Being a Church Involved in the Community - A Discussion on Essentials (Part One)

The churches in Antwerp are working together on the Antwerp Community Youth Center, and things just keep moving along.  God keeps blessing it.  The donations keep coming in, we've been given a great location with great rent, and we were recently given a free pool table.  I’m excited about what can be done in this community by the churches working together for a common cause. 

For the longest time, the church I minister at was not involved in the community – our ministers would not be on the ministerial association, we would not participate with the other churches in the community Thanksgiving or Easter services, let alone bigger things like the school supply project, the kid’s clothes closet, or the youth center, but now we are involved with the our brothers and sisters in other churches, trying to follow Jesus as best as we possibly can.  We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when we allow God to work among us.  God has more in store for us if we remain faithful to Him, surrender our lives, learn to hear His voice and listen to his leading, and live to bring Him glory.  Through it all we can live the best life possible and encounter God in ways we haven’t even imagined.

Like many churches, our church once had this misguided thought that we were the only ones right with God because our beliefs, all of them, were essential.  When we started changing, people left this church over our refusal to condemn the unbaptized, the name on the building, our modern worship style, where in the building we gathered, that we will not condemn casual drinking, my title as pastor, that we accept people in the other churches in the community as brothers and sisters, and other issues that I probably don’t even know about.  We once fostered an environment where maintaining the rituals of church attendance, being baptized, and participating in the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis were what made a person right with God.  This was done to the exclusion of more significant matters.  I am so glad those days are behind us.  Let us be careful to never stumble back.

There is a disease that causes churches to lose focus on the major things and become obsessed with the minors.  This disease can permeate a church and cause us to isolate ourselves from other believers because of differences in beliefs and actions?  Obviously, we believe what we believe is right or we would not believe it.  Every other church believes what they believe is right or they would not believe it.  Both of us can not be right, but, more than likely, neither of us are right on all things.  The dilemma we face is to discern at what point should we accept another as a brother or sister.  What are the essentials to being a Christian?

More tomorrow.