Lakeland Presbyterian Church
Let’s approach this by picking apart the name of our church, starting from the end and working backward.
What makes a church a church? When is a church really a church rather than a non-church? Must it have a certain number of people attending? Have so much filthy lucre in its treasury? Have a resident pastor? What are the marks of a true church?
Usually, we say there are three marks of the church. First, the preaching of the word. That is the first item noted about the early believers in Jerusalem– “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42, see the whole verse for a good description of the marks of the church). The church is the arena in which God’s truth is to be on display (1 Tim. 3:15). A church can only remain a True Church so long as it receives God’s Truth in the Scriptures. That is why it is so crucial what a particular church thinks about the Bible.
A second mark: the provision of the sacraments administered and received in the proper manner (Matt. 28:18-20, I Cor. 11:23-26), and done because Christ commanded it.
Third, the practice of discipline (Heb. 13:17, Matt. 18:15-20). The elders are charged to exercise this discipline in a vigilant, loving, and careful manner, in order to direct the lives of God’s people in godliness. Discipline is not simply negative or a matter of correcting faults or flagrant sins. It is also a positive effort by the church to encourage every member to live a life of holiness unto the LORD.
In fact, whenever the word of God is preached, God’s people are under discipline, for they are being called to shape their thoughts and lives to God’s requirements.
What does Presbyterian mean? Most people just know it as a word that’s hard to spell correctly. What is a Presbyterian Church anyway? The term refers to how our church is governed; that is, rule by presbyters or elders. (Now you can see why we are called Presbyterian — who ever heard of an elderian church?). There are, actually, two offices in the local church (see 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17-20). The deacons have a serving office intended to display humility before God’s people (the deacon’s service points to the serving activity all God’s people should show). This is needed because God’s people are prone to pride. The elders hold a ruling office intended to exercise control over God’s people. This is necessary because God’s people are prone to wandering (see 1 Pet. 5:1-4, Heb. 13:17).
So a Presbyterian church is one in which there is rule by presbyters or elders. Elders are elected by members of the local congregation. Two kinds of elders exist: teaching elders and ruling elders (cf. 1 Tim. 5:17). Elders of the local church constitute the session. Elders from churches in a region form a presbytery (Our church is part of Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley). Elders from churches throughout the nation form the General Assembly.
This term is not a part of our church’s name, but Lakeland, as a Presbyterian Church, is also a Reformed body. “Reformed” refers to our doctrine or teaching (whereas “Presbyterian” refers to the way the church is governed). Our doctrine flows primarily from the Bible as that biblical faith was rediscovered in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. These doctrines are summarized in our standards, The Westminster Confession Of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
Here the church is a particular group of believers in a particular place, namely 5212 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, MS
What can you expect to find at Lakeland? We think you’ll find…
(1) A church that strives, by God’s grace, to glorify God through worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, and outreach. In worship, we seek to exalt the LORD and grow stronger. In fellowship, we strive to encourage one another and work out what it means to share a common life in Christ. In discipleship, we desire to edify each other through practical preaching and teaching of God’s Word and grow deeper in our Faith as we better understand the duties, character, goals, and vision we need to possess as believers. In service, we attempt to equip our members to minister to each other from their heart, according to their abilities and gifts, and in light of their personalities and experiences. In outreach, we seek to expand the vision and membership of the church as we get the Gospel out to our community, state, nation, and world.
(2) A church with a specific mission. Lakeland Presbyterian Church is here to enable as many people as possible to know, love, and serve God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-39; Deuteronomy 6:5)
(3) A church whose members are sinners saved by grace. At Lakeland, we make no claim to being a perfect church filled with perfect people. We believe the church is a hospital for sinners. The church is precisely where we sinners need to be. But that in and of itself can make life pretty aggravating at times.
(4) A church with people who still struggle against sin and are enduring severe trials. Many of our people have been through a lot of heavy weather — and the winds are still blowing. We may not always be smiling, upbeat people with that “victorious” air about us; but there is Gospel joy in us.
(5) A church that seeks to worship God carefully and thoughtfully. We try to place a high priority on public worship, try to plan it carefully. We don’t want people to be merely attending church. We want them encountering, experiencing, and adoring God. We want people not just coming to our service but entering God’s presence. We seek to lead people into thinking, joyful, dignified worship that glorifies God.
(6) A church that makes a diligent effort to provide biblical preaching and teaching that both informs the mind and moves the heart. This is to a large degree the task of the teaching elder. Note that the pastor’s proper title is “teaching elder,” for teaching is his primary task. Pastoring is to be done by all believers as they care for one another.
That is what you can expect — perhaps. Realistically, we are an imperfect body of believers convinced that Jesus loves us in spite of ourselves. In the meantime, we are seeking to become more faithful to Him by becoming more faithful to His people.