Is the local church still relevant in today’s world? Can your congregation still believe it’s able to make a difference? Are the 100 congregations in our Conference still “the mighty church of God?”
Some may wonder at times if their church is that significant in a day of high-level decisions and powerful international issues, transcontinental missiles, mind-boggling scientific discoveries, space exploration, and impressive educational advancements. It’s easy to be a tad cynical when you compare big business and huge government entities wrestling over major decisions with a few dozen people in a simple church building singing “We Have This Hope.”
First, we must remember what the church is NOT. It is NOT the 20+ million Adventists around the world. It’s NOT the General Conference nor the North American Division. It’s NOT even the Kansas-Nebraska Conference. It’s NOT just the big churches such as Loma Linda, Andrews University or even College View Church. The church of Jesus Christ is your local church, rural or urban, large or small, young and old. Jesus’ great commission will only be fulfilled by congregations just like yours.
It’s time we recognize and celebrate the value of each local congregation. Jesus is not necessarily impressed with worldly greatness. When Jesus said that “the gates of hell” could not stand against His church, He was speaking to 12 guys who felt very insignificant. Jesus commended “the widow’s mite” and stated that where two or three were gathered in His name, He would be there.
Jesus is far more impressed with faithfulness and member engagement than He is with numbers, buildings and impressive programs. Here are a few valuable and monumental things your congregation can do:
- Your congregation worships. Preach Jesus Christ, teach the gospel, and practice communion and baptism. Nothing is more powerful than that!
- Your congregation encourages service. The church offers opportunities to serve and practice Christ-like behavior. We are not talking about glamorous or spotlight opportunities, we are talking about opportunities for you to serve: children’s ministry, small groups, compassion ministries, hospitality, prayer, outreach, etc.
- Your congregation advances mission. The church is to be a place to bring your non-Christian friends and to share the gospel with them.
- Your congregation builds community. The church takes relationships, accountability and friendships seriously. There are opportunities to be involved in smaller groups and to develop Christ-centered relationships with others. A healthy Christ-like community loves, values and encourages members of all ages to love and serve one another.
Yes, you can make a difference for good, right where you are. Don’t allow the priceless influence of your congregation to be diminished through comparison or competition. Your congregation is “the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
Ron Carlson serves as president of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.