Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting “In”

Since this group believes that their franchise on holiness is exclusive, it is no surprise that the claim to be based entirely on Jesus Christ, and to depend upon His grace alone for salvation, begins to ring hollow at some point. It stands to reason that they place all other groups outside the pail, insisting ironically that “there are other people who are saved”, knowing fully that only those who are “just like us” can possibly qualify, and that “we don’t know of any who are”. Semantics 101. Keep this in mind if you have any intention of becoming involved with NTCC, because you can claim to be a Christian, live a Christian life, and still not be fully accepted into the fellowship of the brethren.

  In the running subtext of New Testament Christian Church, there are three strata that contain all known believers. The outer stratum is that of the “so-called” Christian. This group includes all of the denominations of the world who “claim to be saved” but obviously are not, because if they were, they would be “just like us”. The second layer consists of all who have “a heart for God” [this is the jargon they use], but live in temporary ignorance of the NTCC outward standard. Also part of this group are those who have attended NTCC only briefly and recently, who have “prayed for salvation” [remember there is a difference between those who have prayed and those who are saved, since evidence of salvation based on their outward standard is what they are waiting to see] yet have not been fully exposed to “the teaching”. The inner stratum, the core group, are those NTCC faithful who are “saved and filled with the Holy Ghost” and who have subsequently surrendered themselves to the NTCC mentality. There is a comical term for this core group of heroic “holiness” Christians. They are referred to as “in”. Those who are IN have a goal. Their goal is to Get You In.
  Tearing from their context all references to Jesus and his disciples’ sailing upon the Lake of Galilee, NTCC preachers call upon their hearers to “get in the boat”. Ripping unmercifully from its context the seafaring adventure of Paul in the midst of a storm, they absurdly exhort current attendees to “stay in the boat”. Most normal people find NTCC to be somewhat alarming at first blush. When these otherwise normal folks begin to show signs of tacit acceptance or conformity, they are reported to be “getting in”. Why a separate standard should divide those who are “in Christ” from those who are “in” is a mystery, unless we are willing to accept the only explanation that is possible: They think they are the pinnacle, the only ones who are really saved; and that God has brought their organization to the forefront of a modern movement to save a few more before the End. The following behaviors are taken as signs that you are “getting in”…
  Tithing–One of many things that NTCC maintains as evidence of salvation, this will be required of you at some point in time. Once you begin to “pay tithe”, the pastor will look at you differently and consider this one aspect of your service unto the Lord every time your name comes up. “How’s Bill doing?” “Oh, I’d say he’s doing pretty good–he’s paying tithe!”
  Hair–When a man gets a hair cut that is somewhat military, tapered, faded or “ivy league” in style, it is looked upon as an act of “letting God do something in his life”. He is on his way to Getting In. Ladies are not to cut their hair if they ever want to be considered IN.
  Pants–When a man starts wearing only long trousers in order to conform to others in the church, or because somebody in the church laid this requirement of modesty upon him, he is Getting In. When a woman comes to church in a dress for the first time, she is “Tender to God” and will be praised abundantly and lavished with attention, which is not a sincere appraisal of how good she looks, but a callow attempt at positive reinforcement of approved behavior. Try it ladies. Wear pants to church the first several visits and then show up in a dress one day. Actually–don’t try it. The fun isn’t worth enduring the “several visits”.
  Earrings–Pluck off “them dinglebobs” and you’re IN!
  Makeup–”Wipe that junk off your face” and you will be considered modest and “shame-faced” (a term your pastor cannot fully explain). Looks like you’re IN.
  Dressing up–As previously mentioned, NTCC believes that the church building is the House of God, and your Sunday Best is appropriate. Nothing wrong with this habit, which in fact used to be quite common, but with this group, it is a signal that the Spirit of God is doing the work of sanctification. It couldn’t have anything to do with simple conformity or “fitting in”. No, it must mean you’re GETTING in.
  Copying the Wife–Ladies who are eager to please the pastor’s wife are a gem, and will be used for all they’re worth. Play your cards right and you’ll soon be cleaning her house and ironing the pastor’s white shirts. If you go to the extent of copying her, dressing like her, and following all of her unsolicited advice about hair, shopping, and courtship…sweetheart, you are IN!
  Wearing a Suit–When men who would never think of putting on a “monkey suit” begin to show up for church in a white shirt and tie, they are definitely getting IN. Bonus points for the jacket, especially if everything matches.
