When I first met the pastor of 1st Baptist, Ross Chandler, I knew I was in the presence of someone pretty awesome. It’s not just because his name automatically makes me think of a cross between someone who is sarcastically witty, but also knows a lot about dinosaurs… but because you could tell the man was genuinely smart (the guy has more degrees than a Kevin Bacon connection), loves Jesus, and has a heart for people. We visited First Baptist once when we first moved down here. They were in their old building still, but the music was moving, the message was Biblical, and the people were friendly. I remember thinking, “I could go to church here”, and if God hadn’t led us to start RockPile, we might’ve done just that. I didn’t talk to Ross much that morning, after all, Sunday mornings can be a bit busy, but we did catch up at the coffee shop some time later. I can tell you that I love his humility, his passion, and I love what they are doing at the church. It also doesn’t hurt that, because I teach at a local school, the students often fill me in on all the great stuff that God is doing there.
But, this post isn’t JUST about First Baptist. Truth be told, there are lots of great churches and ministers here in our little section of the Texas Hill Country. I know this, because we visited many of them when we moved here, and many of the ministers and pastors of these churches have become my friends. How about just a few examples? Cross Stone Church was the first church we went to when we visited Marble Falls… and I was blown away by Pastor Jeff McAnally’s breakdown of the word and his commitment to seeing God’s Kingdom flourish. Hill Country Fellowship (in Burnet) is about the friendliest church I’ve ever been to in my life and their pastors prayed over us right in the lobby (followed by lots of hugs). Fellowship Baptist has a pastor that loves writing fiction, having pop-culture discussions, diving into theology, and he is a much better blogger than I could ever aspire to be (that’s not hard)… you can even check out some of Pastor Jamie Greening’s books on Amazon. Jim Coursey (Mosaic Community Church) is someone who is about as hardcore as they come, and a fierce guardian of truth. Shane Wenger over at Elevate is doing amazing, outside of the box, things to reach people for Christ. Donna Shaw (also a bit north of us) at the Methodist Church in Granite Shoals is always trying to find ways to reach teens in an area that badly needs things for students to do. I haven’t gotten to know all the pastors at Lakeshore’s Church as much, though I see Jon Weems always at the coffeeshop pouring his life into guys. They also have one of the coolest community cultures going on, and I see how much the people there love serving and doing life together! Bob Weis and the team over at First Assembly continue to feed into this community by offering awesome festivals and offering some great outreaches this city needs. Etc. Etc. Etc.
I could list all day… and I hate that there are great churches and hard working pastors not on this list, not because of worthiness, but because I don’t have the room or time to list them all (nor have I even begun to scratch the surface of meeting them all). I could probably write pages and pages on each church and each minister, but then this post would be considerably more long-winded than I’m already shooting for. At last count, someone told me that there are roughly 250+ churches in our area (not just Marble Falls, but the neighboring towns as well). That’s a lot of churches, and I know this community is better because of their presence… because I can see the impact, and hopefully you do too!
So what’s the point of laying this all out?
These churches exist for a reason. Whether it’s RockPile Church, First Baptist, Victory Church, or the Church of Christ in Marble Falls…. There are numerous Jesus loving, Bible-teaching churches in our city, and you need to go to one, and you need to get involved!
Maybe you are reading this and you don’t live anywhere close to here. That’s ok, I bet there are some great churches all around you as well. You, also, need to go to one, and you need to get involved.
But yet, many Christians aren’t attending church anywhere. Sure, there may be lots of reasons for this, but we’ll break it down into two main categories:
- They don’t like any of the churches around, or
- They don’t think they need to go to church (it’s just not important).
Admittedly, There are some good reasons people don’t like church, and yes, some of those reasons are the fault of the churches. Not one of these fantastic churches listed above is perfect. Each minister I listed (and those I didn’t) have their faults. Each has areas of theology they’ve got down exactly right, and probably a few things they will be surprised about when they get to Heaven and realize they had just a tad wrong (myself included). Every church has its share of strengths and weaknesses. Some of these churches are hitting different age groups better than others, and a few of them might do kid’s ministry really well, and some not at all. Each of these churches also has its share of cliques, off-days, needless drama, stuffy people, grouches, political disputes, spazzes, and sinners learning to be sanctified (RockPile included).
