Picking up where we left off in the print edition, we must answer three primary questions if we’re to find church community, stay in it, and thrive in our God-given calling within the body of Christ:
- Can I agree on basic doctrines?
- Am I able to worship there?
- Am I able to serve there?
As a result, perhaps we can also ask, “Am I forming deep friendships within this church community?” If any of these areas are significantly deficient, our walk in Christ within the context of church will not only disappoint but also be fraught with frustration and disillusionment.
Part 2 of this article focuses on matters outside the church — her mission and how to accomplish it.
Jesus is the head of the church. He is the Lord of our lives. He beckons us, “Follow me, and I will make you . . .” (Matthew 4:19). In His equipping, He Jesus reminds us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He also says to us, “Come to me” and invites us to “Learn from me.” Central to the collective church’s mandate, therefore, is sound biblical teaching through which we become better equipped, empowered, and more like Christ himself.
Our destiny is in Christ and within His church, and is shaped by His will for the Father’s glory. Thus the church no longer remains entirely a “hospital for the sick,” but neither is it exclusively a “sanctuary for saints” to sequester in. As He did with those disciples some two thousand years ago, Jesus sends us out, saying, “Go, and preach the good news everywhere.”
He commands us to baptize and further instructs, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Each one of us within the body of Christ becomes the hands, eyes, ears, heart, and mouth of Jesus. As His disciples, we give utterance to His words. Jesus’ work is ongoing. Today we continue what Christ began with those young disciples. And, fundamental to this discipleship, nurtured within the life of church community, is teaching.
The object of teaching is so that a new believer begins to reflect and live the very image and stature of Jesus Christ. That is the nature of discipleship. In turn, being competently equipped, they begin the process all over again, teaching yet newer disciples. The work of teaching must be an everyday occurrence at every level of family and faith fellowship. It is an essential part of the life in Christ of every believer. To attempt this outside of the dynamic of church community would be nothing less than an ill-equipped mission.
John wrote of the essential nature of teaching within church community:
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting (2 John 1:9, 10, author’s emphasis).
Thus, in the context of the body of Christ, teaching His Word is an utmost and sacred duty of the church. Minimizing this teaching is to remove His Word, and therefore effectively marginalize Christ.
What else must the church do besides teaching? We must take seriously the many service opportunities of the Christ community. Seek new opportunities or develop ministries so you can serve in the way God has gifted you. After all, we’re all teachers by our example, followed then by what we say. And, as we’re called upon to share a word among fellow believers, be it in a church service, Bible study, or prayer meeting, remember one thing: Keep your heart anchored in the Word of God. Pray about the things He wants you to pray about (our prayers will often be for the needs of one another). Ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and prompting. Let His words become your words, shared in community.
Need for church
May our churches be Christ centered and Bible based in our teachings. May our words and acts be Spirit formed — as Christ’s own. The church, then, lived as a “one another” experience, will reflect the apostle Paul’s encouragement:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:16, 17).
As a result, the solo “go-it-alone” church option becomes less than relevant when compared to the psalmist’s experience of coming together in worship: “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (Psalm 95:2).
This is the church where God has placed, disciple, and graced us. Christ community is where we joyfully belong and where our work together begins.