include unbiblical practices such as contemplative prayer or yoga? Build a solid wall with solid curricula.
4. Women’s Bible Study
This is an area of your wall which needs major fortification. In many churches, it is the primary avenue through which false teaching infiltrates the Body. Is your women’s ministry using studies or materials by a best selling author like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31), Jen Hatmaker, Lisa Harper, Lisa Bevere, Victoria Osteen, Jennie Allen, Rachel Held Evans, Ann Voskamp, Sheila Walsh, or anyone with “Jakes” in her name? Are they attending conferences, retreats, or simulcasts headlined by any of these people? Then the women of your church are being taught false doctrine. Your men’s Bible study curriculum also needs to be examined, but women’s Bible study is a major foothold of false doctrine.
If your church uses KLOVE’s playlist to formulate its worship set, you’re probably importing false doctrine right into your worship service. You’ve got to vet both the lyrics (hymns don’t get a pass on this, by the way) and the artists for sound theology. When it comes to contemporary worship music, the most popular and common sources of false doctrine are Hillsong, Elevation, and Bethel/Jesus Culture. Here’s another good resource.
Is your church partnering or fellowshipping with other local churches outside your own denomination? Are you thoroughly familiar with their beliefs and practices? Are those beliefs and practices biblical? Where do they stand on female pastors, elders, and teachers? Homosexuals as church members or leaders? Abortion? The inerrancy, infallibility, and supremacy of Scripture? Extra-biblical revelation? Signs and wonders? Works righteousness? Do they have a biblical statement of faith “on paper” but stray from it in practice? Not every organization that calls itself a Christian church actually is one by biblical standards, and we are not to partner or fellowship with those whose beliefs and practices do not line up with Scripture.
That’s a lot of vetting to do for a pastor who’s probably already overwhelmed and stretched thin. May I make a suggestion? Don’t try to do it alone. After all, those cities with protective walls hired soldiers to guard the gates. Is there an associate pastor who could take on vetting curricula and fellow churches and conference speakers? Is there a mature, discerning layman or woman you trust who would be willing to lend a hand with researching your music or women’s Bible study books? Do you have a “master teacher” capable of training your Sunday School and small group teachers? Ask your people for help. Use the able. Train the willing. Get that wall built to shut out false doctrine, and station your armed guards at the gates to check out everything that comes in.
The enemy is out there, dear pastor. Let’s make sure that’s where he stays.
6 thoughts on “Build the Wall and Station a Guard: A Plea for Pastors to Protect 6 Areas of the Church Vulnerable to False Doctrine”
Reblogged this on 1 Way 2 Yahweh.
Excellent article…hit everything I’ve been warning about for years…sadly contending for the Faith isn’t welcomed in many churches today😰
Michelle, could you elaborate in more detail on what you would consider a fellowship and especially a partnership in ecumenism? If I am interpreting your words correctly, do you mean there is an unequal yoke if two Christian churches have differing doctrines? You referred to “works righteousness” as one of the differences, so perhaps we can start with that one. Thank you for your articles!
“Works righteousness” is basically a “Jesus plus…” false doctrine. Any church that teaches that salvation is not by grace alone through faith alone but that in addition to having faith in Christ, there are other conditions for salvation (church membership, baptism, communion, doing good works, etc.) without which you cannot be saved, is teaching works righteousness.
“do you mean there is an unequal yoke if two Christian churches have differing doctrines?”
Only if one of those churches teaches doctrine that is clearly in conflict with Scripture. There’s nothing wrong with two churches of different denominations partnering or fellowshipping if both of them teach biblical doctrine.
Maybe an example would help. I used to be a member of a church that had a longstanding Thanksgiving tradtion. Each year, my church (Baptist), a Presbyterian church, and a Catholic “church” would get together and have a Thanksgiving dinner. Before the dinner itself, the pastor of one of the non-host churches would give a sermon/devotion. (Ex: If the dinner was being held at my church, either the priest or the Presbyterian pastor would give the sermon.)
For my church to fellowship with a Catholic “church” in this way (not to mention inviting the priest into our pulpit to preach) was a violation of Scripture (2 Corinthians 6:14ff, 2 John 9-11, Romans 16:17-18) because Catholicism not only teaches works righteousness, but many other unbiblical doctrines, and, therefore, cannot rightly be considered a Christian church.
Since my family was only at this church briefly, I was never clear as to which branch of Presbyterianism the other church subscribed to. As you may know, the PCUSA branch is very liberal, embracing homosexuality, women pastors, etc. The PCA branch, on the other hand, from what I understand, is doctrinally sound. If this church was a doctrinally sound PCA church, it would have been fine for my church to fellowship with them in this way. However if they were a PCUSA church or othewise teaching false doctrine, then it would have been a violation of Scripture for us to fellowship with them.
An example of partnering:
My community recently suffered a major natural disaster. Churches from all over the country are sending in disaster relief teams to help out. It would be a violation of Scripture for a doctrinally sound church to partner with disaster relief teams from any Word of Faith, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Catholic, New Apostolic Reformation, or any other “church” that teaches false doctrine. But it would be fine, biblically, for doctrinally sound churches of differing denominations to partner together in disaster relief work.
Hope this helps :0)