A few people in the Chanute area have asked about a particular statement that appeared on our website and in our first newsletter. We have said that one of the reasons there is a need for another church in Chanute is because there is a lack of strong churches in Chanute. Does this mean that your church is somehow missing it? This is the question to which I want to try to bring some clarity.
First, let me say that the shortcomings of other churches is not really part of our focus at all. We are not looking to build a coalition of people who are against something. We are working to build a church that is for something. We are for the glory of God in the gospel. We are for bringing the good news to people who don’t know Jesus Christ. And we are for joy in Christ to the ends of the earth. The only reason we bother to mention other churches at all is that we have been asked why Chanute needs another church.
Let me say clearly that we are thankful for so many of the things that the churches in our community do. Probably all of the churches in Chanute have contributed positively to the community in some way. They provide food to needy families, they promote and encourage education, they have worked together to fight global poverty, they support ministries like The Fire Escape and Cherry Street Youth Center, and more. In this way, all of the churches in Chanute are instruments of God’s grace in the lives of people in and beyond our community.
More importantly, there are churches in Chanute where the good news concerning Jesus Christ is being proclaimed. Although we should be exceedingly thankful when things are done to address social problems in our community, the much more significant problem we face is the problem of sin and evil. Unfortunately, this problem is not only a problem that is “out there.” The reason there is so much evil in the world is that there is so much evil is in us (Romans 3:9-18). Our inability to keep God’s commands testifies to the fact that we have an inward disposition that is aligned against our Creator (Galatians 3:19). As a result, we all deserve God’s wrath and judgment (Ephesians 2:3). But the good news is that Jesus lived, died, and was raised on behalf of all of those who would put their faith in him. Consequently, if we put our faith in him, we are counted righteous on the basis of Christ’s sinless life (Galatians 2:19-20), the penalty for our sins was paid by his death (Romans 3:21-26), and we have new life because of his resurrection (Colossians 3:1). This is a message that is being gloriously preached in some churches in Chanute.
The primary reason I say there are not a lot of strong churches in Chanute is that this good news is not a message that is being upheld in all of our churches. There are churches where one need not believe in the life, death, or resurrection of Christ. There are churches that teach that our standing before God is based upon what we do, instead of what Christ has done. Still other churches teach that ultimately there is no real judgment. And while these messages might sound like good news, they are not. These are different gospels, “not that there is another one, but there are some that trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7).
Grace Community Church will bear some marks which distinguish us from other churches in Chanute. We will have our own theological distinctives, we will develop our own traditions, and we will have our own emphases. But at the end of the day, a lot of these things are secondary issues. The primary issue is the gospel. And we will count it a pleasure and sincerely look forward to serving alongside the other Bible-believing churches that are already present in Chanute, which share the biblical vision to spread everlasting joy in our community through the gospel of Jesus Christ.