My Interview with Vince Coakley on Church Attendance

Friday, August 21, 2015

God often brings along the right friends at just the right time in life.  For me, Vince Coakley has been one of those friends for over ten years now.  We met, as I recall, around 2004, through blogging and our mutual involvement in Sovereign Grace Ministries at the time.

As Vince transitioned out of SGM and into Newfrontiers, I was not far behind.  And as Vince transitioned out of Newfrontiers, I was also not far behind, once again.  Our paths seem to have often headed in the same direction by God's strange but good providence.

Vince transitioned from anchoring the NBC news desk in Charlotte, NC, to hosting his own radio show:  The Vince Coakley Show.  Vince and I have had more hours of conversation this year than in any prior year.  His path out of Newfrontiers, and the institutional church in general, preceded mine by a couple of years, sovereignly positioning him to be a sounding board for my own transition this year.  I have blogged and recorded my thoughts during this transition largely on Facebook, but also on my blog.

On June 1, some of those thoughts took the form of a blog post entitled, "Answering the Church Truancy Officers."   Nathan Rose, senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri and a Legacy Church Planting coach with NAMB, wrote an article entitled, "5 Spiritual Dangers of Skipping Church."  My blog post was a point-by-point response to his article.

After 25 years of leadership experience in the local church (in seven local churches across three states), along with 8 years of formal theological education, and after growing up in the home of a pastor, I had finally come to two conclusions. First, everywhere I went I brought my baggage with me.  I was my own problem, and my problems rippled to others around me.  There's just no denying that, no matter how much human pride rails against it.  Second, the local church as we know it today, is actually not able to help us the way Jesus intended.  It's broken.  It's become an institution that resembles very little, if anything at all, in what we see in the New Testament, and in what trajectory the New Covenant sets for the community of Jesus.

The conclusion is this: if what we experience on Sunday morning is not really biblical, then it's not some great sin to not "go to church" on Sunday morning.  The local church has become an institution that is run by a system which takes on a life of its own.  In so doing it creates its own layers of rules, regulations, principles, and standards which are taken from the Bible, but are actually a misuse of the Bible.  As a result, people become bound and enslaved to an unbiblical system that actually deprives them of the very thing their soul was hungry for all along: communion with Jesus, fellowship with one another, and friendship with God.

If you have felt the same things over the years, perhaps my interview with Vince Coakley on his radio program, during the Friday Faith segment, will bring some things to light about the local church and what God's Word really says.  Click the image below to go to the interview.  Feel free to fast forward to the 3:30 mark to get right to the interview.

Vince Coakley Interview Rob Wilkerson

When you're done listening to this one, head on over to the Moody Radio program, Up for Debate, to listen to another friend of mine, Wayne Jacobsen, debate the same issue on the episode entitled, "Is Attending Church Mandatory?" | Moody Radio | Up for Debate.  Or Read his blog post on the episode here.

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