Summary: The local church, when functioning Biblically, is the hope of the world and we get to be part of it.
Discipleship Matters: Engaging in Biblical Community
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
Review of series - what is a disciple?
This morning, we come to the end of our Discipleship Matters series (for now). Over these past two months, we have been exploring the difference between a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus.
We’ve learned that Jesus gave us a mission. It’s not optional. It’s the marching orders of the church. We know it as The Great Commission:
[Slide] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
The main verb in this command is “make disciples” and we do that by going into our sphere of influence with the Gospel and not just making converts but disciples. Then we baptize them and teach them to obey Jesus’ teaching.
Then we learned that a disciple is one who loves Jesus passionately.
We learned that a disciple is one who loves their church family, the least of these, their enemies, and people far from God.
We learned that a disciple is one who handles conflict in a Biblical, Christ-honoring way.
We learned that a disciple is one who understands the Gospel clearly and is able to share it boldly.
We learned that a disciple is one who remembers what matters most.
This morning, we will wrap up our series by seeing that a disciple of Jesus is one who is engaged in Biblical community.
We are going to consider why it’s important to be engaged in Biblical community, why some people chose not to, and some benefits for belonging to Biblical community.
But first, I need to lay some groundwork and answer the questions - what is community and what is not and what is church and what is its purpose?
Turn with me to Acts 2.
What is community?
I grew up in multiple communities. I was in the t-ball and then baseball community. I played basketball and was on a bowling team. I was in cub scouts. I attended five different schools. I was part of the chess club (and still had girlfriends).
As a teenager, I worked at the Mall of Memphis, one of the largest malls in the state of Tennessee. It was basically a small town and I knew most of the people that worked there.
I went to the University of Memphis and was part of the Honors Student Association.
Today, I’m part of the storm chasing community, my son Josh is part of the ham radio operators community, and my other son Austin is part of the Lancer owners community.
But belonging to those communities is very different than belonging to Biblical community.
Biblical community is not your family or friends and it certainly isn’t social media. I have 1,584 “friends” on Facebook and follow over 1,000 people on Twitter but that doesn’t mean that I have relationships with most of those people.
This younger generation is the most digitally connected and the most anxious and lonely generation ever.
Let me tell you another thing community is not that may surprise you. It’s not attending church. If you attend church, you share an experience with a group of other people but that doesn’t mean you are engaged in Biblical community with them.
What is Biblical community? Biblical community is doing life together and holding each other accountable to live our lives under the authority of Jesus Christ. It’s saying, “Let’s do our spiritual journeys together.”
And the primary way that God designed us to be in Biblical community together is the local church.
What is Church?
A church isn’t a building. Jesus didn’t die for a building. This building is where Chenoa Baptist Church meets but it isn’t the church. In fact, God forbid, if this building burnt to the ground, CBC would still be alive and kicking and we would meet in the field the next Sunday.
The church is always a people, never a place.
Here’s how John Piper defines “church,”
“A local church is a group of baptized believers who gather regularly to worship God through Jesus Christ to be encourage and challenged by the Word of God, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, all under the guidance of duly appointed leaders.”
Another pastor defines church this way:
“A local church is a group of baptized believers who join together in a commitment to help each other fulfill God’s purposes for the Kingdom and for their own lives.”
Church is not something we “go to” or something we attend, it’s a spiritual family we belong to.
Paul calls the church, the “body of Christ”
“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)