Should I go to church, or better yet, shouldn’t I want to?

Here’s a brief video on why the individual Christian will naturally desire to be part of a local church. This lad, author of Am I Really a Christian, remarks that the question of whether or not I should go to and join a church is really kind of a weird question. He poses a follow-up question: “That’s kind of like a wife saying, ‘Do I really have to live with my husband?'” In the end, when we don’t desire to be part of a local community and use the spiritual gifts-which are given to bless not ourselves but the local church-we should probably surmise there is something wrong with us. More than something wrong with every church in your area or surrounding area. Check out this video, as it will only take you two and a half minutes.

Communicant Membership and why its important: Revised

This Sunday our church, Redeemer Pres, will be receiving two new communicant members. They are sister and brother in the 7th and 8th grade respectively. The only thing that is kind of weird is that outside a youth baptism, where we did receive her as a communicant member (kids become members when their parents join the church by profession of faith), we’ve not recently (the last communicants class has been several years) made a distinction betwixt member and communicant membership.
But there’s a serious problem. Most Baptistic folks rightly find it special to declare VERBALLY that they in fact do personally believe in Jesus. For Baptists, this time is special because the child, youth, or adult now owns their own faith. And of course, whenever Presbyterians perform a believers’ baptism it is also special. Less water, but just as special.
So if you join a Presbyterian church, or are persuaded to join the Dark Side on this issue (depending on who you ask!), do you forsake a special opportunity and sacrament? 
No, not at all, if the church follows the scriptural pattern of the Old and New Testament.
At some point in time, the baptized child, who has the sign and seal of God’s Covenant Promise (the sacrament seals the PROMISE, not the PERSON-a Presbyterian distinction) still must decide one day if he will be a covenant keeper or a covenant breaker. When he/she decides to take in Jesus for himself/herself, he/she has the opportunity to make that public profession before Jesus and His congregation by affirming the gospel and concomitant scriptural membership vows-simply what it means to be a member of God’s Covenant community.
THEN, the professing believer is invited to commune (hence the word “communicant”) at the communion table. He has declared what he/she believes to be true and now partakes in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  He/she belongs there because of the work of the Holy Spirit. This is no less a joyous occasion than a baptism, and this is what is happening this Sunday.

At Redeemer, we’re hoping to give believing children and youth an opportunity to profess Jesus publicly by going through a brief 4 part study based upon the gospel and membership vows. We’re hoping children and youth will see this as an opportunity to exalt the saving work of Christ in their specific lives.

Why Join a church? Part I: I was once a non-joiner

At Redeemer, we’ve been starting to get a stream of folks wanting to join. But of course mingled in with those folks who want to join, there are, and will inevitably be, folks who simply won’t join this or any church. I’m going to do a min-series (though I know summer is usually the time for mini-series’) on why I think you should and should want to join a church.
I want to start it off by saying that I once lived in the “why join a church camp,” especially when I’m regularly attending and participating (not just showing up) in worship, tithing, connecting, and even serving an existing ministry.
For 3 years as a youth director at Westminster Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, I did not join. My reasoning was that I didn’t really agree with the traditional-ignore-your neighbor-but-send-missionaries-overseas mentality (as I saw it). I also had disagreements which stemmed from philosophy of ministry differences (simply what church ministry should look like). And I hated the organ and thought it was the church’s main idol, though I might not have been wrong.
Looking back on my years from age 22-25 (not my best years), I can say there were several factors which led me to leave for seminary without even being a church member for the previous three years. That doesn’t look good on an application!
1.) HENDER”SIN” One of the sins of the Henderson’s which runs pretty deep over the generations is an automatic suspicion of authority. Perhaps it goes back to the Scottish roots, for when the Scots weren’t fighting the Brits, they were simply fighting each other. Whatever it is, authority in general is not something to be respected (contra Romans 13) and people in authority are not to be trusted (contra I Thess 5:12). Fortunately God’s redeeming work deals with our specific sins, and my grandfather (when alive), father, brother and I, are currently members of specific churches.
2.) I was just plain dumb and immature. As a youth director I made many mistakes, like the live mouse toss for our Fear Factor Outreach (yep the first mouse bit a kid and ended those shenanigans quick, fast, and in a hurry) and I’m OK to admit that. I put not joining the church up there with the mouse toss. I’m not saying you’re dumb if you don’t join a church, but I certainly was. The gospel gives me, and all of us who believe in it, the opportunity to say, “I was dumb, and I realize that, but Jesus loves this dumb sinner.” I realized my folly and joined University Presbyterian Church in Orlando the spring of my first year.
3.) The senior pastor was not like the previous three I’ve with whom I have labored. He was gracious and helpful while I struggled with depression, but did not really challenge the notion of why I wouldn’t join. It was a non-issue. But it really shouldn’t have been. There were, as I already mentioned, some subtle, but underlying sinful issues.

Anyhow, if you’re a hesitant joiner, or just an anti-joiner, I wanted to share a little of my past so you know that I once walked in your shoes even while serving as a paid staff. I’ll get into why I think you should consider joining a church in the next few posts.