Author: Jayson Fisher Topic: Christian Living
Being a Part of a Local Church Matters Now
Here is another BYX buzz phrase. No, not “intentional” or “accountability” or “heart-level,” but rather “BYX is not the Church.” BYX believes that we do not replace the calling given by Christ to the Church (Matt. 28:19-20), but if we are honest with ourselves as college students, we often live our lives like BYX has done exactly that.
Too many men in BYX think the local church is something attended on a Sunday morning, not something you are a part of throughout your time in college. This can be extremely detrimental to your walk with the Lord after college when BYX, or any other parachurch / campus ministry, is no longer a part of your life. You will spend time filling a seat on a Sunday, and then Monday through Saturday you will feel the aches and pains that come with a relationship with Jesus that does not involve his bride. Before long, you will realize that being a part of the local church is critical to your spiritual health. Trip Lee, in a blog at Desiringgod.org, says this:
“And so we [as Christians] can’t say: ‘God has adopted me. He is my Father. I am glad he is, but I am just going to ignore his people altogether.’ That doesn’t make any sense, because if you are adopted in his family, you now have brothers and sisters.
This is a very similar thing to when we get saved. We can’t just think about things individually anymore, just like when I get married and now I am one with another sinner. We have to wrestle with things together. When we trust Jesus, not only do we become one with Jesus, we become one with his people. There is a unity that Jesus has already won for us, and we are now beginning to fight for it. It is just like how I can’t get married and then decide to ignore my wife. In the same way, you can’t just be adopted into a new family and ignore your brothers and sisters. It makes no sense. It is illogical.
So not only are you robbing them of the ways that you can edify them; you are robbing yourself of the ways they can edify you — and it is core to what it means to follow Jesus. So I encourage young men strongly: Do whatever you can to find a church that preaches God’s word, that is centered around the gospel, and where people want to fight to love him more.”
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:18-22:
“18 For through [Jesus] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
The Church is something that all who have put their faith in the death and resurrection of Christ are a member of, and that does not start after college.
By not being a part of the local church, you are missing out on the single greatest plan God has to spread the gospel to those who do not know Christ. And by replacing the Church with BYX, you miss out on community with any other person who is not a college-aged male. Seek out a local body of the Church and serve on Sunday mornings, and you will be surprised at how quickly you feel a part of that local church. The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts all of us to get involved with the purpose and mission of the local church in Hebrews 10:23-25:
“23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Community is difficult, and some have found it easy to punt on the responsibility to meet together as the local church. Do not take that bait. Get involved, and not only will you reap the joys, but you will also be able to impact the lives of other believers. We all know that BYX is important, but if BYX is the only “spiritual feeding” you are taking in, you are doing the equivalent of eating a single Clif Bar and saying you eat healthy. BYX is a supplement to the local church, not a replacement for it. Continue to find ways to get involved with what the local church is doing in your community.
Jayson Fisher is the National Advisor for the Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, and Tennessee-Chattanooga BYX chapters. Jayson is studying at Dallas Theological Seminary for his ThM. He and his wife Kylan live in Dallas, TX.
I am my own worst critic. I see all these areas that I need to work on to grow in Christlikeness and get overwhelemed. If I were to collect all the areas I want to work on into a single list would discourage me beyond belief. Fortunately, a book I read recently simplifies the endeavor to grow into the image of Jesus.
In Randy Alcorn’s “The Grace and Truth Paradox,” he explains that Jesus was two specific things: grace and truth. Under that umbrella comes a substantial number of attributes that made Jesus the perfect sacrifice He came to earth to be.
How did Alcorn come to this conclusion. First, we look at John 1.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” -John 1:14
Right out of the gate, John establishes that Jesus was full of grace and truth. More than that, he became the physical embodiment of each.
On the cross, we see Jesus as the payment for our sins, earning us the unmerited favor of God that we could not acquire on our own. Saving grace flows from no other source than the wound of Jesus.
