In this episode, Kurt speaks with Pastor Nate Hickox on why we should consider the importance of going to church.
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. So nice to be with you here again, every Saturday coming to you. This is episode 80. 80 weeks in a way we’ve been bringing you content and I hope you’ve enjoyed the variety of topics that we’ve brought to you from a Christian worldview. If you haven’t had a chance yet, I want to encourage you to go back and listen to last week’s episode where we looked at a political idea of school choice and what all of that entailed, whether parents and students should have different options available to them for educating their young ones and so it was really great to speak with and talk to Lennie Jarratt of the Heartland Institute and to have him on and really enlighten us about all the different types of schools there are and the ideas behind that. There are a number of categories I wasn’t even aware of, of the types of schools. I want to encourage you to do that, and also as it relates to today’s topic, I want to encourage you to go back, maybe after this show, and listen to the interview I had with Brett McKracken about his recent book on the uncomfortable church and what that all entailed. This week’s episode and a couple weeks ago complement each other very nicely.
Before we get into today’s show, I just have really one announcement. This morning I was listening to one of my, the podcast, if I had to pick a podcast that I listen to more times than not, it’s Unbelievable with Justin Brierley, and this week he had an interesting topic between Paul Copan and Greg Boyd on the supposed Old Testament genocide commands, those difficult passages in the Scripture and so I want to, of course, use this as an opportunity to mention, if you also listen to Justin’s podcast or you listen to that, an engagement between different Christian perspectives, and you want to learn more, then you should write down on your calendar September 28-29, The Defenders Conference here in the western suburbs of Chicago, we are talking about that theme on the supposed genocide commands and, in fact, Paul Copan is one of our confirmed speakers along with Dr. Clay Jones and Dr. John Walton of Wheaton College. I’m excited to have presented different views on those difficult passages so if you want to learn more about the different Christian approaches, then this conference is for you and I want to encourage you to even consider coming from out of town. If you’re not just local here, if you’re driving or even flying, this is going to be a really great event with some of the best names in apologetics, in philosophy, in Christian scholarship, looking at these issues, so there will be a lot to learn from these scholars and thinkers, and then also the breakout sessions will have other topics as well so if you want to learn how to be a better apologist, how do you talk to your neighbor about XYZ worldview, we’ll have that available as well.
If you are interested to hear more about that or some other topics, let us know, because we’re still scheduling some of our breakout speakers, and also then, as a nice segue to today’s show, this week’s episode was requested by a listener. Actually, it was someone who is part of our texting plan. If you don’t know about the texting plan just text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and you’ll be subscribed to our list and this texter was basically wondering what reasons should I have for going to church on any number Sunday. If you also want to request a topic, please feel free to do so and we’ll try to set up a guest or if maybe in-house we’ll devote an episode to that topic and talk about it. We’d love to hear from you and we appreciate your engagement, your listenership, and your support.
Today’s show is why should I go to church and joining me in studio is passing Nate Hickox. He is the head pastor, senior pastor, at Faith Evangelical Covenant Church in Wheaton. Nate. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Nate: Yeah. Thanks for having me here. It’s good to be here.
Kurt: Before we get going into the topic, tell me a little about Faith Evangelical Covenant Church. That church sounds familiar for so reason.
Nate: It’s because you go there, Kurt.
Kurt: Oh. Right. Okay. Yes. I happen to go there so that’s the connection between us, but I know that you really have a heart for doing church and for pastoring people and I thought what a good opportunity this would be to bring you on the show and to talk about what reasons we might have for why someone should consider going to church on any given Sunday.
Nate: Sure. Absolutely.
Kurt; So tell me about the congregation, the community there at Faith Covenant.
Nate: Faith Covenant, it’s a great community. They’ve been around for just over 50 years now, but really we’re an intergenerational family I would say. People that are in each other’s lives, that love each other. In fact, last night my wife was over with forty other women at a wedding shower for one of our members and then today there was a baby shower for one of the women who just had a baby at our church. Our church is really about being, we call it intentionally connected, an intentionally connected community and we want to be in each other’s lives. It’s a great group of people.
Awesome. The reason why, aside from the fact that it was requested, but I’m
curious about this topic because for many people, at least in America that I
can think of, they might consider themselves a Christian, they’ll call
themselves a Christian. Maybe they went to church when they were a kid or something
like that, and maybe they even go to church on the two biggest Christian
holidays, Christmas or Easter, or what I call the Chreaster crowd. They might
be wondering, and even if they’re not wondering, we should give them reasons to
consider going to a local church on Sunday morning, and so I’m wondering, I’ll
throw the broad question out there. You probably have multiple reasons and
we’ll just see where the conversation leads. You and I, we like to talk
theology, so we’ll just kind of sit back, relax, and enjoy the discussion for
today. What reasons would you have for why I should go to church?
