Reflections on 10 Years of Membership at One Church
In my entire life I have been a member at 2 churches. First, the church my parents raised me in. Second, the church I interned for in seminary and now pastor. I have spent most of my believing life at this current church. This year is now my tenth year at the same church. Here are a few encouraging thoughts as I reflect on my last 10 years at the same church with (more or less) the same people.
#1: The Word Works. In the last 10 years, our church’s pursuit to know and apply Scripture has been a blessing. Despite what many may think, adhering to God’s inerrant word works in life and ministry. There is great joy in obeying God’s word in all areas of ministry. God is blessing us with a strengthening unity, love, and holiness by adhering to Scripture in every possible aspect. From the order of worship, church structure, discipleship, evangelism, or any other program you can think of we have seen God’s grace from simply sticking to Scripture.
#2: Membership Matters. A second lesson I’ve learned in the past 10 years is that membership in a local church matters. As a Christian, it is important to surround myself with people who know me and have seen me at my best and worst. The vulnerability and transparency is important for my soul. Church membership properly practiced opens the door to levels of sanctification and accountability that I would otherwise never receive.
As a pastor, church membership matters in identifying the people of God for whom I will be held accountable. There is a clarity and clean conscience I have when I know the members of Pillar Bible Church. It is liberating and emboldening and helps me shepherd the flock of God in the most meaningful way possible.
#3: God Gives What Is Needed. Our church is not a megachurch by any means. This means that we do not have megachurch resources. With that said, in the past 10 years I have seen God provide for the needs of his people in many ways. God has provided us a generous space for us to meet (for more than just Sunday’s). Financially, we are able to operate in way that generously supports gospel ministry. Spiritually, God has provided the church with a diverse group of people equipped with gifts and talents that help fill the needs of our little church.
#4: Great (Gospel) Things Happen in Small Churches. Being a member in the same church has shown me that the gospel works in the lives of people. The gospel is not merely useful to bring sinners to salvation but also sanctifies the saint. I’ve seen people struggle with sin and overcome sin with great victory. No matter how heinous the sin, there is great joy in having a front row seat in gospel triumphs.
We have also had the opportunity to support great ministries as a local church. Whether it’s a local Bible training school or ministry overseas. We have seen God use our church’s people and resources to advance the gospel to people in places that we never imagined.
#5: Establishing Culture Takes Time. Scripture describes the church as a body (1 Cor 12). A body must regularly practice exercise and a disciplined diet in order to see change. One workout is not enough. One healthy meal is not enough. Over time, commitment to such disciplines lead to the slow, but steady transformation of our physical bodies. In the same way change in our human body is incremental and slow, so too is change in the local church. It would be difficult to see the changes in Pillar Bible Church if I simply looked at the last 2–3 weeks, but an evaluation of the last 10 years is more telling.
Sometimes, I peruse the documents on my laptop at ministry documents that were used 5, 8, or even 10 years ago. It is amazing how things have changed. Whether they are minutes from a meeting, an old Sunday bulletin, or a prayer journal. Over the years, there has been significant changes in our local church and I thank God for His grace to us.
Final thoughts: I’m sure if I thought long and hard enough this would be much longer, but for now this list will suffice. I am happy to be part of my local church. Through all of her ups and downs, commitment to this local body has been a big part of my spiritual life and I praise God for placing me here. Looking forward to what God will accomplish in the years to come.