By Guest Columnist Kevin Jones, pastor First Baptist Church, Richland
The theme to a hit sitcom Cheers (1982-1993), “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” taps into a very visceral need which every person has on this planet—we need to belong to a group where we are loved, accepted and in which we can contribute to something bigger than the drudgery of our hectic lives.
I am not suggesting that you take your quest for community and meaningful relationships to the nearest bar. Instead, I would like to let you know that the God who gave you life, who knows you so intimately that He knows the number of hairs on your head and loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you and your sin on the cross has provided a refuge and a place for fellowship while you live on this earth. That place is the local church.
Many misconceptions about the church abound. Some people believe that “the church” is a building or a campus where people gather to worship and learn about the Bible. Some believe that “church” is something that people do on particular days of the week and/or year. A few believe that “the church” is a philanthropic or charitable organization that exists to help people, and I could mention some unflattering definitions of the church as well, but I will not do that in this article.
The local church is a group of flawed human beings who have been changed by the grace of God and are part of an imperfect family. The church is called to love the Lord and to love others. The church is God’s instrument to change the world with the Gospel. Everybody in the church may not know your name, but you will be glad you came. It is where you belong.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin Jones has been pastor at First Baptist Church Richland since September 2010. He attended Forest High School, Mississippi College, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Reformed Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1992. He and his wife, Renee Thaggard Jones, have two sons, Houston, 22, and Reese, 16.