Pop Church Circus

REFCAST AUDIO PLAYER

There are so many unrealistic expectations heaped upon pastors and congregants in the popular church. And there hasn’t been much sound thinking on what really matters. Maybe you’ve experienced this? Maybe you’re exhausted? Confused? In this episode, the guys seek to make the main things of church life clear–in order to set us free for life in the body of Christ.

Semper Reformanda: The guys talk about anything and everything as it pertains to church: the primacy of Sunday morning and the preaching of Christ, pastoral care, music, church programs…you name it, it might be in there.

Giveaway: Faith vs Faithfulness

Podcast Transcript

Jon Moffitt: Hi, this is Jon. Today on Theocast, we have a discussion around the insanity of the modern church as it relates to the pastor and congregants, and how often church feels more like an exhausting circus moving from one big program to the next. And then we’re going to spend some time talking about what biblical Christianity is. What is the responsibility of a church pastor and a church congregant? We hope you find this conversation edifying. We definitely pray that you find rest.

Jimmy Buehler: Today, what we are going to talk about is pop church circus. I think the person that we are aiming to speak to today, maybe you are that church member or that church attender where you feel like you show up to church on Sundays and you’re looking around and you’re seeing all of these things happen around you—different people volunteering, etc. Everybody seems to be very busy, very involved, and very much part of the movement, but you actually have no idea what’s going on or you have no idea what all of this is. It can be really disorienting, particularly here in the United States.

The reason why we titled this Pop Church Circus is if you’ve ever been to a circus, you walk in and 1,001 different things are fighting for your attention, whether it’s the skee-ball machine, or the bearded lady, or the conjoined twins, or whatever it might be. There are a thousand things that you can look at and give your attention to, and it’s almost too much, it’s almost too overwhelming.

I’ll just speak from personal experience. In the different churches that I’ve been involved in, it always seemed like there was a new initiative or a new movement and corresponding matching t-shirts to go along with it. What we’re seeing, particularly in our generation—the post boomer, I think that would be Gen Z millennial—is you see a lot of deconversion stories or ex-evangelicals, is a lot of times what they call themselves, where essentially they’re running away from this kind of circus. What we want to do today is just talk about and hopefully bring hope and rest to that kind of person. What do we do in that kind of situation?

But maybe before we get there, would one of you want to step in and flesh this idea out a little bit more?

Justin Perdue: I’m happy to jump in for a second here and put it maybe in my own words. I think there are all kinds of expectations heaped upon people in the church, and that would include pastors and congregants. And then there are a lot of unhelpful notions in the popular church of what pastoral ministry looks like. And there are also a lot of unhelpful notions about what being a church attender or a church member looks like in the popular church. Because it’s this fire hose coming at them. I love the analogy of all these different things going on. There’s a t-shirt for every program and there’s a t-shirt for every new thing that we’re doing and every initiative. It all can just be exhausting.

We talk about the rest that is ours in Christ all the time on this podcast. I think one of the goals of today’s conversation is to liberate people who are exhausted by the popular church. Whether you’re a pastor, whether you’re paid to do vocational ministry, whether you’re a lay elder perhaps and you’re helping pastor a church in that regard, or whether you’re a member of a church or an attender of a church somewhere, our hope for the today is that you walk away from this podcast with some simple handles and takeaways. The Christian life is unfathomably deep, but at the same time, it’s actually quite simple—and so I can give myself to these few things and I’m going to be absolutely inside the will of God. I’m probably going to be a little bit more rested. I’m probably going to be more effective in the things that I’m doing. That’s sort of where I’m coming from in having this conversation.

Jon, do you have thoughts that you want to add to that before we maybe get into the content itself?

Jon Moffitt: Sometimes, what’s helpful when you are wrestling and you’re thinking, “That doesn’t seem right. That seems wrong. That seems off,” then you can sit down with someone and you just touch it to see what happens and then they completely regurgitate back to you. It helps you just calm down and go, “Okay. I’m not crazy. I’m not the only one who thinks that is a circus and I don’t want anything to do with it.” That is definitely the conversation we want to have with you.

