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  • Writer's picturePastor Nathan Lipscomb

What Best Describes You?

As I was sitting with someone this morning going through a discipleship program, we covered the topic of the New Testament local church. This chapter of Paul Chappell's Continue deals with how precious, distinct, and vital the church is to our Christian walk. Covered are the foundations of the church, the Baptist distinctives, and the purpose of the church. At the end of each chapter is a section on application (every preacher's favorite spot, right?) I had to pause and spend some time at this point because of the phrase that is used, "the local church is an integral part of our Christian growth." Integral is such an appropriate word that bears within it all the necessary meaning to instill a very special truth to us about God's desire for the church. It means "essential to completeness," "composed of constituent parts," "lacking nothing essential : ENTIRE."

I love that definition when applied to the necessity of the local church in our lives as Christians! Read those definitions again before reading on.


Have you ever taken a personality test or a test that would ask questions such as, "What would best describe you?" Admittedly, I stink at those kind of questions. My wife can attest to the fact that I struggle to say what is my favorite of pretty much any category.

My answer is often, "Well, it would depend on the situation." However, some of those questions do have a sure answer. While my favorite food may depend on what I'm craving that day, my favorite person is most assuredly my wife. While my description of my personality might differ from day to day, the description of who I am and who my family is remains solid and sure; we are Christians; we will serve the Lord; we will honor God with our time and talents. I don't intend that to sound prideful, I just intend it to be a reality even though we are faulty and failing in our efforts at times. Church and our faith should be what defines and ultimately describes who we are. There is no doubt within our house and among those close to us where we will be on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Our faith is who we are and anything that can't fit into that framework must be cast aside and left behind.


In that "application" section of the chapter, the writer said that there were three key determinations that needed to be made concerning our involvement in the local church:


1. "Decide to be faithful in your attendance."


There is no substitute for the church. As enjoyable as little league is in the spring, it could never take the place of the importance of the local church in our Christian walk. As convenient as it is to watch church online or to just have church at home, that will never be able to replace what the local church can provide to our spirits. There are many other activities that we could fill in here that distract Christians from church, but if we make the local church integral to our lives, then we will begin to plan our lives around church instead of planning church around our lives. Ask yourself this question, if you were to remove church attendance from your life, how much would your daily schedule change? How different would your life be? Would it change who you are? Granted, there are times when physical health keeps us from church (i.e., if you're throwing up, we all would appreciate you staying at home.) You could be like a man in our church who was sick but still came to church and watched the service from his car in the parking lot, honking "amen" every now and then so that we knew he was still awake out there! We are commanded to assemble ourselves together with increasing regularity as we see the rapture and the Day of the Lord approaching (Heb. 10:25.) Determine that the church and your faith are integral, irremovable parts of your life.


2. "Decide to be accountable to leadership."


Being accountable means being noticed, being present, and being transparent. One of the blessings of being a member of a small church, though some may not appreciate it, is that you are easily noticed and easily missed. We get to know one another well, which also gives us the opportunity to edify, encourage, and pray for one another consistently. This is a vital purpose of the body of Christ! I would encourage you to open yourself up to a Godly wise person in your church to help you stay healthy spiritually. While it may make you feel vulnerable or embarrassed, it will also free you from having to feel alone in your battles. However, don't allow bitterness to creep in if they feel the need to correct you biblically from time to time, after all, we all need it. It may also give you an opportunity to minister to them in return. The Bible reminds us that "in the multitude of counselors, there is safety."


3. "Decide to be committed in your involvement."


More than simply being present when the doors are open, graduate to committed service to the Lord! Committing to a program, class, or specific function might be difficult and even scary, but the Lord will reward His faithful servants! Look for opportunities to serve; ask about opportunities to serve. What are your talents? Think outside the box and seek the Lord's will for ways in which you can serve Him in your local church. Be willing to start with cleaning the toilets and mowing the grass, being faithful in the little things; and then be willing, when God leads, to step up into another role. It may be that today, you need the encouragement and healing, but tomorrow, God might want to use your victory in this area to encourage someone else. It's good for the student to step up one day and become the teacher, and it's good for the teacher to continue to be the student! Make the commitment today to let the Lord use you however and whenever He will!


Here is a powerful question to ponder: Is my faith and my church so vital to the structural integrity of my life, marriage, or home that they would collapse under their own weight when the undergirding power of God is removed, or would there be no noticeable difference? This is the meaning of the local church being an "integral part of our Christian growth."


Thoughts? Comment below!


Quoted portions were from Paul Chappell's Continue: A Biblical Journey in Personal Discipleship.


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