Mark Dever has written a nice little article on the crucial importance of the local church in the life of the believer and as the central component of God’s kingdom agenda. Dever is the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC and the leader of 9 Marks Ministries. In a short and accessible article he explains the importance of relationships and community in the church, the importance of discipleship and discipline (and authority), and though he doesn’t mention it directly, the story of how these truths burrowed into his consciousness speaks to the importance of biblical preaching. He writes:
…as I’ve preached through the Bible from week to week, what is undeniable to me is that Tyndale’s decision to translate ecclesia as “congregation” was a good one! The importance of the network of relationships that make up a local church is the venue in which our discipleship is lived out. Love is largely local. And the local congregation, then, is the place which claims to display this love for all the world to see. So Jesus taught His disciples in John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
One of the problems besetting the American church is that we often approach church as consumers, we approach faith in a privatistic way, and we approach the Christian life as rugged individuals. The result is a very low view of the local church. Maybe someone should forward Dever’s article to George Barna.