If you’re looking at modern churches and what seems to be popular, if you drop a pin in any church in any city and look at what the mega churches are doing—what’s popular, what’s moving—and even most church plants, it does feel like a circus. It feels as if the culture drives whatever works and that’s the pressure we all fall under. The way I describe it is that it feels superficial. It feels as if no one can have problems. Whatever is the most important thing going on in the culture is the most important thing going on in the church.

Justin Perdue: And you feel like there’s no way that any ordinary church can pull this off because it’s this incredible machine that’s been built and it requires millions of dollars a year. How in the world could we, just as ordinary Christians and ordinary pastors, ever do this thing?

Jimmy Buehler: I would just pipe in here and say this is a plague, I would say, in our modern culture in the church scene. Jon, you said the haunting words, which is whatever works. Our measurements and metrics and definitions of what successful churches have become so far away from what I think Scripture teaches and frankly—we’re coming from a Reformed perspective—what a lot of the Reformed confessions teach.

That’s what we want to get into a little bit. Everything just seems like the rat race where, I don’t know about you guys, but our life is tremendously busy. We have little kids. I know some people are listening and they have kids that are perhaps in sports or in different activities. We’re just getting into that. I just know how easy it can become when you’re part of a church. And it seems like any day that ends in why, you are either at the church building or you’re doing some sort of church related activity.

Justin Perdue: I just had a conversation yesterday with a guy who just started attending our church, and he was just asking me about life and the rhythms of our congregation. And I let him know that we unashamedly prioritize Sunday and time together in terms of just kickin it, getting to know each other, and being in one another’s lives. But we intentionally don’t fill up everybody’s calendar with church activities because we don’t think that that’s the best way to try to arrange our lives together. That may be a different podcast for a different day, but I think that observation is good.

Didn’t mean to interrupt you.

Jimmy Buehler: No, that’s okay. I was saying that I think it’s very easy to become so busy and so oriented around activity in church. To use the cliche phrase, the actual being the body of Christ to one another just actually never happens.

Justin Perdue: We’ve programmatized it to death. I think in having this conversation, we might take two different groups of people one at a time for the next bit and see where this goes. We’ll speak first to pastors, to people who are in leadership in the church and have been set aside to do that work. And then we’ll talk more specifically to congregants, which would be the vast majority of people, we trust, listening to the podcast.

When it comes to being a pastor, the three guys sitting here behind these microphones are in vocational ministry. We all have planted churches. In particular, in the church planting sphere, some of this circus of the popular church is more obvious and more in your face. All the pressures and the expectations that are placed upon guys who are going to plant churches and be pastors can be off the charts overwhelming. Guys can feel like, “Oh my gosh. I’m going to be a pastor. What in the world do I give my time to? There’s a million things I could do.” Which is true. Especially if you’re in a situation like you, Jimmy, where it’s not your full-time job, you’ve got very limited bandwidth. What do you need to give your time to?

We’re going to talk about just the very few things that we would see in the Scriptures and that the Reformed confessions would also bear witness to. I’m just going to go ahead and lay them out and we can talk about them one at a time.

You are fulfilling your job description as a pastor if you give attention to the following things (and it’s not a long list): (1) preach the Word of Christ and administer the sacraments; (2) oversee the church, and by that we mean not run it like an organization but oversee it doctrinally and guide it in that sense; (3) love your people, which would include meeting with them and shepherding them.

Jon Moffitt: As Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.”

Justin Perdue: Tend the flock. And then (4) invest in other people who can also be pastors, because the best way to pastor the church is to see the pastoral ministry multiply in that regard.

So it’s pretty simple. Preach the word and administer the sacraments, oversee the church, love your people, tend to the flock, invest in other people who can lead. If you’re doing that, you’re gonna be doing well. There’s a million other things you could give your time and attention to, and if you got the bandwidth for it, knock yourself out. But if you’re thinking you don’t have that kind of capacity, pay attention to these few things, and you will be doing a faithful job as a pastor of the church where you are.

