Saying Goodbye to Arlington Baptist Church (for now)

arlington baptist churchby John Ellis

In a few weeks, my wife and I will be officially resigning our membership at Arlington Baptist Church. For six years, we worshipped and served alongside brothers and sisters in Christ who became our dear friends. As one of ABC’s pastors, I encouraged members who moved away to submit a resignation letter expressing thankfulness for how God used ABC in their heart and life. Unsurprisingly, it’s much easier to encourage others to write a letter than it is to write your own resignation letter.

Transitions are never as smooth nor as easy as anticipated, no matter how much planning goes into it. Things are left unsaid that you wished you had said. Goodbyes are never as complete as hoped. Thankfully, as citizens of the Kingdom of God, goodbyes are also never final. That glorious truth, though, doesn’t completely mitigate the sadness that comes with earthly goodbyes during seasons of transition. And, so, my wife and I are left with the task of attempting to encapsulate into a short letter what Arlington Baptist Church means to us and how God used the ministry of the Word there to grow us into greater Christ-likeness.

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The Importance of Agreeing to Disagree Within the Life of a Church

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by John Ellis

The comedian Bill Burr frequently points out that people should be allowed to disagree with each other. He will then add the lament, “That seems to be going away.”

With both statements, Burr is correct, of course. His initial assertion that we should be able to agree to disagree should be obvious. Sadly, it’s not, which is the reason for the comedian’s lament. At times, it seems like we can actually see the growing divisions within our society happening in real time. Tragically, many churches give testimony to the fact that they jettisoned the ability to agree to disagree generations ago.

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Make Finding a Church a Priority When Moving

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by John Ellis

Moving to a new city and/or state is often stressful, yet it also brings the excitement of newness and adventure. Whatever excitement exists, though, is quickly overshadowed by the mountain of stuff to get done. With all the whirling parts involved in changing residences, moving is basically a full-time job. While packing and planning for the move, checking off items on the to-do list frequently reveals that the to-do list is incomplete; the list seemingly never gets shorter, only longer. More boxes are needed, forgotten closets that are crammed full of stuff are discovered, yard sales and utilities and doctors and schools and the DMV and changing your address and on-and-on-and-on, and no matter how organized and prepared you are, it will inevitably be revealed that you forgot something.

Sadly, one thing that many Christians fail to account for when moving from one area to another is church. The thought process is frequently that a new church can be found upon arrival. That is a mistake – possibly a tragic mistake.

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Church Elders Should be Willing to Serve in the Nursery

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by John Ellis

As the book of Hebrews concludes, the sobering claim rings loudly that elders, “are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will give account” (Hebrews 13:17). Sadly, I think many of us think of that verse only in terms of the parts I left out – “Obey your leaders and submit to them” and, underlining that opening command, the verse’s ending declaration to, “Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” As news report after news report bearing the shameful details of pastors abusing their authority splashes across the screens of our devices, elders, by God’s grace, need to make sure that they’re orienting themselves around the middle of Hebrews 13:17.

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A Case for Church Membership as Biblically Required


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by John Ellis

The topic of church membership can be quite contentious. Eschewing organized religion, some professing Christians believe that churches are unnecessary at best and promote hypocrisy and division at worst. Others accept the need for churches but deny that church membership is Biblical. For them, church membership is an extra-Biblical requirement taught by those more concerned about power than about unity and love. “After all,” they protest, “I don’t need to be a member of a church to know that I am a child of God.”

For many Christians, though, church membership is simply white noise; something they dutifully do because it’s what is done. But they do so without giving much thought as to why.

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Youth Groups: A Good Idea or a Bad Idea?


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by John Ellis

As a teenager, I loved my youth group. On Sunday mornings I eagerly entered the youth group room, which contained not just a ping pong table but an air hockey table, too. I mean, what teen boy doesn’t enjoy hanging out with friends and flirting with girls?

After our Sunday school lesson was over, we’d easily slide back into our pre-class activities. The only hiccup in our fun was having to make sure that we made it to our seats in the sanctuary before the worship service began. To be honest, that wasn’t really that big of an issue. Since we all sat together, usually crammed into two pews, we were able to continue our teenage activities, albeit in far more muted ways than in the youth group room.

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Rooted: The Christian’s Place


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by John Ellis

My family and I live in the DC area. Our house is approximately a mile and a half from the Pentagon and about five miles from the U.S. Capitol, as the bird flies. We live in the thick of one of the most powerful cities in the world. And we’re not big fans of the place, at least my wife and I aren’t. We’re type-B personalities (on a good day) living in a super type-A personality community.

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