Church Membership

Church Membership

What Exactly Is Church Membership?

What does it entail?
Is it even Biblical?

Hour 1 – A Biblical Case for Church Membership:

As guest host on this Dividing Line broadcast, Pastor John was able to walk through numerous New Testament texts which only make sense in the light of formal Church membership.

Hour 2 – The Blessing of Church Membership:

Having previously established that formal Church Membership is a biblical mandate and requirement, Pastor John then discussed what it entails as God’s intended blessing for disciples of Christ.

Hour 3 – The Protection of Church Discipline:

The third teaching in a series on the Church, dealing with the often neglected subject of discipline. A Church failing to exercise discipline among its members is an unloving Church, walking in disobedience to Christ.

Hour 4: The Guardrail of the Creeds:

While never rising to the same authority as sacred Scripture (which alone is the word of God), the ancient creeds and confessions of the Church have served the people of God through the ages as concise and precise summaries of what the Bible teaches on very vital matters. These include, among others, the doctrine of God, the person and work of Christ, how a man is justified in God’s sight as well as the doctrine of last things (eschatology). On this Dividing Line, Pastor John taught on the practical value of the ancient Creeds and Confessions of the Church.

Parents & Children Together

Parents & Children Together

PARENTS AND CHILDREN ON THE LORD’S DAY – TOGETHER ON PURPOSE

We believe it is a great privilege for a child to grow up in a Christian home and for the entire family to worship together, week in and week out in the Sunday morning worship service. Over time, this teaches the child much in the way of what a normal life as a Christian is to look like as well as the necessary connection each of us is to have with the local church. Here at King’s Church, we believe parents should keep their children with them throughout the entire service.

Let me say this again (in different words) – rather than children or teens attending their own meetings separate from their parents, we believe that the Biblical pattern is for families to worship together. The only exception we see to this (both now and in the future) is to provide a safe place for the under-threes in a nursery. However, we do not wish to segregate older children and teens from the rest of the congregation – sending them off to different rooms or buildings. Instead, on earth, as it is in heaven, young and old together, with one voice in unity, we the gathered people of God worship Him together.

We also believe that there are times when it is entirely appropriate for specialized ministry to take place (outside of the Lord’s Day morning service). One Biblical example of this is that older women are exhorted to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5), which presumably means that men are excluded from such a gathering.

While in no way wishing to be divisive or suggest that we are the only church in town obeying God, we practice “Family Integrated Worship” because of certain convictions we have. As we examine the Biblical data, we find that throughout the centuries this has been the normal way in which the people of God have gathered. This is clear from both the Old and New Testaments.

Deuteronomy 31:11-13 reads, “When all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Joshua 8:35 says, “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.”

Ezra 10:1 – “While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.”

These and other scriptures testify to the fact that when God’s people assembled, it was normal for children to be included.

In the New Testament, children were present during Christ’s preaching and teaching ministry (Matthew 14:13-21).

When Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, he included a message for the children (Eph. 6:1-3). In doing so, a clear assumption was in his mind; that when his letter was read to the gathered Church, children would be present in the service to hear it. The same assumption can be found in Colossians 3:20, where we read, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

In recent decades, many have practiced a very different model for doing Church, something called “age-segregated worship” where the family is split up, fragmented, and isolated from each other in the service. We have now had a great deal of time to assess the long-term effects and fruit of such a ministry. The results are in and what we have observed has not been good. While church growth did occur, at least initially in the short term, when teens become adults we see a severe lack of participation in the life of the local church. The percentage of teens in youth ministry who make the transition to regular, ongoing participation in the local Church as adults, is alarmingly low. That is tragic and heartbreaking!

In the light of this, we need to ask an important question: Could it be that the model we have used may be a big factor in this?

We believe so. While the age segregation model was adopted in hopes of it being a blessing to children and youth, the unintended consequence of this is a thoroughly ingrained notion in our kids that to do church, a person must be with people of a similar age. Sadly, in a very real way, this is what we have taught them.

THE SHEPHERD AND THE FLOCK

When a person, raised in an age-segregated model Church leaves their teenage years behind, they might have gone through the entire course of childhood and never been with adults, couples, and seniors in corporate worship. Let that sink in for a moment. They might even have been in the same local Church all that time and never known the pastor and elders. The pastor is an irrelevant figure in their lives. The child’s parents may know him but not the children. Oh, they might have perhaps seen the pastor’s photo a few times on a Church brochure. Maybe…. But they have had no personal interaction with him. They may never have (or very rarely) heard him speak. Given that the pastors/elders’ role is to shepherd the entire flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2), this is a very sad state of affairs and one that we contend is thoroughly unbiblical.