Jon Moffitt: I went to a preaching magazine conference here in Nashville. I walked through the exhibit hall and was engaging and trying to hold my nose for most of the time. What I saw were I could get a doctorate and degrees in leadership and I could get it in a church organizational structure. What I didn’t see were help for pastors on how to shepherd, how to counsel, how to care, how to deal with loss, how to deal with suffering. It was really geared towards taking your ministry to the “next level” and reach that moment of pinnacle of 500 or a thousand people. These are what the successful pastors are doing. This is how they’re preaching. They’re doing leadership training. They’re focusing on basically how to communicate in a style where it’s more effective—communicating your mission and your objectives. It was exhausting. I lasted one day but I was supposed to be for three.

Justin Perdue: I’m tired listening to it.

Jon Moffitt: I didn’t go back. To which then the two series of sermons I did hear about were about racial reconciliation, and how I was a white pastor and it is my fault that racism is in the United States. It wasn’t what I came for.

I was at a coffee shop yesterday with one of the guys I planted a church with, Patrick Crandall. I literally looked around the room and there were four other pastors meeting with staff or church members in there. I was obviously the most underdressed out of all of them. I apparently didn’t shop wherever they shop, and I definitely didn’t have my hair cut wherever they got their cut. I just chuckled on it. I didn’t really care. I know most of these guys’ churches and I’ve been to their websites. I have been in conversations with them. I look at the pressures that they live underneath to try and keep up with what’s happening.

I was talking with a Presbyterian pastor that’s a very good friend of mine in Colombia, and he described modern Christianity in this way: most Christians jump from one church to the next because there is no connection. This one now offers this, or this offers this, or this sermon series here. I love the word circus because a circus kind of shows up, it blows in, it blows up, it blows out to the next city, and it does its song and dance. You either increase the song and dance, you either make the attractiveness better, or you’re going to lose your congregants to the next big thing. I have congregants rolling into my church saying, “I am exhausted by the circus of Christianity.” I know for a fact there are pastors who are exhausted by the system. They get chewed up, spit out, and they leave ministry because they can’t keep up with guys that are exploding churches of up to 5,000. it’s just a machine that just chews people up.

Jimmy Buehler: There is something that very much happens in the church in the States, which is the pastor becomes either the CEO or the spiritual guru that has wisdom on almost every area of life. Whether it’s parenting, marriage, finances, work, or whatever it may be, your pastor has all of the answers on how to do these things and do them well, and to create results, and to create metrics, and so on and so forth.

My wife and I have been married for 11 years, so we’re not rookies per se. But at the same time, there is a profound sense of a lot of areas that I just don’t know. I would not go write a book on marriage right now because there’s just so many areas that we don’t have figured out.

Jon Moffitt: Actually you could, Jimmy: everything you shouldn’t do.

Jimmy Buehler: If you want the book of mistakes, I can tell you that, but I don’t have any solutions. The same thing with parenting. I still go to older members of our church that have raised teenagers that are still walking with the Lord. And I ask them, “How do you do this? Because my kids are driving me nuts right now.”

Justin Perdue: A joke about parenting is to talk to the couple that has a one-year-old and it’s their only child.

Jimmy Buehler: They tell you everything you need to know. Exactly. But this is often the expectation that is laden on pastors. Sometimes, that can go one of two ways: one, the pastor gets an enormously huge head because they all of a sudden believe that they are the expert on everything. And then they become the celebrity. Or two, what Jon has mentioned: they end up burning out because they become the answer guy. If you need to know anything about life, they will know it. What is it that a pastor is supposed to do? This is what we see in the Book of Acts, that the elderly shepherds give themselves to prayer and ministry of the Word. And frankly, I would say there is probably a really good chance, a high percentage—I would say in the 90s—that your pastor does not have time for those things because of all of the other expectations that have been thrust upon him concerning being the spiritual guru or the life coach that many people want him to be

Jon Moffitt: To add to the weight of what Jimmy is saying, I read this list in an installation service I did on Sunday. I just want to read it to you here. “Here’s the various hats that people expect pastors to wear: preacher, counselor, leader, financial planner, designer, project manager, entrepreneur, videographer, supervisor, volunteer, coordinator, theologian, receptionist, greeter, webmaster, community, community activist, rider recruiter, life coach, shipping department, coordinator (done that), strategist, social media, dreamer, student, disciplinarian, teacher, social activist, event specialist, chaplain CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, operations manager, janitor, salesmen, and communication specialist.” That’s just to name a few.