Nate: I think reason #1 is God created us for Christian family, and if I were, if I could maybe pick apart the question a little bit, why should I go to church, I think that reveals how most people think about church in America today. It’s something you go to. It’s an event on a Sunday morning. It’s an experience. It’s a one hour and I’m out.
Kurt: Gotta get home for the football game.
Nate; Right. I think Jesus is really sad about that or would be saddened by that and I think the apostles would be too because I think you look at Jesus’s ministry. He surrounds Himself with twelve called disciples and lived life with them and told them to go and do the same with others. You look at the church, the early church, they were a community, they were together all the time, in each other’s homes and breaking bread and so, really I think God made us for community, and He made us to be with one another, and so I think I would say it’s not just going to church, it’s being part of a Christian community that provides you what God has designed you to be.
Kurt: So it’s not just a one-off event. It’s a way of living intentionally with others in everything you do. Is that right?
Nate; Yeah. Absolutely.
Kurt: And certainly the teachings of Jesus would then apply into our everyday lives. Right? There are some people where they might go to church on Sundays and Sunday’s kind of their holy day and Monday, they’re not looking very much like Jesus and so the Christian message you’re saying here is that we’re called to be like Jesus every day of the week and so for those that might be considering coming to church, Sunday provides an opportunity for them to learn more about who Jesus is and then to be encouraged the rest of the week to live out His teachings.
Nate: Right. I think, if we’re talking primarily about that, that Sunday morning experience, where you come for corporate worship, I think if we’re talking about that, I think that is an experience and a time where our souls are formed and shaped to become like Christ and so when you go to a church worship service, you’re going to be invited into worship with songs you may not pick, with styles you may not like…
Kurt: Tell me about it.
Nate: One thing that I try to do in is our ministry is introduce different types of prayers and use some of the creeds and use some liturgical elements, words that we might pray that we would never say on our own. What that does is over time that has an effect on us where we begin to think and live biblically and so when you submit yourself to that weekly practice, it begins to shape you the rest of the week.
Kurt: And I want to talk about, and I know we’re still only on the first reason, but I want to talk about that idea of being formed and shaped.
Nate: It’s like the second reason.
Kurt: Yeah. What does it mean to be formed and do you think for some folks that don’t attend or participate in a corporate worship hour, that that might be a little uncomfortable, that they might be pressed upon to be formed, to become more like Jesus?
Nate: It’s certainly going to be uncomfortable…
Kurt: It’s uncomfortable even for the people that show up.
Nate: Absolutely. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable just to preach the teachings that Jesus gave us because it can be so demanding at times, but I think that’s part of the reason why we need church is because it’s going to stretch us. It’s going to stretch you in your faith. It’s going to stretch you in your understanding of Scripture and how it’s going to provide to your life throughout the week.
Kurt: Yeah, and of course, we could take a sort of apologetics angle as well here that in the being formed, we are participating in God’s purpose for humanity, that we all be formed to the image of His Son and so in that sense, we’re doing what God created us to do whereas if we’re not doing that sort of that thing then we’re spiritually lost, we’re confused, we’re wondering, and some people surely do wander in the worldview experiment that some of them have. They come up with reasons why they should explore different things. I know I was just in a Facebook group where someone had said I was born and raised a Catholic, but then converted to being a Baptist, then in college, I read Sam Harris and I became an atheist, but now I’m thinking about embracing Buddhism. Give me some reasons why I shouldn’t. I just couldn’t help but think that this person seems so lost because of the wandering that, going from all these different positions and worldviews, it seems like there’s something else going on and if only they had, and of course, I didn’t know this person personally so I couldn’t speak to what has gone in their life, but it seems that something has, if they go through so many worldviews in a short period of time relatively speaking, there’s something else going on I think and especially when people begin to explore Buddhism coming from different backgrounds. What do you really think that you’re dealing with here? I know one of those big topics is the problem of evil. One reason why is someone might embrace Buddhism is because the evil and suffering they have experienced in their life they can’t get over. So what’s possible solution? Buddhism says it doesn’t exist. It’s just an illusion and it might be a way for someone to try to get away those difficulties in their life. Seems like for many people they’re lost and wandering.
