Church Ethos

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The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “ethos” as “the characteristic spirit and beliefs of a community.” Every family has a particular “spirit,” as does an individual, a workplace and certainly a church. Perhaps “atmosphere” or “personality” would be good synonyms.

BBC has its own unique ethos or personality. In this article I want to highlight some of the micro-characteristics that make up our macro-character. I would identify these as gathering, ministering, giving, learning, accountability and, following the biblical principle of the last being first, loving.

It is important that a prospective church member understands the ethos of the particular church he is considering joining. Not all are happy fits. We encourage people to attend for a length of time before joining for this very important reason. If someone does not believe that the ethos of BBC is for them, we encourage them to find a church that does fit what they believe is a biblical ethos.

As members, we encourage each to continue to assess their contribution to the ethos. It may take time to fully embrace the ethos, but there can be no time wasted on fighting against it.

Ethos is to be improved, and so we encourage members to help the Body in this regard. Since we desire to always be adoring and adorning the gospel of Christ, we are equally desirous of improving with age.

Someone recently commented to me that too many believers view church membership like rugby enthusiasts. He has heard many say, “I am a Blue Bull,” but if they are not out on the field sweating (and bleeding!) they are mere spectators. Non-participators may be fans, but rarely do they leave a game with bruises and bloody noses.

The point is obvious: Church membership is far more than having one’s name on a list; rather, church membership comes with expectations of actual participation in body life. As I have preached before, there are biblical obligations of grace.

What a joy last week was to observe church members “sweating” (perhaps even bleeding!) to help the Sola 5 Conference to be a wonderful event. Many served in a multitude of ways. Thank you for practically contributing to the gathering and ministering ethos of BBC!

Another particular personality trait of BBC is that of giving. In contrast to a popular notion of holding fetes in order to meet the church budget, BBC is sustained by the Lord through the sacrificial giving of His people—regardless of the economic climate.

Our treasurer recently informed me that last month the church gave more than any previous month of the year and that, at present, our tithing is up 13% over last year and our missions giving up 26% for the same period! May Jesus Christ be praised and may you be commended.

BBC is blessed with an ever-increasing ethos of what it means to be stewards of what the Lord has entrusted to us. May such an ethos continue to joyfully grow.

Learning is a strong personality trait of BBC. We put much emphasis upon the centrality of the Word of God in all that we do. All of our ministry groups are focused on equipping believers with the Word of God. But to be equipped requires participation in ministry and worship opportunities. We therefore encourage all of our members to attend the various church services and other Bible studies that are offered. In addition, we encourage one another to take advantage of the church library and the book table as means to fill the mind and heart with truth. We are to be an ever-learning people, nourished up in the words of faith, in order that we might live for the glory of Christ.

The final ethical issue that I wish to address is that of loving accountability. BBC has a strong sense of biblical accountability built into the fibre of who we as a local church. Since we view ourselves as a family, we miss those who do not gather. And when they continue not to gather, then it becomes a concern. When church members withdraw their fellowship, there is a reason—and rarely, if ever, is it a good one. Because we are commanded to love one another, we are willing to be misunderstood as we pursue the absent. Matthew 18:15–20 (as well as several other passages) reveals to us the ethical responsibility of holding one another accountable in the local church. We dare not treat this lightly, for people’s souls are at stake.

Much more could be said about this, but for now suffice it to say that no church member should be irked because they are encouraged to gather with the saints. If we truly love one another then we will see a withdrawal from the fellowship as a symptom of what could be a dreadful spiritual illness and we will seek to do something about it. Truly loving churches, whose passion is the honour and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be uncomfortable places for those who are light-hearted about truth. May such be a characteristic ethos of BBC.

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