Dear Pastor Jay: on the Local Church

I am going to do a series of posts on very practical questions regarding the local church. The questions will be ones I hear frequently and/or ones I think should be asked by more people who could stand to wrestle with the answers.

There are three things I regularly pray for my children, on top of my foremost desire that they be converted, Spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ. First, I pray that they would love God’s word, and believe that it is absolutely central to love it, learn from it, and obey it – I want them to have a Bible-saturated faith. Second, I pray that they would have a God-centered theology. That is, I want them to prize the holiness, sovereignty, and supremacy of God in all things, not least their life. I want them to hunger for how they might glorify God forever, not how God might give them more comfort in this life. Finally, and the one I find most parents leave off, is my desire that they love the local church, and that consequently they make the local church a load bearing wall in their lives. One of my pastoral goals is to get my people to do likewise. I believe with all my heart that the local church is God’s plan A of community and mission for his people. Yes, lots and lots of great stuff is happening in ministries and situations not technically the local church, but from what is clear in the NT Scriptures I think the local church should be the pivot foot for every Christian in their endeavor to live for Christ.

Also, while these posts should speak to everyone, I will have a bent toward the family and how parents in particular should be wrestling with these issues, as it should be a priority for them as parents to raise their kids to follow Jesus in the very ways Jesus wants to be followed. If Jesus desires us to follow him with an earnest investment in a local church, not merely as individuals or even nuclear families, then parents need to model that and pass that on.

So, this series of posts will be modeled after the Dear Abby style of advice columns. Each day I will try and address a pertinent question, and yes, I am sure some toes will get stepped on. In fact, the people who most need to hear some of this probably are not reading my blog, so you may want to pass these onto people whose toes are ready for some pounding (wink). Or tweet the link! Honestly, I don’t write these on my soap box. I really do write these out of love, and I am most concerned that many, many Christians, even passionate ones, are missing out on God’s best for their life, and the joy of a healthy, holistic Christian experience, because the local church is not a big priority for them or they are relating to it in a way that is not going to produce the most fruit.

Each post is going to get you to consider some key foundational questions. I am not going to re-play these questions each time, so let me list some of them.

1. What is your theology of the local church? Forget lifestyle for now. What do you think, in theory, of the local church? Now, is that in line with the Scriptures? Don’t know? Start looking at the NT letters, especially how the author thinks of the people he is writing to – which is a local church, or group of them.

2. What is your functional theology of the local church? What does your personal attitude toward your church and your lifestyle reveal about what you actually think concerning the local church?

3. If you are no very high on the local church, why is that? Is the issue with your church, or you? If you feel like the issue is with your church, is that based on your preferences or on more objective Biblically important values? Are you ready to be part of the solution, if possible, and if not, are you willing to find a Biblically compelling church?

4. While your current arrangement with your church may not be an issue of sin, or right vs. wrong, is it nonetheless wise? Is it the best? Is it going to produce the most fruit, in the long run, for God’s glory in your life?

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