Common Questions Answered About the Church
Church is a place where people go to listen to the word of God preached. It is also known as a place for people to come to worship God. Some may wonder if going to church is for them and may have questions about the church. Here are certain questions people want to know about church like:
Is the church a place for me? Is it only for believers? Do all believers have to go? Others may wonder what God expects from church leaders or what happens to leaders in the church if they do not preach the Gospel? Why does God not want women to preach in churches? Do you think God cares about what we wear to church?
Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Katy, Texas, Fred Greco helps answer some of these questions. In an interview with True Christian Magazine, Pastor Greco first explains,
What is the purpose of the church for believers?
“The church is the bride of Christ. The church is God’s plan for His people. It’s not an addition, it’s not something that’s an add on to saving believers. When we are saved by Christ, we are saved into the church and it’s God’s covenant people. That’s how God works and so God’s word and His ministry, and His purposes are found in the church. That does not mean there’s no purpose outside the church, but it does mean that primarily God uses the church.
Our confession puts it this way, that ordinarily there is no salvation outside the church, which doesn’t mean that someone can’t get saved, you know in a shopping mall or by a parachurch organization, it says ordinarily. But it does remind us of that’s where God ordinarily works and just like for an example, if your running low on gas and you want to fill up your car, you go to a gas station not a clothing store because you expect gas at a gas station.
In the same way, we should expect God and His means of grace and His ministry in the church and so the church is not something that is optional for believers. It is something we’re called into and someone being a believer outside the church is exceptional not ordinary.”
Do you believe the church is only for believers?
“I will answer this in two ways, so the church is only for believers as members. So, the only criteria to become a member of a church is to have what’s called creditable profession of faith in Jesus Christ. To confess that Jesus is your savior. So, you don’t let unbelievers into the church and elect officers of the church and be involved in the running of the church because the church is for believers in that sense.
But, in another sense the church is not just for believers because it is open to all. Anyone can come and hear the word of God preached, hear teaching, be involved, meet others, have fellowship etc. And the church should want people from the community to see their witness and testimony and there should be no sense in which we keep unbelievers away from the church.”
Do you think all believers should go to church?
“I do, again unless there’s exceptional circumstance because I believe that the fourth commandment is still binding, that God teaches us to have one day in seven that’s Holy to the Lord. I believe the New Testament teaches us that the first day of the week and I believe the New Testament also teaches us that when the apostles and the disciples gathered for worship and so the gathered corporate worship of the saints is to happen on the Lord’s Day, and people are to come and to participate in the means of grace, prayer, the sacraments, and the preaching of the word.”
What does God expect from church leaders?
“I think God expects church leaders to follow His word, to serve others and to serve as a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us the example of leading by serving. He said the Son of Man has come not to be served but to serve. So, I think that’s what church leaders are called to. They’re not called to use the church to build themselves up or benefit themselves but rather they are to do what Paul says, “I spend and have spent for others,” in that kind of ministry.
I think this has been one of the biggest areas of concern in generic American church in the late 20th and early 21st centuries because people have used church as a platform to build themselves up, to get money for themselves, to make themselves famous and that’s not the intention, I think. God wants His leaders to serve in the church.”
What happens to the leaders of the church if they do not preach the Gospel?
“Well, I think on some level if churches and the leaders in the church don’t preach the Gospel, Jesus can do to the church what he talks about in the beginning of Revelation, He can remove their lampstand. Which would mean that He can remove them as a church, and we have seen some examples of that even in America in the last couple of decades of churches just implode and their no longer there.
I don’t think this is strictly speaking about preaching the Gospel, but there were all sorts of other issues. You know Mars Hill out in the west coast was a massive church. I am not sure if it exists anymore. It completely imploded and I think if we’re not zealous to follow the Lord’s will, He can judge us and discipline us. That’s not I think a one-to-one correlation because there are plenty of places that call themselves churches today, you could drive around and find them, that don’t preach the Gospel. But I think they will be under judgement for that because they are not following God’s Word and they are leading people astray.”