  Attending All Events–”Forsaking the assembling of yourselves together” takes on special repulsiveness with groups like NTCC who thrive on growing attendance, and exist seemingly for the sole purpose of growing and feeding themselves and growing some more. The pastor can be expected to make overtures to you from time to time, encouraging you to attend one extra activity per week, followed by one more, and then one more. They do not believe that a person who is truly saved would want to miss out on even one church service. Make sure you’re there all the time if you want to be IN.
  Thinking About Bible School–Want to fill your pastor’s heart with joy? Tell him God has called you to preach. Of course, in a small church, where your tithe is necessary to make ends meet, he might infer that you are not quite ready.
  Soul-Winning–Show up every Saturday morning to knock on doors if you really want to be IN. If your kid has a baseball game, you need to realize that ‘holiness’ includes the eschewing of organized sports events. You were not told that at first, but I’m telling you now, so now you know.
  Saying “Gobleschia”–This mangled version of ‘God bless you’ is the result of years of thoughtlessly copying the greeting that is so thoughtlessly repeated by those who thoughtlessly say everything they say out of sheer habit.
  Saying ‘Brother’ & ‘Sister’–Referring to one another by these titles is a perfectly biblical and appropriate habit. The NTCC virus, however, has infected even this harmless practice. First of all, when you begin to address others in this manner, it is taken as a sign that you are “getting in.” However, this habit gets easily twisted, because only those who are IN can be referred to as a true brother or sister. So if you do not attend with regularity, or if you have not yet conformed to their standards, or if you have not begun to pay tithe, they simply do not accept your salvation as genuine; and you will notice that others are called “Brother Steve”, while you are just “Steve”. Complications arise when this title becomes so prevalent that offense is taken when the tag is left off. It is easily perceived as an insult or lack of respect. Call Sister Smith by her first name one time and it’s alright. But do it too often and “Violet” could get nasty. It might be taken as a
suggestion that she is not IN.
  Calling the Pastor ‘Sir’–The aristocratic ministerial structure of New Testament Christian Church gives rise to a love of personal respect and the observance of a high degree of ecclesiastical protocol that really has no place among Christians. Call your pastor ‘Sir’, and you will make his day. Call him by his first name and…well, I guess you’re just not IN.
  Using His Title–The pastor loves to be called ‘Reverend’ and ‘Pastor’ and so forth. The use of these and other titles is simply part of the NTCC package, as is his obnoxious interference in every aspect of your life.
  Giving Him Gifts–Your pastor will not always solicit gifts and cash from you directly, but he will gladly allow others to encourage you to “be a blessing to the man of God”.
  Going to ‘Fellowship Meeting’–Since NTCC alone is right with God as an organization, they feel the need to separate from all of the “so-called Christians” around them. Because of this, the need for brotherhood outside of the Four Walls cannot be met locally. In order to stretch their legs and prove that they have other churches in other parts of the same state or region, NTCC conducts what are known as “Fellowship Meetings” on the first Saturday of the month. As if you do not suffer through enough church already, you are now asked to drive three hours on a Saturday afternoon, sit and listen to someone preach so as to get the crowd excited and happy, and sit down at a restaurant to “fellowship”. If you as a “mere church member” think for one minute that you are good enough to sit and eat with the preachers and their wives, forget it. You’re not even allowed to go to the same restaurant. This separation is accompanied by a variety of excuses, but the fact remains that this class system is found throughout NTCC, and is maintained specifically for the purpose of enforcing pastoral respect, authority and control. If this was a Christian Church, the ministers would be waiting on tables while the church members ate, and cleaning up after they had finished. But it’s not a Christian Church–it is one man’s feudal empire, administered by his underlords, who tax his serfs and enforce his many laws. Simply obey without question and you’ll be IN.
  Going to Conference–In the Methodist/Holiness/Pentecostal “Camp-meeting” tradition, NTCC gathers twice annually in Central Missouri for one week of worship, teaching, and fellowship. The first time is fun. After ten or twelve, it tends to be somewhat repetitious, except for the chance to see old friends. Go to conference and you are IN BIG-TIME.
  Listening to Only Christian Music–Many Christians consider secular music to be unconditionally contemptible because it sometimes gives legitimacy and/or exaltation to things that are antithetical to the Spirit of God. But what they consider to be the Holy Spirit’s voice is often nothing more than their own conscience, and any discussion of the subject ought to remain within that realm known as “Liberty in non-essential things and Charity in all things”. NTCC refuses to budge. Even classical and other types of orchestral arrangements fall under the evil eye. All music that is not Ultra-conservative Pentecostal Country with a touch of Gospel (for spice) is subjected to severe scrutiny. Bust up your John Denver CD’s, toss them all on the Bonfire of the Vanities, and you’re IN.
  Getting Rid of Your Television–Devil-vision…the One-Eyed Monster!
