The Impact of an Ordinary, Biblical Church
Last week I (Gabe) had the privilege of worshipping with my family at Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Like many pastors throughout this nation, I have been helped greatly by this church through its pastor, Mark Dever, and the 9marks ministry that grew out of the church. CHBC's impact now extends around the world as they welcome pastors and church leaders to visit and examine what it means to be a faithful, biblical church.
Yet, apart from its unique location, being situated so closely to our nation's capital, the appearance of CHBC is nothing extraordinary. Earlier in the week we were visiting family in Lynchburg, VA and while there we toured the campus of Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church -both were beautiful, impressive and somewhat overwhelming to behold (at least for this New England pastor). So as I entered CHBC, sat down in the neat, but somewhat oddly pieced together sanctuary, I was struck with the fact that potential impact for the Gospel has very little to do with what is impressive to our eyes. I suspect that a main practical reason that CHBC has such an extensive influence is actually in large part due to its intentional ordinariness. Given the reality that in New England and around the world the average pastor oversees a congregation of one hundred people or less, it can be initially exciting, but ultimately demoralizing to visit any number of the mega-church campuses around the U.S. My point is not to bash large churches or suggest that large, beautiful campuses are somehow inherently wrong. Yet, there is something to be said for the power of a model that can be replicated -and that modeling is where CHBC has excelled. Of course CHBC has some unique God-given characteristics, such as the preaching of Mark Dever, and a seemingly undending inflow and outflow of gifted and theologically minded young pastoral interns and godly elders. Yet, notwithstanding those unique charactistics, it is encouraging to visit such a remarkable church and think to yourself, "By God's grace, this can be done just about anywhere."
One of the reasons at Faith Fellowship we are so committed to be an ordinary church is so that by God's grace we might prove to be a great encouragement to like-minded brothers and sisters in NH, New England, and beyond. Over the past five years we have witnessed God grow a church in the hard soil of New England using the simple, ordinary means He committed His church to from the beginning (see Acts 2:42). May God grant that we be faithful and not tire of our ordinariness, so that with His help we may be an effective witness for the Gospel, to the strengthening of the Church, for His Glory.
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