The church I am privileged to serve as pastor is not the perfect church. It is not a large church nor a rich church. There have been times when we struggled to meet budget and there have been times when attendance was discouraging. If I listened to the church gurus I would have fled this part of the world years ago. And yet God wants a church here. She is the apple of His eye. He loves her with all of His great heart. He loved her enough to shed His own blood for her. He has answered her prayers and used her testimony for well over two hundred years.
As we met last Lord’s Day afternoon I was struck again by the turn the meeting took. We prayed, sang a song and someone testified to God’s mercy in saving them (Yes…I mean spoke right up and thanked God for saving mercy). Others joined in and for about an hour, we exhorted one another and shared with each other what God was doing in our lives. One man spoke about how God was delivering him from bitterness. Another told about the joy he was having teaching his children about Christ. Others shared prayer needs and we prayed together. This was interspersed with the singing of songs suggested by the people. It was a real worship/exhortation time. And then the Lord allowed me to preach from 1 Timothy 1 for about forty minutes. About an hour after the meeting the last of our people left for home. This kind of thing is not foreign or unusual among the people of Union Baptist Church. It even happens this way on many Sunday Mornings. The New Testament validates that kind of activity when God’s people meet (1Cor.14:26; Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16.)
UBC is a missionary church. The Lord has allowed this little group to touch lives literally all over the world. They have taken on a worldwide internet ministry, support missionaries on the field, are constantly involved in special mission projects and, without hesitation, supply everything needed for me and others to preach the Gospel anywhere God opens the door.
Now, I am not saying these things to boast in men. I do boast in the grace of our God who has blessed us so wonderfully. But I was thinking. Many people would be terribly uncomfortable at UBC. You see…
1. We do not have drums.
2. I can’t remember the last time we had “special” music.
3. We do not have a screen where we project the words to the songs we sing.
4. We do not have a guitars.
5. We do not cater to a special age group.
6. We are not Reformed (though we do hold to the same doctrines of grace our forefathers believed).
7. We are not emerging.
8. We do not have concerts.
9. We do not have multiple campuses.
Now, I want you to understand. I AM NOT SAYING ANY OF THESE THINGS ARE WRONG. I am not even saying that they will never be a part of the meetings of UBC (well…we aren’t tempted to be emergent but that is another story!). Everyone of the things listed above might be perfectly acceptable, even the direct will of God, in some cases. But what I am saying is that contrary to popular belief, they are not NECESSARY components of God’s church. The necessary components of God’s church are these: The Presence of God working among a called out, obedient, covenanting people who make Christ the very center of their meetings and their lives; A people who observe the ordinances as given in the New Testament and who believe the Bible to be the word of God; A people who practice church discipline and lovingly watch over each other and pray for one another; A people who exhort and encourage one another and even rebuke one another on occasion; A people who have the world on their hearts and do their best to spread the Gospel far and wide. In other words, the Lord’s Church may not have much more than the Lord and one another other, but that is enough. It is so much enough.