As I sit down reflecting on the Lords good work at our church amongst our college students and young and married couples I see His orchestrating is better than mine. It has been almost a year since they have moved off to cities like Little Rock, Louisville, and Fayetteville. And to countries like Kosovo and Canada. The church that use to be their church has now been taken over by another church. And I am thankful for that! It matters whether or not they find a church or not. Before jobs, before houses, or before families. I cared a lot about whether or not our students and my friends would land in a healthy church. They were equipped well by our church. I am thankful that today I can testify that the majority of our former church members are settled in healthy, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled, biblically instructed churches. It matters to us as their church body and it hopefully matters to them that they land in another healthy church. This is one of the biggest roles the local church plays in the life of any Christian that comes into covenant with them.
This evening I had the chance to talk with the River Valley Associational Missionary, Danny Green. We discussed about the vital role the local church plays in the Christians life. We both shared how the local church has impacted us and how he is seeking to equip the local church with resources to teach the things that Christ has commanded us to teach His disciples. We also discussed the importance of directing men and women who we have Gospel conversations with, to healthy churches. Now not all healthy churches are Southern Baptist and not all Southern Baptist churches are healthy churches. But I do believe that if we cling to the Baptist Faith & Message as being the closest doctrinal statement to the infallible, inerrant, and sufficient Word. Then we ought to be sending people to churches that are like minded.
Going into to college I was apart of several different church bodies. I was a church member at Pottsville First Baptist, youth leader at Danville First Baptist, and helped the after-school program for school age students at Pottsville United Methodist. Looking back I see what the Lord was doing in me. He was helping me understand he importance of being connected to one body of believers and to devote myself to Him by serving the one church. By the time I was in my sophomore year of college I started to attend Crosslife’s college group. It wasn’t necessarily a college ministry because Crosslife believes that college students are as much apart of the fellowship as those who are not in college. However I wasn’t aware and I hopped from Pottsville FBC on Sunday mornings to Crosslife on Sunday nights. In the believers life strains and pains will develop when you attach yourself to a lot of churches. Soon you’ll find yourself taking in and not serving out. I was involved in a campus ministry, we to Crosslife college, and went to my home church in Pottsville. I saw my faith start to drag. I was learning and hearing the Word preached but I felt the strain of being involved in too many ministries and being spread too thin. I was deceived by my own busyness thinking I was growing. I was running the race of faith on a treadmill going fast and getting nowhere. It showed in how I fought sin. It showed up in how I counseled students.it showed in my passion for the Word of God. I had to do something. So I prayed. “God please show me what to do. Where to go. What church lines up with my understanding of the church in the New Testamnet” So He pointed me to His word. I started reading, I started paying attention and observing all that He was doing. I started noticing that the New Testament instructed church looked a lot different than the churches I had been to before. Altar calls were not found. Deacons ruling over the elders was not in any of the pastoral epistles. Church membership through coming forward wasn’t found either. Doors were closed here. And doors opened there. In March of 2013 I joined Crosslife. The immediate thing that struck me about this church was that when I met up with the teaching elder he presented me with the church’s statement of faith and said look over it and tell me what you think. It was weird. Why wouldn’t he tell me that he preached rad sermons, or his church met in a cool location or I got free food every first Sunday. Why didn’t he lead off with those gimmicks? Because doctrinal statements that are biblical keep faithful church members.
I started out in an unpaid internship where we studied what a healthy church is according to Scripture. Slowly things that I was taught as a young believer began to shatter when held up to the Bible. I soon learned from Gods word and a study of the book 9marks of a Healthy church that God has instructions in the New Testament for the church. This book showed me where you encouraged people to attend church matters. It wasn’t about a church that fits you, a church that was easiest to get to proximity wise, a church that your family goes to, or a church that uses Christian jargon. But it does matter what church you point people to. But why? Below I will give three points of why you should be aware of what a healthy church looks like. And how reckless suggestions hurt people more than it does help.
1.) It matters because some churches today do not operate according the Word of God. Telling someone to just go to any church is dangerous. There are numerous churches that put up the Jesus banner but their view of Him is far from the historical or biblical view of Jesus Christ. Church members need to be knowledgeable about other denominations and “churches.” Usually a Christian that is wanting at best to do just enough to be a Christian will find themselves in a church that does just enough to be a Christian church. These types of churches we must help others steer clear of.
2.) It matters because some churches are not churches. Christians today do not seem like they care about what church they attend. So if they have “church”tacked on the end of their name they must be a church. But would you eat a burger that a stranger has given you because it looks like a hamburger. It may not be cooked all the way. Or it may have ghost pepper sauce on it. Or it may not even be beef. Would you eat it without doing some research beforehand? Finding a local church is vital for your sanctification. Why not research a churches doctrine and beliefs before you join it?
3.) It matters because our sanctification is about surrounding ourselves with believers who are mandated by the Bible to help us grow according to the Bible. Healthy Christians desire to seek out healthy churches. If you are struggling with your salvation, a church that is all about love and no doctrine will confuse you. A church that is all about doctrine and not about love may cause you to doubt. But a church that both loves and is deep rooted in biblical doctrine can help you become more like Christ as God guides you by His Holy Spirit.
These are not all the points of why you should seek out a healthy church or why it matters what church you point people to. Later on I will give a more in depth look at the importance of the local church and Gods purpose for it in the Christians life. No matter what age you are the local church should be an essential part of your life.