A note from Pastor Evan, Feb 2019
My dear friends—
What exactly is “the church?”
For many, the church is lifeless and outdated, full of people who think they know better, who are of little good to their communities and have wounded you very deeply. While for others, it’s just not that necessary. There are so many things that seem more compelling and urgent than showing up to church. And let’s be honest, you may find you connect with God better on your own time.
Friends, you might feel like you have given up on the church, but the church is not a building, it’s not an event or a set of programs. The church isn’t just some institution to share interests in, find an entertaining message, and if you’re lucky a good potluck and a vague sense of meaning. It’s not even essentially an institution to make you moral.
As we have been learning from Ephesians, the church is nothing less than God’s family, his home. I have to tell you, that sounds very strange to many people, not just to skeptics but to Christians, maybe even to you.
But, without discounting what you have experienced from sinful people in the church (...that’s all of us), we are confident that God is building something wonderful from the mess. He is committed to taking self-protective and even nasty people, even former enemies, and to build them into something new--not only into a family but into the institution very where the world would encounter God.
Why are we so assured that God is committed to its life and vibrancy? Jesus. Because the very Son of God has gone so far as to shed his precious blood for her redemption and unity. In breaking down the “dividing wall of hostility between us and God, what other walls could remain? If indeed the gospel is true, if indeed the construction of the church depends not on our faithfulness but his, and if the result is a dwelling place of his Spirit, then active participation in the church isn’t just our duty. It is our JOY.
Friends, whatever has brought you to Bayless, whether you share our beliefs or not, you are so welcome. We want to welcome, love, include and care for you regardless of where you are at spiritually.
AND YET, it is nearly impossible to seek the building up of this body into the measure and stature of Jesus without some way to publicly commit to one another, to know those who have publicly committed to faith in Jesus AND to belonging to the local church, to know who is being built together. Not only does it make it easier for pastors like me to, as Hebrews 13 says, “keep watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” Without a way to publicly commit to belong to one another, it is difficult to spur each other on to love and good deeds or to press in when we fall away from the holiness and joy Christ has called us to.
There is, in fact, STRONG evidence in the New Testament that the church had ways of knowing who was a committed member of a local congregation and who was not.
God’s plan is that we would belong to a local church, not many churches that we hop around to depending on if the music or preaching fits my taste, but one local church which, yes, will always be messy and broken, in large part because WE belong to it, but one in which we are working toward its faithfulness and joy in Jesus.
All this leads me to an exciting announcement.
Starting on March 6th, we will be starting a class called “Discover Bayless.” A 5-week course from 6-7:30 on Wednesday evenings where we will unveil what it looks like to belong to this local expression of Christ’s Church and give you a chance to obey God by publicly committing, or covenanting, to his people.
We will answer questions like, “What is our mission?” “Why are we a gospel-centered people?” “What do worship, community, and mission look like at Bayless?” “What do we believe and value?” “What’s my role?” and “Where are we going together?”
Whether you have been at Bayless for 50 years or 50 minutes, let me strongly encourage you to make this class a priority. This is THE BEST WAY to hear where we are headed as a church, to connect with others here at Bayless, to have your burning questions answered, and to be built together into what Christ has made us for. If you are interested please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or indicate on a Bayless Card this Sunday. I hope to see you there!
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. - Eph. 2:19–22
In Christ for God’s glory,