Saturday, November 07, 2009

Chandler: Belong to Become

The following notes came from the RightNow conference presently going on in Dallas, Texas. Matt Chandler is the Lead Pastor of the The Village Church in the Dallas, Texas area. The following is a break-out session he presented on some of the challenges that exist in reaching 20-somethings. After discussing the problem, he went on to unpack some of the solutions from scripture. Unfortunately, I was unable to record most of the references because he moved too quickly. Despite this, you can get the gist of his talk below.


There are two needs within the 20-something culture...

DESIRE TO CONNECT: In 20-somethings there is a struggle for authentic community. Social networking has only served to intensify this problem. We know people but only know them in a shallow way. 20-somethings need to belong to a community.

DESIRE TO GROW SPIRITUALLY: 20-somethings are hungry for spiritual depth and are frustrated that they can’t get it. In the end they don’t exactly know where to find it. Because of this they are prone to religious fads and drawn to creative oration that is often times void of truth.

We must look to the scriptures to see how to meet these desires. Chandler contends that 20-somethings are struggling because their view of church has been formed by culture and not-so-good teaching. Our modern church environment of web churches, trendy churches, etc... is feeding into the problem. We must teach the truth in order to counter this.

Genesis 1-2

God said it was not good for man to be alone so God created community. God was saying I am not “into” people existing in isolation, I am into them having relationship with others. Because of sin we not only need to be reconciled to God but also to one another.

On the other side of the Exodus (Israel’s escape from slavery in Egypt) the people of Israel were given the law. Those laws were not only to restore relationship with God, but were also to help people relate to one another. Those laws instructed on civil issues like "don’t covet", "don’t commit adultery", etc... The bulk of the law is relationally based. God was using the law to encourage restoration both in his relationship to his people and in their relationship with one another.

What does the church do?

The church has a calling from the Bible to:
  • Worship God
  • Nurture and disciple believers
  • Minister to the world (evangelism/mercy)
  • Work at keeping the previous three purposes in balance
What makes the church the church?
  1. It is a place where the Word is rightly preached.
  2. It is a place where the sacraments are rightly administered.
Chandler explained that the enforcing of church discipline (i.e. disciplining those who are sinning in very significant ways) is not in the list because, in the early church, discipline was exercised by removing people from participating in the sacraments. The “right administration” of the table is referencing the exercise of discipline. 

Chandler then went through numerous scripture references showing how the Bible commands the church to exercise leadership and submission. A few references included:
  • Hebrews 13:17 - Obey your leaders and submit to them....
  • 1 Timothy 5:17 - Let the elders who serve well be served a double blessing...
We are all called by God’s Word to submit to the authority and leadership of the elders within our local church. Chandler developed this further by reading and teaching from 1 Peter 5:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-2.

How can you hold someone to account if they don’t belong?

Chandler went on to emphasize the importance of calling people to membership in the local church and the importance of people being under authority. 

As a side note Matt mentioned that unbelievers (i.e. people who don’t follow Christ) at his church are able to participate in everything the local church does, with the exception of The Lord’s Table (I’m pretty sure leadership positions in the church would also be excluded). His point being that they welcome unbelievers to participate fully in the community of faith. He wrapped up this segment emphasizing that people have lost their communal soul so we, as leaders in the church, have a responsibility to emphasize the need for belonging. The following are three Biblical reasons to belong.

Three Reasons To Belong To a Church
  • Obedience
  • Safety / Encouragement
  • Purpose and Growth
Three Words

The following three words capture an important calling for every person within the local church. Members in the church must:
  • Belong
  • Believe
  • Support
If you belong, believe, but don’t support (submit) you are a rebel.
If you belong and support, but don’t believe you are not a believer.
If you believe and support, but don’t belong you are a consumer.

Hundreds and thousands of books have been written on engaging lost people but very few have been written on ecclesiology (how the church is to function in a Biblical sense). Genuine community reveals where there is sin in your life that you didn’t know existed. Being in authentic community is an important part of our spiritual health and relational flourishing.

1 comment:

John C said...

Do "Twenty Somethings" like being called "Twenty Somethings"? I've seen ministries that openly call them that, or did in the past but changed it, yet I know I've heard some people either say that twenty somethings really hate being called that, or in a few cases have heard twenty somethings say that themselves. Makes me wonder as we don't call other generations "Thirty/ Forty Somethings" or "Fifty Somethings" as much it seems. I'd probably pay attention to that and feel it out in the culture if I was planting a church geared to help reach that generation.