This is the second part summary of the things which stood out to me reading David Platt’s book: Follow me. The first 3 can be found here. They were:
- The centrality and pervasiveness of the message of Grace throughout a book about living radically for Jesus
- That the Holy Spirit fills us primarily in order to speak the truth about the Gospel and Jesus – even when it is unpopular
- The practicalities of sharing the gospel with people! By weaving gospel themes into everyday conversation.
The 4th thing is quite significant for me at the moment in my life. And that is:
4. The Importance of Local Church
My wife and I have been in a bit of conundrum recently about our engagement with local church. The reasons for this have been several, and I don’t want to go into them here. But one of them was a confusion about the purpose of the local church/Sunday service. And further, did our practice of church actually fulfil the purpose of the gathering. We have been asking frequently, ‘what is the point?’ and then, ‘if that is the point of church, do our services actually make sense?’.
Platt devotes a whole chapter to the Church and in it he outlines a few core practices and purposes of local church.
- Church Discipline – Jesus doesn’t talk a whole lot about the Church, but when he does one of the elements he does mention is the process of discipline. (see Matthew 18/1 Cor 5) Platt goes so far as to say that ‘Church discipline is not supplemental for Christians, it’s fundamental…not optional, it is essential. This really does match the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs about wounds from a friend. Platt goes so far to say that it is through the process of discipline that the Church will grow (citing Acts 5:13-14). Again Platt, emphasises that ‘God’s grace is at the heart of Church discipline’.
- Membership/Commitment – If we are to go down the route of adopting Church Discipline as one of the core functions of what it means to be Church then our local Church needs to be a place where people are deeply committed and shared genuine love for one another. It is in this context that discipline can be practiced in a (trans)formative way. He addresses the counter argument that people often say ‘since we’re part of the church around the world. Why would we need to commit to one local church anyway’. By explaining that by far the Local Church is emphasised more in the New Testament than the Universal Church. I needed to hear this! (‘Of the 114 times that we see the primary word for the Church, ekklesia, in the New Testament, at least ninety of them refer to specific local gatherings’)
- If we only had the Bible, what would Church look like? This is such a good question, because it encourages us to start from the ground up and prioritise Scripture over our traditions when it comes to our gatherings. He says that, ‘we can spend our time and resources in the church trying to do what we think is best (to grow it), or we can spend our time and resources I the Church trusting that God knows what is best’.
- ‘One another’. Platt writes a great paragraph about all the ‘one another’ statements in the New Testament. ‘The bible portrays the Church as a community of Christians who care for one another, love one another, host one another, receive one another, honour one another, serve one another, instruct one another, forgive one another, motivate one another, build up one another, encourage one another, comfort one another, pray for one another, confess sin to one another, esteem one another, edify one another, teach one another, show kindness to one another, give to one another, rejoice and weep with one another, hurt with one another and restore one another….laying down their lives for one another.’