Nate: I think what you point out is we’re all on a spiritual journey. As I’m sure you’re aware of Augustine’s quote of, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” I think our culture might describe that as trying to find your true self, trying to find out who you really are, and I think that’s another way of saying who am I supposed to be and why am I here and what is my purpose. I think the Christian Scriptures would say that we’re made in the image of God, but through sin, through the fall, through going our own way so to speak, we’ve lost a part of that image maybe or it’s been marred or twisted a little bit, and so when we begin to follow Jesus, Jesus is the full expression of the image of God and so when you enter a life of discipleship, you’re actually being restored to who God made you to be. You’re being restored to that image of His Son, the image of God, and so when you get involved in a church community that is about discipleship, about forming you, it’s actually going to lead you on a spiritual journey where you’re going to recover who you are and who God made you to be.
Kurt: And there’s a peace about that and so for some that feel like they’re lost and wandering, they’ll find a home and comfort, while of course being challenged in living life with others, nevertheless, there’s this deep satisfaction, the peace that surpasses all understanding, that many Christians have and I know someone close to me has mentioned that he just doesn’t understand, he doesn’t understand where that comes from and he sees that the Christians only have it and very fascinating observation. I think that even for someone who’s exploring different worldviews. that person doesn’t see that peace in other people. There isn’t that rest, but what you said reminded me of what Oprah said, was that a week and a half ago, I forget, was that the Golden Globes? Chris, the media guy is saying yeah. Something about sharing your truth. Oprah’s kind of this, she’s not formally in new age, but she supports the new age stuff, this guru, this person who is giving platforms to new age gurus for sure like Deepak Chopra among others and so this idea of sharing your truth is almost an attempt to help people become comfortable with their experiences, which in some ways is good. We shouldn’t have our experiences necessarily hidden from people and there’s a freedom in sharing, but the idea that these truths are equal, these contradictory truths would be equal other, is just false. Truth is not relative. Truth doesn’t care about how you feel. As long as it’s properly qualified that we’re sharing our experiences, but not negating the objectivity of the world, I think that’s okay, but even Oprah doesn’t mean that. But yes, it can be, going to church on a Sunday morning can be a good wholesome experience for people that are seeking that comfort, that peace, to be attuned to God’s purpose for their life and so that’s a good reason for going. So what are some other reasons that we might think of why we should go to church on a Sunday morning?
Nate: I want to combine the two reasons we just talked about, the community aspect of we need to be together, love one another, there’s 50 one anothers in the New Testament. You have to be in community. Also, the idea of discipleship and from my studies of the Scriptures, I have found that really it’s only possible to experience that discipleship in community. The passage where I would say that this is taught in the New Testament is Ephesians 4 where Paul’s talking about we’re the body of Christ. There’s different parts of the body and he says as each part is doing its work the body of Christ is built up and we reach the maturity measuring Christ’s fullness. In other words, we all have different gifts and as we use them to serve other people, we’re going to grow in our capacity to be like Jesus and to follow in His ways. I remember I was preparing a sermon on this passage actually and I came across a quote from Calvin, John Calvin, one of the reformers, who was teaching on this and he said, after reading this passage he says, “They therefore are insane who neglect the means of the church to become like Christ.” That’s a rough paraphrase, but he uses that word insane. It’s not very politically correct, but what he’s saying if God has so ordained it, that we become like His Son through the church, then we are crazy to not pursue that means by which we can find out who we’re made to be and become like that and so we should go to church so that we can be in community so that we can grow.
Kurt: And the apostle Paul certainly writes about this. I’m forgetting the reference, but he encourages the people to whom he’s writing to not give up meeting on a regular basis. That there’s a strong value to participating in the life and the fellowship of believers that you just can’t get, there is no growth when you don’t participate in an active lifestyle. This raises an important question and we’ll see how far of a tangent this takes us. Phil, I see your comment there, but before we get to your comment, Phil, who’s watching online. my question is about the internet church, because this is a new popular thing and one of the churches Michaela and I used to go has been very active in this, and I can see some value in livestreaming a service and even having a chat for people to engage, a chat box for people to talk about, to somehow have community. What are your thoughts? I’m not too optimistic about this. I think it discourages people, even Christians, it discourages Christians from participating, from going to church and being part of that community. What are your thoughts on the internet church movement?
Nate: There’s the internet church movement and then there’s also related to that is the amount of podcasts and the amount of sermons.
Kurt: Be careful what you say about podcasts.
Nate: I know. Right? Which are of tremendous value.
Kurt: But in a sense, we’re not just a sermon repeating itself, so what we’re doing here is not exactly the corporate worship.