Justin Perdue: The thing that’s interesting is a lot of that stuff that you just read, Jon, the vast majority of it, and Jimmy, using your language of the pastor being a CEO and a guru—none of that’s in the Scripture at all. I would go so far as to say, if I was really going to talk about the most important thing that pastors do, we would all probably liberate ourselves a little bit if we were content for every aspect of our ministry to fail-safe the preaching of Christ. But then, I think there are other things that we need to be doing.

As I’m thinking about my own job, giving people Christ in the service every Sunday is paramount in the Word, in the table, and in baptism. That’s critical. Beyond that, the other thing that happens twice a month at our church is our pastors meet together to pray for our people and to discuss matters of oversight of the church. Those are the most essential things that I do, and therefore they should receive a lot of my attention and energy as a pastor. Other things that occur are important, like the meetings with people. Jon and I were just talking about meeting with congregants because he and I are both full-time pastors. I had three meetings with individuals yesterday and I’ve got one today. I think Jon’s the same. So you give yourself to that where you meet with your people when you talk with them about their lives—and you often just listen to them talk and offer what you can. But you’re not a guru. You can’t answer every question. You’re mainly just listening and pointing them to Christ and encouraging them in him.

I think the task is weighty and thrilling, but the main things that we need to do are actually few. It’s a relatively simple job description in that regard. It’s beyond our capacity and we need the sufficiency of the Lord. Amen to that. But we don’t do ourselves a service when we overcomplicate this and we make the list a million items long.

Jon Moffitt: I was talking with a dear saint who is a pastor in Texas. He was describing to me some of the pressures he’s been feeling as a church planner, like all the things that are expected of him. One of the words he used was “entrepreneur”. “If you don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, then you know, you’re not going to be a successful church planner.” I just told him that is nowhere in the requirements of a pastor or church planter.

I love that the illustration used is that of a shepherd. Jesus literally says to Peter—who, by the way, is not a very successful human being at the moment—he is hearing these things, he has denied Jesus, he’s hiding in a room. He’s just not your primo example of the leader that you want leading the flock of God. And what does Jesus do? He loves him, he gives him mercy, grace, and forgiveness. And then he says to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Shepherds are designed to do two things: feed and care for, and protect the congregation. When a pastor starts to feel the weight needed to be a public speaker, he needs to be this, he needs to be that, his attention throughout the week is drawn away from the very moment that he should be present, which is administrating the Word and then caring for those receiving the Word. When I think about what pastors spend their time doing, I can’t help but wonder how it is related to the one thing they’ve been called to do. They become administrators. They become a communications specialist. You said influencers. We’re not influencers. Pastors don’t have to have a public persona to do their job effectively. They don’t need to have a massive podcast or YouTube channel or whatever else is out there.

Not only that, just because the pastor is popular and has a big following doesn’t mean what he says is more influential. I’m going to just be a little cranky right now and say that I get exhausted being compared to what other famous pastors have said. I don’t care what they say because they’re not in my context, they’re not in my city, and they’re not in my church. Therefore what they say has no authority. Period.

Jimmy Buehler: The celebrity pastor notion is just absurd. I’ve said this to people and they look at me like I’m nuts: when they listen to their favorite celebrity preacher and I tell them he has no authority in their lives because he’s not your pastor. He might say some good things that are helpful, but he bears no authority to call you out on things because he’s not your pastor.

The other thing that I was going to say is there is often a weight to place on pastors that they were never meant to bear—and those are the things that you listed off. I’ll never forget what one of my mentors said to me one time, and it kind of haunts me to this day even as I think about the various things that our church does, where he said your church can be very busy and productive and yet the hand of God can still be against you. I remember that hitting me in the chest, like a sledgehammer because at that point, I was leading a ministry that was “successful”. But we were very busy and we were doing things, but I think our metrics and measures of success were just so far out of whack.

