Solitary Confinement:

I wanted to blog about the necessity of the church in a person or family’s life. I want to address the need for believers to be connected and personally involved in the life of a local church. The reason being, is because I sense that very few of the thousands and even millions of church goers in the West fail to be personally connected and involved in the life of the church family. For the past six months, you could say that I have witnessed personally and first-hand how many Americans experience church—through the Sunday morning worship experience.

However, personal connection and involvement, in a church, is not showing up on Sunday morning, or Sunday night, hearing good music and a good message, and calling it a week. Personal connection and involvement is not showing up early to direct cars, watch children, direct the lighting, playing in the band, or attending a small group. Personal connection and involvement go far beyond attending and even serving in a ministry area.

Church involvement is not about being a member of an institution or “spiritual” country club, where you have membership dues, come and go as you please, and have some rules and regulations to follow. Church membership is about covenanting together to advance, proclaim, worship, and embody Jesus in the world. Quintessentially, the church is about Christ and his mission, not about man and his agenda.

Having witnessed this first hand in my own life, it has become very clear that it is hard to read, understand, and apply God’s word outside the church. Although there are some books of the Bible that were written to individuals, it is all connected to the body, we call, the people of God. We must understand that God’s word was written to and for his people. It is meant to be applied and obeyed within the covenant community of his people. In addition, the mission of God does not come to life outside the involvement and personal connection to a local church body. Encouragement, discipline, or accountability is extinct outside the connection and involvement of a local church body. Church is vital to the overall health of individuals and families.

Here is what I would list as prime importance in being connected and personally involved in a local church:
– Commitment to the large worship gathering
– Commitment to observe the ordinances of the church (baptism and Lord’s Supper)
– Commitment to serving the body, utilizing your giftedness in the body
– Commitment to serving the local community, together with the church body
– Commitment to discipleship, accountability, and encouragement in some form of small group—where Christian maturation can take place.
– Commitment to embodying the kingdom of God through word and deed
– All of this culminating in the covenanting together of actively participating in the mission of God—a mission that seeks to make his name known and glorified as well as see people far from him reconciled to himself.

God forbid, but if we ever had to go to prison, would we want to be in solitary confinement? I would not, nor would you. Solitary confinement is isolation from the community, of which you are a part. The truth is that many believers and believing family’s, live their lives in solitary confinement from the greater community of believers. My encouragement is find a local church, and do not just get “plugged in,” but immerse yourself in the life of that local church body. And I am not talking about staying busy doing stuff; I am talking about being family—loving, serving, worshipping, ministering, encouraging, discipling, fellowshipping, and being on mission. For churches, my encouragement is to make church membership and being integrated into the overall life of the church, extremely important. Do not make it about attending, but being.

Joannie and I are extremely ready to do this where God leads us.
J