Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Weighing the Word: The Authentic Church

Series Explanation

Every New Year’s Sunday I like to preach a “State of the Union” message – examining who we are as a church family, how we need to change and where we want to go, Lord willing, in the coming year.

Because of the amount of growth we have experienced over the past year, I decided to broaden that topic a little and look at Grace Fellowship Church as a whole, asking the question, “Why do we do church the way we do?”

The obvious Scripture to teach from was Acts 2:42-47. Although the characteristics listed here are not exhaustive, they do make a neat summary of 6 foundational marks of an authentic church. A church, of course, is a group of saved people... but they are a people that are devoted to something (or should we say, Someone?).

They are devoted to doctrine, fellowship, frequent observance of the Lord’s Supper, all kinds of praying, a developing and genuine personal spirituality in each member and evangelism.

With all the distractions of conferences, activities, "purposes," "days," events and such, it is no wonder that in many churches these foundational things are the very essentials that are missing! Give me a group of people committed to truly living lives devoted to these 6 activities and I say, “Watch out!”

Let me encourage you – seek to do a few excellent, essential things well, rather than a lot of decent things poorly! And structure your church so that these things become a priority in the lives of all the members.


  1. Amen, brother.

    I'm excited to hear reference to more growth at GFC. And it happend right after I left to minister here in Binbrook!

    On the same wave length as your post, I've started to read Mark Dever and Paul Alexander's 'The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry On the Gospel'. It's awesome. They write from the same realm that I orbit in and feed off of - e.g. Piper, Mohler, reformed theology, etc. But they keep saying things with punch that challenge the way I live and minister for the glory of God. I'd say that they challenge the way I 'do church' but they'd probably repudiate that phrase.

    In Christ, Ian.

  2. Ian, I just starting reading that book as well, and am definitely looking forward at getting more into it.

    This series of sermons was very helpful to me, as a seminary student with lots of friends working in various church settings, all with seemingly different goals and approaches.

    This was a much needed refresher, bringing us back to the basics.

  3. What a helpful little sermons series. Whenever people would ask me, "Why did you leave your [former] church?" I answered something along these lines, "I was going hungry and I was leaving hungry!" It's funny how most people go to church now to eat doughnuts and drink coffee but thats not the hunger I am talking about. I would always go with a craving to hear and learn God's word but I never left feeling filled.

    It is awesome that I now have an official biblical way of looking at a church to see if it is "Authentic" or not. I am now confident that I left my former church for the right reasons (they were not committed to teaching doctrine)and I can be sure that where I am is the real thing. This message is much needed in our day.

    I am fortunate enough that I am able to go to the Ligonier Ministries conference this year in Orlando. It is called, "Bought with a Price." Basically the conferenece is about how the church isn't our little playground where we can do whatever we want. But that it belong's to Christ and we have to do it His way because it is all His (that was in my own words)

  4. Thanks brother for the encouragment and for preaching the sermon series! It is always good to be reminded and to re-focus on christ and what it is to be an authentic church. I love the way we have implemented these truths...more times of prayer, lord supper, fellowship, evangelism sermons in the evening etc. May the Lord grant us much grace and mercy to desire Him above all and to be more like Christ!