How are we defined as Christians?

The above question may seem odd, even pretentious, however, it is I think pertinent in today’s secularized western society where the church can so easily adopt the values of the world around it. This reflection was prompted by a bolg on “part-time” church attendance (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/08/06/are-you-a-part-time-churchgoer-you-may-be-surprised/). At the heart of the problem is our conception of church, and tied into that the role of the pastor/preacher/ minister. Too often we conceive of ourselves as saved individuals, rather than a saved community, yet throughout the New Testament the Acts, and letters describe not a bunch of individuals who happen to get along, but a church, a community, a body, of which Christ is described as the head, the chief cornerstone, the high priest (Acts 2:44f., 1 Cor. 3:16; 12:1-31, 1 Thess.1:1, Hebrews 1, etc). Participation isn’t optional in part because existence outside the Church is impossible. It is therefore imperative that the body is well led and taught.

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This is where ministerial training is so important. If the body is to be fed and healthy it must be led by men equipped to handle the Bible well and feed the flock. The disciples were taught of Christ, and Paul establishes in the pastoral letters the principle of thoroughly training  men to lead the church. Hence institutions such as WEST. Churches need to take seriously the call of ministers and pastors and support men in their training, in part as their commitment to the future of this spiritual community, and in paat as the expression of the community now.

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