I realize that not everybody listening to this is a pastor, but I think also as congregants as well, some of the things that can happen is congregants, as we’ve mentioned before, can be part of a church. Let’s just describe the typical standard fare of what a typical congregant might experience in church today. The expectation is this: you attend church on Sunday morning where perhaps you volunteer in some way, whether that’s teaching Sunday school, volunteering in the nursery, maybe you’re an usher, or maybe you’re a deacon, or maybe you’re a cleanup or set up crew—whatever it might be. And then Monday night, you have some sort of church meeting where you have to discuss some matter of the church. Tuesday night, you have your community group, or your home fellowship group, or your small group, Wednesday night, you have the kids or youth program that you volunteer in and that you have to show up. Thursday night, you have to do your own family things. Friday night, you have a worship night that you have to attend and be part of. And then Saturday morning, there’s a serve day. And then eventually, before you realize it, you’re actually not really living in the community in which you live; you just keep driving 20 minutes to the church building and doing church-related activities. You have no time to interact with your spouse. You have no time to interact with your own kids. And then eventually you realize, “I am so exhausted. My marriage is on the rocks. My kids don’t want to go to church anymore because all we’re doing is church-related functions and activities.”

Is this realistic? Is this sustainable? What do we do?

Justin Perdue: Short answer: no. We do realize that the vast majority of people listening to this are probably not in pastoral ministry. The comments about pastors that we hope are helpful to the congregant in thinking about what you should look for in a person who’s going to be your pastor. Hang onto those things and set realistic expectations in your own mind and heart for your pastors, for your shepherds.

Jimmy, you lay it out well. I think a lot of people are flat out exhausted by the demands that the church puts on them and the rigor of church life and all the events and things. There are, I trust, good debates that can be had about what’s valuable and what isn’t. Let me just start with this: the only thing that’s essential in the life of any congregation is the Sunday morning gathering. Anything outside of the Sunday morning gathering is a wisdom call. I think we would do everybody a service if we could just talk like that out of the gate because a lot of times, I think people think that there is an absolute, if not biblical requirement, close to it to have all of these various other things going on in the church calendar and in the life of the congregation.

I’m going to go ahead and lay out a few things that I think are the most simple and basic things that congregants should concern themselves with. This list is even shorter than the list that we had for pastors.

If you are a person who attends a church, you’re a Christian, and you want to be involved in a church somewhere, three things: one, join a church. Become a member of a church—and we’ll talk about that in a minute. It sounds crazy to some, but join. Two, show up. Your primary ministry in your local church is to show up to service on Sunday. Three, love the brethren, love the saints. That’s it. Join, show up, love each other.

Volunteering could be a subset of loving one another—and we realize that there’s a lot of implications biblically, but let that be your motivator. Let that be your guide.

I don’t know which one we want to take on first. I have a number of thoughts about each of these. Church membership? Do we want to start there?

Jimmy Buehler: I think so. I have some words on that. I know that church members are kind of all over the board, probably, for our listeners. For some people, it doesn’t mean anything. And then I would say on the opposite extreme, I think for some people, dare I say it almost means too much where…

Justin Perdue: Like it’s a primary doctrine.

Jimmy Buehler: Yeah. And I would say there are areas that maybe the church has authority in somebody’s life that they don’t need to have authority. But that’s a whole different podcast.

But I would say for most people, 9 out of 10, the average listener church, what church membership might mean in your church you get to vote on important matters and then maybe someday you can become a leader of some ministry, or you can become an elder or whatever it might be.

Justin Perdue: Or you can play in the band.

Jimmy Buehler: Right. You can play in the band.

I think membership can be underthought and it can be overthought—at least my own ideas are. I do think church membership is biblical. There’s always been an in and out of God’s people. What I communicated to our people when we were starting this church is church membership or becoming a member at a church communicates to that body, to that pastor, “I am here and I am one of you. I belong here and I am committed to this place.” Second, I think it gives you the best avenues to love and encourage the saints to “carry out” the imperatives of one another that we find in the New Testament. I think those are the important things.

