Several days ago, I felt the unction to write on this topic. It just dropped into my spirit while driving to church one day and I’ve been contemplating it since.
So why do I love the Local Church? First of all, I fully understand the “global Church”, His Ecclesia. Our theme for 2018 has been “We are Ecclesia”, which means we are a part of the Church that Jesus built according to Matthew 16. His church is a strong, life giving spiritual force that is called to advance the Kingdom of God in the earth today. This global church should represent the full body of Christ in His power and glory and is the authorized agent of God’s Kingdom in the earth. So, with that said, “why do I love the local church?”
- I believe the local church is as much the idea of God as the global church. The “whole” of the global church is simply the “sum of the parts” of the local churches through out the world. Jesus established the model of church attendance and He and His disciples participated faithfully in local synagogue services (Mark 1:21; Mark 6:2; Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46; Acts 3:1; Acts 13:14; Acts 17:1-2; Acts 18:4; Eph. 4:11)
- The local church is the representation of the Family of God on a small scale. It is in this community of believers that we can exercise and experience the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)
- The local church is the place where transformation can occur. We are called to be transformed into His image (2 Cor 3:18; Romans 8:29) and this can only occur as we are in community with others. When we live to ourselves and outside of healthy interaction with others, we do not have the attitudes of the flesh called into accountability. As we interact with others, we become aware of our own self-centered and self-focused passions and desires and have a safe place for this desired transformation to occur.
The local church is the training ground for expanding the Kingdom of God. We make a grave mistake when we think our service to God ends within the four walls of the local church. Jesus very clearly assigned structure to the local church for the purpose of going outside of the walls of the church to transform communities, cities, regions and the world. (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15)
Ephesians 4:11–12 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ….
- The assignment of equipping the saints was given to those called within the church body and the saints are those who are to be equipped.
- The purpose of equipping the saints is for the work of ministry. The work of ministry occurs both inside and outside of the local church. To think that only works of ministry are to occur inside the four walls of the church is very naïve and immature in thinking. Most people will never stand behind a pulpit (~98% of the body of Christ) so, where are they? They are in the marketplaces and neighborhoods where many people have been hurt and turned off by past experiences with church. These saints must be equipped to spread the good news of the gospel to a dark and lost world in a way that represents the love of God.
- The local church is a safe place for the development of the Spiritual Gifts. Within smaller settings, opportunity is given for believers to develop the “God” gifts assigned to them. It is within small groups that mentoring and molding by the seasoned believers can occur and where loving correction and restoration can occur.
- The local church is a place where a Biblical World View is found and expressed. The world is filled with corruption (2 Tim. 3:1-5) and as we get closer and closer to the return of the Lord, we see this pagan world view increasing rapidly. Through media, the view of the world is espoused uncontrollably into the minds and hearts of those who listen or watch. Our children are being discipled by the world’s art, entertainment, technology, etc. It is a grave situation and the church brings back balance as we interact with those who adhere to the Biblical World View of holiness and righteous living in the midst of such perverseness.
There are those who oppose the “organized local church” and this is such a mistake. Are there problems in the local churches? Of course, because there are people in the local churches. Possibly some should not operate as they do, but we pray and leave that to God. Possibly some pastors lose sight of the true calling and make it more about their own kingdom, but we pray and leave that to God. Are there problems in our places of employments? Our Schools? Our Hospitals? Of course, but we don’t drop out of those organizations, we persevere.
There are always those looking for the perfect church and it will not be found. But what can be found is the perfect God who called the body of Christ to come together as one voice and one heart of love to a lost and dying world. There are many who walk in darkness who will never come into a church service until someone touches them outside of the church walls with the love of God. We must be equipped and this occurs inside the church and also within our own personal walk with the Lord. As we strive to become like Him, we will see that we desire community with like minded believers. We can spend so much time finding fault with the local church that we can’t see what’s right with it. Let’s not be guilty of this ploy of the enemy to separate us as believers and members of His family.
Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV) —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.