Today in this series, we are looking at the doctrine of the Church. Some Christians will find this among the most controversial of these posts. For people who aren’t Christians, doctrines like the Gospel, Creation, the deity of Christ or the authority of Scripture might be most controversial. But it is among those who are Christians that we find people disillusioned or even hurt by the local Church. The reasons given for why people stop attending their local Church are many. But the result is the same: Christians gradually drift apart from meaningful relationships with other Christians thus depriving themselves of those things which God intended them to benefit through commitment to a local congregation and depriving others of those things which God intended them to provide to others through commitment to a local congregation.
Christians, at least “evangelical” Christians, usually assume the big doctrines: inspiration of Scripture, the Trinity, deity of Christ, etc. But there is a lot more controversy surrounding other doctrines, like ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church). That’s why 9 Marks Ministries lists local Church membership, discipline and biblical, male leadership as 3 marks of a truly healthy, biblical local Church body: they are open for debate in the minds of many Christians.
I know a number of good Christian people who no longer attend a local Church. And I’m sure there are many, many more who have similar stories. But I hope that the above link to 9 Marks website, the Scriptures provided there on this topic and even my own humble thoughts in this part of my statement of faith might encourage some to reconsider committing to a local congregation where the Gospel is preached. No congregation is perfect—none are even close. But then again, neither is any Christian. The fact remains that the local Church is the context in which God has purposed to build up individual Christians, draw the lost to Himself, and make sinners like Himself.
I believe in the unity and priesthood of all believers who have been saved through the grace of God by faith in Jesus Christ, and that together, from all of history and all the world, they form one Church, the Body of Christ under His sole rule, manifested by local congregations of believers led by a plurality of male elders, for the purpose of worship, fellowship, mutual edification through the gifting of the Holy Spirit, and teaching from the Scriptures.