Nate: What I’m referring to mainly is churches that produce sermons I can go listen to.
Kurt: Alistair Begg…
Nate: Bill Hybels, Francis Chan, name any preacher you want to listen to, you can find them online.
Kurt: I can listen to Matt Chandler. I cannot watch Matt Chandler, because he talks with his hands. It’s all over, but I can listen to it. Sorry. Continue.
Nate: That’s good. You’ve got that. You can pull up your favorite worship music on YouTube or Spotify or iTunes, whatever you lose. A lot of people say I’m getting fed at home or I can tune in on the livestream. I think, like you said, I can see some value in it. I listen to sermons and I listen to worship music. I do the same thing, but I don’t see it replacing the need to be in community and because, like you said, it’s still going to stretch you, and in the same way when you’re part of the internet church or especially the podcast or the sermons and the YouTube stuff, you’re still just picking everything that you want to hear. You’re picking the people you like, the song you like, and really that is going to shape you to want church to be what you want it to be and I think the value of being in a church is you’re going to find that you’re part of a larger community, a diverse community, with people who don’t think just like you think, who don’t worship just like you do, and in fact, that’s actually going to be a good thing for you because you’re going to grow.
Kurt: So for those that do the internet church, I shouldn’t say the participants, but I should say the people that host it, the organizations and churches that put out that material, it’s almost as if they should have a disclaimer or an encouragement at the end, if you’ve enjoyed this please consider going us on Sunday morning, which of course you just don’t see that. I don’t see that in the podcasts and I don’t know if maybe you do.
Nate: I don’t know. To be honest, I’m not very familiar. I’m never been to an internet church or watched one so I can’t comment too much on it.
Kurt: Before we take our break here, I want to read Philip’s comment and then he’s got a question here for you, Nate. He writes, “I see an issue with megachurches where vast majority just show up and then go home and there’s no inclination to be a part of the church community apart from just showing up on Sundays. The pushback is people to seem fall on legalism, of having to do XYZ to be considered being part of the body rather a consumer. What would you say is the backbone essentials of going to church?” He gives, for example, should there be life groups, small groups for men or women, youth groups, outreach, community groups, etc. What are some things that should sort of be essential for doing church? That’s kind of a loaded question. I’ll let you talk.
Nate: It’s a very loaded question. It’s a great question that a lot of people have talked about. What are the essential marks of a church? The Reformers said the word and sacrament. We have to experience the preaching of God’s word and to participate in holy Communion, but that’s not the only way to answer the question. I think for me as I understand it, I do think one of the bare minimums is being in community and having the ability to live out those 50 one anothers. So whatever that may look like, that might be a Sunday School class, that might be a small group, life group, whatever you want to call it, but the ability to interact with other Christians where you’re being discipled and you’re discipling others. This is kind of a tangent here, but I’ve been wanting to say it, I think going to church and being in that kind of environment specifically gives you the opportunity to serve somebody else, to use the gifts that God has given you because I think there has to be somewhat of an altruistic motive, a selfless motive for coming to church. We should come to church because you’re going to bless somebody else. You’re going to serve somebody else.
Kurt: It’s not just what the church can do for me, but how can I serve.
Nate: Exactly. I think that takes place best in the smaller groups because in a typical megachurch service and a typical American church service and many churches, most people are facing forward, and you have to find times outside of that for the church to really be the church in my view.
Kurt: Yeah. So a sign of a healthy church is when the congregation is serving, not when they’re being served, and of course, that harkens back to Jesus, about how He came to serve, and not be served, and so that’s a sign of a healthy church and if you are someone who is not going to church on the regular, but you believe Jesus is Lord, then I want to encourage you to nevertheless go and become part of a community. If you’re not sure how you can serve, you will discover where are areas that you might be able to help out and to serve that community and you’ll discover some of your strengths and weaknesses as well. I know for me there are some areas in my own church where I’m not the best person to serve. Even I in the past few months have discovered, while I’m serving in a current capacity, someone else can do what I do in that capacity, and so I’m realizing there are other areas in my own church that I might be able to serve needs that other people are unable to serve and so I perceive in that way that God is calling me to move over to that area to better serve my own church, so you’ll discover these things over time and so I don’t want anyone to think, “Well if I show up then I’m not sure where I can fit in or how I can fit in.” It might take a little time, but get involved, start living community, live life with people, and you’ll find ways where you can help out and so don’t be worried if you’re scared that you wouldn’t be able to serve even though that’s clear that as Christians grow we are called to serve others and to love on them. We’ve got to take a short break here, but stick with us. We’re going to be looking at other reasons why we should continue going to church. I’m joined this week by pastor Nate Hickox of Faith Evangelical Covenant Church and look forward to continuing our discussion after this short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. If you’d like to learn how to become a sponsor, you can go to our website Veracityhill.com/patron and you can learn about the different sponsorships we have. If you just want an ad spot on the web site or you’d like to have an advertisement played on the podcast, we would love to learn more about your organization and how we might be able to help you out. I’m joined today by Pastor Nate Hickox. He’s the head pastor/senior pastor, what’s your official title?
