One regret I have from college is that I never really involved myself in a local church. Yes, I attended various churches in the Clinton and Jackson area; however, I “church hopped” as they say, for the first semester of my junior year. And during my senior year, I went to one church, but I never really “plugged in,” as they also say.
The local church is an important part of your Christian life, whether you realize it or not. If you are involved in one, you will benefit greatly. If you are not involved in one, your spiritual life will wane. After the purchase of the Church by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, the Bible knows no Christian as existing outside of the local church context.
In the book of Acts, resurrected Jesus ascends into heaven, the Holy Spirit descends down to the people, and then the Apostle Peter preaches the first sermon. Guess what happens next: a church is formed. Acts 2: 41-42 reads, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (ESV).
People received the Gospel; they were baptized; they were added to the fellowship; they were taught the Apostles teaching (which is what we have in the form of the New Testament); they broke bread (which is what we do for the Lord’s supper), and they prayed. Basically, they started going to church. After this event, every New Testament book that comes after (Romans to Revelation) is written to churches or Christians (like Timothy) who are committed to a local church.
I remember when I first visited Pinehaven Presbyterian Church (it was not that long ago). I walked in the front door and sat down in a pew and what was happening in the book of Acts happened before me. The Gospel was preached from the Bible, bread was broken for the Lord’s Supper, and prayers were prayed.
It has been over 2,000 years since the first church service took place in Acts, but Christians each week all around the world are still gathering together and devoting themselves to the Apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship. What a mighty testimony to the truth of Jesus’ promise, “I will build my Church!”
I am writing this article for two reasons: first, to encourage you to involve yourself in the life of a church during your time here at Mississippi College, and, second, to invite you to do just that at Pinehaven Pres, the church I attend which just moved here to Clinton.
I started going to Pinehaven Pres just a little while ago, but during my time there I have noticed the things that Pinehaven Pres does particularly well. No church is perfect, and churches often have different strengths, but I just want to note two things that I have benefited from attending Pinehaven Pres.
First, they are serious about the Bible. Over the past few weeks, we have been going verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter through the book of Nehemiah (if you not immediately familiar with Nehemiah, you are not alone; neither was I). At times, the chapters would be long and filled with unpronounceable names, but each week Pastor Rob would read the entirety of the passage.
In the beginning of the sermon, I would think to myself “I can hardly see how this text has any relevance to my life.” But by the end of the sermon, Pastor Hill, from the conviction that “all scripture is God-breathed and profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16), would have explained the truth in the Bible and applied it specifically to our lives.
Second, they take fellowship seriously. At the time of my first visit to Pinehaven Pres, I was searching for a home church. I had visited a couple churches and intended on visiting a few more.
However, I walked into the sanctuary that day, sat and listened through the sermon, stood and sang through the hymns, and by the time I was ready to leave, I had been booked for lunch for the next few Sundays. I never made it to those other services because individuals within the church sought me out and included me in the life of the church.
And in light of their kindness towards me, I would like to invite you to come visit Pinehaven Pres, so I might be able to extend to you the fellowship that was extended to me. Sunday service begins at 10:45 a.m. If you would like more information about the church, you can visit pinehavenpres.org or email me at IanHammond72@hotmail.com.
– Ian Hammond, Contributing Writer