J.T. English: What is Jesus doing right now? According to Ephesians 4, he is ascended in heaven and is gifting his church for greater mission and unity. He’s giving leaders, who equip all the saints for ministry, so that the whole family can be built up in maturity. By contrast, we all too often create ministry systems that prioritize professional ministers, not the whole body. But Ephesians 4 reminds us that we need the entire church to be engaged in mission, not just professional ministers. This is what I like to call “deep discipleship”—the invitation to all members into the task of building a unified church growing in Christlike maturity. That’s Jesus’s mission. And if it’s Jesus’s mission, then it should be the local church’s mission as well. Ministry Is Not Just for Experts One trend that’s common in the church is an expert/amateur divide. The divide between the “experts” and “amateurs” is easily seen when the experts—those employed by the church—think their job is
Reuben Hunter: Christians believe in transformation. After all, we are transformed people. Individually, when one is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, Paul says that “the old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). That’s a radical transformation if there ever was one. But we’re also transformed corporately: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). And as the “earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14), the effect of these transformed lives on our local communities will have the salt-like effect Jesus expects them to have (cf. Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:9–12). So it’s every church planter’s dream that they move into an area and grow a church that has a transformative effect on both the lives and also the culture in a given area. But what does
By Nathan Rose: I read recently that my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, has a total of 16 million members, but on a typical Sunday only 6 million of those members attend their local church’s corporate worship gathering. Considering the importance and necessity of corporate worship for the Christian, this is a very discouraging statistic. Not only is it disheartening, it is also spiritually dangerous for those who profess Christ, but regularly miss worship with their church family. Below, I want to list some reasons and explain why skipping church is a really bad idea.  1. You will miss out on God’s primary design for your spiritual growth and well-being. The central aspect of corporate worship is the preaching of God’s Word. The proclamation of Scriptures is God’s primary means for a disciple of Jesus to grow in spiritual maturity. When a professing Christian misses church they are missing God’s prescribed process for spiritual growth. 2. You disobey God.
Sam Storms: What accounts for the relational disasters, financial corruption, and moral failures that continue to erupt in our local churches? There are undoubtedly numerous explanations that could be cited, but I want to focus on one that most people typically ignore: bad and unbiblical ecclesiology. I have in mind those churches in which the senior pastor is given excessive and often unbridled authority and remains largely unaccountable for his decisions. This is often the result of an appeal to the Old Testament as a model for local church government. Joshua 3:7 comes immediately to mind. There God said to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” Some refer to this as the “Moses Model” of local church government. The almost unilateral authority that God invested in Moses, and in his successor, Joshua, is embraced and
Mack Stiles: I long for a church that understands that it—the local church—is the chosen and best method of evangelism. I long for a church where the Christians are so in love with Jesus that when they go about the regular time of worship, they become an image of the gospel. I long for a church that disarms with love, not entertainment, and lives out countercultural confidence in the power of the gospel. I long for a church where the greatest celebrations happen over those who share their faith, and the heroes are those who risk their reputations to evangelize. I yearn for a culture of evangelism with brothers and sisters whose backs are up to mine in the battle, where I’m taught and I teach about what it means to share our faith; and where I see leaders in the church leading people to Jesus. I want a church where you can point to changed lives, where you can
Ricky Jones: This month we will be inducting new members into the most honored body the world has ever known: the church of Jesus Christ. The initiation fee for this club is so high that no human could have ever paid it; God himself had to pick up the tab. The benefits of the club never expire. The fellowship of the club is unmatched; you receive intimate access to the Lord himself (John 17:23). With such benefits, you’d think church membership would be held in infinitely high esteem. But for many reasons, Christians seem to think less of it than ever before. If you’re one who looks upon church membership lightly, then I invite you to reconsider. When we hear the word membership, we immediately think of a club. A member pays dues, comes to meetings, and fulfills the obligations of a club member. When you move, or no longer have time for the club, you simply withdraw your membership
Benny Phillips: The spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians Paul paints a picture for us in 1 Corinthians 12–14 of what continuationist pneumatology might look like in the New Testament church. The passage is not primarily designed to explain individual gifts of the Spirit, but rather to place their usage in the context of the larger picture of local church worship. Continuationist pneumatology is about more than our corporate worship; it carries implications for how we live life with others, and that includes our times together as a local church. Today’s church culture tends to highlight the theatrical. The music, drama and preaching all seem to be directed at an audience. The goal seems to be a good experience, including moving, engaging entertainment. As someone recently said to me after visiting a church, “I felt more like I was at a good Christian concert than a time of worship.” I don’t know how conscious church leaders are of this, but the
In this brief video clip David Powlison explains what role the local church plays in our sanctification. (HT: Desiring God blog)