Church Attendance and Membership

Would you agree or disagree with the statement that it is a SIN to stay home from the corporate assembly of the church of your membership?

Obviously there are numerous legitimate reasons to miss church—sickness, work etc.—but what about absence when there isn't a legitimate reason?

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Notice the middle phrase "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is"

The Bible is clear here. We are not to forsake assembling together as a church. We are not to miss church. We are not to be absent. We are to attend. We are to come church.

Wouldn't you say that weekly attendance is a reasonable expectation? The Sabbath occurs every seven days—that is weekly. I would submit to you that weekly assembly is the bare minimum.

Why do we call it the Lord's day? Is Sunday our day or God's day?

Is your theology man centered or God centered? A man centered theology resents any effort to impose a standard of practice upon man. The moment the preacher begins preaching on standards of behavior, conduct, biblical expectations—the legalism flags begin being waved back and forth by the crowd that resents biblical expectations.

Pastor, "I want to be absent from church without a valid reason for long periods of time and don't bother me during my absence." Is this an acceptable? Is this reasonable?

Not according to Hebrews 10. We are to provoke one another to good works. Provoke—like provoke a fight. Only the provocation is toward something good. Certainly corporate worship is a good thing.

Pastor, don't bother me—I love Jesus—but not so much His church. And why is that? Well, you know the preacher doesn't………

I want everything. I want salvation but don't want to deny myself and take up my cross—now that is the American gospel.

The gospel of the 21st century is simply—what Christ expected men to do 2000 years ago—REPENT and all that stuff. He longer expects. Now what He satisfied with is the articulation of a prayer and the return to a life like the world. God forbid. I believe these are the lukewarm Christians that will be spit out of the mouth of Jesus, because they are NOT Christians.

You can't have your church membership if you don't come to church without a valid reason—you are deployed, you are ill, you are shut-in but there is a valid reason why you are absent.

I don't feel like coming is just NOT an acceptable excuse. And as I read Hebrews it is my job to provoke every wayward member to get back in church.

God is NOT glorified in American when 80% say they believe is God and only 10% get up on Sundays and go worship him somewhere.

God is mocked in America by the conduct of so called Christians. Football games are more important than corporate worship services—don't you understand pastor. You preach every week. But the Giants are only going to play the Cowboys once this year.

What's this blog posting all about—provocation. It's about provocation. Its purpose on the eve of 2008 is to say let's get serious about God and His Church in America.

Berean is going to get more serious in 2008 than it was in 2007 concerning the biblical expectation to be faithful in corporate worship and bible study. Why are we doing that? We were focused on membership last year, can't we just give people a break this year and slack off a bit.

No—not according to the Bible, as the day approaches closer to the return of Christ we are to be more committed to corporate assembly.

Hebrews 10:25b says "and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." The day is approaching.

Since the day is approaching I must give heed to the words "and so much the more."

Now if that isn't enough of a reason let me close with another reason and observation from Hebrews 13.17:

Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Pastors are the "them" of this verse. (If you are in doubt about this let me encourage you to do a study on this verse and see what you come up with.) Pastors are the ones who will give an account. I will give an account for the degree to which I provoked the members of BBC toward good works. You will give an account to God for the degree to which you obeyed.

When we work together it is a joy to be a pastor and the accounting to God is joyful—when we are at odds with pastors it is unprofitable for the rebellious Christian.

In the 21st century a blog is another way to "provoke one another to good works" but it isn't the only way. Those who refuse admonishment from non-confrontational means like this must be confronted with their sin of ignoring the church and repent or be subject to church discipline.

If all this sounds harsh and not very loving I want to encourage you to reread the words and works of Jesus in the gospels.

Should I be more concerned with your soul or your feelings as your pastor? Am I in doubt? No—I know beyond a doubt what God has placed in my heart for Berean.

I know that as the day approaches for the return of Christ we need to wake-up and get serious about this thing we call the gospel!




How Christians Vote

Since the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has taken some heat concerning his inability to quickly articulate a response from a foreign policy perspective.

Questions are being asked if Christians will change their support of this candidate based on his lack of foreign policy experience.

This leads to a great question: If God is Sovereign and rules (as the Bible teaches) in the kingdom of man, how concerned should a Christian be with foreign policy experience in contrast to where the man stands in relationship to God and more specifically our Savior Jesus.

The same can be asked with regard to the economy. How important should the economy be to a Christian? Should a Christian vote for the person he believes will best impact the economy in positive way without regard to how the candidate stands on morale issues like abortion and homosexuality.

Certainly the way the Christian votes will be a clear indication of where they are at spiritually and to what degree they have a biblical worldview.

Presumably, most Christians will vote with their wallet which is probably why we, the church, are having such little impact on our society and will continue to limit our impact as long as we vote the way the unbeliever votes.

Your thoughts?


