“There’s no place for Christian blogs and podcasts. Preaching, teaching, and encouragement should only be done by pastors and teachers in the local church.”
“Open air preaching ministry needs to go the way of the dinosaur.”
“Pro-life ministry organizations just cause too much strife. Lost people are going to reject the gospel because of them.”
“The Bible nowhere mentions Christian legal defense organizations.”
You’ve probably never heard someone give one of these statements as a reason for doing away with podcasts or street preaching or the ACLJ, but these days it seems like everybody – including doctrinally sound, discerning Christians – is screaming, “Off with its head!” about parachurch discernment ministries for these supposed reasons, and others. It’s become the bandwagon du jour. The popular whipping boy for Christian social media. The here-today-gone-tomorrow zeitgeist of online evangelicalism.
Among those who wish to amputate discernment ministry from the Body are good, solid, loving, godly brothers and sisters in Christ. I just wish they realized that there are many of us on this side of the discernment fence who are also good, solid, loving, godly brothers and sisters in Christ.
Discernment: A Major Theme of the New Testament
The Old Testament is rife with idolatry, syncretism, and false prophets. Every book of the New Testament except Philemon deals in some way with false doctrine or false teachers and the importance of keeping them out of the church and away from Christians. It is a major issue throughout the Bible, but particularly in New Testament theology and ecclesiology. Jesus dealt with it. Paul dealt with it. So did Peter, Jude, John, and other New Testament figures. Part of the reason the 21st century church is so steeped in false doctrine and enamored with false teachers now is that we have been brushing discernment aside for so long instead of bringing it front and center like the Bible does. If the Holy Spirit – the author of Scripture – considers discernment to be so vital, shouldn’t we?
Discernment (distinguishing spirits) is just as ontologically valid a spiritual gift – a manifestation of the Holy Spirit – as any of the others listed in 1 Corinthians 12. It is a biblically legitimate gift, service, and activity given for the common good of the church and empowered by the same Spirit, Lord, and God who gives and empowers the spiritual gifts of those who would do away with discernment ministry. Spiritual gifts are given by God and arranged in the Body as He sees fit. It is not for one individual body part to say to another, “I have no need of you.” Selah.
Check Your Privilege/ If you’re a discerning person who goes to a discerning church, has a discerning pastor and elders, and hangs out with discerning friends maybe you don’t see that there’s much of a need for discernment ministry.
And if you lived in Hawaii, you wouldn’t see much of a need for snow shovels, either.
But if you lived in Alaska, you would.
So let me ask: when was the last time you heard a pastor rebuke someone who contradicts sound doctrine? Or call a false teacher by name? Or teach about a currently popular false doctrine and warn against it? I am honored to know several pastors who aren’t afraid to faithfully perform this part of their job, and God bless them for it. We need far more pastors like them. Yes, pastors should be spearheading the work of discernment in their local churches. But by and large, they’re not. And the Bible doesn’t say that only pastors have the gift and responsibility of discernment. It is insanity to tell ready, able, and willing laymen with garden hoses to stand down and watch a building burn to the ground while they wait…and wait…and wait…for the professional firemen who may never show up.
(West/Lesley, " Amputating Discernment Ministry from the Body of Christ,” Berean Research Blog, 2/2/18).