You might have even left some of these churches listed above, and possibly for a good reason. Maybe you didn’t click with the style of worship, maybe you couldn’t get past the brand of coffee in the lobby, or perhaps the door greeters didn’t say hello quick enough. It’s possible you could have been hindered by the worship leader’s “man-bun”, or maybe you even had a serious problem with the teaching. It’s true, we can’t excuse bad doctrine, open acceptance of sin, or ungodly leadership in the local church. There are very good reasons to move onto another church (some of those reasons listed before are better than others) and if you prayerfully decide to do so, try to leave graciously. Of course, if you wind up leaving every church you’ve attended, and if it seems that no church is ever good enough, please try and recognize that you might be falling into the “Seinfeld Trap” by thinking that every place of worship has deal-breakers because you just can’t see past their faults (see “man hands”). All churches have issues, because they are made up of people who have issues. You can spend years and years traveling miles and miles to find the perfect church, but it just doesn’t exist…. and every week you miss out more and more by not reaping the benefits of one of God’s created institutions, and an opportunity to grow in your walk with Christ.
If you consider yourself a Christian, you need the church.
No, I’m not talking about needing church attendance for salvation. Salvation is a gift that comes through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8). But let’s not pretend that we are truly seeking out every opportunity to mature in our faith and grow in God if we aren’t being fed into, held accountable, encouraged, and given opportunities to serve and worship alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. The church may be run by people, but it wasn’t something that just happened accidently, God set it up… He built it, He established it (even if we do mess things up now and then). At the private Christian school I teach at, we call ourselves a “discipleship school.” This means that, in theory, students who are enrolled, are followers of God who are looking to further their discipleship with God. I love that about Faith Academy, and I’m proud of the standard that the school sets. Yet, even at FA, I am surprised at the number of families that simply don’t go to church. Sure, they might have a “home church” but it seems that, for many, those churches are rarely attended. Baseball games, lake days, vacations, or even sleeping in seem to take precedence over church involvement. Of course, we all have exceptions and times we simply can’t attend church. Sickness happens, vacations are needed, and sometimes…. even pastors and church leadership could use a Sunday break. But many have written off going to church entirely. This begs the question: as believers, do we still value the church? It also leads to another question: as the church, are we still valuable to believers?
The author of Hebrews commends us to make “assembling together” as believers a priority (Hebrews 10:25). He even goes so far as to say that some are neglecting that time together as the church. They are missing out on an opportunity to encourage one another in Christ.
In Acts, Ch. 2, we see a picture of an early church that was devoted (Luke’s words, not mine) to learning about God, hanging out with other believers, taking communion, and supporting each other.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that the body of Christ (the Church) is crucial to equipping followers of God for the ministry He has given each of us. He also let’s us know that this time together prepares us for standing firm against a culture bent on tearing our faith apart.
We need this. We need church. You need the church.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a big church, small church, or even a smaller “house church” full of just a handful of believers lifting each other up and dissecting the Bible… go to church.
If you just can’t fit in or grow at the church you’ve been going to (for whatever reason), the good news is, there are plenty to choose from, so go somewhere else! Just make sure that you are choosing a church that is helping you grow in God, and giving you the opportunity to be used to make more disciples, not just catering to all your wants and telling you only what you want to hear (Paul has something to say about that in 2 Timothy 4:3). If you try a few out and still haven’t found the right church, keep looking, and make it a priority! I hope this doesn’t come off as “consumerism Christianity”, I’ve never really liked the phrase “church shopping” because it makes it way more me-focused. But, on the flip-side, if I’m telling you that the church should be a big part of your life, then it’s certainly going to need to be a church you like and can grow in, and there is nothing wrong with that!
When you find a church, get involved, and do your best to make it even better. If it’s imperfect, than realize you are too… and God continues to invest in you, even when you are still a work in progress. Your church is a work in progress as well, and you are called to make it better through doing your part to fulfill whatever role God has for you.
- Because of you, the local church you are a part of should be better.
- Because of you, the overall Church (big C) should be better.
- And because of the Church, YOU should be better, more equipped, healthier and closer to God and His people.
So, sure, you should go to First Baptist, or you could go to Epicenter Church, or maybe you should come see if RockPile Church is a good fit (I’m perhaps biased about the last one, and we do have great coffee). But don’t give up on church, and don’t pass up on an opportunity to better yourself, your family, and your community.
10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Hey Church, get to church!
– Pastor Matt
to see older blog posts, visit: AdventuresinRockPiling.com