Reformed Baptist Fellowship

“Worship Local”

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

Charlottesville (like most college towns) is a bumper sticker kind of place.  My family often enjoys riding through town and reading the political, philosophical, athletic, and even religious sentiments expressed on the rear bumpers of area vehicles.  One of the more popular ones right now reads, “Eat local.”  It advocates the burgeoning home-grown food market.  The idea is that instead of eating mass produced foods, shipped from across the country, and loaded with preservatives, that one should instead try to eat organic, locally grown products.  Behind this move is not only a desire for better health but also for a more simple and community-based life.

I would like to suggest a new bumper sticker that would read:  “Worship local.”   It would reflect a desire for a more authentic and honest expression of church life.  It longs for a church that does not conform to the mass-produced, programmatic, and pragmatic spirituality that comes from the religio-spiritual industrial complex (whether denominational bureaucrats, evangelical publishing houses, nationally known conference speakers, or para-church ministries).  It is a return to the basic Biblical elements of prayer, Scripture reading, preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, fellowship, and gospel ministry without pretention, omission, or excess.

It would be ideal if there were faithful, Bible-believing churches within a mile or two of the home of every person in our area.  In this case, we could attend church with folk who are our near neighbors, see them frequently throughout the week, and better share day to day fellowship and encouragement.  The reality is that the number of faithful churches are few and far between.  One often has to drive many miles to attend a church where there is expositional preaching and teaching, clear doctrine, and Scripturally regulated worship.

Our own church plant, Christ Reformed Baptist Church, which began meeting on the first Sunday of January 2010 is an example of this.  In our first month, we have had folk attend from at least five surrounding counties and the cities of Charlottesville and Richmond.  For this reason we have to apply the “worship local” philosophy despite the fact that we don’t all live within easy reach of each other.  One of the ways we have tried to do this is by setting up a “fellowship friendly” Lord’s Day schedule.  We have been meeting for morning worship, followed by a covered dish lunch on site, and then an afternoon worship service, giving those who attend the opportunity both to remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy and to spend a measure of “quality time” together as a developing church family.  Though we are physically spread out over the area, we want to make the feel of our church as “local” as possible and to make the travel time to reach us worthwhile.  We are striving for the following:

  • God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, and Spirit-driven worship.
  • Authentic fellowship.
  • Honest communication.
  • Real interest in the persons whom God draws to our community.
  • Bearing of one another’s burdens.

In other words, we are striving to “Worship local.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Note:  Jeff Riddle is the founding minister of Christ Reformed Baptist Church, a new church plant in Charlottesville, Virginia www.christreformedbaptist.org.  You can read his Stylos blog at www.jeffriddle.net and listen to his sermons at www.sermonaudio.com/crbchurch.

  1. Jeff;

    This article both expresses the ideal of worshipping local and then you admit that your own church is not doing so (even though you are trying to give your schedule a local feel).

    In fact, most Reformed Baptist churches are not “local churches.” Most are commuter churches where people drive at least 30 minutes or more to attend.

    What are the causes of this, and how do you solve this problem long-term, in addition to a “fellowship friendly” worship schedule?

    Trevor

    P.s. God bless your efforts.

  2. p.s.,

    You wrote, “It longs for a church that does not conform to the mass-produced, programmatic, and pragmatic spirituality that comes from the religio-spiritual industrial complex (whether denominational bureaucrats, evangelical publishing houses, nationally known conference speakers, or para-church ministries). It is a return to the basic Biblical elements of prayer, Scripture reading, preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, fellowship, and gospel ministry without pretention, omission, or excess.”

    Do you believe that all denominational officials, evangelical publishing efforts, conference speakers and para-church orgs are typified by “pretension, omission, or excess”?

  3. My wife and I travel nearly an hour south to Reformed Baptist church. If we had the opportunity, we would move closer, but work keeps us where we are. Having pastored a church in a community where most folks commuted into the Dallas Metroplex to work, I would make the following observation: I believe that a 30 minute or 30 mile drive to church is what we should strive for. This would be a shorter commute to worship than many of us have.

    You do not compromise your convictions in order to worship 30 minutes from home. However, as we attempt to plant churches, we should keep the 30 minute envelope in mind. See where the Reformed folks are, but also see where the population centers of lost folks are. The 30 minute commute would fall within hte definition of a local church. Many folks drive further than that each day to work.

  4. Trevor,

    I think the answer to your question is aggressively planting healthy RB churches.

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