Nate: I think senior pastor.
Kurt: Senior pastor. Senior Pastor at Faith Evangelical Covenant Church in Wheaton. Nate. You’re a first time guest on the show, so of course, that means it’s Rapid Questions time.
Nate: Ooooh. Sounds fun.
Kurt: Yes. I believe I have not told you about this, so that’s the idea, the guests are surprised. I will play a game clock here so basically 60 seconds. Okay? I’m going to ask you as many questions as I can. They’re kind of goofy questions, questions about your interests, that sort of things. Random questions. Try your best and fastest to answer them. Are you ready?
Nate: Ready. Here we go.
Kurt: Okay. Here we go. What’s your clothing store of choice?
Bell or KFC?
Nate: Taco Bell.
school did you go to?
Nate: Bethel College.
Kurt: What song is playing on your radio these days?
Nate: Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship.
Kurt: What’s your favorite sport?
Kurt: What kind of razor do you use?
Kurt: What’s your spouse’s favorite holiday.
Kurt: What fruit would you say your head is shaped like?
Kurt: What’s your most hated sports franchise?
Nate: Baltimore Ravens.
Kurt: Favorite movie.
Nate: Shawshank Redemption.
Kurt: Have you ever planked?
you drink Dr. Pepper?
Kurt: Darn. Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?
Kurt: Would you drink a Dr. Pepper if it were handed to you?
What’s one thing you’d be sure to keep with you if you were stranded on an
Nate: A Bible.
Kurt: What’s your inner milkshake flavor?
celebrity are you most like?
Nate: Michael Jordan.
Kurt: Michael Jordan. Gentlemen. We went through 19 of 21 questions. That might be a record actually. Chris. Can you confirm? We might have to confirm that later. 19 out of 21. I was two questions away from winning. We might as well ask him the final two questions.
Pokey, Electric Slide, or the macarena?
Kurt: If you were a baseball pitch, which one would you be?
Kurt: I am genuinely impressed here. 19 out of 21 questions. Well done. Well done.
Nate: What can I say?
Kurt: Okay. So if you’re just joining us now, in the first half of the show we talked about being part of a Christian family and how going to church is not just something you do, you don’t just go to church, it’s about a lifestyle, and being part of that Christian family and being formed and shaped and discipled and what that entails, the different ideas, we just left off on how to be a servant and serving in the church. That’s one of the reasons why we should go to church. It’s not just what we can get out of the church on a Sunday morning, but how can we serve others? Really, it’s a way of self-sacrifice, giving our time and our gifts and talents to others for their own benefit. I know I’m someone who really enjoys the traditional style of worship and so when we have that at our church, I really like listening to the live instruments. I like it when our mutual friend Rick plays his trumpet or when we have a clarinet or a flutist. They’re called flutists. Right?
Nate: You’ll have to confirm with someone else?
Kurt: But to just listen. How often do we do that in our lives? Where we can just sit and listen to someone play the clarinet for three minutes, and it’s a nice, sweet tune as well. It’s beautiful, and so they serve me and I’m able to get a rich experience out of that, but if we only do that, if we think what’s ways that I can benefit from it, then we’re really kind of missing some of the core features to living the Christian life together.
Nate: Yeah. I think when people think about not going to church or missing a Sunday or taking a Sunday off, they think “What am I really going to missing? Am I going to be missing anything important?” I may want to flip that. What is the church missing out on by you not being there? Are they missing out on your presence? Maybe there’s someone that day that could have used a hug even or a smile, just a pleasant conversation with somebody else. It takes just people showing up to do that. I think sometimes we have to train ourselves to think a little bit differently. What is the church going to miss out on if I’m not a part of it?
Kurt: Sally’s watching online. Sally’s a devout watcher. Thank you so much for watching today again. She says here, “Awesome Rapid Questions.” She was thoroughly impressed which is saying a lot from one of our regular listeners.
Nate: Thanks Sally.
