Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Vision (11/15/12): Churchmanship

Note:  We had an abbreviated “Sunday School” session after lunch at CRBC last Sunday on the topic of churchmanship, which I defined as, “The spiritual discipline of conscientious and consistent participation in the life of the local church that brings glory to God and blessing to man.”  I noted that we cannot really obey Jesus’ New Commandment to love the brethren (John 13:34-35) unless we do so as active and involved participants in a local, visible church.  I listed several marks of churchmanship, but the first was “consistent participation.”  Below are some notes on this topic, drawn from some discipleship material I have written:


First, it is important that every believer be a solid and faithful participant in a local church. Sometimes a parent who does not have a lot of time to spend with his children will say that he wants to spend “quality time” with them. But every parent knows that children need not just “quality” time but a large “quantity” of time. Families need to spend lots of time together in order to really know each other. Shared experiences strengthen their bonds.  This is also true for a church family.


To be a real member of the body, the member must be seriously connected to the body. This requires that every member spends a lot of time with the other members of the body. What would you think of a man who tells his wife, “Honey, I love you and you’re the most important thing in my life,” but he rarely comes home to spend time with his wife? We would say that his actions do not match up with his words. Jesus said that the church is his body. If the believer says he loves Jesus, he will naturally love his church and want to spend time in fellowship with his church family. Jesus said, “a tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). If there is no fruit, is the tree alive?


A key scripture to keep in mind is Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” The meetings of the local church are crucial. This means meetings for worship, Bible study, fellowship, prayer, ministry, etc. This does not mean that I should visit a different local church each week, but that I should be committed to meeting together with one local body, where I can grow to know and serve people, as they grow to know and serve me. I need to be present in my church to hear the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. I need to be present to support the church’s leaders. I need to be present to support my fellow members. I need to be present to reach out to non-believers who come into the church. My participation is my primary ministry in the church. When any member is absent, the strength of the church is diminished.


This means that when I make personal plans for the way I spend my time, I should intentionally shape my schedule to give priority to the meetings of the church. I should not allow sports, recreation, business, or even family to interfere with my commitment to Jesus and his body. There are, of course, times when one is not able to attend the meetings of his church. Occasional illnesses, trips out of town, vacations, and other types of necessary commitments are certainly to be excused. When one is out of town and not able to attend the local assembly to which he belongs, he has the valuable opportunity to worship and share fellowship with a like-minded church in the area he is visiting.  There are also times when a person cannot regularly attend church meetings for a prolonged period of time due to age or chronic illness. In times like these, it is the church members who are responsible for taking the fellowship to their home-bound members. If one is in good health and has no obvious obstacles to attendance, however, he should make every effort to be present among the saints.  For believers this is a glad duty, not a drudgery or inconvenience.  Those who regularly absent themselves from the gatherings of the church without justifiable reason usually are giving signs of spiritual problems.  As Peter commanded, let us “love the brotherhood,” (1 Peter 2:17).


Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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