8.16.2006

Reforming the Local Church


I have several close friends and relatives that are currently serving in churches - both as leaders and laymen - who are praying for reformation in their church (I'm using "reformation" a bit broader than normal here). Those friends who are in leadership positions are praying and doing their part to humbly yet boldly proclaim the whole counsel of God, expositing the Scriptures, and trusting the Lord - in His time - to bring about a new awareness of the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man and the sovereign grace of this holy God to save these sinful men. They are desirous to see biblical, restorative, church discipline (Matthew 18) reinstituted in their churches... elder rule... the doctrines of grace...the glories of God...etc. In other words, a ministry that fulfills the biblical prescription.

I admire them, I really do.

Many who have similar desires get impatient, frustrated and just plain tired... they usually pack up and move on. So, how does one go about bringing reformation to a church that's...well...a church that's not heretical, but perhaps just not as substantive as she should be. Perhaps such a church is wider than it is deep...perhaps more anthrocentric than theocentric. Again, these churches aren't false churches - they are full of many sincere believers. It's just that...um...there's much more to be desired.

Dr. Fred Malone has addressed this issue in an article posted on Don Whitney's website. Dr. Malone summarizes the article with these words:

If true reformation comes, it must come with preaching the Word in a Christ-centered, expositional, applicatory way. It must come by gracious and patient pastoral care to earn the people's trust and following. And it must come by faithful prayer by pastors for themselves and for their people—without ceasing. This takes time, patience, forgiveness and love by the pastor. There is no other biblical secret or strategy ordained by God in the Scriptures.

Our Lord promised to build His church, universal and local, and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But He does it in His sovereign time, in His sovereign way and with His sovereign means. What is needed is reforming pastors who trust Him themselves and who labor faithfully, graciously and lovingly until He chooses to bless the means He has given. Be thankful for every glimmer of grace you see in your people. It is a miracle! And do not enter into controversy with our Lord because He is not moving fast enough for your comfort and joy. Look unto Jesus always, the greatest Reformer of all, and He will give you the strength to preach the gospel, which blesses and divides at the same time. And then you will hear these words one day: "Well done, thou good and
faithful servant."

Read the entire article here.

And, if you're in a solid, reformed church...be thankful.

And if you're not...be patient.

1 comment:

Vicki (Ausbrooks) Fletcher said...

From reading many of your blogs today and especially this one, I would certainly appreciate your advice on where to go from here church-wise. This topic is much of the reason why we have yet to find a new church home. It's not that the churches are false at all...just that they seem to be missing some things, such as calls for repentance, addressing the pressing issues of today's political strategies, and (one of the biggest for me) introducing modern BIBLICAL worship songs for a younger generation. That's where my passion lies.

Vic