Kurt: Okay. We had a couple reasons why we should consider going to church, but I’m sure there are a few more. What are some other ideas that come to your mind when you think “Why should I go to church?”
Nate: Another one that I think about is the need for solid teaching. There’s been different understandings of who the leaders are, who are the supposed to be, but from a very early time period in the church’s history, there were established leaders. Paul established elders and one of their responsibilities and their qualifications was the ability to teach. They had to know the gospel and have the traditions handed down from Jesus and His apostles and be able to teach accurately, and that was one of the main concerns of Jesus Himself, and of the apostles and of Paul, that the church had truthful and strong and thorough teaching on the Scriptures and Paul calls it the whole counsel of God. He taught the Ephesians the whole counsel. I think for our church, I’m getting ordained, the Evangelical Covenant Church, to get a job I had to go to seminary. It’s not saying I’m anything special or anything like that, but the idea is that we need leaders who have been trained, who know how to teach a Biblical and truthful faith and you can get that when you go to church.
Kurt: Yeah. In some senses, there’s a trustworthiness with the teaching, because you know that the leader has been trained and learned. Some people might be weary against people that are ordained, but think of it this way. Jesus’s twelve disciples, they weren’t ordained in any sort of formal educational sense, but they sat under His feet. They learned from Him daily for years and so that’s the similar idea, say when pastors today might go to seminary to learn to be trained, to sit under the feet of their professors so you can find a trustworthiness in that teaching. Also, I think, let’s be honest, for many people who work regular full-time jobs. They can’t necessarily devote themselves to studying and learning about God’s Word and all that entails so we need to depend upon the ability of others to take time and do that, that’s one of the reasons why I listen to podcasts, because I don’t have time to go into this area and learn about this, but I’m still interested enough to learn about it, to have a little bit of competence in some area.
Nate: Certainly. Being a Protestant, I believe in the priesthood of all believers, which essentially means all of us can have a direct connection to God. We can all go to God in prayer. We can receive forgiveness of sins. We have the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit, so to be ordained, to be a pastor and a teacher, it’s not necessarily a spiritual above somebody else, but it’s the idea that you’ve been trained in the word and so being a leader doesn’t negate that priesthood of all believers. The Reformers even believed this. Martin Luther and Calvin and others, they wrote commentaries and extensive catechisms, because they wanted their churches to know the truth. They had the training to do that and so I think that’s something of value that you can go get when you go to a church with trained teachers.
Kurt; Now, for you, you were born and raised in the Catholic Church, and so even in your dress code, you have communicated that you as a Protestant don’t view sort of the pastor or priestly class as sort of a higher up, that we’re all on the same level playing field, and I know for you this is even down to your dress code, because for me I like to dress a little nicer, more tradtional shall we say, but for you, you don’t want that to be off-putting anybody who might think that there’s something extra special or extra holy about you and the message that you have to bring to people on any given Sunday. I know you really do believe that and as evidence that you believe it, you see that come into your action and your choice of dress. It’s really cool to see that you believe that so much that for people who may not be coming to church on the regular, they are welcome and they’re just like everyone else. There’s nothing, you’re not subordinate over another human in the corporate worship setting. That’s really neat to see that.
Nate: Part of that is I’m thinking about that person who may be, the person who’s like the person who asked this question. Should I go to church? Maybe they’re not familiar with church, comfortable with church, maybe they’ve had some bad experiences with churches or leaders. Part of my goal is to make myself approachable, relatable, and not to put myself above them and so, that’s just part of my philosophy I guess is to try to reach that person who maybe isn’t familiar and to understand, getting back to that community, you can be a part of this. This is a family. This isn’t a hierarchy type thing. We’re all in this together, we’re a community. I just play a unique role in that.
Kurt: Right. It’s just one role above many other roles. There are many jobs to do and so one of the things is the solid teaching and the blessing of the sacrament and so like you said, some churches have different philosophies on how to do that too. Sometimes some people just do different distinct things. I know you certainly see that more in a congregational led church, especially in smaller churches, people have their different roles. In that sense, there’s nothing super special or holy about who you are as a pastor. That’s great. Now the idea of a church is to be part of a Christian family, but it’s not secluded. It’s not isolated. We’re just not supposed to keep to ourselves. We’ve got to go tell other people about what we’re doing, so what is sort of the church’s role in terms of mission and evangelism?
Nate: That’s another big question. That could be a whole other podcast.
Nate: We play a huge role in that. Jesus’s command was to go and make disciples, make more disciples, so every Christian’s mission and every church’s mission ought to be about making more and better disciples of Jesus. Boil any church’s purpose down. It should come down to doing that. That’s the work of the church. C.S. Lewis said something familiar. Making little Christs is the mission of the church. That’s our goal, and there’s many philosophies about going about that…
Kurt: And how to do that.
