Matthew 16:18 (ESV) — 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

What has been your experience with church throughout your life? My earliest memory of being in a church was in my uncle’s Pentecostal church; I think I was in first grade. In second grade, my family moved across the street from a Church of the Brethren which became the first church I regularly attended. I made some good memories there (getting baptized, receiving my first Bible, good friendships), some not-so-good memories (fighting with Sunday school classmates), and some pretty weird memories (awkwardly breakdancing in Sunday school, singing “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie at a church banquet). I’ve been in a lot of churches since then and my experiences have been similar… some good, some not-so-good, and some just weird.

However, with confidence I can say this about all of them: they have been an essential part of my life as a disciple of Jesus. I’ve experienced love and acceptance, grace and truth, correction and encouragement, and because every church I’ve been a part of has contained imperfect people, I’ve also experienced some hurt. But the more I’ve leaned into the church, the more I’ve benefited from it. The more I’ve participated in it, the more I’ve appreciated it. And the more I’ve studied God’s word about it, the more I’ve realized how important it is; not only to me, but to Jesus.

Friends, Jesus died for the church. He owns the church. He builds the church. He protects the church. He loves the church, and so should we. One of the essentials of the way of Jesus is to be established in his church. As we look at Matthew 16 and some other important passages about the church this Sunday, it is my prayer that each of us would come away with greater appreciation for, deeper love for, and stronger commitment to Jesus’ church.

Listen to the worship set to prepare your heart.
See you Sunday,

Brett Lovern
Pastor of Worship and Arts