Saturday, January 3, 2009

Central to Church

I was asked about and have been asked frequently 'what are you looking for in a church?' Naturally i don't like the question, but some clearly don't mean "give us your flavor and we'll provide it!"

Yet as i have in the past, i usually refer to the 9marks of a healthy church, but i'm afraid that does not always carry the same meaning for all people.

Yet something MUST drive a church, something WILL define a church, something is CORE to the direction of the church. I would also note that for too many churches there is a MAJOR disconnect with what they do or why they do it and their mission, purpose statement. This is a PRIMARY reason why i'm not MUCH interested in reading the positions of a particular church, although i know some have put a great deal of time and thought into it. Yet I must say that a church can't be known by those things, there must be a knowledge of what that church ACTUALLY does, how they REALLY function, what is SUPREME.

What is the chief end of man? (according to the Westminster catechism) It's to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever! I would add that this above EVERYTHING must be supreme in the life and direction of a church.

The first thing that must be considered and realized is that each church is God's church. Who CARES how you want to do church, or what you like, it's NOT your church. It's mission, it's impact, it's outreach..... is all in VAIN if it's not what God wants. One it is useless and two it's blasphemous. There needs to be a fearful approach to church, a trembling before God in sight of the oversight and administration of a church. Church for too many has lost all it's biblical distinctions and many could not define what a church is or should be.

The glory of God, the reputation of God must be maintained above all, the desire to see Him hallowed (regarded as HOLY) before the world must constrain a church. Adherence to the word of God for this reason will proclaim to hungry sheep and lost people that God knows best, that it's more important to suffer and obey then to be comfortable and disobedient.

When the glory of God is supreme, then nothing will be permitted to take away from that. If the glory of God is supreme in outreach then a church will NOT be willing to use means that will question the holiness of God, it will not use 'what works' when 'what works' is not glorifying to God. TO uphold the glory of God, the gospel will be clearly defined, sin will be confronted and personalized, there will be no sacrificing of the 'offensive' (convicting) aspects of the gospel because someone has adopted a view that it's not as 'effective'. In upholding the glory of God, a church will hold leaders, teachers (including children's, teachers, Sunday school) to biblical standards, it WILL NOT lower the bar because the 'need' is so great, a biblical and God glorifying church would rather lose that 'ministry' then to chance the glory of God.
When the glory of God is supreme, a church will show 'love' God's way, desiring first to meet the needs of God's people rather than putting all it's efforts (primarily) into relieving the temporal sufferings of a lost world. It will seek to nurture conditions for intimate growth and the frequent use of Church discipline, it will love it's members by holding them to biblical patterns and to warn and enforce discipline when it's necessary, rather than to make allowances for sinful behavior under the pretence of humility, grace, or love.
When the glory of God is supreme, a church will faithfully and frequently proclaim the gospel. The cross will be central to all calls to holiness and to salvation. The glory of God will be supreme when a church reaches out with the intentions to grow the 'kingdom' of God not the 'kingdom' of a particular church (although it'll probably grow), in light of that it will also seek to support and encourage other ministries that are 'clearly' seeking to proclaim the truths of God and uphold His glory to all.
When the glory of God is supreme a church will be flexible to allow change in things pertaining to preference (if it will help welcome more, or grow the church). This means that a church will not be unmovable based upon the tastes of the elders, but within those preferences the glory of God will be maintained.
When the glory of God is central, strong and biblical stands will be made even if contrary to the norm, yet they will not become the 'banners' of which a church is lead by (homeschooling, outreach, doctrines of grace, courtship etc...). The biblical God glorifying church will seek to save, and disciple EVERY age group and gender. Children will be more than babysat and women will be encouraged to grow in godliness and theological understanding.
A glory of God focused church will uphold the beauty, severity, and significance of the two ordinances; baptism and communion. This means a church will make known their exclusive nature, their fearful implications and God honoring purposes by the way these are spoken of and administered, regardless of taste and popular uses.
That i guess should suffice for now.

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