Home Church Help

Home Church Hidden Agendas

December 19th, 2014

As you gather together with other people to meet around Jesus Christ, you will discover that not everyone is meeting together for the same reasons. There is a natural tendency to assume that the other people you are meeting with are united with you in heart and are in agreement with you. But this is not always the case.

There are many reasons why it may appeal to someone to gather in homes or in a small group setting. Some of these reasons are more harmless than others. For example, someone may want to meet in a home church setting primarily in order to avoid having to dress up, act ceremonial, or behave formally during the weekly church meeting. Although this type of reason may not be extremely noble, it probably will not cause wide spread damage to others. But again, not all reasons and motives for meeting in a home fellowship are quite as mild as this example.

Potentially damaging motives are when brothers and sisters attend the church meeting with “an agenda” in mind. A person has an agenda when their primary reason for gathering is to change the group in some manner. It usually means they are viewing the group as a ministry project or they see themselves as God’s worker, sent to the group to help them (without the group agreeing to this). A person who has an agenda has a primary motivation to introduce and propagate change according to their particular “cause”.

Some agendas become overt and obvious to others in the group very quickly. Some agendas remain subtle and hidden for long periods of time.  Hidden agendas can be fed to others slowly over time or they can be suddenly delivered at once like a bursting dam (usually when the person cannot restrain themselves any longer). Agendas are often used as a tool of the enemy to derail a group and spiral it into confusion and controversy.

Why are agendas so damaging? Because our only cause should be Christ Himself. We should gather together to love and worship Jesus Christ, to love one another, and to enjoy fellowship and relationships. We should gather together to enjoy the presence of God and worship Him. This should be the primary reason that fills our hearts in coming to church meetings. But often, this pure and simple purpose does not give the flesh any sense of progress or advancement. It is too simple. To gather together only to love God and one another does not have any elements of grinding out some lofty goal. The greatest two commandments are not always thought of as being very great.

Good teaching is necessary and edifying. However, teaching can easily not be born out of love. As with all things in God, we must lay it down in order for God to purify it. There is nothing wrong with having things that we would like to teach others we are meeting with. But the things we want to teach are to be secondary to the primary reason we are gathering.

Worshiping Jesus Christ, enjoying the relationships of the saints, and loving and serving one another should be our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4rth, and 5th goals (so to speak). Changing the group and making others see things the way you see things should be way down at the bottom of your list, or not even on your list at all. If changing the group and making them see things your way (or even “God’s way”) is too important to you, then you may have an unhealthy, fleshly agenda.

Many people find their identity and self-worth in their teachings and their beliefs, which then becomes their cause. This sets themselves up for error and for introducing damage in the church. If you want to build and edify the church, then practice love. Cleaning someone’s toilet will probably edify and build them up more than constantly trying to change them.

At times, someone may have an agenda that indeed may be from God. It may be a revelation that originated in truth. It may be exactly what the group needs. But frequently, it is the holding to the agenda that makes it fleshly and ultimately damaging. Placing truth above love causes damage. On the flip side, placing love above truth also causes damage. The flesh prefers either or. But only in the Spirit can we practice love and truth at the same time. God does bring about change in groups, but it is a work of the Spirit that is accomplished slowly and gently. When a truth (whether it originated from God or not) is esteemed as higher than the people who need to hear it, it becomes a fleshly agenda.

Lay aside your agendas. In God’s timing, offer to others the revelations God has given you, and then leave it alone. Leave it alone for a long time, maybe forever. God is able to make your brother stand. If the teachings and revelations you’ve received for others is of God and you’ve delivered it at the proper time, then others will latch on and it will bear fruit. Only the Spirit can grant revelation and change a person’s life. People are not usually changed by your repetition, by your force, or through contention.

It is not always wrong for a worker to be sent to a group in order to facilitate change, but the group should be aware of this and it should be welcomed. Be aware of those among you who have unseen agendas and the resulting damage it may soon cause. Perhaps an honest question or a good talk will prevent widespread damage to the church at a future date. Most of the time, the people with agendas will wind up leaving the group when the group will no longer serve their purposes.

-Terry Stanley

 

4 Responses to “Home Church Hidden Agendas”

  1. Carlos

    Hi Terry. I appreciate the things you brought up. For sure. But I wonder if all agendas are evil as you seem to suggest?

    For example I have an agenda. To expose the counterfeit that modern church practice has become and to challenge believers to get real about what the Word says to do respecting open, participatory church meetings.

    Agenda being something I want to promote or highlight and that the Lord seems to be wanting me to do.

    I don’t hide this. I don’t go into church services with the idea of stealing sheep or undermining leaders or any such thing. But neither will I be silent.

    More often than not I end up shaking the dust off my feet when so-called Christians grow resistant to truth and let them alone.

    Are my heart perspectives wrong Terry?

    Overall Christians make me sick these days and I want nothing to do with them. I have been wronged and I mean clearly so…so often by Christians (and no I don’t have some martyrs complex or something) that I have gotten to the point where no evil they might do surprises me anymore.

    Carlos

  2. admin

    Carlos,

    Like I mentioned in the article, sometimes God gives a person truth and a good message to deliver, and that is not always an agenda. But I would caution anyone who places the message above the people it is intended for. This is when the message can become a fleshly agenda. An agenda can be hidden or not hidden.

    For example, as in the message you said that you would like to spread concerning “Christians getting real about open and participatory church meetings” – I think that is a great message, but it must be delivered with love and forgiveness. Sometimes we can cause more damage to tender and sweet people when we only care about setting them straight.

    I think you comment about “Christians making you sick” is something you may want to reconsider. I would ask the Lord if this is His heart toward those who are not walking in the same degree of light you have been given. There are certainly times to turn over the money changing tables as the Lord did when He cleansed His temple. But at the same time, the Lord is very patient and compassionate toward all of us.

    Thanks for commenting Carlos. I appreciate your passion and your love for what is true.

    -Terry

  3. Art Mealer

    “We should gather together to enjoy the presence of God and worship Him. ”

    I know this is one of those things “everyone knows.” But where in scripture do you find this the purpose of gathering together? I would like to understand the biblical basis for this view.

    What we understand as the purpose of gathering together will certainly influence what we do and how we do it.

    Thank you…

  4. admin

    Art,

    Great question and a stimulating point.

    1 Cor. 14 gives the church very specific direction concerning what is to happen during the church meeting. To sum up the overall point of the passage, it would be to “edify one another in a proper and orderly manner”. The passage gives us some pretty clear instruction on how to do that.

    When we read 1 Cor. 14, it does not say anywhere that the purpose of the meeting is to worship God. However, it is very easy to take the specific and objective direction of 1 Cor. 14 and miss the overall heart provided in the rest of scripture regarding what we are to be giving ourselves to in everything we do as Christians. The greatest two commandments are to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Loving God is worship.

    Other directions that explain what to do when we are with others are found in Eph.5:19 and Col.3:16. These verses say that we are to “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with our hearts to the Lord”. Since these verses say “to one another” then it means that you have to do it with more than one person, not just yourself.

    Acts 13:2 says that they were “ministering to the Lord and fasting”. I see this is loving and worshiping God.

    Acts 3:19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”. We can see from this verse that God’s presence is refreshing.

    Psa 16:11″You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Again, God’s presence is fullness of joy.

    If we couple the above verse with Mat 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst,” we can see that when we gather together as the church and God is present, that there is fullness of joy.

    There are also many verses in the Psalms and in the Old Testament that describe worshiping God and His presence in a plural setting.

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