The Importance of the Local Church
Patriotism is the love of one’s country. This country is a place where many people come to make a better life. It is truly a land of opportunity to all who come here with a mind to share American values. In short, there’s a lot to love about our great nation. These things aside, however, there are several problems we face today that result from one single need. It is not just a need for better leadership or policies. It isn’t even the need for a stronger economy. All of these things are important, but they are not all-important. America was not made great by her founding philosophy of government or economy. To believe that is to put the cart before the horse.
America is great because of her Christianity. Our political and economic structures are great because they are based upon biblical principles. That’s not a popular thought these days, but it is the truth. In fact, throughout history we find that anywhere the Bible has been studied, applied, and upheld as God’s Holy Word there has been great cultural advancement. The converse is also true. Communist countries, for example, ban the Bible because of the freedom that it brings naturally. Islamic nations do likewise. Today, the problems in America are not due, as we are often told, to injustice, or outmoded morality and tradition, but to the rejection of biblical principles. We have problems as a nation because we are beginning to reap what we’ve sown in our increasingly secularized institutions. Bible-believing Christians need to be salt and light the way God intended (Matt. 5:13).
American churches need to refocus on fulfilling their purpose. The church must remember the broad picture of the program of God in this age. This picture involves three things: purpose, mission, and vision. We are here to make a difference in the world for the glory of God. The local church is the institution through which God operates in the world today.
Purpose, mission, and vision are crucial to the success of a church. We should think of these as a logical progression. The church, by definition is a “called out body of believers” (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Pet. 2:9). The purpose of a church answers the question of why we were called out. Simply stated, the purpose of the church is to glorify God. The mission answers the question of what we are supposed to be doing. A mission appeals to the mind. We might also ask it this way: “How are we as a church supposed to fulfill our God-given purpose?” That question is answered in Matthew 28:19-20. We are supposed to be making disciples by preaching the Gospel, baptizing new Christians, and teaching them to walk in sound doctrine. God is glorified when sinners are rescued from the gaping jaws of hell! The vision inspires the heart because it paints a picture of how the church and its community will look or change when we have been successful in carrying out our mission.
The greatest churches in our country have been those that had the greatest impact on their community. That has always been the main side effect of glorifying God. Healthy churches make healthy neighborhoods, which in turn make a healthy state and nation. The gospel changes lives! It may be helpful (and possibly convicting) to ask this question: “How would my community be different if my church wasn’t there?” Don’t stop there! Next, ask yourself: “How would my church be different if I wasn’t there?” Each church is important to its community and each church member is important to his or her church.
Have you ever wondered how you can personally help your community? Serve God in your local church. Do you want to see a lower crime rate? Serve God in your local church. Do you want to see lower unemployment? Serve God in your local church. Do you want to see broken families healed, drug addicts restored, and child abuse rates plunge? Serve God in your local church. Do you have a heart for those who are lost and hurting in this world? Serve God in your local church. You do not need to be on staff there. All you need is to find a ministry for which God has gifted you and be involved. Ask your pastor about opportunities to serve!