7 Ways to Protect and Pass On the Gospel

If a local body fails to carry out their given assignment, spiritual disaster will eventually occur.

I don’t intend to defend the biblical merits of congregationalism in this post. Instead, I want to list and briefly explain seven ways a congregation can fulfill its Christ-commissioned responsibility. Some of these action steps are directed specifically at the individual church member, while others focus on the congregation as a whole.

 

Two summers ago, a young boy nearly drowned at a waterpark in St. Holmen, Wisconsin. What made this incident particularly tragic was that there were several lifeguards on duty at the time. Two mothers, who witnessed what went wrong, said the lifeguards completely dropped the ball—not just once, but twice.

The first botched rescue occurred when the lifeguards failed to help a four-year-old boy who was struggling to stay afloat. Fortunately, one of the mothers saw the boy in distress, sprung into action, and rescued him. About an hour later the same thing happened, except this second young boy lost consciousness. Again, one of the moms helped pull him out of the water and began performing CPR. She did this while the lifeguards just watched. The boy was rushed to the hospital and thankfully survived.

This true story reinforces what we already know by experience—failing to carry out an important responsibility can and often does lead to disaster. If a lifeguard abdicates his or her assigned task, people can drown.

Congregational Responsibility

I recently preached a sermon entitled, “The Importance of Congregational Church Polity.” In it I explained what congregationalism is and where we see it in Scripture. Congregationalism asserts that Jesus has entrusted the entire congregation—not just certain leaders—with the responsibility of protecting, propagating, and preserving the gospel.[1] This means that if a local body fails to carry out their given assignment, spiritual disaster will eventually occur. The message of the gospel will eventually be diluted. The meaning of the term “Christian” will eventually be distorted. And the mission of the church will eventually be derailed.

I don’t intend to defend the biblical merits of congregationalism in this post. Instead, I want to list and briefly explain seven ways a congregation can fulfill its Christ-commissioned responsibility. Some of these action steps are directed specifically at the individual church member, while others focus on the congregation as a whole.

1) Take church membership seriously.

Congregationalism can only work properly if a congregation believes and practices regenerate church membership. Regenerate church membership is the biblical notion that a church should be comprised only of those who give a credible profession of faith and are baptized (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38). This means a local church should not affirm just anyone as a member, but only those who demonstrate that the Spirit of God has done a genuine work of salvation in their heart as a result of believing the gospel.

Here’s why: If a church affirms someone as a member who does not know God and does not have his Spirit, the church has just given that individual a measure of authority in determining important matters within the church. This, of course, is a recipe for disaster, and many congregational churches have suffered for failing to take regenerate church membership seriously.

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