Christians are losing 'the local'
Randall Murphree
AFA Journal editor

December 2017 – “There are some of you who are here because you’re conference junkies,” said Dr. Voddie Baucham. “You just go from conference to conference looking for that next high.”

Some in his audience might have taken it as affirmation, but that’s not what Baucham had in mind. At the 2017 G3 Conference, he preached with passion and conviction a challenging sermon titled “The Need for Reformation in Evangelical Ecclesiology*.”

It was vintage Voddie Baucham – powerful cadence that rolls from engaging emotion to commanding crescendo and back again. He alleged that most Christians today nurture a stronger emphasis on the universal body of Christ than on the local church. And he believes that puts the whole body at risk.

“We’re losing the local, and there is a crisis in our ecclesiology as a result,” he said. Citing specifics, he included an aversion to church membership, people skipping from church to church, and too much dependence on books, media, and other factors beyond the local church.

He claimed Hebrews 13:7-8, 17 as his text: “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever…. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account” (NASB).

These selected quotes illustrate his message.

▶ [M]y prayer for you is that God would give you exactly that mentality for what goes on week in and week out in your local church, [and] that on the Lord’s day, every Lord’s day, you would sit there and you would realize, There’s something that happens here week in and week out that I cannot get anywhere else.

▶ Praise God for conferences where big-name speakers come and talk about these lofty themes. However, it pales in comparison to sitting down in front of the man whose feet have been under my table, who knows my weaknesses and my struggles and who loves me nonetheless, and who is preaching his guts out, out of the deep well of love that he has for all of us.

Until you understand that the best conference you’ve ever been to can’t touch that, you’ve lost the local. Until you’re more grateful for that man who labors to bring before you the ordinary means of grace week in and week out, than you are for that uniquely skilled person somewhere far away that you enjoy listening to, you’ve lost the local, and you are in desperate need of a reformation in your ecclesiology. We all are.

▶ If we don’t understand the magnitude of the local church, … if we don’t appreciate the existence and the nature and the purpose of this spiritual authority, then what’s the difference between us and the Rotary Club? If all this is, is entertainment, then why bother?

▶ Are you a member of a local church? Do you love your local church? Do you submit yourself to the leaders in your church, or do you work to undermine that leadership? Do you have an appreciation for the simple yet profound blessing of the Lord’s Day and the ordinary means of grace? Or have you lost the local?

▶ God has a plan. It’s the local church. It’s Plan A, and there is no Plan B.  undefined 

* ecclesiology: theological doctrine relating to the church.

G3 Conference 2018
▶ January 17-20 • Georgia International Convention Center • College Park, Georgia
Theme: Knowing God: A biblical understanding of discipleship
Speakers: Voddie Baucham, Keith Getty, Paul Tripp, Tim Challies, James White, Steven Lawson, and others
Mission: to educate, encourage, and equip believers for the work of ministry, for the glory of God, and to reach others with the gospel

undefinedDr. Voddie Baucham is dean of the African Christian University Seminary in Lukasa, Zambia. To listen to this sermon in its entirety, search for 2017 G3 Conference on