As for truth, we see Jesus perfectly living out the commands of his Father. Not only did he live out the Word, but He lived as the Word. Because Jesus was the Word and lived out the command of the Word, we see Him perfectly display an example for us to follow during His 33 years.
I don’t think I am oversimplifying Christlikeness by saying that if we want to properly represent Christ, we should strive for our lives to be marked by equal parts grace and truth. They need each other, and we need to learn to walk in each daily. Unfortunately, because of our current state, we get those out of wack and operate with more of an emphasis on one than the other.
If we lean too much on grace, we overlook sin. We refuse to call out our brothers who are in sin or can be far too passive about the direction that culture is going. When we fail to have a full understanding of truth, we try to beat people over the head with Scripture and don’t understand why they call us, as Christians, arrogant (more on that in the future.) Neither of those approaches are loving.
We need a well-rounded understanding of both to walk in each simultaneously. When we abuse grace, we ignore truth. When we don’t understand truth, we fail to extend grace. Jesus walked with a perfect balance of grace and truth, and we must learn to do the same.
One of the many benefits of working on the BYX National Staff is that we operate on the academic calendar, which influences our workload. When the brothers are not in school, we get to move at a more leisurely pace. However, the semesters are anything but leisurely. Each summer since I joined the staff in 2010, I have felt a compulsion to leverage my flexibility to take advantage of ministry opportunities that I don’t have time for during the semesters.
For the second consecutive year, I joined a group of fellow 20-somethings from my church to serve at My Refuge Christian Radio Station in Belize. Positives and negatives stemmed from the fact that this was my second year. On the bright side, I knew what to expect. Because one of the consistent struggles I combat is fear and a desire for control, it helped put me at ease knowing I had already been there and done that.
The down side was that I was coming into the trip with expectations. The trip last year was incredible on so many levels. Our team was exceptionally close and a ton of fun. We had a tangible impact on both the service and ministry levels. Trying to make this trip measure up to the previous could have been a huge stumbling block.
Our 2014 team was thrown a curve ball when a member found out two weeks before the trip that he would be unable to attend. When asked if I knew of any replacements, I called up National Advisor Kyle Yarborough, who wasted little time getting involved at Christ Chapel with NA Dean Tzobanakis and me. After minimal persuasion, Kyle and his Chubbies were on board.
Kyle proved to be a valuable piece of the puzzle with the energy and work ethic he brought to the table. Many car trips were improved by the two of us breaking it down to whatever was banging in our ear buds or through the bus speakers. There was no shortage of violent high fives, and we introduced the team to the monster claw, made famous by my beloved Houston Astros.
The trip consisted of two main responsibilities for our team. First, we would work together on manual labor projects on the property and around the city. Second, we would host local youths in the evening and minister to them through worship, teaching, testimonies and small groups.
When we rolled up on Saturday afternoon, my eye immediately went to a wooden frame held up to the second story of one building by a number of long tree limbs. This wasn’t there last year. There was little doubt in my mind that we would be working on that portion of the building.
I was right. On Monday morning, we tackled that project by mixing, moving and pouring cement into that wooden frame to create a ceiling for the platform below. The thing about cement is it dries, so we had to pour it all at once. The thing about ceilings is they are above the ground, so we had to get the cement up there through primitive methods.
Everyone had a role in the system to pour the cement. The first group would shovel gravel and mix it with cement in the mixer. From there, team members ran 50-to-75 pound buckets of cement over to a group of us, including Kyle and me, positioned on a scaffolding. That’s where it got fun. We would pass these buckets upwards to a pair of team members on the platform, who would pour the cement and toss the empty buckets down. Shovel, mix, carry, lift, pour, toss and repeat for over three hours. It made shoulders day at the gym a little easier the following week.
Initially we thought we would have to move people around to keep the folks doing the literal heavy lifting from wearing down. Instead, everyone committed to their role and grinded it out for the entire project. On the scaffolding, the four of us really fed off of each other. We were dead set on finishing what we started. We would keep our spirits and energy up with brief stretches of dancing and an abundance of high fives and monster claws.
