Mark Dever relays a personal story with a much needed point for Christians struggling with the local church.
During my doctoral studies, however, about ten years ago, my mind began to focus even more on the topic of the church, and especially on the centrality of the local congregation. I remember having a jarring conversation one day with a friend who worked with a para-church ministry. He and I attended the same church. I had joined when we had first moved to the city; he, a couple of years later, had chosen merely to attend. And even in his attendance, he would come only for the morning service, and then only half-way through when it was time for the sermon. So one day, I decided to ask him about this.
He responded with his typical honesty and transparency. “I don’t really get anything out of the rest of the service,” he said. “Have you ever thought of joining the church?” I asked. Genuinely surprised, with an innocent chuckle he responded, “Join the church? I honestly don’t know why I would do that. I know what I’m here for, and those people would just slow me down.” Those words sound cold when I read them, but they were uttered with the typical, genuine, humble warmth of a gifted evangelist wanting not to waste one hour of the Lord’s time. He wanted to put his time to the best use possible, and all the concerns and attendant bothers about officially joining a church seemed utterly irrelevant.
“Slow me down”—the words reverberated in my mind. “Slow me down.” My mind raced with various thoughts, but all I said was a simple question—“But did you ever think that if you link arms with those people, yes, they may slow you down, but you may help to speed them up? Have you thought that might be a part of God’s plan for them, and for you?” The conversation went on, but the crucial, crystallizing portion of it for my own thinking was done. God intends to use us in each other’s lives—even at what would sometimes appear to be a spiritual cost to us.
See the whole post here.