What follows is a bit longer than what I normally write, but please read!!
We had a rich and fruitful time at our Member Meeting this past Lord’s Day evening, and greatly missed those of you who were absent. One of the items I mentioned is that I’ve been interacting with a man named Jonathan Leeman, and have now confirmed with him to come and teach a weekend conference for us at RCG. Please mark these dates on your calendar: Nov. 9-11 of this year. Jonathan is an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and is on the staff of 9Marks Ministries (you can read Leeman’s postings on the 9Marks blog here ).
Our interest in hosting Jonathan for a conference revolves around one of the excellent books he’s written entitled The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Rediscovering the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline (yes, a bit of a mouthful!). Here’s the book’s description from Amazon:
When the world speaks of “love,” it often means unconditional acceptance. Many churches have adopted this mind-set in their practice of membership and discipline-if they have not done away with such structures entirely. “Yet God’s love and God’s gospel are different than what the world expects,” writes Jonathan Leeman. They’re centered in his character, which draws a clear boundary between what is holy and what is not. It’s this line that the local church should represent in its member practices, because the careful exercise of such authority “is God’s means for guarding the gospel, marking off a people, and thereby defining his love for the world.”
Myself and the other elders see great benefit in having Jonathan come to unpack these truths more fully for all of us in the concentrated format of a weekend conference. We believe this will be a timely opportunity to deepen our biblical understanding and zeal of God’s plan for His church, and be all the more protected against the countless misguided and unbiblical views of the church so rampant in our world today. Again, please mark Nov. 9-11 on your calendar for this conference – more details will be forthcoming.
Certainly, I would encourage you to purchase and read Jonathan’s book. But please note: the book is pretty detailed and dense, coming in at just under 400 pages. You might want to wait until two smaller separate books by Leeman, one on church membership, and one on church discipline, are scheduled to be published at the end of April. Both of these will be under 150 pages each, and might be a bit more manageable. Either way, you’ll be greatly blessed through what Jonathan’s written.
May God help us all to rightly love and cherish His Bride, the church (Eph. 5:25-27)!