Since its inception in 2014, the motivation behind KJV Churches has always been to help believers find churches. Whether it’s a place to visit on vacation, a new church home after a move or an unfortunate experience in a previous church, or helping a friend or family member find a church in their area, the site’s function has always been to help people “assemble” with other believers wherever they may be.
While it’s very true that Hebrews 10:24-25 has been widely misapplied and overused, the verse itself is still true. Abusing the scriptures doesn’t change their validity.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
For years this passage has been used by manipulative pastors to browbeat people into “going to church,” where they are usually browbeaten into “tithing” and other religious activities, also typically based on one or two misapplied and overused verses. Nevertheless, the verses do state that we should assemble ourselves together, for the purpose of exhortation and provocation to love and good works. The way that takes place is going to differ widely from church to church, but the end result should be the same: the glorification of God, the edification of the believers, and the evangelization of the lost.
So as part of our redesign effort here at KJV Churches, we were thinking of what our purpose is, more than just how the website is used. Why does the website exist? What is the justification for spending the time and other resources that are required to maintain and expand this website? As servants of the Most High God, we should always ask those questions about our activities. Pragmatism, the assumption that something is pleasing to God based simply on its results, must never be the reigning philosophy in our service to the LORD.
In discussing the redesign and our purpose, we decided on a new “catchphrase” for KJV Churches: “Assemble Anywhere.” It may seem self explanatory, but here’s our reasoning for the new slogan.
Assembling is more than just going to a predetermined meeting place, sitting in a pew, and participating to one degree or another in a pre-planned religious ceremony. To assemble with others is to come together into a unified congregation, the local manifestation of Christ’s Body, with a singleness of mind and of heart that determines the purpose of our existence. There are many religious organizations that have buildings, scheduled times, elegant orders of services, and provide a fulfilling emotional experience for the attendees. And yes, many of them are listed on our website. None of those things are part of assembling as a body, of manifesting the same unity that God the Father has with God the Son (John 17:21). One can have a moving and fulfilling emotional experience listening to a symphonic orchestra, but it is the spiritual part of being one in Christ that makes the difference between a religious ordeal and a church.
For far too long believers in general and Baptists in particular have been content to go through the motions. The fact that there is such a thing as “standard service times” (Sunday School 10, Sunday Morning 11, Sunday Evening 6, Wednesday 7) should warn us that something is amiss, that our carefully-planned schedules which have a tendency to preclude the work of the Holy Spirit are running things instead of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17). Obviously there is a place for everything to be done “decently and in order,” but let’s not misapply that verse either: the context of the passage is tongues in the church. I’ve been in “church” services in prominent independent Baptist churches whose production quality wouldn’t have been out of place on Broadway. One pastor’s “sermon” (in which this “KJV only” pastor used the words “Sheol” and “Hades” more than “Hell”) had a powerpoint slide for every point, sub-point, illustration and joke. If the Holy Spirit had shown up (and He didn’t, I assure you), He wouldn’t have been able to get a word in edgewise because He wasn’t on the schedule. Whatever you might say about that religious experience, it was not “assembling of yourselves together” according to Hebrews 10:25.
When we assemble as part of a local assembly, we are there for the aforementioned purpose: the glorification of God, the edification of the believers, and the evangelization of the lost, in that order. The loss of emphasis on this proper order of worship and focus of the church has created the circus atmosphere seen in many events held by so-called “churches”; I remember seeing a youth meeting that was giving away game consoles and a (used) Ford Mustang – at an independent Baptist church! Attracting kids in with games and junk is a worldly, pragmatic approach to “evangelism” (mostly just increasing the numbers of butts in the pews and bucks in the plates) that has absolutely filled our sanctuaries with LOST people that know how to look the part.
As astounding as it is that this must be stated, the assembly is for the believers. There’s nothing wrong with including a call to salvation in the Sunday Morning sermon, but when over half of the church members only show up on Sunday Mornings (and that in and of itself is a red flag), they’ll hear salvation messages around 50 times a year and nothing else, unless you’re one of those preachers that also relentlessly hammers on church attendance and tithing every sermon. Thus it is no great surprise when our church membership is anemic, lacking in spirituality, unarmed and taken captive by the devil at his will. If we spent more time assembling as a church and less time trying to take care of the bottom line like a corporation, we would see major changes in the behavior and attitudes of our church membership.
Whether you’re traveling, moving, or looking for a new church home, no matter where you are, KJV Churches can help you assemble with other believers. Obviously all we can do is provide data, and even that is limited in scope, but knowing what churches are out there is the best way to start your search. In the context of local church attendance, finding a local church that believes what you do is always encouraging.
At the same time, we often get complaints from people that don’t like that their church is listed on KJV Churches, or, a few times, complaints about other churches listed on the site. We can’t make everyone happy: we’re not ice cream. We just point back to our guidelines: independent Baptist churches and KJV churches, which include a few Bible churches, at least one Presbyterian church, and a significant number of Southern Baptist Churches that do hold the the KJV, even if their church polity differs from ours. To their own Master they will stand or fall, and it’s not going to hurt you to see a few of those churches pop up in a search. Just ignore them and move on.
Ultimately, the “anywhere” is a reference to Christ’s words:
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
There is plenty of discussion to be had about what constitutes a “church” and how that is protected or propagated, and this is not the place for that debate. However, Christ Himself said that He manifests Himself in the assembling of two or three (as a minimum) of believers that are gathered together in His name. If two believers meet together for prayer at a local Starbucks, Christ is made manifest. If a few brethren meet together to preach on a street corner, Christ is glorified. That can happen anywhere.
So, our goal is to help believers to assemble, and to do it in more places than just within the four walls and during the scheduled service times of their local religious organization. If we are to fight back against the darkness that is surrounding us, we must do more than just sit in a pew for a few hours a week. It will require a “fundamental” rethinking of who we are, why we exist, and what God has called us to do.