Why Am I in a Church like the One I’m in? pt. 3
I’ve read polls for why people go to church. I talk to thousands of people every year about the Lord and church and spiritual matters, and I have heard from them what’s important about the church they attend or are a part of. Based on what people want in a church, churches have designed their programs to meet those desires. This is a prescription for church growth. Some churches and their leaders have modified this a bit, using the church growth methods that attract people while hanging on to various of their core values, attempting to get a bit of the “best of both worlds.” They mix the attractions with the traditional reasons for church to varying degrees.
If you talk to anyone at all about church, then you know some of what people say they want in a church. They love the building. They love the pastor’s preaching. They love the children’s programs. They love the people. They love the school. They love the pastor and his family. They feel comfortable there. It gives them peace to go and be a part. It helps them to make sense out of life. It centers them. They love the programs. They love the music. They sing in the choir. They grew up in the church. All their friends are there.
In this series, I’ve asked why I’m in the church I’m in. I’m encouraging you to do the same. I am giving what the reasons should be. I started with God. God is the chief reason for the church we’re in. Next I said we should consider the belief and practice of the church. Another one is closely related, that is, what is the preaching and conduct of the church. I’m differentiating practice from conduct in this way—the practice would be the stated practice of a church and the conduct would be what is actually happening. I believe the latter would include the discipline of the membership. Is the church following the proclaimed body life of the New Testament? Is there admonishing, exhorting, restoring, teaching, provoking, warning, strengthening, bearing, and supporting that is explained and directed by the inspired and authoritative teachings of Jesus, Paul, John, James, Peter, and Jude? A church can say that it practices a certain way, but is that practice the conduct that someone would actually see? The way to guarantee that is to follow those commands in the New Testament that are the basis for enforcement.
First though, is the Bible being preached? All of it? I don’t think the whole Bible will be preached without expository preaching through the Books of the Bible. On a root level, the question is: Is the Word being preached? A church should preach the Word and the whole counsel of God, all of it. This is the only way that a man could be throughly furnished unto every good work. We want the whole Bible preached because we are responsible for all of it. We don’t want someone to think otherwise. If we’re to practice it all, then we must preach it all.
Not only must the Words be preached, but the authority of those Words is found in their meaning. We must be careful to look at Scripture in its context. We must find the understanding of the Words, how they are used. Our goal is to comprehend what the people in that day would have understood them to mean. We are going to be judged by those Words and that judgment will be based upon their plain meaning. We must take responsibility to understand God’s Word in the context in which it was written and then apply it for today. Preaching the whole counsel requires preaching what the Bible actually means.
Success doesn’t stop at the Bible being preached. It must be followed. The conduct of Scripture should be lived and then enforced. I’m in the church I’m in because we do hear all the Words preached and the people are responsible to keep all of them. That doesn’t mean that they always do. However, when they don’t, they are dealt with according to the Bible. Our church expects people to conduct themselves in fitting with the doctrine of God. That’s a reason to be in the church I’m in.