The process of finding a church home is not a fun one. I hate the idea of "church-shopping"; I don't at all want to have a consumer mindset of "what can this church do for me?" I know that every church has its flaws, and that if I were to find the perfect church, it would cease to be perfect once I joined. That said, I do think that certain churches can be "best for you"--that one church, while not "better" than another, may be a better fit for your strengths, weaknesses, gifts, etc.--the best place for you to serve and grow. That's what Steve and I sought.
After leaving the church that had been our home ever since we moved to Tennessee, we found a new body of believers that has been a wonderful blessing to us over the last six months. We began worshipping with Reformed Baptist Church of Nashville back in February, and though we don't love the long drive, we love many other things about it. A few distinctives we have come to appreciate--not in direct comparison to our former church or any other church, but simply notable things about this one:
~The preaching is gospel-centered. Our pastor is passionate, and he always seeks to keep the main thing the main thing. In his sermons, we don't get a list of moralistic principles for successful living; we don't get dry academic knowledge. We get a glimpse of the beauty of Christ and the glory of the gospel of grace. (Free downloads and a podcast are available online, too!)
~Sunday gatherings last about 4-5 hours. We have an hour of Sunday school, half an hour of fellowship time, two hours of worship service, and then a potluck every week. The congregation is pretty spread out geographically, so we gather for a longer period of time instead of coming back for an evening service. We thought it really seemed too hard at first with a toddler--but there are tons of other young families and everyone else seems to manage! Elijah has adjusted remarkably well (except for some separation anxiety we are dealing with lately as far as staying in the nursery).
~Membership is taken very seriously--and the members renew their covenant frequently. On the first Sunday of each month, all the members stand and read through the membership commitment they made, reminding themselves of their responsibilities to each other. It's a beautiful covenant to aspire to.
~Prayer meetings (on Wednesday nights) are kingdom-focused. I love that we pray BIG prayers and DEEP prayers. Every week a different family is featured, and they provide honest, eternally significant requests. We do pray for the basic, practical things, but we also pray regularly for things like (this is a direct quote from the prayer list):
- the centrality of the gospel in our lives, particularly dealing with our idolatry
- God's grace to enable us to live by faith in things not seen and in things hoped for
- an increased desire for cultivating community among our church
- an increased burden for the lost and for church planting
~Finally, pastoral oversight is provided. I have never seen this kind of shepherding before--but I think it sounds awesome. The church website explains:
So...those are a few of the things we are loving about RBCN. It's not a perfect church, but I'm thankful that God has led us to this body of believers and I'm excited about what He has in store!
We are deeply committed as a church to a biblical view of the care of God's flock through pastors. In many churches, a pastor is merely a public figure who ascends the pulpit once a week and delivers a message. We believe that the Bible's description of such men involves not only public teaching, but also more personal ministry of the Word of God.
We schedule to meet with all members about twice a year. During this time we ask questions in four categories: one's walk with God, relationships in the family, relationships and service in the church, and one's relationship in the world (i.e. vocation, witnessing, etc.) This visit can be likened to a regular "checkup" that one receives from a doctor or dentist. Its purpose is preventative, and seeks to find the spiritual health of the individual.