Nate: Question is how do we do that. And, not to be a resounding gong, but we are talking about how to be a community. I think living out real Biblical community is essential to that task. What really kind of opened my eyes to this was in many different places, but especially when Jesus says, I think it’s in John 13, they will know that you are Christians by your love for one another. In other words, when somebody else sees the genuine Christian community, the genuine love that we have for each other, they’re going to be drawn in. This is truth of the whole Scriptures. When God started Abraham, I’m going to make you a nation, and the whole nation, the idea was these people are going to be so different and stand out so much that the other nations might say, “They have a wise God. We should see who these people are. So from the very beginning when God started what some people call salvation history, He’s always picking people to carry out His mission. Mission happens in community.
Kurt: Like you said, there are different ways of how to go about doing it, but at the very least, as you had mentioned, they will see our love for one another and I can think back to the discussion a couple weeks ago with Brett on how that can be uncomfortable for some people, having to love people within the church. If you get along great with just everyone, you’re not doing church the right way. There should be some people where things are just uncomfortable because of the variety of human experiences and personalities and so in living in community with one another, we are forced to deal with those uncomfortable times, but that’s a sign of a good, healthy church because the outside world can see that despite these differences, there are overriding and superior factors for the love that we have for our fellow humans and our brothers and sisters in Christ. There are more important issues than some of these smaller disagreements and that is a testament I think to the outside world that we don’t have to harness bitter feelings, we don’t have to even hate our fellow Christians, and so there is something powerful to that because the outside world doesn’t view it the same way. There will be bitterness. There will be hatred toward others and really, I think when we recognize those overriding and superior reasons, we don’t forget that we’re all God’s children and so there are still these good reasons for why we should treat each other in a loving way. It’s a testament again to what we talked about in the first half of the show briefly about living out God’s purpose for us as an individual human. What does it mean to be human and how should we relate to others? What you said about evangelism, yeah, the two greatest commands, love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and when you do those two things, you want to share the gospel with people. You want to tell them how good it is, and if you’re not doing that, there’s something going a little wrong if you’re not willing to share in whatever way or method there might be, whether it’s sort of the friendship evangelism or whether it’s, I know David Montoya who’s a part of our organization, he does street evangelism. He’ll speak to crowds. That’s one of the ways that he engages people, and that’s a great way of just getting ideas out there with people, and talking to them, pulling them aside, “What did you think of this?” So there are those different methods of evangelism, but we as Christians need to be doing that.
Nate: I certainly agree and I think to maybe even make it an easier step for some people. Because we know that when the outside world, it will know that we are Christ’s followers by our love for each other. I think it’s imperative that we find ways for people to see that and experience that and I think for most Christians in our country, when they think about evangelism, they think about inviting people to a worship service. They come to church on Sunday. Nothing wrong with that, however, maybe a different step, or perhaps a more effective one is “Why don’t you come have dinner with a couple of my friends from church. We’re going to play some games and just be together. We’d like you to come.” That actually might be a different setup where relationships are formed and things like that. That’s just one idea.
Kurt: And it wouldn’t bring them to do the uncomfortable thing about going into a building where they don’t know anyone except maybe one person and things are very foreign in terms of how the service is done even for someone who is unchurched, but it affords them an opportunity to meet other Christians and see, “Hey. These people are nice.” Then in the future, if they were to go to the church service they would know multiple people, might not feel as awkward about attending, so that’s one option, but I think too, when you just simply invite people to church and if they turn you down, you’re still not reaching them with the message. Maybe in some situations, because evangelism very much deals with recognizing where people are at, in some situations, you may just have to share the gospel with them. Just talk to them one to one if the opportunity affords itself, and to share with them the message because I think the Scripture says God has written eternity in everyone’s hearts and in a sense then I think many people know that they have fallen short of God’s moral law for humans and so there is that deep longing that people have and so sharing the gospel and the good news is a way to fulfill that longing that is innate in people, and I know there are some people that may not even say they don’t lack that or religion’s a crutch or whatnot, but you actually see it work out in their lives. I know atheists like this that just reject religion because they think it’s a crutch, but you just see the existential crisis in their lives play out and it’s a sad thing. I have sympathy for people like that because you just see how lost they are,but they’re not willing to admit it and the Scripture talks about the hardening of the hearts. That’s sort of what it is, but nevertheless, even people like that still need to be loved and to be treated in a human way. Sadly, some Christians, they turn themselves off altogether and further isolate themselves and that’s not a loving thing to do either. I say that because there’s still that need to evangelize and to love people and to share the gospel with them, even when they’ve already rejected the gospel.
