Jared Totten has a new article titled, The Church: are you a lover or a leaver? A few years ago, I almost became a leaver. In fact, for too long I hovered in between the realms of loving and leaving. Not so any longer.
Count me as being squarely in the camp of those who love the church. Sure the church has some issues, but the joy of being part of Christ's bride far outweighs the blemishes that some (including myself) have brought upon the church. I have also read some pretty horrendous blog posts, but still love to participate in the blogging world.
I could go on with generalities, but let me tell you why I love the church of which I am a member. That church is First Baptist Church of Boynton Beach (Florida). I am one of the newer members of our church having moved to Boynton Beach in the latter part of 2011.
1. I love the heartbeat of the church.
This is a church that deeply desires to live out what is articulated in the vision statement.
We seek to be a Word-saturated, joyfully-Reformed, transformational community to the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We are motivated to shine the spotlight on God. We are not about personalities and ingenious strategies. We do have personalities and strategies, but these are merely instruments to honoring the name of God.
We pursue ongoing gospel transformation. This shows up in the love and encouragement amongst the family of faith. In my short time at the church, I have been strengthened and challenged to grow in my personal and corporate walk with the Lord.
We have a rich theological foundation built on those truths known as reformed doctrine. This is not an angry, harsh reformational theology. It is one that is demonstrated by the joy of serving an amazing God. The Scriptures provide the basis for all that we strive to be and do.
All of us have probably seen churches or organizations who have a disconnect between their actions and their vision statements. Such is not the case here. I see this statement lived out in our leaders and in the congregation.
2. I love the demographics of the church.
South Florida in general is a true melting pot of ethnicities, cultures and languages. Boynton Beach has significant population segments comprised of the elderly, Latin, Islanders (Haitians, Jamaicans, etc.), Jews and just about every other ethnic group. On any given Sunday, I join in worship with many who are unlike me culturally. But we love the same Jesus.
This past Sunday I met the people in our class for prospective members. This group included former Muslims from Kenya and a Jewish Christian. My day was greatly enriched by interacting with these folks.
3. I love the leadership of the church.
Our elders led by Dr. Buz McNutt have consistently demonstrated themselves to be faithful in their role as shepherds. Personally, each of them have ministered to my wife and me in a manner that benefits us greatly. My wife and I come from vastly different religious backgrounds. I was raised in the church and served for years in pastoral ministry. My wife is a relatively new convert with her early religious life influenced by a cult. These men and the church in general have been a blessing to both of us.
4. I love our growth group.
We gather each week with a few other couples to fellowship, pray and encourage one another. I love these people with all of my heart. They have invested their lives into ours and we into theirs. We share their joys and their sorrows.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I love my church. I have been blessed to have been part of some wonderful churches both as a pastor and as a parishioner. Grateful am I that the church did not give up on me and that I did not leave.