Luther—the Motion Picture

Having just finished watching the motion picture Luther by MGM again, I want to encourage every follower of Christ to watch this great movie.

This 2 hour documentary should be watched and watched again. Martin Luther is one of the most significant leaders of the Reformation and the movie has so much great dialog that you can't get it all in on a single viewing.

In the movie, Christ is exalted beyond measure and the importance of the Word of God in a language the common people can understand is an overwhelmingly clear theme.

The viewer gets to see Luther's salvation; we see him struggling with God's Justice and Mercy; we see him rebuke the Roman Catholic Church over and over again.

Spiritual Warfare is seen as we watch Luther battle with demons in his mind and extreme depression, yet God is victorious and Luther, by God's grace, prevails.

The scenes where Luther answers for his writings are incredible; he states he will not recant unless someone can take the Word of God and in plain language convince him of his error. I am not a Lutheran and I don't agree with all that Luther wrote but I agree that the Word of God in plain language must be the authority for the Christian. Luther speaks of refusing to go against his conscious and Scripture. What more is there?

The movie helps the 21st century Christian appreciate the degree to which the "Church" had departed from God in 15 centuries. Certainly we can say Luther did not go far enough, but he did something, 1000s upon 1000s before him did not do because of their love for money, power, or their "own souls" more than the truth.

We are reminded of Pontius Pilate's question, "What is truth?" Luther is fully convinced that truth is Christ as revealed in the New Testament. 500 years later we must still contend for truth! The exclusivity of Christ is being challenged perhaps now more than any other time in this post-modern world where truth is relative and most Christians denial any absolute truth.

Today and tomorrow and for every day God permits us to live we must follow Jude's clear instruction to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. The faith; not a faith; not the faith of each person's choice; Jude wrote "the faith." The one and only faith, there is but one faith to contend for and an absolute fundamental of that faith is the deity of Christ.

We must contend for what was articulated very clearly in the Nicene Creed 1100 years ago.

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Creator of all things visible and invisible; and in the one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, only begotten of the Father, that is of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Lights, very God of very God; begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made in heaven and earth; who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate, was made man, suffered, rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

That which the "church" (or cult) of one of the Republican presidential candidates believes to be true about our Lord Jesus Christ must be rejected as absolute heresy. Jesus Christ is not a created being and Satan is NOT his brother.

The Apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome to mark those who teach anything contrary to sound doctrine. Certainly, Paul would admonish us not to vote for one that he would mark in the 21st century.

Signing the Covenant

Let me clarify my thoughts with regard to signing the covenant. I understand for many the idea of signing something is too much for you. I can appreciate your struggle with that and will not expect you to violate your conscience.

However, I do believe that it is a reasonable expectation for a leader, teacher, director, supervisor, pastor, deacon, church officer and/or employee of the ministry to sign a document agreeing to adhere to the covenant, the articles of faith, the constitution, and basic standards of conduct. I certainly hope each of you can appreciate the idea that, as your pastor, I would expect you to be willing to live to a higher standard to serve in a leadership position for YOUR LORD and Savior is His Church.

Additionally, what I have said in the past is that I believe it would be a great thing to have an enlarged covenant with as many members' signatures as possible. I shared with the deacons Sunday that I think the adoption of a new covenant should be seen as a special time in the life of the church, and a historical record of that event would be special for years to come.

Presently, I am drafting what I think the new covenant should be. I have received much input from many members and am now soliciting input from pastors and will then present it to the deacons for their thoughts. Once we have agreement and unity, I will present it to you for your careful review and feedback. I plan to meet with each BFH class with copies of the old and new and answer questions and take notes of your thoughts and suggestions.

The goal is a short simple document that is clear and concise; our Articles of Faith will then serve to articulate and clarify what we believe and our constitution will govern the way we do business.


We are now webcasting on the under the media tab. Two sermons are up and the media team is working to make this possible consistently. Soon we hope for you to be able to watch the Sunday morning sermon shortly after it is delivered.

Deacon’s Meeting

Last night the deacons met to discuss the covenant; I asked Rob Coker to give a summary report of the meeting for the church.


Dear Church Family,

Your deacons meet at least once each month to discuss current issues and to plan future events. Last night Pastor Sean met with the deacons to discuss an important topic: our church covenant. As you've read in previous blogs, Pastor is focused on ensuring our covenant is accurate, relevant, and a document that will forge unity among the members of our church. I'd like to share with you the highlights of our discussion.

The chairman of the deacons, Jeff Woosley, opened the meeting with prayer. Then Pastor introduced the main topic of the meeting, the church covenant. He explained his vision for the covenant and his desire to ensure it is a relevant document that reflects the church of the 21st century. More importantly, he'd like to see each tenet of the covenant backed with specific scripture. He then asked for feedback and wanted to hear each deacon's thoughts concerning the covenant.