Is it any wonder then that with no specially marked room for those in their young twenties to go to during the Sunday worship service, they feel very out of place when, perhaps for the very first time, they are now having to worship alongside people of a different age? This is entirely new to them. They have never had to do this before. It is very difficult for them to find any sort of connection with the gathered church because we have taught them to be disconnected.

Because of this, you will see the absence of age-graded ministries at King’s Church. This is intentional on our part. While there may be times for children to be gathered together in order to be taught; similarly to teens, there are no specifically segregated youth or children’s ministries here as we do not find such terms as “children’s minister” or “youth minister” in the Bible. The very concept is extra-biblical.

It has been well said that parents who are relieved of their discipleship duties tend to become dependent on those who have taken over the job. Instead, the Bible clearly teaches that Christian parents (rather than the Church) have the responsibility of providing their children with a solid foundation in the things of God. Parents (especially fathers) are to discipline and train their children.

SPEAKING OF FATHERS

In Psalm 78:5-7 we read, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

RAISING FAMILY SHEPHERDS

We wish to be clear here. Church ministry provides a vital role for the family. Yet it is a specific one in serving the family by training parents to bring up their children in the things of God. Churches should teach fathers how to be family shepherds. Rather than placing the burden of children’s and youth ministry on a few “paid professionals,” churches are to equip parents to teach, train, disciple, and evangelize their children. The parents’ responsibility in discipling their children is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week assignment from the Lord. It is an entire way of life.

Speaking to parents, Deuteronomy 6 says, “You shall teach them (God’s words) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

PARENTS AND CHILDREN

I am convinced that the best thing parents can do to facilitate their children worshiping God is to model this themselves. Children cannot fail to notice parents singing hymns to God with their whole hearts, the bowing of heads in reverence while in prayer, the earnestness involved in the reciting of a historic creed of the church, as well as the very close attention given to the hearing of the word of God as it is read and when it is preached. Children also know the difference between an act of duty and an act of delight, even if they are not able to articulate the difference themselves. Joy in God is contagious. God can do much in the heart of a child when true worship is modeled before them.

The American family is fragmented enough. With the demands of life in a fast lane kind of society, it is often hard for families to even sit down for a meal together each evening. Life is hectic and chaotic and don’t we know it? My point is, that the church should not be adding to the problem. Instead, we gather together and on purpose to worship God as a family. In fact, the gathering of the people to worship is families joining other families in the worship of our triune God.

As a parent, while very conscious of my many flaws, I am jealous to be the model of worship for my kids. I want them to see a man after God’s own heart, not merely in the pages of a book, but right in front of them. I don’t want to hand over this amazing God-given opportunity and responsibility to someone else whom I do not know.

God made me the father of my kids and He wants me to lead them to Him through the means of what they observe in my life. I want them to be in awe of God as I am, and I am eager to model this for my children. No pretense… nothing artificial… but authentic worship flowing out from a heart captured by the God he loves. If this is in any way real in my life, I am convinced that children can sense this, to a far greater degree than we might think.

Parents can also ask questions of their children after the service is over, and explain anything that was unclear or not understood. It can become an amazing opportunity to teach the great doctrines of the faith, on a level the child can absorb, in spite of the fact that many things went over the child’s head in the service. Parents can ask “what were you thinking when we did this in the service?” and by their answer, find out immediately the perceptions of the child. Then the parent can explain things and point to the Bible as to why we did what we did in the service. Great learning can occur in such moments, especially when this kind of parental/child interaction becomes a regular habit in this way.

Both the historic and more modern hymns of our time are often filled with theological words and concepts beyond the grasp of a young child. However, it will inevitably begin to make sense to a child as he grows in understanding. The fact that he does not understand everything now is not a problem. The words, and the concepts behind them, will become more and more familiar over time, and that is a very exciting prospect.

Think of this: If a child is present as the word is being preached in earnest, and all around are caught up in awe of God as His word is heralded… do you really think a child can have no perception of this? I think the answer is obvious. A child can indeed grasp this.

Then, let me ask you: do you think they would capture this in children’s church to the same degree? Once again, I think the answer is obvious. It is not very likely. And as a parent, I would never wish my children to miss this taste of the majesty of God for all the world.

