Is Church Membership Antiquated?

8 trackMany churches this time of year hold membership or partnership classes. In fact, Evident Grace Fellowship, will be hosting one soon.   Culturally, however, one notion that continues to gain popularity is whether or not church membership, affiliation, or partnership is biblical.

There is a popular notion that church membership is an option for the believer. So, is it?

I bump into this idea that the structured, organized church is broken and can sufficiently be discarded for such reasons as style. So then, is the organized church antiquated and out of date? Can we just discard it and live more “robust, spiritual” lives?

I would answer “no” and not just because I’m a pastor. Many will say that you can’t find the context of church in any organized, structured way in scripture and that living church is simply living out Christ’s commands. But that is hard to do without the organized church.

How do you obey Christ and rebuke a brother and eventually take him to the church if it is not organized (Matthew 18)?

How do you appoint elders and deacons if the church is not organized (I Timothy 3 and Titus 1)?

How do leaders care for your soul and how do you submit to those leaders if you are not organized (Hebrews 13:17)?

How are pastors ordained to ministry if the church isn’t organized (I Timothy 5)?

Why would Paul warn the Corinthians to eat at home so as not to make pigs of themselves during the Lord’s Supper if the church is not organized (I Corinthians 11)?

These are all direct commands of scripture. Obedience and thus loving Christ is living out these commands. The church, however flawed she may be, is a wonderful gracious gift of God intended to nurture and care for souls while glorifying Jesus.

I agree that the church has structures that are traditional and formal by very nature of an organization that has met for 2000 years, but that does not mean the the organism as it exists today is non-biblical. Being a Christian does make you part of the church. But declaring to live a life outside the commands of scripture (which include the commands to organize the church) is an inherently non-biblical and non-Christian attitude.

My urging for folks who want to abandon the church? Don’t. Biblically challenge the structures that frustrate you. Love her, but don’t leave her. Love that does not desire Godly change will just become empty criticism. Love that desires Godly change is effectual love.

Gordon

Advertisements

Taste and See if You Like Evident Grace on 09/12

taste_and_seeHave you ever been to a restaurant and seen a dish on the menu that interested you? Of course, but the way most restaurants work is that you don’t get a taste ahead of time to find out if you really like it. Your choices are either taking a risk and ordering the dish or skipping it for something that you know you will like. The problem is that you will just never know if the dish you skipped was good or not.

Churches can be the same way. Maybe you like the service or you like an event that they hosted, but often, there is not any venue where you can find out more about the church. Most folks have questions that they would love to have answered, but where can you do that with a church?

Well, Evident Grace will be hosting a “Taste and See” get together Friday, September 12th at 6:30pm, for anyone who would like to know more about the church. The idea is for Gordon, the pastor, to spend some time presenting the history and vision of the church, coupled with a hope for where Evident Grace might be going. Jeremy, our pastoral intern, will be there as well, so hopefully, between the two, most of your questions can be answered. There will be plenty of opportunities for Q & As, and as any good event should have, there will also be food.

This will be a completely non-pressure, casual get together much like friends discussing something they like or want to know more about. There will be none of this, “What will it take to get you in this car today?” salesmanship. In fact, it will be a great, low-key event to bring a friend.

If you would like to join us, we will have childcare, and we will kick off at 6:30pm. We will go as long as folks are interested, and you can head out whenever you want or need. We will be meeting at the Curtas home at

6601Turkey Run Drive

Fredericksburg, VA 22407

If you have questions or would like to confirm, contact Gordon at jgordonduncan@yahoo.com or call him at 919-412-8161.

Journey to Worship Preview

10654017_10100284510435919_1196740249_nOn Sept 7, Evident Grace begins its new series, “Journey to Worship – a Study of Ezra”.  As Ezra is not an often studied book, an extended preview might be helpful, so towards that end, here is the text of an important portion of the sermon.

You know how we grow in comfortable skepticism? We like to say things like, “Well, I know God can do anything, but I doubt anything is going to happen.” Or we will say, “Well, aint nothing going to change.  I mean I guess God can do something here.”

And in both cases, we have no hope that anything good or Godly is going happen. We should read Ezra and be reminded that God does what He will when He will, and as a result, we should stop being so cynical and skeptical.

Now, please hear me:  this isn’t junk theology that tells you to believe harder for what you want so God will do it.

I am not going to tell you that God can’t and won’t do things unless you change first.

God does what He will when He will, and you know what? I’m sure not going to tell you to go live life at a higher level while God has your back.

We should simply read Ezra and say, “God will receive glory no matter the circumstance.  And in that, we are transformed”

How do we know that? How can we be assured? The life and death and resurrection of Jesus show us that God will pursue His own glory and that nothing will stop it – not your sin, not your mistakes…nothing. God will be glorified, and God will be worshiped.

This study should take us up to the 2014 holiday season. The good thing about Ezra is that you can join it at any point and time and not be lost, but we encourage you to join us for worship on September 7th to experience our series launch. We meet each Sunday for worship at 1030am at the comedy club above Liberty Lanes, and you can find directions here.

Come as you are. We are neither formal nor casual. And if you desire, we have both a nursery, and we also offer an individual teaching time for children aged 2-5.

Evident Grace Fellowship Launches a New Series Journey to Worship, a Study of Ezra

ezra imageExcitedly, on Sunday, September 7th and continuing until the holidays, Evident Grace Fellowship is launching its new sermon series, Journey to Worship – A Study of Ezra. Why would a young church, or any church for that matter, endeavor to study, what for some might be, an obscure Old Testament book? There are several reasons.

Ezra is a book about a community returning to their homeland to reestablish the worship of God after a period of time where worship had been forbidden. Those that remained at home must now integrate with those returning, and both communities have to manage lots of hopes and expectations. Each hopes for a vibrant life of worship. Each knows their own expectations, but they don’t know what to expect from each other.

What an incredibly practical book to study for a young church like Evident Grace Fellowship. We have been meeting for a year and a half. We are a community gathered from many different backgrounds. We too have expectations, and we too are learning to grow and learn as a new community with a new identity. And we are just like Ezra, God is making something beautiful and united out of gathered communities.

Also, as new people visit us and join our community each week, this study will be ideal for them to walk through with us. We are going to see, in real time, the events of the worship in Ezra’s time, and we will have so many things to learn from: the good, the bad, and the ugly. (This is your invitation constant reader. Please join us.)

Also, the events of Ezra and its companion book Nehemiah, are the final historical events in the Old Testament that lead up to the work of Jesus. It is an anticipatory historical account. We can look at those days, on this side of Jesus work, and learn so much about the joy promised to a community who now fully understand Jesus work. In that, we as a community can grow in greater worship and commitment to God and to each other.

So, why study this book? Ezra was living on a hope promised. We are living on a hope fulfilled.

This study should take us up to the 2014 holiday season. The good thing about Ezra is that you can join it at any point and time and not be lost, but we encourage you to join us for worship on September 7th to experience our series launch. We meet each Sunday for worship at 1030am at the comedy club above Liberty Lanes, and you can find directions here.

Come as you are. We are neither formal nor casual. And if you desire, we have both a nursery, and we also offer an individual teaching time for children aged 2-5.