(Original Posted at the DCC website, reproduced here in case the link should change somehow.)

06/17/2004

The Denver Church of Christ (DCC) is a congregation, built on the foundation of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Holy Bible.  We have been and remain committed to being the church that God has called us to be.  Our failings are many, yet we rejoice in the forgiveness that is poured out abundantly through God’s amazing and boundless grace.  Through His mercy, God gives us confidence and strength to persevere so we can serve Him with a clear conscience. 

 

Recently, long-time loved and valued members of the DCC, John and Pat Engler felt the need to resign their membership of our congregation and to express their thoughts and opinions in a very public manner.  We respect their right to disagree with us and to worship the Lord and work with people, with whom they are like-minded.  We also acknowledge that some of John’s comments identified areas in which change has been needed.   Over the past year, we have openly addressed our weaknesses as a church, have instituted many changes and remain committed to continued growth. 

 

We wish the Englers the best as they “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [them] me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14b)  We disagree, however, with their present contentions and parting actions.  In the following paragraphs, we will attempt to explain our positions, rather than try to respond to every point in the Englers’ letters.  It is clear that there is a wide gap between the Englers’ perceptions and ours.  We are willing to part company as Paul and Barnabas did in Acts chapter 15 and pray that we will be able to work in separate arenas to accomplish God’s purposes.

 

The Working of the Body

1CO 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

 

    1CO 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

 

Every member of the Denver Church of Christ is highly valued in the eyes of God and in the hearts of the elders and evangelists, as well.  We are a diverse, multi-racial congregation, of all ages, and varied socio-economic levels.  We are far from perfect, but we strive to operate as a unified body, giving honor to all. 

 

The passage above teaches that the body is not made up of one part, but of many and goes on to use parts of the physical body (eyes, feet, etc.) to describe the working of God’s spiritual body, the church.  It is vital that we understand that God has assigned us roles in his church.  Just as in the physical body, each part must fulfill its role, in the Denver church, we strive to understand the gifts God has given us and to use those gifts for the good of others (see also Romans 12:3-8) to build up the church.  We are very grateful that so many members of DCC are using their gifts in this way.  Our church absolutely could not function without those who lead singing, serve in kids kingdom, meet the needs of the poor, translate messages, encourage, administer, contribute, lead, preach, teach and countless other tasks that God sees in secret.  Every person who uses their gifts for the good of the church is extremely important to the body.

 

One of the more controversial elements of the working of the body is the leadership, but the Bible provides direction for us.

Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

 

We are thankful that God has provided the Denver church with many men and women, willing serve in various capacities.  We have three elders (and their wives), four evangelists and women ministry leaders, others who serve full-time, 34 deacons and many other members with full-time ministry and missions experience.  The elders are given the charge to be overseers and shepherds; the evangelists to preach the Word and prepare God’s people for works of service; the deacons to serve the church by meeting specific needs.

 

The elders and evangelists of the Denver church are ultimately responsible for making final decisions for the spiritual direction of the church.  We believe this is our God-given, Biblical role. 

 

[Paul, speaking to the Ephesian elders]

Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

 

1PE 5:1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

 

We take very seriously the command found in 1Peter 5:3 that we “not lord it over those entrusted to us.”  To this end, we seek to humbly rely on many advisers (Proverbs 15:22) before making decisions.  For example, we have a board of directors made up entirely of deacons and deacons’ wives, approved by the church, who work very hard to help the church maintain its financial integrity.  We meet with family groups, deacons and many others to seek input prior to making difficult and important decisions.  It is, of course, impossible to consult everyone or even most people on the majority of decisions.  We also understand that there will be some who disagree with any given decision. We believe, however, that God, through the Bible, has given the responsibility and authority for decision making to elders and evangelists.  We also believe that God expects the members of the body to submit to this authority (Hebrews 13:17) out of a desire to forge unity in the body and to make the leaders’ work a joy and not a burden.  As humans, it is not unusual for some to get their feelings hurt if they are not consulted on a decision (when they feel that they should be).  This is certainly not our intent, but we recognize this dynamic exists in any organization.