The formative years of a child are when patterns of behavior are instilled by the parents. Part of that training involves the family in worship together on the Lord’s Day. Sunday morning is different. It is sacred in fact. It is the time set aside when all in the family engage in the worship of God, along with the rest of the gathered saints and therefore, it is the task of parents to be teaching this to their children, both by precept and example.

Pastor Nick Batzig writes, “Our young children may not know and understand all that is being said from the pulpit, but they will forever have the example of sitting under sound biblical preaching.

My friend, John Larson, once told me how he had grown up in a church with a faithful pastor who preached God’s word expositionally every Lord’s Day. He said that while he didn’t remember much of what that minister said from the pulpit, he remembers the example that man set by faithfully getting up before the congregation week in and week out – to open and expound the Scriptures to the people of God. The example of a man who gives himself to a diligent study of God’s word in order to preach it to the people of God every week will impact our children for life. If we dismiss our children immediately before the sermon we are essentially taking that example away from them. Keeping your children in the service sets before them the model of God’s minister doing what is most important. This is why we should keep them in.”

He continues, “Every Christian family is (or should be) trying to figure out how to bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Every Christian family fails at points and feels the burden of their failures. It is a great encouragement when families are sitting side by side with other families in the worship service. It is a great encouragement to see young children singing hymns in the service. It is a great encouragement to see fathers leaning over and gently helping their children understand what is going on and how they can focus better. This is lost when we simply shuffle our children off to ‘children’s church’ until they are teenagers. This is yet another reason why we should keep them in.

Though I have – many, many times – felt my own insufficiency and failings as a father, I have also been encouraged by what the Lord is doing in the lives of my sons – especially during the worship service. The other day, I looked out over the congregation as we were singing and I saw my 8, 6, and 5 years olds trying to sing from the hymnal.

I, (as a pastor) unlike so many fathers in our church, do not have the privilege of training my children during worship times. I try to train them during our times of family worship. That sight of my sons participating was a joy and delight to my heart. That evening, friends of ours visited our church.

After the service, the husband came up and said, ‘It was so encouraging to see your sons singing There is a Fountain Filled with Blood without a hymnal.’

This was an enormous encouragement to me – in light of all of the failings and shortcomings that I am so painfully aware of regarding the shepherding of my family.

Likewise, when parents keep their children in the service for months and years, they will begin to see these sorts of encouragements. As their children hear the same hymns sung repeatedly, as they tell their parents something that they heard in the sermon, or ask a question about some part of the service, this is a great encouragement to the parents to continue to pursue training their children in the Lord. It makes us want to foster that growth that we begin to observe.”

DISRUPTIONS HAPPEN

As a church adapts to children being present throughout the worship service all of us are in training. The congregation needs to grasp the fact that children are not perfect, nor will they be. Congregational awareness is a vitally important component in all of this. And yet, on the other hand, parents need to be sensitive also, if not more so. Parents should make sure that an entire service is not disrupted by the noise of a child.

Concerning this, once again Pastor Batzig writes, “I wholeheartedly agree that the whimpering cry of a baby can be precious; but, more often than not, the crying of infants and whining or talking of toddlers is disruptive to the minister(s) and congregants. It is selfish when parents insist on keeping their crying baby in the service. If a congregant was constantly coughing or sneezing, the loving thing for that individual to do was to dismiss himself or herself from the service until their cough subsided. So too, parents ought to lay aside their right to have their child in every second of the worship service and care for the other members of the congregation who are seeking to listen to what is being said.”

With all this being understood, let us remember that our children are not merely the church of tomorrow, but the church of today. They are very precious to the Lord and to us. As we gather together on the Lord’s Day, may we worship God according to how He commands, not according to what may be popular in a particular culture and time.

May we stand in the tradition of Reformation faith and practice, gathering with God’s people each Lord’s Day to exult in God’s truth, thrill over His mercies and graces, and worship His magnificence out loud! As we do, may the Word of God be read, preached, prayed, sung, and seen (in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper), for the edification of all of Christ’s precious sheep – young and old, men and women, parents and children, visibly, publicly, together.

John James

John James

John James serves at King’s Church as an elder and periodically leads the liturgy aspect of the worship service. He is also in charge of providing supplemental materials for children to help them focus on the pastoral teaching during the service. He is the husband of his college sweetheart, Wendy, and they have four children and twelve grandchildren, all residing here in the Phoenix area.

John was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. By the sovereignty and providence of God, his older brother Tom was led to Christ and discipled by RC Sproul. This occurred while Tom was a student in Sproul’s philosophy class at Westminster Seminary in Pennsylvania. This encounter with RC brought Reformed theology into the James home.

