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Seeing the church as a gift

October 15, 2010

When we started this series, I wondered how these posts would hit those of you walking around with deep wounds from sinful actions of those around you in local churches.

It’s inevitable that there are some of you who fit that description.

And as we mentioned from the beginning, we understand. It is impossible to invest deeply in the local church and avoid being wounded. Sometimes we are wounded in a good way, as our pride and sin are cut open and exposed… sometimes we are wounded when those around us sin against us and leave deep scars on our hearts.

There is so much I would love to say to you if we had coffee in person. I would love to hear your story. And I would love to give you a book to read.

Whether you are a new believer in Jesus Christ and just learning the “ropes” ofย  investing in a local church, or a person who has grown up in churches and has battle wounds to show for it, or a person who is actively in ministry as a staff member, pastor’s wife, or other integral role… I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

You see, the church is a beautiful thing. It is full of broken people. It desperately needs the grace of God. And it is a gift from God to you.

In The Gift of Church, Jim Samra does a fantastic job of presenting the Biblical and practical reasons why we should treasure and value the church as a beautiful gift to us from God Himself. Samra never glosses over the very real issues that have plagued church life since the time of Paul… and oh, the stories that each of us could share to back up the fact that sin plagues our local churches still today.

But the church is a gift.

“We love the church because it is a gift from God. We participate in the church because God does. We do not give up on the church, because God refuses to.” – Jim Samra,

It is in the assembly of believers in our local church body where God’s presence is manifested in a unique and powerful way, where God speaks to us uniquely through the preaching and teaching of the Word, corporate worship, and prayer.

It is in the local church where we display the diversity of God’s people, assembled in unity – people of all walks of life, economic and educational backgrounds, age groups, and ethnicities gathered together as one.

It is in the local church where we find true communion – in a world with a coffee house on every corner, filled with people desperately seeking a community where they can know and be known… it is only within the church where we don’t just find community, but we are community.

It is the local church which functions as our spiritual mother, disciplining and reproving us, nurturing us, feeding us, raising us to maturity in Jesus Christ. God has uniquely designed the local church to function in this way, and no other group can truly take its place.

It is the local church where our service and giving and praise join together with those of like mind, creating a beautiful symphony of different giftings and abilities. We can do together what we could never accomplish alone.

It is the local church that functions as the visible Jesus in our world, displaying His grace to a lost world.

In Samra’s own words,

“The church is God’s church, and it is a result of his vision. We can and should take issue with the varying ways in which God’s vision for the church has been manipulated, perverted, and corrupted. We can and should acknowledge that the church has failed us and we have failed the church. But in the end, God’s vision for the church remains. The church is a creative act of God. God the Father designed and decreed the first creation, and he has designed and decreed the creation of the church…

Despite the apparent flaws that sin introduced into the world we live in, it is still a place of great beauty. The same is true of the church. Despite the presence of sin and the ongoing, persistent failures of the church, it remains a community of great beauty.” (137)

I highly, highly recommend this book. Read it yourself. Share it with your pastor as a gift for pastor appreciation month. Discuss it in your small group.

We also have some great news – Pastor Samra has graciously contributed a copy of the book to be given away to one of our treasured Scripture Dig readers!

To enter to win this giveaway (for yourself, your pastor, or someone else!), just leave us a comment and let us know what you treasure most about your local church. How has it impacted and enriched your walk with Christ?

*This giveaway will close at 10pm EST on Friday, October 22nd 2010. Winner will be chosen from the comments below using random.org.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 8:54 am

    I treasure the open arms of my church, who swept me in, gathered me in their arms, and then set me free to serve as God has called me. Through their simple act of faith in the Christ who indwells me I found the courage to cooperate as God shone His light on the dark recesses of my selfish heart, leading me to confession, repentance, forgiveness, and faith.

  2. October 15, 2010 9:45 am

    I am searching for a church family and cannot wait to find the right fit. I’m not church shopping per say but have been without a church for so long that I am praying for HIS guidance to lead me to the family I am meant to be with!

    julia(at)thouartjules(dot)com

  3. October 15, 2010 11:40 am

    First can I just share how much I love what you all are doing at Scripture Dig. Thank you for your wisdom, insight, commitment and hard work! What a blessing!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I would love to be entered in your giveaway. I’m from Grand Rapids, but didn’t realize Jim Samra had just written a book (my in-laws attend Jim’s church, I’ll have to ask them about that this weekend!). Pastor Samra is so wise and gifted, I’d love to hear more of his thoughts on the church.