  Putting Church Before Family–Your kids are not important.
  ‘Clearing’ Everything With The Pastor–You will be encouraged to seek frequent advice concerning the smallest matters from the “Man of God”. You will be taught that God has placed this man in your life to “perfect the saints”, and you are therefore obligated to obey this man every bit as though he were God himself. Once you develop the habit of seeking him out in every decision-making opportunity, the value placed upon this practice will constantly reinforce itself, until it becomes tantamount to a requirement. Essentially, there is no stark philisophical difference between this type of “counsel” and outright permission, and you will soon begin to feel as though you have displeased God when you act without the pastor’s clearance. This is a psychologically elegant but abusive tactic that has been the bread & butter of NTCC for many years. It has essentially backfired, since those who tire of control normally part ways with the group, while those who submit to it remain
spiritual babies, growing old with a child-like mind.
   Doing Whatever The Pastor Says, Even When He is Obviously Wrong–”Do what I tell you to do, and even if I am wrong, God will bless you for it.” This is clearly unscriptural and cannot be supported by even the most agile twister of the text. It is a control mechanism, plain & simple, and gives the pastor a special feeling of prophetic spiritual weight.
  Sunday Night Budget Offering–The equivalent of one hour of your weekly pay, to cover the church’s budgetary needs. You’re not supposed to ask where the rest is going, if not for that very thing(!?) No matter–just pay up, and you’re IN.
  Shouting–NTCC preachers enjoy having their words confirmed by the congregation through ’spontaneous’ expressions of forceful agreement, such as “Amen”, “That’s right”, “Preach it”, “Go ahead”, “Come on now”, and the soulfull “My my my…” Stick around long enough and you will begin to see that these behaviors are more apt to be habitual attention-getters than spontaneous affirmations of manifest truth. Churches like NTCC like to criticize more sedate churches for their liturgical methods, while maintaining a kind of “liturgy” all their own, and this is part of it. Start shouting and you’ll be IN in no time.
  Dancing–Nothing wrong with all-out worship, but at NTCC, this behavior is highly prized, and peope are often pressured into it. Do a little jig during “song service” and you’ll be IN for sure!
  Getting Out
  Once you have determined that New Testament Christian Church is not a healthy spiritual environment, you will have to make a decision. You will be torn between the friendly people at the church, the friends you have made while attending there, and the need for absolute truth and sanity in your life. You are better off to simply make a clean break. Do not attend any more services. You will find that for a short while there will be various overtures made and questions asked. The pastor and his wife will pay extra attention to you and you will be treated just like you were when you first walked through the doors. This attitude of “concern” arises out of the fact that nobody can ever leave New Testament Christian Church on truly good terms. The pastor will never get up in front of a congregation and honestly say, without any hidden purpose, “Mary Anne is leaving us as of today. This will be her last service here. She has decided that God wants her to worship elsewhere in a place where her abilites can be of better use, and where her spiritual needs will be met more fully and completely. Let’s all pray for our sister that the transition to her new church environment will be a smooth one.” It cannot possibly happen. Those who leave this group are viewed in every case as having left God, all lip service to the contrary notwithstanding.
  You will probably lose your friends in any case, but if you say anything negative about your experiences in the church, they will view this as persecution arising out of ‘bitterness’, promoting the notion that you have suddenly become the very devil himself. Generally in such cases, the pastor will, once he has determined that you really are not coming back, begin at certain opportune times to pontificate as to your spiritual condition. He will make an impression on his followers by using amateur psychology, marshalling intuition and observation (combined with information from the gossip machine) to pronounce all manner of revelations about how you were “never really IN” and the fact that you simply have “a sin problem” and are probably committing adultery even now. You didn’t want to pay your tithes, and you weren’t really saved; you were only pretending to love God, because if you did you would stay. The pastor will pass off his armchair psychology as spiritual  insight and probably fool some people into believing that you are a sinner and on your way to hell, and it must be true because God told the pastor by the Holy Ghost that it was true. All manner of fairy tales have circulated for decades concerning the grisly fate that awaits all those who leave NTCC. This brings us to Part Three of the NTCC philosophy and basic mode of operation. The three parts are as follows:
  1) Push, and people will move.
  2) Those who do not move, we do not need.
  3) Those who push back will be dealt with.
  They will say with their lips that it is possible to leave NTCC and be saved, but they are so convinced of their rightness that they cannot refrain from the qualifier, “But who would want to leave, and what good reason could there be?” Always keep in mind; with NTCC, it’s “The Organization” first, last and always. The cohesion of the group is more important than anything else, including the truth.

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