John’s ministry interests lie in serving the church body, the sharing of Scriptural truth, and the visitation of the saints in their homes- personally shepherding the flock of God.  John is also involved with evangelism as part of our church outreach into the surrounding communities. Another passion of his is to encourage the individual members of the church on Sundays and on the phone throughout the week. He loves talking about reformed theology.

John retired from teaching after 32 years in Christian education and also served in prison ministry for 12 years. He also meets weekly with his grandchildren on a 1 on 1 basis to teach them the book of Proverbs.

Andrew Boozer

Andrew Boozer

Andrew Boozer serves at King’s Church as an elder and occasionally preaches in the Sunday morning service.  He is a husband to his high-school sweetheart and they have two children.  Andrew has a passion for family worship, Biblical truth, preaching, serving the saints, and Reformed theology.  He desires to see sinners saved and saints living more faithfully unto King Jesus.  Andrew completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Grand Canyon University and is currently an operations director at a San Francisco startup.

Andrew was born and raised in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, and from an early age was taught socially progressive and Roman Catholic-Universalist ideas.  Although reared in theological error, he was privileged to attend a Reformed Presbyterian grade school and a Christian high school that taught Biblical truth.

Andrew was formerly a worship leader at a church associated with the New Apostolic Reformation.  His ambition was to become one of the worship leaders at Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  By God’s gracious will and providence, Andrew eventually left the movement and began serving at a church connected with Calvary Chapel.  While at this church, God gave Andrew a new nature, and he was eventually placed under consideration to become the next Youth Pastor.  Around this time he was introduced to a book by C.H. Spurgeon and the preaching and teaching of Mr. Paul Washer and Dr. Steven Lawson.  By the lovingkindness of God, Andrew has been growing in sovereign grace and knowledge ever since!

John Samson

John Samson

John Samson is the founding pastor-teacher of King’s Church in Peoria, Arizona, as well as an author and conference speaker. He has a passion for the local Church and for the free offer of the gospel to be proclaimed far and wide. Inspired by a deep desire to proclaim the truth of the Bible without compromise, John is known for his simple, down-to-earth, verse-by-verse, expositional preaching. His passion is to proclaim God as He really is, and the Gospel as it really is, believing that it is impossible to have one without the other. In light of this, he is happy to affirm historic creeds and confessions of the Church as well as the Five Solas of the Reformation and the Doctrines of Grace.

John was born and raised in the historic city of Chester, England, situated around 20 miles south of Liverpool. Chester was originally founded as a Roman fort under the name Deva Victrix in the year 79 AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. Desiring to become a professional football player (football is known as “soccer” in the USA), he was chosen for the Chester Under 19 side while still only 16 years of age. However, the Lord had a different and more exciting path, calling him into the ministry! 

Graduating from the Regents Theological College in England in 1987, John began his ministry as the Associate of the late Harry Greenwood. (Below is a photo of John and Harry together, taken in November 1987, in Kerala, India). For many years John hosted a live 2-hour Christian television program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network as well as a 30-minute daily Bible teaching radio broadcast, “the Spirit of Faith,” covering central Arizona. Since then, the Lord in His great kindness has brought John out of much theological error and deception.

June 2022 marked 35 years in Christian ministry for John. During this time he has pastored churches in both England and the USA and has included ministry trips to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Mongolia, in Churches, Camps, Conferences, and Gospel outreach.

Sensing God’s call to live and serve in the USA is very much a long-term assignment, John became a full USA citizen in February 2003.

John is the author of two books published by Solid Ground Christian Books:

  • Twelve What Abouts – Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election has been widely distributed, helping many come to a new and fresh understanding of the grace of God. It is available for purchase in paperback here and in e-book here. It is also now available in the Italian language.
  • The Five Solas – Standing Together, Alone can be purchased in paperback at this link as well as in eBook and audio-book version here.
  • Spanish Edition Update – The Five Solas book has now been published in a Spanish version entitled Las Cinco Solas – Estando Juntas, Solas available from Solid Ground Christian Books at this link.

Pastor John’s blog is effectualgrace.com where many of his audio and video teachings are available.

Sunday sermons can be found on the King’s Church YouTube channel (updated weekly).

 

What To Expect At King’s Church

SUNDAY SERVICE

Let’s be honest. Attending a service at a new Church can be more than a little intimidating. Actually, it can be downright scary. Yet if we have a general idea about what we might encounter, much of the unnecessary fear can be eliminated.