    To answer your question…I treasure my church for it’s emphasis on transformational teaching. My pastor (Jeff Manion) is very intentional about teaching from the Word for life change, and allowing God’s Word to stretch us, grow us, and mature us in the faith. I do not take for granted the opportunity to sit under Jeff’s amazing, Christ centered, Spirit empowered teaching of the Word!

    May the Lord continue to bless you all, Scripture Dig team, as you share Truth so passionately via the web. I thank God for you!!

    In Christ,
    Cindy ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. October 15, 2010 6:17 pm

    I am always amazed by God! I have come from a very painful chruch past, so painful that for years I didn’t even want people to call me a Christian, I didn’t want to be associtated with all of that hurt and pain. Over that last year my husband, children and I have been Slowly returning to chruch. I was crying out to God last night, realizing that in my hurt and pain I have really build a wall around my heart and have lost parts of who I am , who He has made me to be. I don’t want to hide behind that wall any more, I want to love, and be loved by His body. I think this book is just He wanted me to see today! If I don’t win a copy I will definalty get one soon, because I know God wants me to read it, there is something in there for me! I really apperciate the pastor at our chruch, he is a walking example of God’s love. He had been an insturment of God’s healing in my life. Thank you for all that you do!

  5. Tina permalink
    October 15, 2010 10:29 pm

    I am struggling with some hurts related to church so souonds like I need to read this book

  6. October 16, 2010 12:16 am

    The local church is my compass, my accountability.
    I moved due to getting married a little over a year ago and miss my old church so much. That was my church family for over 20 years.
    We are currently looking for a local church and have met so many wonderful godly people in our search. The body of Christ is so amazing. I can’t wait to see where God plants us.

    Loving this series on the church.

    ~Blessings~
    Marita

  7. October 16, 2010 6:35 pm

    The people in my church are incredibly giving. I want to be just like them

  8. October 18, 2010 2:01 am

    I love that list of gifts of the church. I have especially found these two to have such an impact on me in my fellowship:

    “It is the local church which functions as our spiritual mother, disciplining and reproving us, nurturing us, feeding us, raising us to maturity in Jesus Christ. God has uniquely designed the local church to function in this way, and no other group can truly take its place.”
    Fellowship strengthens and encourages me to live my best for Christ, through word, prayer, and strong examples.

    “It is the local church where our service and giving and praise join together with those of like mind, creating a beautiful symphony of different giftings and abilities. We can do together what we could never accomplish alone.”
    Lovely! And so is praising our amazing God in all things.

  9. October 18, 2010 11:41 am

    I feel incredibly blessed that I absolutely love my church. We have attended the same church for over 10 years, met there, and were married there.

    It is a church of 4,000, but because we choose to participate in smaller activities, the children’s department and small groups, it makes our church still seem like home!

  10. October 18, 2010 2:36 pm

    My church opened up a world of love to me. They’ve also afforded me the opportunity to serve in many ways as well as learn so much in a lay ministry/theology program. It’s amazing what happens when we get together, how the Holy Spirit fills the space so gently, so passionately, and we can share the love of God with people who really need love. I am excited at the chance to receive a copy of this book because I am always questioning how we can be church better, big or small. Thanks!

  11. October 19, 2010 7:09 am

    Have been given so much love by the older members of our church. Its been amazing!!

  12. October 22, 2010 2:14 pm

    Church can meet needs and can cause need. I look forward to reading this book.
    Thank you for an insightful series.

    Blessings on the journey~

  13. October 30, 2010 2:07 pm

    I’ve been enriched in our local church in several ways:
    1) the Sunday morning teaching that brings me into God’s Word and refocuses me for the week
    2) the fellowship of women’s groups and Bible Studies
    3) our home group

    It sounds like this book covers the problems also, though, that are in the local church. Our young men have been greatly affected by the “hippocracy” they see in the churches we used to attend. Understanding that sin permeates everything in the world lends a whole new perspective to accepting the issues within the local church.

    Blessings,
    Janis

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