I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
An Oasis of Hope (Pastor Greg Laurie)
I think we sometimes approach church more from the standpoint of consumers than communers. We may think of going to church the way we think of going to a movie: What time does the movie start? At seven? Well, they roll the trailers for the first twenty minutes, so we’ll get there at about seven. We’ll park and grab some popcorn first. And when the movie is over, we don’t want to wait for the credits to roll, so we’ll get up and leave.
We can have the same mentality toward church. Oh well, it’s just that worship stuff at the beginning. . . . I’ll get in late and maybe check my texts and e-mail while I’m waiting. Oh, and I’ll leave early.
But that is not the way to go to church. It is a place of worship, it is the house of God, and believers are the family of God. So we need to change the way we think about it. Worship is not the opening act; worship is prayer set to song. It is a time of communing with God.
And we should not go to church merely to have our needs met. Sometimes people will hop around to different churches because they like the style of music at one church or the teaching at another church. But that is actually not good for us spiritually.
We need a consistent place so we can get a consistent theology. We also need a place to be accountable to those who know us and can check in with us and help us in life—as we help them as well. We need a place to develop our gifts and serve the Lord.
The church is like an oasis of hope in a desert of hopelessness.
Over the next few weeks, our 2024 Task Force will begin the next phase of their work. We have been praying, listening, evaluating, and discussing the plans and priorities for the future of Faith. One thing has become abundantly clear – God has His hand upon this church family and He is challenging us to trust Him for the exciting season ahead
The concept of Faith 2024 is based on a beautiful Bible passage – Acts 20:24. Paul was leaving his friends in Ephesus and facing certain persecution as he headed home to Jerusalem. In a moment of courage and a clear sense of direction, he wrote “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from The Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
I am grateful for the godly men and women who serve with me on this task force. The weight of our responsibility is heavy, but not burdensome. It is thrilling to be part of a process that we know is far greater than our ability or capacity. We are humbled by the prayers of our people and the sense that God is walking with us.
I can tell you that my heart is rejuvenated by the exciting future The Lord is laying out for us. It is refreshing to report that while facilities and finances are part of the conversation, the primary focus is on our mission and influence for the gospel in our community and beyond. I’m so glad to be serving alongside folks who have a serious case of the “Faith Spirit.”
Please continue in faithful and focused prayer for the next phase of our work. We hope to share a “plan of action” with the church family early in the fall season (October). I can assure you that Faith 2024 will be more than a decade or a date on the calendar. It will be a clear direction and an exciting destination as our church family embraces a God-sized dream and trusts His ability to carry us along.
The church is described in God’s Word as a Bride, a Building, and as a Body. Using the “Body” metaphor, Paul explains this concept in I Cor. 12:12 – “For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body – so also is Christ.”
At Faith, we have embraced the reality that God has given us a beautiful body of believers that make up our church family. Each member has a responsibility to fulfill their function in the context of their roles. When new members experience our “Faith Journey” class we always discuss the expectations and the benefits of membership.
The Expectations of Membership include:
- I should be an Attending member.
- I should be a Giving member.
- I should be a Growing member.
- I should be an Accountable member.
The Benefits of Membership include:
- I will have Spiritual Leadership.
- I will have Biblical Teaching.
- I will have a Caring Community.
- I will have Opportunities to Serve.
- I will have a Voice in church decisions.
- I will be part of a church with a Big Vision.
In Thom Rainer’s little book entitled, “I Am A Church Member” he reminds us of this important truth: “God did not give us local churches to become country clubs where membership means we have privileges and perks. He placed us in church to serve, to care for others. to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give, and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the gospel. Many churches are weak because we have members who have turned the meaning of membership upside down. It’s time to get it right. It’s time to become a church member as God intended. It’s time to give instead of being entitled.” (p.6)
As the pastor of Faith, I can honestly say that we are blessed to have members who take their role and responsibility seriously. However, we are not immune to our culture. We have members who are lacking in commitment as well. My prayer, and my heart’s desire is for God’s people to experience a revival in what it means to be His Bride and His Body. Membership matters. I love serving alongside the members of Faith Baptist Church!