I was extremely encouraged to read Jim Hamilton’s latest post in which he interviews Thabiti Anyabwile on the topic of church membership. As most reading this will know, Jim and Jill are now living in Louisville as Jim takes up a post at Southern Seminary. I had the joy of pastoring with Jim at Baptist Church of the Redeemer. They are now looking for a church in which to serve and this interaction with Thabiti is a must read for every church member, seminarian, seminary professor and pastor.
Here is a clip:
Jim: I suspect that for various reasons there are others like me, who go from being involved in shepherding a congregation to looking for a new church to join. How would you advise us? What kinds of things would you suggest we look for as we seek a new church home, and how can we be healthy church members?
Thabiti: Jim, that’s an excellent question. Actually I can identify with you quite a lot. When my family moved from N.C. to Washington, D.C., we moved from a 3-year old church plant into a situation where we knew next to nothing about the church scene. We loved that church and we set about the task of finding something like it in many ways. Actually, that’s the first piece of advice I’d have for someone in this situation. Don’t look for a church that is “like” your previous church, particularly if the likeness you have in mind involves a host of secondary matters. Our preferences can be the death of a good church search. Hold them up to the light of Scripture and be sure to cultivate an accepting heart for other believers who do things differently in secondary matters (Rom. 14). Look for the essentials first: a church holding a sound doctrinal stance, that preaches the gospel faithfully, that preaches the Scripture expositionally, and that at least encourages a strong “one anothering” culture. With the word and a strong membership culture, so many other things have fertile soil in which to grow. That would be my short list, I think.
Thank you Jim and Thabiti for this thoughtful exchange!
(HT: Jim Hamilton)