A fluorescent light switches on in a small basement room. Reagan is preparing for his monthly church meeting. “Why am I here?” he complains. “We go through this same routine every month.” As the other committee members trickle in, he continues to grapple with the question – it feels so pointless…
A Greater Way
As I interact with other believers, young and old alike, I hear them asking the same question as Reagan. Involvement in their local churches seems mundane and disconnected from the work God is doing in the world. There are many opportunities to serve God in a “greater” way outside their local congregations. A ministry in Chicago needs a cook. A mission in South Africa is recruiting a missionary support member. Even the large church down the road has an opening in their community outreach program. All these opportunities can look to us like superior ways to involve ourselves in God’s work. But I believe, in having this mindset, we are forgetting that God instituted a place for us to engage in His universal plan. He instituted the local church.
The Local Connection
I’m not negating participation in ministries outside your local church; they are used by God to accomplish much and are important places of service. But God has molded churches to contain individuals who work together as a body for the furtherance of His plans and purposes.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.1
Brotherhood of Dutiful Youth
The Adventures in Odyssey episode, “The Boy Who Didn’t Go to Church,” illustrates the point. During the episode, the gang at Whit’s End is preparing to perform a play about the body. The play demonstrates that as long as the members of a body fulfills their respective responsibilities, the body serves their community well. However, when one member, Mr. LaFeet, decides his responsibilities are mundane and useless, the body falls apart. Why? Because God created the body to function as each member uses the gifts God has given them.
The Universal Connection
Taking this illustration a bit further, God orchestrates the whole of Christianity as a body. Each church has its role to play. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Your church may be skilled at reaching those in prison, while the church on the other side of town may focus on elder care and encouragement. Both churches are seeking to fulfill God’s purpose of bringing salvation to mankind. Neither are wrong. But the role God has given them is different.
Pulling It All Together
As we consistently fulfill the positions God has given us in our home churches, we allow our churches to accomplish their roles among the wider Christian community. This in turn facilitates the work God is doing in the world. I find that this perspective changes my view of church responsibilities. Rather than thinking that my service is a waste of time, I can enthusiastically do my part because, in a biblical perspective of the church, it is making a difference.
The Former or The Latter
Let me challenge you to review the way you think about your church responsibilities. Do you spend your time searching for service opportunities that are more exciting or seem to be more connected to the work God is doing in the world? Or are you intentionally using the responsibilities you have now to work as part of the body of Christ for the glory of God? If the former, I exhort you to search Scripture. God does give us instructions for Christian community. If the latter, I encourage you, when the work is tedious, to remember that you are an important part of the body of Christ – both locally and globally.
|Aaron Beery and his wife, Sadie, live in Elnora, Indiana, where he serves as the Administrative Assistant at the Elnora Bible Institute. He enjoys playing the piano, singing, reading and horseback riding. He hopes to use his counseling training to speak into people’s lives in this sin-cursed world for the glory of God.
1 ESV 1 Cor 12