Justin Perdue: Church membership is about defining who we are. What we are doing is we are submitting to the same doctrine, to the same pastors, and we know who we are so that we can love one another and watch over each other.

Jimmy Buehler: Yeah. And we submit ourselves to the discipline of the church from both a positive and a negative sense because discipline isn’t always negative.

Justin Perdue: The most frequent kind of discipline is formative.

Jimmy Buehler: Right. And part of that discipline is just weekly sitting under the preaching of the Word in the care of the elders.

Jon Moffitt: I think what’s hard when you’ve never been in a local church that actually administrates God’s word the way it was designed from its inception, and you’re a part of this “circus”, you don’t have affections towards circuses. You go, you enjoy, you leave. You don’t get a membership to it.

Jimmy Buehler: It’s where I spend a lot of money and I’m really tired and my kids become cranky.

Jon Moffitt: Right. But they’re entertained. We did something as a family, and to be fair, not all churches are that way. I was listening to Jady Koch on his podcast Stand Firm, and he made a statement that the American evangelical church has failed because it has not catechized its congregants correctly. So we don’t understand theological concepts like ecclesiology, the purpose of the church, the purpose of preaching, the purpose of the local body. We don’t understand those things. I had a conversation with a guy about this in Texas: church membership could be a sales lead in. “Oh, you go to the same mega church I do. Oh, great!” And now they have a connection.

Church membership becomes where I associate my identity. It is not where I see the extension of myself. I want our church members to go, “Oh, this is family.” I literally have people who’ve been in my church now for nine months and they said, “I’m closer in nine months to the people in this congregation than I am my own blood relatives.” First of all, it sounds biblical because that’s exactly how Jesus described those of us who are connected to him in his body. But church membership becomes that identity where you say, “I am going to be held responsible for the love and care of the other members in this congregation.” Because literally, the New Testament says when you function properly, you build yourself up. Consider how to build one another up and love so you’re not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Consider how to sing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to one another, carrying one another’s burdens. Being a member in a local congregation isn’t where you give money and serve in the nursery. It’s where you live life for the sake of spiritual health and protection. It’s a whole other way of thinking.

A lot of times people consider themselves a member at a church because that is where they go. Biblically speaking, you know, can you argue that the word “membership” is in the New Testament? It’s not in the Scripture. But the concept of family and body, which is much stronger—it’s almost like maybe we need to get rid of membership and say, “What body are you a part of? How are you connected?”

Justin Perdue: What church membership is is the commonly agreed upon principle that is very old, that Christians have said, “This is the best way for us to practice with the New Testament outlines in terms of our relationships to each other. It’s to be a member here. So that we make up this body of Christ in this location. So that we’re able to love each other, do these things for each other, submit to this leadership, and so that church discipline can be practiced. Membership is necessary.” That’s how the saints have always thought.

Jimmy Buehler: On the opposite spectrum of this, I think one of the things that we see today in churches is where people tend to flock. People tend to go where there’s exciting initiative and movement. We’re chronically attracted to that. We’re chronically attracted to things that are exciting. I might offend a lot of people here and that’s fine because I’m not on the podcast as much as you guys are, so you guys can deal with it later.

Justin Perdue: We’ll clean up the mess, Jimmy.

Jimmy Buehler: Thank you. I appreciate that. I’ll put my Twitter on you.

I would say if you are part of a body where your church is always coming up with the next initiative or the next movement, that is a massive red flag for me. Why? Because I would say that what they’re communicating is that the Word is not enough to do what it says that it does. And so when people come to our church, we are very open with the fact that we don’t offer programs, but we offer a mindset shift. The mindset shift is, over the course of your life, we invite you to sit with us under prayer and ministry of the Word, and we trust that God’s Word is going to shape and save and do what it says that it does. We are not looking for the immediate flashy results or the next big thing or movement, but rather we are trusting that God is going to use his ordinary means to do extraordinary things within our lives.