 

Some, from among our number, have chosen to seek fellowship in other churches.  While we must respect each member’s right to make their own choices, it is extremely difficult spiritually and emotionally for us as a body, when a member chooses to leave.  Many of us have spent considerable time trying to help discontented people, have lost sleep, shed tears, searched our own hearts, cried out to God and prayed for those who have left.  The Englers’ departure was entirely their own decisions.  We do not desire this and are saddened by it.     

 

Preaching and Performance

Meeting the needs of a diverse group of people through preaching is no easy task.  When there are people of various maturity levels (e.g. teens and grandparents) in the audience, the preacher is faced with a challenging task, and no single Sunday sermon will meet everyone’s needs equally.   John Engler expressed his disappointment with the preaching at the DCC, and he is entitled to his opinion. 

 

2PE 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

 

The apostle Peter wrote the above words, many years after the birth of the church.  We believe that one element of the preaching and teaching in the church should be to remind us of the basics of our faith, no matter how many times we’ve heard them.

 

HEB 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

 

At the same time, the above passage from Hebrews teaches us that in order to become mature, we need to also have a healthy diet of solid spiritual food.  In the past six months at DCC, we’ve been blessed to have heard many excellent messages from a large number of experienced and faithful brothers.  Among those who have preached at our Sunday services are Jim Heese, Herve Fleurant, Wade Cook, Frank Kim, Mark Templer, Hans Rasmussen, Chris Reed, Hunter Marshall and the DCC elders.  Some of these have been missionaries in Africa, Japan, Scandinavia and India and all are deeply respected by many.  There have been both basic reminders and deeper messages for the more mature.  We are extremely grateful both for the messages these brothers have preached and the messages they proclaim with their lives. 

 

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith.  This means that there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn our salvation.  This is the message we firmly believe and preach at DCC.  The Bible also teaches that we were created to do good works, not to merit our salvation; rather because we are grateful that God has granted us that salvation.  We also preach this element of the message.

 

The message is quite simple.  At the same time, because we are sinful people, our understanding of and response to that message is far from perfect.  And we are not unaware of Satan’s schemes.  Since New Testament times, Satan has been trying to tempt Christians to one of two extremes –

1.  “It doesn’t matter what you do, the grace of God covers everything”  (Romans 6:1) or

2.  “Trying to attain the goal by human effort”  Gal 3:3

 

We understand that both of these approaches are fatally flawed and are striving to do our best avoid either extreme. 

 

Maintaining Unity

MT 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that `every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

 

Acts 15:39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

 

We live in the internet age, where one can broadcast messages, whether good or bad, true or false to countless people throughout the world in a very short time.   Matthew 18 teaches us the steps to follow, when one is sinned against or mistreated.  Unfortunately, we were very surprised to receive these letters from our dear brother and sister and to find it already posted on the internet.

                                                                                                        

There is at least one example in the Bible (see above) where two spiritual men had a sharp disagreement and agreed to work separately.  We do know the cause of their disagreement (Mark’s participation in the mission), but there are no unkind words or accusations recorded for all to see.  It is difficult to imagine Paul and Barnabas writing negative articles about the other, if for no other reason than to avoid hurting the faith of other disciples of Jesus. 

 

We believe that our communication, especially that which we broadcast should build up and not destroy.  We call all Christians to the standard given in Ephesians 4:29, that our communication be that which builds others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  The Bible commands us not to slander one another (Eph 4:31, Col 3:8). Slander is defined, in Zondervan’s New Bible Dictionary as, a malicious utterance designed to hurt or defame the person about whom it is uttered  It is fine to disagree, but let us not bite and devour one another (Gal 5:15) in the process.  We need to be responsible, especially when sharing feelings that have strong emotions attached (Prov. 15:1, Prov. 12:18).  It is unfortunate that we felt compelled to write this letter, but wanted to answer those who may have questions.    

 

1TH 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.      

 

In Christ’s Love,

 

Greg Jackson, Chris Jacobs, Chip Roberts

Elders, Denver Church of Christ

Wade Cook, Herve Fleurant, Hans Rasmussen, Chris Reed

Evangelists, Denver Church of Christ