Church membership is much more than a letter with your name on it. It's about a caring family that walks with you through times of difficulty, challenges you to grow your faith and know Christ deeply, and encourages you to reach outside your own world and share the love of Jesus.
Why Church Matters • February 12, 2017
Why should I attend or even join a church? What’s in it for me?
These are questions a lot of people are asking and they are questions every church should be answering. Consider these facts about the average family today:
- Most families are blended. 43% of marriages are remarriages and 65% of those include children from a prior marriage.
- Most families are spiritually mismatched, meaning each parent hails from a different faith background and often one is more interested in church or faith than the other.
- They are financially strapped with a large amount of debt.
- They are over-calendared. Their schedules are driven by their children’s activities and their employer’s expectations.
- They are biblically illiterate.
- They are ethnically diverse.
- They have a special needs child. Autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities are on the rise in young children, while anxiety and depression continue to rise in teenagers.
- Abuse is common. In fact, one in five have experienced some type of trauma in the home.
- They want to be successful.
- They are spiritually hungry and searching for meaning and hope and help.
These 10 characteristics highlight why church matters. The world is desperately in need of the gospel and the church is the vehicle that God has called to share it.
People need to hear and accept the Gospel because Jesus provides the only real and lasting help for all the problems facing our families.
Whether you need to resolve personal conflicts, learn how to manage money, instruct and guide your children, teach spiritual truths in the home, or just connect with someone who will pray for and invest in your family’s future, the church is God’s instrument of change and ministry here on earth. God didn’t designate city hall or the power company or even community groups to disseminate His message. Although they may be great organizations, they are not the church. God called the church to be His witness in the world.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
In addition to the life-changing power of the gospel, the church also provides a place to belong. Everyone wants to belong to a community. Everyone wants to feel as if they matter and count, and that they add something of value that impacts others. That’s what being part of the church is all about. The Bible says that,
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
What you do in and through church has eternal impact—for both your own life and those you reach with the good news of Jesus. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you, too, are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Why does church matter?
Because our families are in trouble, our children are hurting, and our society is struggling. As the church, we have the answer. We must be faithful to share it and show it.
Church Does Matter.
The Heart of Evangelism • February 19, 2017
"Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:1-2
Have you ever grumbled and complained about the actions of a fellow Christian or an unbeliever? Have you ever sat in judgment of someone else’s sin or mistake?
In Luke 15, the religious leaders were doing just that. Sinful people were drawing near to hear Jesus’ instruction about the Kingdom of God, and they did not appreciate it. The Pharisees and scribes had carefully cultivated a reputation for obedience. What a scandal for Jesus to associate with people in open rebellion to God’s way of doing things!
Take note. Jesus does not defend the sinfulness of sinners. Neither does he justify the financial malfeasance of the tax collectors. He does, however, defend spending time with such people by reframing the thinking of the Pharisees. He points the Jewish leaders in the direction of a different ethic by telling a story about a lost sheep and a lost coin.
In each story, the respective item gets lost, thus necessitating a close and thorough search. Jesus poses two penetrating questions:
- "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?" Luke 15:4)
- "What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?" Luke 15:8
His questions point out the obvious. Of course you go looking for the lost sheep! Naturally you initiate a search for the missing coin! Any reasonable person knows that it is wise to exert all necessary effort on the one that is missing and in need of help. Such obvious reasoning is an indictment against the Pharisees. Their obsession with obedience led them to lose sight of the heart of God.
This is a correction that we all need from time to time. It is comforting to be with those who are in our little Christian club. There are few things as comforting as sitting with people who are like us, and not having to worry about people who disagree with us or have a bunch of problems.
We deserve the indictment the Pharisees got. The life of a true follower of God isn’t the life of sitting in judgment of troubled people. It is, rather, the life of rescuing such persons. Whenever we run away from people with problems instead of toward them, we demonstrate a flaw that Jesus wants us to change. The call on our lives to follow Christ is the call to pursue troubled people.
More than likely, that coterie of sinners and tax collectors was a pretty messed up lot. The group probably included adulterers, liars, criminals, and all manner of other wicked types. Some had probably nurtured entire lives of sinful rebellion. As ugly as the people must have been, and as challenging as the work was to help them, Jesus shows his heart as being one to move toward them.
O, how we need to be more like Christ in this way. We must move towards sinful people in this life. When we do, we are powerfully demonstrating the heart of Christ as he moves towards people in need of grace and help. That is the true heart of evangelism.
- "I have moved around a good bit with my job and I can attest that many churches have everything going on except the sound preaching of God's Word! That is why I moved my family to FBC. It wasn't the choir, orchestra, activities, beautiful buildings, history, or even the Sunday School. The reason I moved my family to FBC was the sound doctrinal preaching and teaching of God's Word. The greatest benefit of being a member of FBC JAX is sitting under such sound Bible preaching." Carter
- "I just wanted to tell you how much this church and its ministry has helped me in my life. Since I first started listening and reading, God has blessed me in so many ways. He has taken me from a person with no direction to a person well-directed." John
- "Thank you for feeding my spirit and growing me in my faith. Thank you for what you do for Christians as well as for those who are lost." Deborah