Let me just say that it is definitely worth the effort to find a good Church home. The fact is, God never intended any individual believer to live the Christian life in isolation. We were never meant to “do Christianity” by ourselves. The Bible tells us that the members of the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

WE NEED ONE ANOTHER

It is true to say that God saves each of us individually but He immediately sets each of us as Christians in a family, called “the Body of Christ” and in a visible expression of it called the local Church. This is where we can be equipped, nourished and strengthened in our faith and is the primary place where we can grow in our walk with God as disciples of Christ. Its also a place where we can use the gifts God has given us to help and serve others.  Being a member of a local Church is an indispensable part of God’s intended will for each individual Christian.

A HIGH PRIORITY FOR CHRIST’S TRUE DISCIPLES

As followers of Christ, our lives should be built around the commands of Christ. As the Lord of the Church, through His Apostles, Christ summons His people to gather to worship Him together each Lord’s day, in the assembly of the saints. In obedience to Christ, participation in the weekly gathering of the saints on the Lord’s day needs to be a very high priority and focus.

Why?

Although there are many benefits for us in our assembling together, the chief reason for doing so is because He tells us to.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

As the return of Christ draws near, Scripture tells us to meet together “all the more.” This being the case, Sunday morning Church should be the first thing scheduled on our weekly calendars and not merely something that may happen if we can fit it in (after scheduling all sorts of other activities). This is both the duty and delight of His people if indeed Christ is Lord in more than name only.

As God’s beloved children we can trust that He has only the best of intentions in instructing us to gather together to worship Him, to hear His word, fellowship with His people, and to partake of His supper. These in fact are the very ‘means of grace Christ has ordained to bless, feed, protect, nurture and beautify His precious bride.

JUST A THOUGHT….

If we really think about it, part of our Lord’s day worship could even be the fact that we plan ahead and seek to get a good night of sleep the night before (Saturday night). That way, our minds can be in the best possible shape to be ready and attentive to listen to His word as it is ministered in the service. I realize that this is not always possible for many different reasons outside of our control (e.g. our next door neighbor decides to throw a loud party until the early hours of the morning), but nevertheless, it is something well worth thinking about as true disciples of Christ. As much as it depends on us, each of us should do all that we can to regard worship on the Lord’s day as special, set aside, different, unique and holy – in a word, “sacred.”

Our purpose in meeting together is to worship our great God, to be equipped and strengthened by the word of God, and to serve and encourage one another as disciples of Christ.

Because of these convictions, you are likely to see the following components in a Sunday morning worship service at the King’s Church:

THE CALL TO WORSHIP

We start with the call to worship. A passage from the Bible is read and we are exhorted to worship our great Triune God, in spirit and truth.

Then we enter a time of praise and worship as we come into God’s presence with singing, celebrating who He is and His amazing grace towards us in the gospel. Our music is contemporary in style as we sing both new songs as well as more familiar hymns.

We then include a short time to welcome our first time guests and make announcements.

We then take a few moments to greet one another as we prepare to listen to the word of God.

Our worship continues as we hear a portion of the Bible read to us and then through preaching, its meaning and life application is made clear to us. We call this “expository preaching” and it constitutes the main part of our service.

THE MEANING OF THE TEXT, THE MESSAGE OF THE SERMON

An expositional sermon takes the main point of a passage of Scripture and makes it the main point of the sermon, and applies it to life today. This is important because it is God’s Word that convicts, converts, builds up, and sanctifies God’s people.

VERSE BY VERSE

Though on occasions a sermon can be topical (given to a particular Biblical subject or theme) we believe a normal, healthy diet for the Church comes by teaching verse by verse through entire books of the Bible. This is also a great aid in making God’s agenda rule the church, rather than the preacher’s.

Our worship continues as we give in the offering to honor God and support the work of the local church as well as mission projects locally and around the world.

THE LORD’S SUPPER

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ?” – 1 Cor. 10:16

The Didache (a late first-century document) 14:1 says, “On the Lord’s own day gather together and break bread and give thanks.” (Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers, 365. Interestingly, the Greek text reads Κατὰ κυριακὴν δὲ κυρίου (literally, “And according to the Lord’s of the Lord”). Κυριακὴν (“the Lord’s”) is the same word (an adjective) used in 1 Cor. 11:20 of the Lord’s Supper and Rev. 1:10 of the Lord’s Day. Holmes’ translation assumes an ellipsis, supplying “day” to complete the thought. It appears that The Didache is connecting the Lord’s Day with the Lord’s Supper.)

