where love is alive 

This week we finish our eight weeks of Sunday Night Discipleship classes.  I am proud of our congregation for utilizing these evenings in so many positive ways.  These Discipleship Offerings have resulted in greater participation than almost all other activities.

My discipleship class was on a 20/20 Vision of the Church.  In short, our goal was to see the unique role the church has in the Lord’s work. Elaborating on some lessons from former International Mission Board President, David Platt, much of our study focused on seven unique tasks the Bible assigns to the church:

The Church Evangelizes

The church is commissioned to share the great news of the gospel to as many people and in as many ways as possible.  While para-church organizations assist with this duty, these groups are extensions of the evangelistic work of the church. Every Christian testimony I know includes the role of a church played in communicating the gospel.

The Church Baptizes

In baptizing believers, we follow the example and command of Jesus. And when our congregation baptizes, we celebrate and welcome folks into our church family.

The Church Teaches

True, lots of organizations (such as schools) teach people. But the church is assigned to teach the Bible. Our material is not mere human tips but God’s divine text.

The Church Nurtures

Just as coals in a fire burn warmer when they gather, so also does our power strengthen within the community of the church. Our devotion is stronger, and our burdens are lighter as we care for one another.

The Church Worships

Worship directs our attention upon the greatness of God. In response, we hold reverence for Him and maintain a humble assessment of ourselves. While personal and private worship time is valuable to a believer, there is a special dynamic when God’s people join in worship together. In fact, the biblical word for “church” (ecclesia) literally means “gathering.”

The Church Prays

In our prayers, we acknowledge our desperate need for His grace and our devotion to Him. Praying and sharing “Prayer Requests” is a routine part of many of our church gatherings.

The Church Multiplies

And the Lord added to their number… Acts 2:47. It is God who grows our community as we obey his commission to witness for Jesus. We multiply in love and in oneness AND our numbers multiply as people respond to the Gospel message and join our church family.

Christians outside of a local church family most likely miss out on these seven key practices of Christian living. No, going to church does not make you a Christian, but it enables people to hear the gospel and to grow in their love for Jesus in ways solo Christianity can never know.

-Jay

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