Ever found yourself sitting on a Sunday evening wondering – am I at the right church for me?
Allow me to offer one consideration that should help us answer our question.
Mark Dever, pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, defines a healthy church as: ‘a congregation that increasingly reflects God’s character as his character has been revealed in his Word’ (What Is a Healthy Church, pg. 40).
In his estimation, and I believe he is right, that means the Bible must be central to everything the church does. Therefore, Dever is correct in stating ‘If a healthy church is a congregation that increasingly displays the character of God as his character has been revealed in his Word, the most obvious place to begin is to call Christians to listen to God’s Word’ (pg. 63).
When we consider what the Bible has to say about itself it is hardly surprising that it must be central to everything that we do in church. Nor is it surprising that Christians should be called to listen to God’s Word.
The Bible is described as words breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16). It is living and active (Heb. 4:12), more precious than gold or silver (Ps. 119:72) and it is life giving (Mt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3). This is further supported by Romans 10:17 and 1 Corinthians 1:21 – both of these texts tell us that it is through the proclamation of the Word that people come to faith in Jesus Christ.
All of this is subsumed into the grand storyline of the Bible, God revealing himself through his redemptive acts in history to his creation.
So, back to our question – am I at the right church for me? This question must be answered in part by asking is the Bible central to all the church does.
Let’s take for example a Sunday morning service. Is the Bible opened and read by those at the front during the service? Does the pastor let the Bible speak for itself? Is the Bible prayed during the service? Do the prayers offered during the service reflect the language and prayers of the Bible? Is the Bible sung on a Sunday? Do you literally sing Scripture (for example the Psalms)? Do the songs that are sung reflect accurately the words of the Bible?
Does the Bible saturate the Sunday morning service?
Now obviously this is not the only factor in answering our question. However, if the Bible is featuring prominently in the life of our church we must consider again our questioning of whether this is the right church for us or not.
Dever continues, ‘…the church finds life as it listens to the Word of God…God’s Word, and God’s Word alone, gives life’ (pg.55; 66).
God’s Word does give life. Therefore, we must be very wary of leaving a church which holds God’s Word front and centre. Because, not only does God’s Word give life to the community, but it also gives life to the individual – ‘God’s Word is the Christian’s life’ (Mark Talbot, For the Fame of God’s Name, pg. 76).