The early church (until the fifth century) apparently celebrated the Supper weekly  (Maclean, The Lord’s Supper, 101). Whatever the case, it is important to think through the issue of the frequency with the fact that the Lord’s Supper, like the word of God and prayer, is a means of grace. We, therefore, receive communion together as a church family each Sunday morning.

WHO QUALIFIES TO PARTAKE

1. Sinners, convinced of their sin before a holy God.

2. Repentant sinners who believe in the Gospel of Christ.

3. Those water baptized upon a profession of faith.

4. Those not currently living in known sin (known and open defiance of God’s word) and are not under Church discipline in a local Church.

5. Those who see the full sufficiency of Christ to save by His life, death, burial, and resurrection (by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone) and come to His table to fellowship and commune with Him.

CONCERNING THE LOCAL CHURCH

Rev. Michael G. Brown writes, “The necessity of the local church for the making of disciples can hardly be overemphasized. This is our Lord’s chosen means for gathering His redeemed people, feeding them with His Word, receiving their worship, nurturing their faith, and bonding them as a community rooted and established in love (Rom. 12; Eph. 4; Phil. 1:27–2:11). The local church is a manifestation of the people who belong to Christ, and also the place where He meets them through the means He has ordained: an ordinary ministry of Word, water, bread, and wine.

Those means do not appear spectacular to the world. There is nothing particularly exciting or novel about a ministry of preaching, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. It is the same routine each week. We hear the Scriptures proclaimed, we come to the table, we sing, we pray, we enjoy fellowship, and then we go home. There are no halftime shows, no rock concerts, and no celebrity personalities. It is plain, ordinary, and even boring at times. Truth be told, it is about as exciting as watching a tree grow. But then Jesus said that the coming of His kingdom is like the growing of a tree (Luke 13:18–19).

A tree doesn’t grow by big and marvelous events but through the slow, steady diet of sun and rain year after year. The same is true with the kingdom of God. More often than not, it does not grow by what the world considers a mark of success: big buildings, big budgets, and big names. Instead, it grows in simple and often small services where the gospel is proclaimed. It grows where believers… are baptized into the covenant community. It grows where repentant sinners come to a holy meal that appears tiny and insignificant. It grows where ordinary members of a congregation love and serve one another. It grows in those late-night, unglamorous meetings of the elders as they seek to tend faithfully to Christ’s sheep.

We do not need more movements, more conferences, and more celebrities. We do not need the next big thing. What we need are more churches committed to the way disciples have been made since the Apostles planted a church in Jerusalem two thousand years ago: the slow-going, unspectacular, ordinary ministry of Word and sacrament, where God is raising dead sinners and creating a living communion of saints.”

Our Sunday morning service lasts approximately 80 – 90 minutes. Prayer and personal ministry is always available.

We hope the above comments are helpful to you. By the way, you can come in casual or smart clothes – either is fine with us. We look forward to seeing you at one of our services very soon.

A TWO HOUR DRIVE – The following is a transcript taken from the first question and answer session at the 2014 Ligonier National Conference.

Questioner: “This couple writes, ‘we live in a rural area without access to solid Biblical teaching, let alone Reformed teaching. The nearest Church with such teaching is two hours drive away. How should we choose a group to meet with and serve when we disagree with the things taught from the pulpit?’ What would you say practically to this couple?”

Dr. R. C. Sproul: “Drive two hours!”

Questioner: “Drive two hours?”

Dr. R. C. Sproul: “Lots of people do. Its that important. If you had to go to the hospital and it was a two hour drive you wouldn’t stay home. You would go to the hospital. You wouldn’t go to a dog pound because it was convenient. Would you?

Seriously! I mean its the old thing. I learned this from a former coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chuck Noll. His phrase was ‘whatever it takes!’ and the spiritual nurture of your soul and of your children’s souls are so important that if you have to drive two hours for worship, and for instruction in apostolic truth, then that’s an obvious decision. You drive two hours, or move! But it has to be a priority in every Christian family to be somewhere where there is true worship, true gospel, true doctrine, for the sake of eternity.”

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BIBLE TRANSLATION

Our generation is so blessed. In contrast to former generations where access to the word of God was very rare, there are many good Bible translations available to us in the English language today. How we thank God for this. It is simply a fact of history to say that many have paid the ultimate price (forfeiting their very lives) so that we would have access to the word of God in our native tongue. Yet now, because there are so many translations available to us, if the version used from the pulpit is not the same one we have brought to the service it is often difficult to follow a preacher’s sermon. Therefore, it may be helpful to know that we mainly use the English Standard Version in our services.