Nate: Yeah. And I think you point out one of the most essential realities of mission and evangelism in the church today is the difference between attractional and missional. The attractional philosophy is let’s have a great show or whatever it is and invite them to come in and that’s the primary evangelism strategy. Right?
Kurt: The seeker-sensitive model.
Nate: Or come to an event or come to whatever, but for a lot of people, that doesn’t work. A lot of people are not willing. A lot of people are willing and we should do those things, but what about the people aren’t willing to come to church? I think that’s where a lot of people, a lot of Christians need help, and if I may I will plug our denomination’s strategy on this, and we didn’t come up with it….
Kurt: And I don’t even know what the formal strategy is so please….
Nate: It’s going to be our next sermon series in our church over Lent and it’s going to be called Bless, and bless is an acronym, and it’s going to be a way to train people to be everyday missionaries wherever they are. The B is begin with prayer, start by praying for people you know who don’t know Christ, your neighbors, your friends, family members, come up with a small list. There’s going to be a bookmark we’re going to pass out and people are going to take with them. The L is listen with care. Begin with prayer, listen with care. Listen to someone’s story. Listen to where they are. Understand where they’re at first before going right into sharing. That might take place over time. The E is eat together. Again….
Kurt: Very practical idea.
Nate: The first S is serve. Find someway to serve them practically. Mow their lawn. Whatever it is. The last one is share your story. Share how Christ has impacted, why Jesus has made a difference in your life, and I think all five of these things are things anybody can do, no matter your comfort level. That’s actually something we’re going to spend five weeks on as a church and again, another reason why coming to church is a good thing because you get equipped to do some of these types of things. We’re going to spend five weeks in training people on how to be everyday missionaries.
Kurt: Yeah. I was smiling quite with a wide grin because the acronym, it’s very good to have those easy to remember things and you see, believe it or not, there’s some acronyms in the Bible, some people don’t realize, ways you can easily remember things. It’s a good way to recall when you are away from the Sunday morning corporate worship because for a lot of people they forget, what was the sermon on?
Nate: So true.
you can get people to remember the phrase bless, then you can remember here’s what
we need to do. That turns out to be very well a good memory tactic. Personally,
I’m also looking forward to that series. It should be good and hopefully
edifying to the congregation. Before we close out the show today, if you had to
summarize an answer to the broad question, why should I go to church, if you
were to speak, suppose I’m someone who just goes to church on Christmas and
Easter, tell me why is it that I should consider going to church?
Nate: I would say that you need to be in community. God created you for that. I think you’re going to thrive the most in your life when you have other Christians around you to support you and you’re going to grow in your faith and also, you need a place to serve, a place where you can serve other Christians and use the gifts that God has given you. When you do all those things I think that you’re going to find that your Christian life is going to thrive.
Kurt: Okay. Great. Thank you for your thoughts on this matter and I hope for the listener that requested this show that maybe this has been something on your heart perhaps or certainly your mind, whether you should consider going to your local church on a Sunday morning and what church is all about as well. For some people, they just don’t know. What is it that they do? Hopefully here in today’s episode, we’ve been able to lay out the different ways that Christians can serve one another and to live life in community together and that it’s not such an alien thing when people get together and play games, they eat food, that they break bread together, that’s what that means, eating food together, and so for some people, the Christian corporate worship might be a foreign experience, but I hope that through thinking through these things you’ve been able to see, maybe it’s not so bad after all, and that you might consider going to your local church on a Sunday morning, and specifically joining us, Pastor Nate Hickox here and myself, at Faith Evangelical Covenant Church in Wheaton. Faithecc.org, and I believe Chris has that going on the livestream there so thank you to our technical producer for that. Of course, if you’ve got more questions you can go to that website and contact Nate and he’ll I’m sure see the messages that come through that website, and if you have other questions in general, feel free to get in touch with me. There are a couple of ways you can do that. Kurt@veracityhill.com. You can participate in the texting plan that I mentioned at the beginning of the show. Just text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and you’ll join our plan. You can send topics. I’ll let you know what’s coming up on a show or just ask me a question in general or you can follow along our livestream that we’ve got here on Facebook. I see Dan’s just come. Thanks for watching today’s episode. If you have questions feel free to hit me up and we’ll be happy to engage on those questions that you’ve got.
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