There are times I am able to get a glimpse of how Paul must have felt when he wrote that.
I’m only a few years older than my friend Justin Song, but I had the opportunity to disciple him for a time after he came to the Lord last spring, and I have been overjoyed to see how fast he has grown and matured in the faith, and oriented his life around the Cross, particularly owing also to the help and encouragement of a dude named Kerby Skurat, both of whom are part of the Fusion Young Adults Community at New Hope Church.
This is an e-mail I received from Justin today (reprinted with his permission):
Bryan, I was going to post this on your blog but it got super wordy and long and I think I am off on a different tangent then you guys. Anyway I was going to start it like this:
Yo, long time reader first time blogger.
I see and find helpful the parallel of church membership and marriage but I find that the parallel for new Christians between church membership and addiction more suitable.
My oldest brother is a recovering drug addict who has been to rehab twice. My general sense for both new Christians and people getting out of rehab is a coming off the top of a mountain, strong in spirit and determination yet lacking direction and guidance. Often times addicts falter after a few months because they get into the same habits, same friends, and old behavior. New Christians are nothing more then recovering addicts but instead of drugs and alcohol they are still addicted to worldly things. I believe this is what happened to my brother the first time after rehab. He was strong hearted and motivated to make a new start and succeeded for a while. What lead to his relapse was a false sense of how far along he had progressed. He felt that he was strong enough to hang out with old friends who he got high with.
I also believe that the individuals that only attend church once a week give themselves the same false sense of how far he or she has progressed. It allows a person to make statements that they are a Christian without actively progressing their relationship with Jesus Christ. So I agree with Dever’s statement, “If you call yourself a Christian but you are not a member of the church you regularly attend, I worry that you might be going to hell.”
3 reasons why I believe it is important to be a member of a Church (they came from the Carson’s book we read, “Basic for Believers”):
1. Putting the Gospel first and that the primary focus is on the Cross
What it basically boils down to me is a simply flight or fight mentality. Each individual has a voice in a church, that voice should not be used to push agendas or some weird new age hippie idea but that voice should be used when they recognize counterfeit teaching or anything that pulls us away from the cross. Pastor Steve [Goold] talks a lot about being plugged in, and we need to be plugged into a church’s Bible study, sermons, activities, community involvement, etc. If we are members of church we need to make certain that the church acts in a biblically based and Cross-centered way. If we are not plugged in we just simple pick up and move to another church.
2. Emulating worthy Christian leaders
I think that this is the second most important step for a new Christian. (The first understanding your salvation through the Cross). Kerb Dogg [Skurat] did an excellent job hitting this point at Fusion last Saturday. The Church needs different people on a different progression on their walk. You and Kerby have used the term rock star Christian but I prefer sports terms. A church needs different levels of players. If I am just learning how to dribble I can become discouraged or overwhelmed scrimmaging a Pro level Christian. It is better that I watch him, his behaviors, how he treats people, how he is plugged into the community, his veteran leadership, and how he is willing to step up in crunch time.
Now, you can emulate that person, you can be in the backyard practicing that sweet tomahawk dunk you saw on the lowered 6 feet rim but your depth of knowledge won’t allow you to touch the net on the ten feet rim. I think it is best to scrimmage against people who are at your own level or even a few levels above you. Its good for a person to get his butt kicked once in a while so he goes back and sees how much he needs to work and improve. But in a church you need all levels from beginners to Pros so people in a church have people to find to play a pick up game at all times.
3. Giving back
I think I told you this once but what really motivated me in joining NHC was hearing the Driscoll sermon on becoming less of a consumer of a church and giving back to the church. One way to give back, and I only discovered its importance after I joined, is the power of your story. Giving your testimony gives other Christians renewed enthusiasm and renewed vigor. Each person that becomes a member of a church has s a different story of how God has worked in their lives.
Anyway sorry for the length, let me know if you wanna hit the gym sometime.
» I had the privilege of baptizing Justin and his girlfriend, Kassie (Kerby’s sister), this summer. They went through membership classes and were affirmed as members at NHC this fall.