Our Blog

The Church Christ Builds: Introduction

 
Here’s a simple question for you to ponder: what is a church?

Is it a building? A gathering? Just any gathering? Is it for Christians? Is it for the community? Can anyone be a part of it? If I watch a church service online, does that count as going to church? Do you have to have property to be a church? Do you have to have elders? What if there’s no sermon? What if there’s no music? And aren’t the ordinances-- baptism and communion--important? Don’t they have something to do with a church being a church?

At the very end of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We call this the Great Commission, because it’s the charter for the church. It’s our mission.

Then we come to the book of Acts. Acts is the story of the apostles’ obedience to this commission and when we look closely at what they’re doing, we see something fascinating: they’re planting churches. The Jerusalem church is planted and established (Acts 2:37-47).  A church forms in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26) and the Jerusalem church sends Barnabas to help it get established. The Antioch church sends out Paul and Barnabas, and on their missionary journey they plant churches and appoint elders (Acts 14:22-23). Churches are the fruit of Paul’s ministry-- they appear in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, and even Rome. It appears that central to the Great Commission is the growth of healthy churches. The movement of the gospel is church-centric.

Here’s the snag in modern American evangelicalism: few people can define what a church actually is.

Like the apostles of old, we must reconnect the Great Commission with church work. To do that, we must come to a clear understanding of what the Bible teaches about the church. Starting this week our blog will be devoted to  defining what a biblical church is as well as what a biblical church does. Please, read along as we take a journey into the oft neglected land of ecclesiology. It should be fun.

Yours for Christ,
Eric

 

Posted by Eric Durso with

The Gospel Advances on the Shoulders of the Meek

main image

We tend to think the church advances its agenda the same way the world advances its agenda. We see big crowds being drawn to the concerts and the theaters so we say “Let’s make our church more like that!” We think some celebrity or fame will aid our cause. If only we had more famous people in our churches we’d be more legitimate in eyes of the world.

Is it really true that churches need to keep up with the world to be relevant? Are the marks of kingdom progress a bigger production, a-list names, more money in the budget? Does the church advances on the shoulders of the strong, the powerful, and the popular?

If it does, then Jesus dangling from a splintery cross on a forsaken hill outside Jerusalem is a failure. Paul alone in a prison cell abandoned by most of his friends is a train wreck, and the martyrs throughout church history are a crying shame.

But this is not how the church advances. The gospel ministry moves forward on the shoulders of the meek, because the meek are the ones empowered by God for the work.

By blessing the meek, Jesus turns everything upside down. Christ’s kingdom doesn’t advance with armies, the church isn’t advanced through crusades. Rather, Jesus compared the kingdom to a mustard seed. Small, seemingly insignificant and irrelevant. It seems unimportant until the final unveiling at the end of human history, where the countless myriads of saints are gathered to worship the Lamb.

We must never strive to be cool or relevant in the eyes of the world. We will be faithful and meek, entrusting ourselves to God, awaiting the future reveal when the redeemed are innumerable as the sands on the seashore and the stars in the sky. When the new world comes, it will be filled with only one category of person: meek.

Let’s embrace meekness to move this ministry forward. It’s clear that God’s not done with us, and it’s clear that God wants to use you.

How should you tell people about your hope in evangelism? 1 Peter 3:15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness [meekness] and respect.” Lead people to Christ in meekness.

How should you disciple those who come to Christ? Like Paul, who entreated the Corinthians with “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1), or like James, who encourages us to walk in the “meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

How do we help brothers or sisters who are straying? Galatians 6:1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness [meekness].”

How do we correct opponents? 2 Timothy 2:24-25The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”

In meekness we evangelize. In meekness we walk with other Christians to help them follow Jesus. In meekness we restore the sinner. In meekness we correct opponents.

It’s never by force, manipulation, or coercion. You can’t strongarm people into the kingdom or into obedience. To be meek is to see the immense dignity of the people around you and to treat them with honor.

The kingdom doesn’t advance on a bulldozer, but on the gentle breeze of meek, gentle love.

*  *  * This is an except from a previous sermon, "Blessed are the Meek." To listen to the entire thing, click here. *  *  *

Posted by Eric Durso with

A Celebration of Motherhood

When Paul described his ministry among the Thessalonians he said he was “gentle, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7). There’s something beautiful about motherhood that everyone, even the most masculine among us, ought to imitate. As we live together as members of this church, we all ought to take on the gentle, nurturing care of a mother. That means we strive to treat one another with warm affection, tenderhearted love, and watchful care. Even Jesus compared his love and care for Jerusalem to a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37).

On this Mother’s Day, it’s good to remember how valuable motherhood is in the church. Men and women alike need to value God’s design in motherhood. Women are absolutely, unequivocally essential for the health of the church. Mothers, yes, but all women too. We must remember, God gave his first command to rule and subdue the earth to Adam and Eve. Their roles would be different, but they were both essential for playing it out.

So it is in the church today. It may be tempting to think that because men are called to be elders and teachers in the church, that women are not as valuable. This is Satan’s lie. Men and women are equal in dignity, equal in necessity, but different in the roles they were given to play. Adam was called to “work and keep” the garden while Eve was called a “helper.” Both roles were essential.

So on Mother’s Day let’s celebrate that God made women different than men. Let’s celebrate that women tend toward nurturing, caring, and supporting. Men, let’s encourage our women to live out this maternal calling-- at home and in the church. Let’s celebrate the singles who have taken it upon themselves to “mother” a younger generation. Let’s celebrate the empty-nesters who are investing in young mothers with wisdom, grace, and truth. Let’s celebrate God’s grace in motherhood.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Posted by Eric Durso with

123456