I have always been impressed with missionaries and at times have found myself a bit envious of missionaries. I am impressed with missionaries and their families because of their great love for those they don’t even know in some other part of the world. I admire them for the dedication and sacrifice found in leaving the comforts of family and home for the good of others. These are very special people and I thank God for them.
And, yet I am also impressed with the local church. I’ve done a small bit of mission work, but my heart is in (what preachers call) ‘local work.’ I strongly believe in the local church. I have been involved with local churches since I was a small boy (when my father did local work) and I have been involved with local church work for almost 50 years. I do not wish to downplay the importance of mission work. However, I want to share some reasons why the local church’s importance should be not overlooked or be minimized.
The local church supports foreign and domestic missions. While we are on the topic of foreign missions, I must remind everyone that it is local congregations that usually support foreign missions with manpower and money. They are also supportive of domestic missions here in the States.
The local church prepares men and women for service. Many congregations have solid Bible schools and youth ministries to prepare young people for Christian living and service. The local church provides what many of our homes do not in this area.
The local church attempts to meet local needs. There are many congregations that are heavily involved in meeting local needs. Some churches provide food or clothing or furnishings or housing. Some provide counseling and other services. Local churches can’t do it all and yet many of them attempt to meet real needs in their communities.
The local church attempts to reach the lost locally. Where members are encouraged and equipped for service, many of those members reach out to their lost friends and neighbors and bring them to the Lord. Some congregations still have gospel meetings while others have special events and classes that appeal to the unchurched.
The local church provides a haven of worship and edification. The local church provides a place where her members can congregate to worship the Lord, but she also—through her members—provides encouragement and edification to weary members week after week and year after year.
I contend that church leaders must do all they can, in their positions with the Lord’s help, to make the local church strong and a blessing to all who know of her and to all that she attempts to serve.
One of the best ways these goals can be achieved is to help the members of our local churches discover, develop and deploy their non-miraculous spiritual gifts. Churches who have done this have members that bless their families, the local church and the community in which the church resides. Please allow me to assist you in blessing your members in this manner. Trav