Part 4 of the Worldview Series
When was the last time you had a good sit-down talk with someone about ecclesiology?
As we Build Up Our Grads, finding a great church will play a vital role in their Christian walk and growth, so they need to be equipped with a great theology on church and what it is or is not. Yet the topic is two-fold. We need to help equip the next generation to find a healthy church (we will recommend some resources), and we also need to focus on how we become the church the next generation is looking for.
ec·cle·si·ol·o·gy – The theological doctrine relating to the church.
It’s not really one of those topics that comes up on a regular basis, yet it was certainly a hot topic for Paul as he wrote to the New Testament believers across his epistles. We often tend to think most of our personal salvation, but we are called to be in community with other believers. Church isn’t just something we do, it’s who we are, and we can’t “be the church” all alone.
“Going to church” is a much different viewpoint than seeing ourselves as the church.
What are we modeling when it comes to our engagement with the church? How are we living that out in our homes? Is church something you just go to, a calendar commitment, or are you living as the body of Christ?
For the younger generation, there is some hesitation or even rebellion against establishments and formal institutions, and often their concerns are not unfounded. It’s going to be
really hard impossible to find a church full of perfect people. But that’s not Jesus’ fault.
If there is no perfect place, what exactly are we to coach the next generation to look for as they go out into the world?
Two suggestions – arm them with wisdom, and be that church they are looking for.
Here are 3 commitments I want my kids to look for in a church.
1. Commitment to a local body of believers.
The beauty of the big C Church is that it’s made up of many local bodies of believers, committed to one another as Acts 2:42-43, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Look for these markers today, then become a member and put down roots.
YouTube church doesn’t count. It took off during the pandemic and played a valuable role in giving us access to services we could not attend. It is still a blessing for those who can’t attend regularly, but it is not a replacement for living in community.
When one of our sons was on assignment in Europe, he was out running when he met a local family, found out they were believers, and was invited to attend church with them. They were a different denomination and held different beliefs, but they had common ground on crucial issues. Think of it – he met brothers and sisters in Christ across the world! Are you looking for the body?
2. Commitment to the Word.
Biblical truth – no more, no less – is a non-compromise issue. No great production, compelling speaker, or phenomenal worship band can substitute for biblical theology in preaching, theology, and gospel truth. Those attributes are only advantages if founded on a solid biblical foundation.
3. Commitment to Discipleship.
Discipleship flows out of commitment to the local church and the truth of the Word.
Another of our kids had quite an experience searching for a local body of believers in a new location. They sought discipleship but were basically told, “We don’t do that here.” They were put on a waiting list of sorts for another mentorship-type ministry “since they were new.” I want to give that church the benefit of the doubt, but the situation does grieve me.
Becoming the Committed Church
And this is where the rubber meets the road for us as leaders. As we instruct this generation on how to find a church, we also instruct ourselves on how to be the church.
As a discipler, do you have your antenna up looking for others, or are you content for people to come and disappear? Are you looking for young men seeking to find a pathway and connect?
As a men’s ministry leader, how do you create that context? How are you helping others find a place to fit in? Are you excited about it?
Try this exercise: describe the church you want your sons and daughters to be part of. Go ahead and make a list like the one above. Get even more detailed. Now, as a pastor or men’s ministry leader, where do you see these qualities in your church, and where can you assist in growing these traits? How can you become this church?
So if we are looking for a way to teach the next generation how to find a church home, we can teach by showing. Welcome young people, seek them out, and embrace them as a vital part of your local church, worthy of investment. On the flip side, motivate and call mature believers to step outside of their comfort zone and get involved with the younger generations. Church growth doesn’t just mean numbers. It involves spiritual growth, depth, and seeing believers develop deeper faith, understanding, and love for Christ. We can be that church and seek out the young believers who come inside our building looking for community, truth, and discipleship.
“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.” Hebrews 10:24–25
What is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever
Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples by Thom S. Rainer, Eric Geiger
The Healing Church by Sam Black
How to Find a Church/Community:
From Dennis Rainey:
- Power of community
- Opportunity for involvement
- A church that builds men