It's awesome that so many brothers-in-Christ can share openly with one another! A tremendous amount of wisdom was shared. A couple of the deacons, who have been with the church for many years, explained the history of our church covenant and constitution. Others mentioned the impacts that a covenant can have on a church body. Some felt strong connections to the covenant, others not so strong. The comments were diverse, but one thing was certain: we all agree that the covenant can be better!

Our next step is to produce this better covenant. It will no longer be a document that many of us have never seen. It will be taught during First Class and Bible Fellowship Hour. It will achieve the purpose that a covenant is intended to achieve. Much like a marriage covenant binds two people together, so our church covenant will bind our local church body together. We are one in the bond of love!

A Great Example of a Covenant

As I continue to pray and seek God's guidance concerning the church covenant, I thought I would share one with you from a church in GA. This covenant has many excellent features and will not have to be changed as society changes. The phrase below that I have highlighted in bold is excellent and focuses on why we abstain. A fully devoted follower of Christ is very concerned about being a stumbling block—he or she will not use their Christian liberty to create a stumbling block for any Christian or potential Christian.

Each of us must ask everyday: "Is what I am doing bringing reproach upon the cause of Christ?"

Bible Baptist Church

Hampton, Georgia


As a bond of unity among us this church accepts for its member the following covenant:

Having been lead by the Holy Spirit to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and on profession of our faith in Him, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we do now most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.

We promise that we will watch over and counsel one another in the spirit of brotherly love, that we will remember one another in our prayers, and that we will aid each other in sickness and distress.

We further agree, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, love, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to give it a sacred preeminence over an institutions of human origin; and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.

We further covenant to maintain family and secret devotion; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to live carefully in this present world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, back-biting and excessive anger;

to abstain from everything that will cause our brother to stumble or that will bring reproach upon the cause of Christ; and to strive to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, that amidst evil and good report we will humbly and earnestly seek to live to the honor and glory of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.

We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word.

A John 17.21 School

Last year Ron Bishop came to BBC and preached a message asking us if we were an Acts 1.8 church. Do we witness of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth? That is a great question and the answer is "yes, we are striving to be that kind of church."

Can we be a church of more than one verse? Of course, and we want to be a church of all the verses in the Bible. How about the verses in John 17? Have we considered to what degree we are a John 17.21 church?

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Vs. 21: That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

In just 50 minutes I will be speaking to the boys and girls in chapel. I am going to teach/preach in the elementary chapel and take questions in the High school chapel.

In the elementary chapel I am going to ask if we are a John 17.21 school. Are we one? Four times in the Lord 's Prayer (the actual Lord's prayer) Jesus prays that His disciples are one. In vs. 11 he prays for his current followers to be one. Then a few verses later He specifically identifies future disciples. And three more times he prays "that they may be one."

One—One is the number that denotes unity. One is the word that communicates agreement. One is used of a basketball team where everyone plays together exceptionally well. Husband and wives are supposed to be one. That means that they get along, love each, care for each, work through differences and in the end are unified.

A John 17.21 school would be a school where there is a focus on our love one for another and an absence of division among the students and faculty. In a John 17.21 school there is a focus on what unites the staff, faculty and students.

In a John 17.21 school the students get along one with another and it is visible.

It must be visible! It must be visible because Jesus prayed that because of the unity or oneness of His followers "the world"—those who are outside of Christ—would see the unity and believe that Jesus was not just another Jewish rabbi or carpenter but the Son of God sent from the God of Heaven

In a John 17.21 school a new student can tell that there is something different about the 4th grade at BBA. Because in the 4th grade in BBA the vast majority of the students profess to be followers of Jesus and in doing so they are striving to be one.

Therefore, when the new "unsaved" student arrives into this community of believers she sees something different. Days go by and then weeks and she can tell that this new school isn't like her old school.

In her old school, there were factions, cliques, in groups and out groups. In her old school, students talked about each other and it wasn't nice.

She notices in this very special 4th grade classroom boys and girls who love each other like Christ loves them. They accept each other's problems and difficulties and forgive each other when there is a fight. Our new student Susie notices that two boys that had a fight the day before have now forgiven each other and are eating lunch together.

So Susie begins to wonder what makes this school so different and eventually asks, "Why is this school different?" Her teacher then has an incredible opportunity to tell her about the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Her teacher tells her that it is Jesus which unites us and gives us the help (grace) to be loving, kind, compassionate, understanding, tender-hearted, and forgiving. And soon—by the grace of God—Susie wants to have a relationship with this Jesus who helps people be different.

Now imagine if you will that we are not talking about a school but a church and instead of 4th grade it is a particular adult Bible fellowship class.

Instead of calling them students we call them members but the expectation is the same and the goal is the same.

Our hope is that BBC would be so unified in all that is does that it could be described as ONE and in being one God would be most glorified—especially when an unbeliever comes to Christ because of the visible unity of the church.

Christ's prayer for this communicates how much we need His help to achieve this.