Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One

The most well-known hymn in America, “Amazing Grace,” by the former slaveholder John Newton, contains a line that many people stumble over.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!

The hymn may be popular, but the sentiment is not. Few Americans consider themselves “wretches” of moral repugnance and debasement. We like to think of ourselves as basically good, with a few flaws; not fundamentally bad, with few virtues to save us.

Some Christians believe it would be good to remove unnecessary offense by downplaying human sinfulness, but such a move severs the root of what makes grace so powerful. It is precisely because we’re bad, not good, that God’s love in sending his Son to die for our sins is so significant.

The trouble is, grace is unimaginable in a world where everyone believes grace is deserved. And when grace is transformed into entitlement, the definitions change, for both those inside and outside the church.

Read more: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2017/10/12/welcome-everyone-affirm-no-one/

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7 Things Your Church Needs From You

https://www.challies.com/christian-living/7-things-your-church-needs-from-you/

What Should We Expect Of Our Church MemberS?

I have been thinking a lot about membership lately. The below is taken from a section of a draft membership document we are working on. What are the main expectations on church members?

Attend regularly
Hebrews 10:25 says, we should not neglect ‘to meet together, as is the habit of some’. The reason is because our meeting together is one of the primary ways we fulfil our obligations as church members. It is very hard to encourage, build up, challenge, edify or any of the ‘one another’ commands when we don’t meet with the other believers to whom we have committed. We expect regular attendance when the church gathers together.

The rest is at: https://stephenkneale.com/2017/10/10/what-should-we-expect-of-our-church-members/

What’s the Purpose of … Pastors?

https://www.challies.com/articles/whats-the-purpose-of-pastors/

What’s the Purpose of … the Church?

https://www.challies.com/articles/whats-the-purpose-of-the-church/

Why Churches Should Have Meaningful Membership

https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/erikraymond/2017/09/25/why-churches-should-have-meaningful-membership/

Is Your Church Messy Enough?

I love my church. I love the people I gather with week-by-week. They are fun and safe and easy to be with. But who said church should be safe and easy? What if one of the marks of a good church, a blessed church, is that it’s a messy church?

I’m sure you know of the parable of The Lost Sheep in Luke 15. We call it “The Parable of The Lost Sheep” but it is actually “The Parable of the Kind and Loving Shepherd.” The sheep aren’t the point of the story. Like so many of Jesus’ parables, this parable was told in the presence of two groups of people—people who were convinced of their own badness and people who were convinced of their own goodness. And in this case Jesus was speaking primarily to those good and religious people.

The parable is simple: A sheep has wandered off from the flock and become lost. The shepherd will not rest until he has found it and restored it to himself. He goes, he searches, he finds, he restores, he rejoices. Just think about that silly, helpless sheeping, wandering lost and alone in the wilderness. Think about that tired shepherd who had to go wandering far and wide to find him. Think of the ways he could have responded when he finally tracked it down.

The shepherd finds his sheep and rebukes it: “You stupid, ignorant sheep. How dare you wander off from me?” No. He doesn’t rebuke it.

The shepherd finds his sheep and punishes it: “You dumb, disobedient sheep. I’ll teach you to wander off!” No, he doesn’t punish it.

Read more: https://www.challies.com/articles/is-your-church-messy-enough/