From Sunday until this Wed (9/17-20) I am preaching in a “series of meetings” at a church here in town. I have explained to the people that I will approach these services in a way perhaps not typical of Revival meetings. I have argued that if we truly want revival, we must start with the church being the church- the people of God must get right first. Therefore, I am preaching on the church. Sunday morning I preached on the identity of the church from 1 Tim 3:14-16. In the evening I took up Ephesians 4 :1-16 pointing out that Paul describes gospel living in terms tied up with living in community (contra our typically over individualistic views of holiness, Christian growth) and that Paul in this passage stresses the importance of each member, that no one can grow as they ought unless their church around them functions properly. Thus, your own growth will be hindered if your church is not being healthy. Also, your fellow members cannot flourish as they ought if you are not supplying to the body. This is a crucial point in light of the fact that in most churches about 50% of the people on the membership roll have not attended in years.
This evening then I preached from Heb 3:12-4:16 pointing out that the author presents three antidotes to apostasy, answers to how God supplies for His people to persevere. The first one, that receives most attention in this text, is the community itself. There is strong language here about watching over one another, exhorting one another daily which presumes significant interaction between church members between Sundays. The other two then are exposure to the Word of God and drawing near to our High Priest.
I think tomorrow I will then preach from 1 Cor 5 on church discipline. Historically the renewal of discipline has often sparked revival, so it would seem to be a very appropriate (though atypical) topic.
I am convinced that if we really want to be effective in evangelism we must get serious about the purity and integrity of the church. For too long we have ignored this and sought to just “get ‘em in.” Surely we can see the lack of effectiveness of this approach. Scripture would call us to another way.
Lastly, this church is a great group of people with a real hunger for the Word. I am encouraged by them and their faithful pastor.