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Are you a church hater? It might not seem obvious at first, but there are a lot of preconceived notions that many of us hold about the church, which causes us to be in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches. Over the years, I had to address a lot of people regarding some of their faulty views about the church. I also had to talk with leaders and teach them how to answer people’s hate speech towards the Bride of Christ.
When I came across Joe McKeever’s article on “10 More Essential Things to Tell People about the Church,” I thought it would be helpful to just reiterate some of his points. You can get the full article here.
Joe McKeever writes,
“According to the Spring edition of OnMission magazine, published by the SBC’s North American Mission Board, 90 percent of unchurched 20-29 year olds believe, ‘I can have a good relationship with God without being involved in a church.’ That sounds new. But it’s as old as Methuselah. Some of us can remember the so-called ‘Jesus Movement’ of the 1960-1970s when the beaded, bearded, flower children carried signs announcing ‘Jesus Yes; Church No.’
No one will be surprised that we who have given our lives to serving God through His church believe in the church. We believe in it passionately even though quite a high percentage of us bear scars from our years of service. Believers in the church’s essential role in God’s plan are not the ‘establishment.’ We were not brain-washed and are not duped or deluded. We are not mouthpieces of some denominational hierarchy somewhere. Neither are we defenders of the status quo.
Most of us have had a love-hate affair with the Lord’s church. We have loved it when it did well, been blessed by it when it was faithful, grieved for it when it got off-track, and sometimes suffered from our proximity to cancerous members. Our convictions are not shallow or lightly held. They have been through the fires and come through stronger than ever.
Each of us has our burden for the church. Here are mine. [Ten] things I wish we could say to every church, and repeat them at regular intervals until they take hold.
2) That the church has survived the attacks from its enemies and the failings of its own members for two thousand years and is still going strong stands as a remarkable testimony of God’s plan for her. God’s people were told to expect attacks from the outside and divisive sneak attacks from the inside in Acts 20:29-30. The one constant of ecclesiastical history has been those two disruptive forces. Expect it, Christian. And remember this elementary lesson from your high school physics class: A fire under pressure will burn brighter. Since the devil never took physics, he doesn’t understand this, so he keeps persecuting the Lord’s people and attacking the Church and slandering Jesus. What he cannot figure, though, is why all such efforts only spreads the Gospel.
3) The apparent weakness of a particular church is generally deceptive. God delights in using weak things, ordinary people, and unlikely prospects. He can take a young child’s simple lunch and feed thousands. So, the next time you look at your church service and decide that you are tragically out-of-date in the hymns and technology and that you need a younger pastor because the one you have is too boring, bite your tongue. You are in the kind of church where God delights in showing up and doing something remarkable. Drop to your knees and start asking Him to do one of His patented God-things among your group.
4) The Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Matthew 16:18, it’s Jesus’ church. According to Acts 20:28, it’s God’s. Same difference. It’s His Church. And the only question on our lips every time we meet to do His business should be ‘What would you have us do?’
5) Whatever we do to the church, Jesus takes personally. Scary thought, isn’t it? Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that when he touched one of ‘the least of these my brethren’ to harm them, he was ‘persecuting me’ (Acts 9, 22, 26). The New Testament calls the church the ‘Bride of Christ,’ the ‘Body of Christ.’
6) God sends pastors, not to make the church members happy, but to make them healthy and holy and Himself happy. At least one pastor out of ten – I don’t care what denomination – has been ousted from a church because the members were unhappy with him. Show me one place in all the Scripture where the pastor (or any other leader) is sent to please the people, and I’ll show you ten where the people rose up in arms against a faithful leader who was serving God well.
7) The best thing your church has to offer Christians is fellowship. Now, the best thing the church has to offer the world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be sure. However, once they are in the kingdom, fellowship with other believers is the greatest need of believers. By that, we mean they need regular, close contact with people like themselves who are also serving Jesus. They need time to visit, to talk, to argue, to pray together, and laugh and work and serve. Your television set brings in some good preachers every Sunday morning. You can sit in front of the set and worship God, study the Word, pray, sing, and even make an offering. I suppose you can even find a way to minister without leaving home. But the one thing you cannot do on the screen is to fellowship. For that, you will require other believers. You will need to ‘forsake not the assembling of yourselves together’ (Hebrews 10:25).
8) The toughest part of belonging to a church is the requirement for submission – that’s why we rarely hear about it. To submit means to give in to the other. Two men disagree; one gives in. Two women disagree; one gives in to the other. Only in matters involving life-or-death issues (the inspiration of Scripture, the efficacy of the cross, the Virgin Birth, etc) do we dig in our heels and say with Luther, ‘God help me; I can do nothing else.’ To give in to another is to practice the command of Philippians 2:3. In humility, consider others as more important than yourselves. Practicing submission could stop 90 percent of church divisions in their tracks.
9) God created the deacons because He needed servants willing to do the dirty work. Jesus gave us the ultimate picture of servanthood when He stooped and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13). The Jerusalem incident of Acts 6 – commonly believed to be the origin of the diaconate, even though they’re never called deacons there – confirms that these godly men are to serve the Lord’s people in the lowliest tasks in order to free up the leaders for the ministry of the Word and prayer.
10) If you do not like change in your church or your personal life, you will want to avoid Jesus – He’s all about change and growth. The Lord Jesus said believers were to be like ‘new wineskins,’ a reference to their flexibility, their adaptability to change, their skill at making adjustments to fluid situations. The image of Christians as defenders of the status quo, of resisting every new idea, of reacting against anything foreign – that is anathema to the spirit of Jesus Christ. The seven last words of the church, it has been said, are ‘We never did it that way before.’ So, we have to work against our innate resistance to change and growth.”
McKeever has a Part 2 of this same topic that you can check out here.