What’s our initiative? Our initiative is what Jesus commanded his apostles to do, which is, “Make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I’ve commanded you to do.” Teaching everything that Jesus said? That’s going to take a long time. And so we’re going to have to do that over the course of life. Last week, my sermon was on Romans 12:9-21, where Paul just basically lists a bunch of common sense things where he says let love be genuine, abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. And what I told our people is something that I read in Michael Horton’s book, Ordinary. The quote that he says is, “Everybody wants to do big things for Jesus, but nobody wants to do the dishes.” Everybody wants to do the building, of wells in Africa, or raising money for sex trafficking—which is fine. Those things are not bad things. But at the end of the day, if we’re chronically plagued by the next initiative, eventually we’re going to become exhausted and burned out by those things.

Justin Perdue: We only have a few minutes left on the regular portion of the podcast today. I’m going to land the plane with this one.

I can’t even count how many times people have come to CBC because it is so different from what they’ve ever experienced. This is especially true for people who are really zealous and they want to love Christ, serve him, and be useful. I more or less tell people to calm down and just show up to church. And they look at you like you have lost your ever-loving mind. Like there has to be something else that they need to do.

In our church context, if you just faithfully show up to church not once a month, but you’re there most Sundays—you just show up feeling good some Sundays and feeling terrible on others, but you just come. Everything else flows out of it. That corporate reality drives everything else in your Christian life, but it also is the way that relationships get deepened. It facilitates all of that stuff. This is how coffees and lunches get planned. But more than anything else, if you just continue to show up on Sunday, you’re going to partake of the ordinary means of grace, which is huge. But then also, inevitably, you’re going to be asked to do various things in the church because it becomes clear that you’re going to be effective in doing it. And over the long haul, you just showing up on Sunday will result in you being all kinds of fruitful and effective, and you will feel as though you didn’t even try to make it happen because it just happened, like that’s how the Lord does that.

The American church has to wrap its mind around this: preaching only occurs when the church has gathered. You can listen to a podcast, a sermon, from a great preacher who you have learned a lot from, and it be beneficial. At the same time, that is not preaching. It is not a means of grace, in that sense, because the preaching of the word happens when a man stands in the presence of God’s people, and God uses that man to preach the Word of Christ, and we corporately sit under that Word. That is a different thing than listening to a sermon in your earbuds. And I think so many people in the states would be helped to just understand that content, that situation, that they need to be present for the preaching of the word and the administration of the Lord’s Table, and for prayer and song in the context of the gathered church, because the Lord uses it.

Jon Moffitt: The same men or elders who administrate the Word to you should be the same men that tend to you. They should be the same men that confront you when you’re trapped in sin. They should be the same men that pray for you when you’re discouraged.

Church is not the sermon on Sunday. I have more to say about that in the SR. I guess I’m the one that brings it over.

Justin Perdue: By all means, take us there.

Jon Moffitt: It’s been a whirlwind of a day already. It’s exciting. I do. There are two things I want to talk about: there’s more to church than just on Sunday, and there are, what I would say, phases of leaving pietism. I want to talk to our SR members about this. There is being exhausted by Christianity and wanting to leave that; you find rest in confessional theology, the sufficiency of Jesus, and you’re there for a while; and then you move over into the last stage, which is where you get to then lead other people to rest in Christ. What does that look like in a local church? Because that happens not on Sunday, that happens throughout the week. So we’re going to talk about the three different phases where you might be, and how to help your pastors in churches in administering God’s Word and tending to the sheep.

Where we’re going is what’s called Semper Reformanda. We started another podcast and it’s to continue on the conversations that we’re having, but do it on a much deeper, more intimate level. Often, the filters come off. I am definitely holding back. I’ve got some thoughts that I want to keep for over there. This is family time.

If you want to learn more about it, you can go to theocast.org. We have a private podcast feed. We have an app where we do lots of interaction with people. We’re working on starting up local and online groups that you can participate in. If you wanna learn more about that, come join us over there. For those of you that are not joining us for Semper Reformanda, we’ll see you next week.

Just to let you guys know, if you’re wondering, Jimmy is going to be back with us soon. He’s starting school. He’s going to get that up and rolling. Then we’ll get him back in here as one of our regular contributors.

We’ll see him in a few weeks. We’ll see you guys later.

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