Lessons from a Dad: Part 2, The Local Church is VITAL
Recently, I began writing a series of blogs as a result of reflecting on the 20th anniversary of my dad’s death. In the first one, I placed a list of 10 things I want to teach my girls. At the bottom of this post are links connecting you with the first two posts.
I mean this deeply: the most practical and impactful thing that happened to me, by the grace of God, from my dad’s early death was a local church that loved and still loves me. As I look back on the last 20 years, I am reminded over and over again how important, no, vital, the local church is. It hurts me to know that so many professing Christians do not see it this way. I am aware that no church is perfect. Many churches have lost their direction and hurt other people. Many people have lost their direction and hurt other churches. I am reminded of the great Charles Spurgeon quote about the church: “If I had never joined a church ’till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.”
We didn’t go to church when I was young, really just Christmas and maybe Easter. That was about it. It wasn’t until my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and given 6 months to live, that my family began attending church. We went to First Baptist Church, Panhandle, Texas. I cannot begin to put into words what this body of believers means to me. We were, and to a large degree still are, a broken and hurting family. We offered no real value as members of this church. We were nominal attenders at best. But the Lord had broken us to the point where we had no where else to turn. In my 2nd grade mind, they took my family in and treated us as if we were the most important people they had ever met. We started going all the time. Sunday School, Sunday Morning, Sunday Night, Wednesday Night, RA’s, VBS, Revivals, etc. If the doors were open, the Moores were there.
I remember my dad going to foreign places for treatment – like Houston – and he and my mom being gone for days at a time. Members of the church, and community of Panhandle, took care of my brother and I. They made sure we had food, that our dogs were taken care of, the yard was mowed… Little things that made a huge impression on me. After my dad died, it was the church and community of Panhandle that stepped up for my family. I have been on more huntin’ and fishin’ trips with people from the community and from FBC Panhandle that I can possibly remember. They would just call, “Hey, you want to go fishing/hunting in a few days?” “SURE!” “OK, I am gonna swing by and check the guns, fishing equipment, etc. I’ll make sure everything is good to go. I will take care of it.” And when I was told that, what I really heard was, “I will take care of you.”
Those things leave impressions on young kids. Impressions that never leave. It changes how you view people, communities, and for the purpose of this particular blog, the church. I hurt when people hate the church, but say they love Jesus. It makes no sense to me. I know and understand that as great of impression as I had from the local church, others get impressions that push them away. But I see passages like Ephesians 5:25-32. In it, Paul is talking about marriage and giving the roles of husbands and wives, and then seamlessly moves in the church. Jesus loves the church so much that He gave himself up for her: Ephesians 5:25. In fact, marriage is meant to be an illustration for the love of Christ for the church: Ephesians 5:32. So, is this talking about the universal church (every Christian) or the local church? Ephesians 1:1 suggests that Ephesians was written to the Saints who are in Ephesus, which is a local church. On top of this, by far, the majority of the New Testament letters are addressed initially to local churches or pastors of local churches: Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:2, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1. 2 Thessalonians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:3, Titus 1:5, Philemon 1:2, Hebrews 10:25 and 13:24, 1 Peter 1:1. Revelation starts with John addressing the 7 churches, Revelation 1:4-3:22. Acts 8:1-3 talks about Paul persecuting the local church. In Acts 9:4-5, when Paul encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus ask Paul why he is persecuting Him. He is so closely associating himself to the local church, that persecution against it, it persecution against Him. Jesus, in His own words, talks about forgiveness and CHURCH discipline. Matthew 18:15-20 is giving the church authority and importance. At the absolute bare minimum, we must look at all of these verses and think, “Ok, the local church is important. It should not be neglected.”
Although, I am writing with my dad’s death and my girls in mind, I cannot emphasize enough: the local church is VITAL. It is where believers from all walks of life gather together; it is where believers sing worship songs to God together; it is where the Lord’s Supper is to be taken together; it is where baptism takes place; it is where preaching the Word of God happens. IT IS VITAL. Ira Baptist Church has a church covenant that states when you join as a member, you are committing to maintaining this covenant and holding other members accountable to this covenant. It is sanctification. You can see the covenant here: https://fbcira.com/covenant. Our goal with this is to be intentional in supporting one another as we live our lives in Ira.
I learned in a time of hurting and pain, the local church, and community, were there for me. They took care of me. I am forever grateful for the impact they had on my life, especially during that time. Thankfully, it didn’t end there. I grew up in a youth group where the Lord called me to ministry, I preached my first sermon, and where I was a youth minister for a summer. All in that church. Addi and Bryn, please hear me: No church is perfect. But no Christian is meant to go through life disconnected from the local church. The local church are the people who are members. Girls, I pray for you to be saved, daily; I pray that you would be plugged into a Gospel -centered local church, and that it would have a positive impact on your life like it did on mine. I pray that you would, then, turn around and edify other members of that church, as I try to do as a Pastor and also as a member of a local church. I pray that the church you join, Lord-willing, would evangelize and disciple you, and that you would be heavily involved, not for your glory but for the Glory of God as seen in his bride – the church.
I know this blog is not filled with the Dad-stories that the other ones were. I know that is it more theological than the other ones were. But this doctrine of the church is so neglected and abused by so many, that I felt I would best serve the Lord by using my experience to push us into the Word of God. My experience offers no authority to how you should feel about the local church. But the Bible does have that authority. I pray this helps you to see the local church as vital, not just important. If we are to be intentional, then the local church must not be sacrificed as secondary; it must be valued as primary; it is VITAL.
Introduction to series blog: https://fbcira.com/blogs/2464693–may-3-2000
1.Jesus is better than you can ever imagine
2.The local Church is VITAL
3.Know what matters most
9.Give your best, always
10.Be a little better tomorrow
Blog posts without Ira Baptist Church updates can be found at https://moorewordsfromben.wordpress.com/
Former Member of FBC Panhandle
Former Member of University Baptist Church, Shawnee OK
Former Member of FBC Tulia
Former Member of FBC Spearman
Current Member of Ira Baptist Church
Pastor, Ira Baptist Church