It was exhausting to lift bucket after bucket from the height of my knees to the height of my head, but rewarding to see our team bond over the project. Everyone worked with diligence and in unison with one another. It flowed about as smoothly as it could have and helped set the tone for the week.
On the ministry side, the missionary we work with, Richard Smith, would go pick up kids and teens from around the city and bring them to My Refuge. Both Kyle and I had the opportunity to teach and share the Gospel from the front. From there, we broke into small groups for more discussions. The team continued to impress me during the small group time by emphatically speaking truth to these kids and intently listening when they would divulge intimate details about their lives.
As I prepared for the trip, I had to preach to myself that the Lord had plans for me in Belize. More than that, the only plans he had for me that week were in Belize. The Lord had nothing for me to accomplish outside the country of Belize. It was a joy to once again walk in the works that the Lord had for me in Belize.
My back side was no stranger to church pews, but I definitely wasn’t a regular attendant. Church attendance was never a priority. It was boring. I didn’t know why we did anything that we did because no one explained it to me. I would try to coax the hands on my watch to move faster because I was bored out of my mind.
If the Gospel was there, I couldn’t find it. I didn’t see a need for church because I was well-behaved enough, successful enough and prayed enough without it. Or so I thought. God was a good luck charm, and church was just a place I attended superstitiously to ensure my luck didn’t run out in the classroom or on the baseball diamond.
This whole Christianity thing that I half-heartedly associated with didn’t begin to click until I found myself rushing BYX in the spring of my freshman year. I got around men who loved Jesus and not morals, and I began to desire a relationship with Christ that I didn’t have up to that point. God used BYX to save me.
Between the growth I saw in BYX and the stigmas I attached to the church, I was content to treat BYX like the church. I went to chapter meeting and got filled up. I learned truth and was exposed to genuine worship for the first time.
After a semester-and-a-half in BYX, something began to change in me. Even though I loved BYX and showed signs of growth in the infancy stages of my walk with the Lord, I wanted more. BYX whet my appetite. I was hungry, and I started to see the church as a place that could feed me.
I played baseball on Sundays that fall, but I resolved that I would hang up cleats and find a church when the season ended. One of the most evident and poetic defining moments of my life was choosing to walk away from baseball to diligently follow Jesus and be a part of a local church.
My church shopping spree ended at two when I visited Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth. I knew that’s where I needed to be after worshiping at the college service and listening to the teaching of the college pastor, who I can still call a friend today. Christ Chapel quickly proved that the stigmas that I had unfairly applied to all churches didn’t apply to the ones that are doing it right. And there are a lot that are doing it right. After nearly seven years, I still call Christ Chapel home and have no intentions of leaving any time soon.
BYX should never serve as a replacement to the church. Instead BYX and the local church should have a mutualistic relationship. They benefit each other.
When BYX chapters are thriving, they’re creating devout men of God that know how to create community. I had a leg up on so many men after graduation because I knew not only what to look for in community, but I also knew how to create it and bring others into it. This is an extremely valuable asset in a church member: a willingness and desire to connect to the body in an honest, loving and transparent way. BYX taught me that.
The church has played a substantial role in growing me into a mature believer by providing resources that BYX can’t offer. I have found great teaching, mentorship and wisdom that I would be foolish to expect to find in a group of college men. It’s not fair to the fraternity to expect the BYX to provide that. Men can and should grow in spiritual maturity during their time in BYX, but that growth is just a fraction of what it could be if the men are not invested in a local church.
Many of our thriving chapters have thriving churches that the brothers attend. After four years of traveling to college campuses, I can tell which chapters consist of men who are sitting under sound, Scripture-saturated, Gospel-centered teaching. It pours out of those men and into the chapter. Good churches help make great chapters.
BYX has been a valuable part of my life and continues to be thanks to my job and the relationships I hold dear. The fraternity taught me to love Jesus, and, in the process, instilled in me a love for the church. By being pushed towards a local church, the fraternity set me up to grow, invest and find community long after my college years.