11 compelling evidences that every follower of Jesus should be passionately committed to a specific local church

Until setting out to plant Downtown Cornerstone a few years ago, I had done little investigation into the biblical rationale behind church membership - or, more simply, being passionately committed to a specific, local, loving community of Jesus-followers. Though I had previously belonged to a church that practiced membership, I had a very cursory understanding of its biblical depth. I find this is very common. When it comes to the Christian life, the local church’s importance is often overlooked, minimized or misunderstood. Have you ever stopped to ask, “What is the local church? What is God’s purpose for the local church? What is church membership all about? Is that some sort of legalism or authoritarian power-grab? Is it biblically essential or merely optional? Is membership a matter of obedience to Jesus Christ or a matter of personal preference?” Over the years, through my own study and that of others, I have compiled the following list of 11 compelling evidences that every follower of Jesus should be passionately committed to a specific local church. I hope they serve to biblically root and stoke your affections for Jesus' local church as they have mine. 

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An opportunity to become a disciple-making-disciple (and be trained to plant a church)

This fall Downtown Cornerstone Church, which gathers in downtown Seattle, is rolling out two discipleship training tracks: a 1-Year Gospel Leader track and a 2-Year Pastor/Church Planter Residency. Each track leverages a mixture of BILD, Porterbrook and other resources to create a world-class, yet very local, training environment for making disciple-making-disciples. This is a great opportunity to be further equipped, whether you hope to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus, desire to grow as a disciple-maker and/or be trained as a church planter. For more information, track descriptions, frequently-asked-questions and to enroll, go here. 

If you're involved in ministry (in any form) you should read this

I'm currently in the middle of two weeks of vacation. One of my goals during this time is to revisit a number of books which have impacted me most (so far) this year. One of those is Sensing Jesus, by Zack Eswine. Before reading this book, I had never heard of Zack and, to be honest, would have judged this book by its cover. However, if I had, I would have missed a treasure trove of gospel-laden wisdom for modern-day pastors ministering in a culture of consumerism and celebrity. If you're involved in ministry (particularly in the US), you should read this. In my mind, this book should be read alongside Dangerous Calling, by Paul Tripp. I have lost track of how many times I have recommended it since I first read it. Here are a handful of my favorite quotes...

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"If I feel called to local church leadership, but know I am not ready, what should I do in the meantime?"

Our church is currently working its way through First Timothy. One of the major topics the Apostle Paul addresses is leadership, particularly qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-13). One of the questions I get from time to time is, "If I feel called to local church leadership, but know that I am not ready, what should I do in the meantime?" Over time I have put the following thoughts together. While I have potential pastors and deacons in view, as that is what the text addresses, clearly these could apply to any form of leadership at home and/or at the office. Wherever you may land, I have the following eight suggestions...

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15 questions to ask when searching for a local church to serve, participate in and call home

Cities are places of transition. Seattle is no different. Many people move to Seattle for school, work or new opportunities. Moving to a new community is difficult. But, finding a church that loves Jesus, believes the Bible and preaches the gospel is even more so. Since launching in 2011 we’ve met many new-to-the-city Jesus-following transplants in search of a church to call home. That search is not as easy as it might sound, particularly in Seattle. What follows are questions I encourage others to consider when in search of a new church family. There's no such thing as a perfect church or a church that will fulfill everything you wish a church would be, but there are a number of things that should be non-negotiable as you consider partnering with a local body of Jesus followers...

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Terry Virgo on charismatic leadership as God's gift to the church to retain his rule

Charismatic leadership is God’s gift to the church. He chooses whom He anoints with gifts of leadership so He retains His rule. When God anoints someone, His anointing becomes apparent to all. The spiritual gifting that is demonstrated as a result of the anointing gives public profile to the individual concerned. Often gifting in preaching or communicating the word begins to demonstrate God’s hand upon a man. This gives him a sphere of influence, and people begin to realize that they hear God through this man – he seems to bring God nearer to them. If his character and leadership skills match this public skill in the word of God, people begin to gather to him for spiritual leadership. This is a spiritual development, not an institutional one. As his vision, leadership skills and ability to communicate bear fruit in lives, people become joined to him like people did to David. They begin to speak as those who said to David: “We are yours, O David.”
— Terry Virgo, The Spirit Filled Church

Helping in the aftermath of "Sandy"

Now that we're a couple weeks out from hurricane "Sandy" the news coverage is slowly transitioning to other topics. Yet many in the hardest hit areas are still without power. Many are still trying to piece their lives back together. Many are still determining what's next. Many are still in need of the basics - food, water, shelter. If you haven't yet, you should consider giving something toward the relief effort taking place on the ground. Everything counts.

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