Do you think there is punishment for church leaders who lead people astray?
“Well, I think it depends; I think you know especially if someone’s doing that because they’re not a believer that there could be eternal punishment for that. It certainly could be temporal punishment for that. God certainly is not going to bless their endeavors.
I don’t think again, it’s obvious to us there’s a one-to-one correlation, you know if you don’t preach the Gospel for so many weeks, this will happen and etc. But I do think it’s you know the scripture teaches us that it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God and I think if we are intentionally disobeying Him, we should be fearful for what will come our way in terms of judgment.”
Why cannot women preach in the church?
“Paul talks about it in 1 Timothy 2, he says, ‘for I suffer not a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man’ and the historic view of the church really until American about the 1950’s in virtually every branch of the church Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic, has been what Paul is saying there is forever reason God sees fit, offices in the church pastor, elder, deacon are to be reserved for men.
It doesn’t mean women aren’t competent, it doesn’t mean that women can’t be involved in ministry, they can but God has, for whatever reason that He’s seen fit, to limit those offices to men.
In the qualifications for elder for example, which a pastor is kind of an elder, Paul talks about one of the qualifications is to be a one-woman man. So, it’s hard for a woman to be a one-woman man.
People have tried to use exegetical gymnastics to get around that and one of the techniques for that is to say Paul was only talking to people of his time and it’s a cultural statement. And of course, part of the problem that had happened is we moved away from movement to get women into the ministry and people started making the same exact arguments about homosexuality and saying that Paul’s statements about homosexuality are cultural and no longer binding. And so, when you start playing that kind a of exegetical game there’s no knowing where it’s going to end. Because if you take something in the Bible and just say that it does not count because it only counted for people in the first century, you get yourself into a lot of trouble in a lot of different ways. And so that’s why I’m of the opinion that ordained offices again pastor, elder, deacons are limited to men.”
Do you think God cares what believers wear to church?
“I think He certainly would care from a level of modesty, just like He would care what you would wear to the mall or Chick-Fil-A. Not to be modest. I think He also cares that we not be ostentatious. So, for example Peter said that women aren’t to have extraordinary braiding of the hair and wearing of jewelry. Back in Peter’s day in Roman’s time there were hair dos you know on steroids.
Ladies would have work done on their hair that was significant and they would have things I think even at times they would have like birds put in their hair and would have all kinds of things.
It wasn’t like for us where you have your hair done and then you would sleep, and you would get up and shower and have your hair done again. It would stay that way for long periods of time. The idea is not to be overly ornate or draw attention to yourself, so I don’t think that we want to be drawing attention to ourselves.
For example, while there’s nothing wrong with wearing a suit to church. I probably wouldn’t recommend wearing you know a lemon green suit with yellow polka dots on it, because everybody would be distracted going what are you wearing? So, I think there is a sense in which we want to be honorable to God in what we wear and not be overly casual, but I also don’t think if the choice is between coming to church in jeans or not coming to church you should ever pick not coming to church.”
Does God mind if we miss church if we have health issues?
“Yes, I mean there’s a phrase that we used for that called ‘providentially hindered’ and so yes, just take from the pandemic, if you know you have Covid you should not come to church because you could spread that disease to other people and that wouldn’t be a proper thing to do. Yes, of course there are obviously there are exceptions while it should be our pattern to be at church, there could be occasions in which you might be traveling there may not be a church nearby. You could be traveling and not have transportation to get to a church or something like that. But our general rule should be in church but there could be obvious exceptions to that like health would be one of them.”
Fred Greco is the senior pastor of Christ Church in Katy, Texas. He has been the pastor there for fifteen years. He earned a Master of Divinity in 2006 from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He served as an ordained ruling elder, taught Bible study, and preached at Grace Presbyterian Church in Hudson, Ohio. He became interested in becoming a pastor after preaching on a rotation for a year at Grace Presbyterian Church after the senior pastor left the church. He got married to Deb in 1996 and has four children.